Update on my son, Gunner

One Year Clean!

It’s been a year since one of the worst nights of my life.  That was the night my son Gunner called me at 2am, and overdosed while talking to me.

A lot happened after that.  He went to the hospital, he survived, he was arrested for drug possession.  He spent time in jail, then he went to rehab.  He finished rehab, and went to a halfway house.  Then he moved to a long-term halfway house.

This was all great news for us, because on the roller coaster of addiction, many of these milestones get skipped, or interrupted, or failed.  Gunner himself has done all of those things in the past… walked out of rehab, refused to go, quit then relapsed, etc etc.  But not this time.  This time, Gunner completed all of it.  

Let me tell you, recovering with a drug felony on your record makes it an uphill climb.  It’s hard to get a job.  It’s hard to do many things that we all just take for granted.  But he’s doing it, because he’s determined.

He lost his car when was in the midst of his drug-use.  So now, he doesn’t have one.  You know what he does?  He rides a bike or walks anywhere he needs to go— even if it’s miles.

He started out with a job at KFC, which wasn’t glamorous, but it was a job.   Then, he moved on to a full-time job in a machine shop, learning the machinist trade.  He has been there for eight months now, riding his bike through the heat or the rain–  and has only missed one day of work.  It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s dirty, but he’s doing it.  He makes an honest paycheck every week with his own two hands.

I am beyond ecstatic to announce that Gunner has been clean for an entire year!

This is an amazing accomplishment for him, and he has put in the hard work.   He went to two NA meetings a day. He hasn’t missed a single meeting with his Corrections Officer.  He’s never late to work.  He has put on weight— going from a 6’6″ 160 pound skeleton, to a 6’6″ 220 pound healthy man.

A month ago, his son celebrated his first birthday party, and Gunner was there, clean and sober and proud.


Gunner doesn’t crow about this one-year-clean milestone.  In fact, he doesn’t want to focus on it. He says he doesn’t want to become distracted from the fact that he has to focus every day, every minute, on being sober.  He can’t afford to slide backwards at all by becoming cocky.  Living with it is a way of life now, it’s with him every minute.

Last month, I saw an absolutely repugnant video on social media, slamming drug addiction, and declaring that it wasn’t a disease, that addicts were just lazy, that they didn’t want to get better, that they just say they have a ‘disease’ so that they have an excuse to use.

I almost threw up.

Addicts don’t want to be in the spiral that they are in.  They don’t want to be in the clutches of such a horrible thing.  They don’t want their families to be torn apart.    They made a mistake– by using drugs in the first place.  But then… then… addiction takes over, and turns them into people that they aren’t.   People who will lie and steal to feed their addiction.  These people do have a disease, because addiction literally changes the chemicals in the brain.

To climb his way out of the hole addiction put him in, Gunner has had to live in a crappy motel (because apartment complexes won’t accept him with a drug charge), and he rides a bike to work– even in the snow.   That is NOT someone who makes excuses.  The idea that all addicts or recovering addicts are lazy is just… an UGLY LIE.

Opioid addiction has become a pandemic in America, and it’s one that will have to be addressed, because we’re losing more and more people to it every week… every day.  Often times, it begins by someone using painkillers.  Then, when the scripts stop coming from the doctor, the user starts buying illegal drugs to replace the painkillers… and so it begins.

I’m thankful (SO thankful!) that I haven’t lost Gunner. That he’s still fighting, that in fact, he’s THRIVING.  It’s been a long road, and it will be longer still as he fights his way back to where he was before.   His teeth were ruined during his drug use– so they all have to be pulled and replaced.  But!  He’s doing it.  He’s living clean.

On Friday, he gets to check one more thing off his list. He’s moving into his own place.  He’ll still go to NA meetings, and check in with his Corrections Officer, but he’ll do it with his very own address.  

Thank you, to every single one of you who pray or have prayed for my son.  I appreciate it more than you will ever know.

God is good.


PS.  This is Gunner today– on his break at his job.  🙂

An update on my son Gunner


My readers are the best of the best.  Not only because you have great taste in fiction (hehe), but because you are so caring and compassionate.

After I announced that my son Gunner is an addict, a few months back, I’ve regularly gotten messages from readers asking about him.  Praying about him.  Checking on him.  I can’t tell you how touched that makes me.  To know that you take a minute out of your day to pray about my boy- someone you haven’t even met.  It melts my heart.

I’d like to give you an update on him today.

He’s doing amazingly well.  He came through Rehab like a champion, and he’s been in a halfway house for a few months now without relapsing.   When he was first out of rehab, he had a job at a KFC, not fancy, but it was an honest job.

Now, he has a job at a machinist shop, and he’s learning the skill of being a machinist.  He’s been there for a couple of months now, and his boss is impressed by how hard of a worker he is.

Recovery is hard.  It’s hard for the addict, every damn day, every damn minute. It’s hard for the family– because we’re constantly holding our breath, hoping that it sticks.

I’m so hopeful this time.  SO SO hopeful.  Gunner has been strong and unwavering, and seems so intent on truly starting a new clean life.

I truly think that all of your prayers have helped him stay on this path.  I believe that the more voices that utter that same prayer, the more God can hear them.  And I believe that’s the case here.  You heard a mother’s desperate pleas for help, and you answered that call by praying for a struggling son.

And here he is now, so much better, so much on the road to a permanent recovery.

I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for praying for my boy. He appreciates you, I appreciate you.  I’ll never be able to express how much.

Thank you, thank you, thank you… from the bottom of this mother’s heart.

Pax Tate is back!

My Peace, the continuation of Pax Tate’s story from IF YOU STAY, is live today!

Happy endings must be worked for.

Pax Tate used to be an effed up asshole, but you’d never know it now.

He’s got a sexy wife, their own little family, a cozy home, and a successful career.

Everything is perfect.

Until his past rears its ugly head.

Pax will do anything to protect his family,

even if he destroys himself in the process.


Dear Readers,

I announced recently that I based the character of Pax Tate on my twenty-two year old son, Gunner.

Gunner is a drug addict.  He’s currently in rehab, and he’s doing well, but it’s been a long roller-coaster of a journey to get here.

Pax’s personality traits are Gunner’s.  Even though Gunner’s moods have been mercurial because of drugs, deep down he is strong and funny, charming and sweet.  I wanted that to come through in Pax.

(Of course, when I’m writing the “sexy time” scenes, I’m definitely picturing Jensen Ackles or Alex Pettyfer in my head.  🙂

Pax’s heart is as deep as the ocean, even though sometimes, he can be an asshole.  I think readers realized that in IF YOU STAY, and that book sat on the New York Times for twelve weeks back in 2013.

Readers have asked for more Pax over the years, and it is only now, that I wanted to add more to the story. It is only now that I have come to terms with the fact, based on my son’s own life, that happy endings must be worked for.

I hope you love Pax’s story.

I wrote it with the ending I want for my own son, one of hope, of happiness and of good health.

I will give anything to make that true.

From my pen to God’s ear.

I hope you enjoy the story.  Thank you for reading!




My Peace


In 2013, my book, IF YOU STAY sat on the New York Times bestsellers list for twelve straight weeks. Readers fell in love with troubled Pax Tate. For years, I have been asked to write more of his story.

For years, I didn’t want to.

Pax Tate’s character is based on my son, Gunner. His personality traits, his issues with drugs.

I wanted to leave Pax’s story as a fairytale happy ending. But through my journey with my son, I have realized that happy endings must be worked for, and sometimes, they don’t come easy.

MY PEACE is the continuation of Pax Tate’s story. It releases Friday, although it is up for pre-order now. (The pre-order price is $2.99, and that price will return to it’s normal $3.99 on Friday.)

You can find it exclusively on Amazon:


My son: An Update

Tomorrow is my son Gunner’s 22nd birthday.

He will be celebrating it alone in a halfway house.

That might sound sad, and it is.  But it is also a joyful thing for me, a relief.  The fact that he is there means that he is safe.  It means he is alive.  

I admitted to you a month ago that my son is an addict.  And lord have mercy, that was hard.  I’m a very private person– at least with serious matters.  If something is wrong, I internalize it.  On some level, it is easier for me to deal with something if no one knows, and if no one asks me about it.

But this… I’ve lived with it for so long, and it became so heavy to carry.  I decided to talk about it, and I’m so glad I did.   I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for your prayers and support.

I cannot tell you how much it has  meant to me over this past month.  On low days, I’ve read through your messages again and again.  I’ve cried over some of your stories– at the other sons and daughters, sisters,  brothers  and parents who have been lost to addiction. At the same time, I have been filled with hope over the ones who have overcome it.

This is such a wide-spread pandemic, and no one wants to talk about it.  It is an ugly topic.  It is scary.  It is real.   I’m going to talk about it, though. I’m not going to hold back.  Not now, and not ever again.  This is a subject that people need to hear about.

We live in a world where everyone puts their best face forward on social media.  We stage our selfies at just the right angle, we tell stories of how well our kids are doing in school, and we take beautiful pictures during our vacations.  We all want people to know how well we do, and that’s fine.

But we rarely talk about the hard times, and that just isn’t life.  Life is full of good times and bad.  And I think that when we have bad times, we should share them– not just so that we can get emotional support, but so that others going through the same thing don’t feel so alone.

Many of you have asked how Gunner is doing now.  He has been sober for 5 weeks.  He has come through the physical withdrawals.  He came through the court-ordered drug rehab.  He is now in a half-way house, and will be there for the next month.

He has good days and bad ones.  Some days, he is upbeat and hopeful. Others, he is angry and ugly.  Some days, he is thankful that I called the ambulance that saved his life. Other days, he is furious at me, because when the ambulance came, they found drugs in his home that resulted in his arrest.

Addiction chemically alters brain patterns, and those malfunctions don’t heal overnight. Gunner will be dealing with those long-term effects for awhile.  He used drugs over a period of years– and that leaves a mark.  One of the things it does is affect judgment, and honestly, that terrifies me.

I’m terrified that when he comes out of the halfway house in a month, his brain patterns won’t be healed enough to sustain the real world, and he will fall into old ways.  I’m terrified of that.

But, like an addict has to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, so too does a parent of an addict.

He is currently attending 2-3 NA meetings a day.  He has a part-time job at KFC– not glamorous, but it’s a job.  He is saying he wants to stay clean.  Since we’ve been down this road a few times before, and he has fallen off the sobriety wagon before, I’m afraid to hope.

But at the same time, I’m afraid NOT to hope.  Hope is all we have.  And I want my son back.

This is Gunner and his fiancee during a visit at rehab a while back.  He looks so much better already– he’s putting on weight, and he’s getting more color in his face.


I thank God for that.  I thank God that my son is alive right now- that he’s been given another chance.  I pray every day that he takes that chance and runs with it– that he soars, in fact.

I’m also thankful for YOU.  Thank you for being so supportive of me, and for praying for Gunner.  I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.  I’ll keep you updated on his progress.

I hope you’re having a wonderful December so far, and that your holidays are merry and bright.