My Mom Said So

Vitality Stories

Jennifer Lawrence Oops

My Mom Said So

My mom read Tiger Drive last week. Now, for those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that my eighty-two year-old mom has had it in her bonnet that Tiger Drive’s a memoir rather than fiction. A lot of the confusion is my fault. After all, I did grow up on Tiger Drive in Carson City, Nevada (the book takes place in Corbett City, Nevada). And my family and novel share archetypal characters:

  • an abusive husband and father
  • an abused wife
  • an addict
  • a drug dealer with ties to a gang

Archetypes behave in anticipated ways. This is why a woman in Kansas who is abused by her husband “totally gets” the emotions and choices of an abused woman in California. An alcoholic in Nevada will understand an alcoholic in Texas. We humans act more alike than not.

My novel was causing enough angst for my mom that I didn’t tell her when Tiger Drive was published and available on the World Wide Web.

But like most moms, she found out anyway.

She called me and said her Amazon orders weren’t shipping, and she couldn’t figure out why (this happens quite often). I’m a bit of a custodian for her accounts, so I logged in to see what was happening, assuming her gift card balance was insufficient. I was right. But when I looked at her pending orders, expecting to see the usual suspects of powder coffee creamer, assorted candy, and potato chips, I knew I was in trouble. The pending order was the hardcover copy of Tiger Drive.


So I did what any grown woman might do: I pretended not to see it. I transferred money to her Amazon account and promptly went onto Facebook and told my friends I was in T.R.O.U.B.L.E.Two days after she received the book, I got a call. She asked, “So how does this work?”

I asked, “How does what work?”

“This,” she said.

I suspected she might be talking about the book–my mom and I have decades of passive aggressive interactions to pull from–so again, I did what any grown woman might do; I said, “I’m not sure what you’re asking.” We hung up, neither of us caving in to our game of chicken.

And then last week while I was in Florida, my mom sent me an email telling me that Tiger Drive was “WONDERFUL” and one of the best books she has ever read. She also said, “Keep up the good work. LUV, Mom”So I did what any grown woman who is no longer in trouble might do. I called her to fish for compliments.

Not only was my mom able to “escape” into the book as fiction, she said, “You know what my greatest takeaway was of Janice’s story? I realized I’ve never grieved for your dad.”

My response:

I suggested to my mom that she has actually never been able to grieve for anything–not her interrupted childhood, failed marriages, deaths, her ailing health, or her loss of independence, and that she has always been too busy trying to move forward, to survive, to make it to the next day. She never had time for grief. My mom said, “Thank you for saying that.”And we also talked about how her generation didn’t talk about anything and didn’t have the counseling and resources we do today. I raise this fact in the Bookclub Guidance for Tiger Drive:

Harry and Janice grew up in a time where counseling and coaching were non- existent. People didn’t talk as much about their troubles or the things that happened to them. Even in 1989—when Tiger Drive takes place—counseling was very different than it is today. How has society changed and how might the counseling resources available today have helped the Sloan family members? 

Have your parents ever surprised you with a response to something you’ve accomplished, or how might your life be different today if you or a loved one didn’t have access to counseling or coaching?

As always, thanks for being you.


P.S.: Lisa Manterfield, author of A Strange Companion and The Smallest Thing, discussed grief in her newsletter yesterday. Something she wrote really struck me:

It took me a long time to understand that grief affects people in different ways, that there is no right way to behave when you lose someone you love. I also learned that you don’t ever “get over” a big loss, you just figure out how to live with it. I don’t think that’s something we acknowledge in our culture.

What people are saying about Tiger Drive

Tiger Drive is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Ingram. A portion of the proceeds will help fund the Tiger Drive Scholarship. And if you read Tiger Drive, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Your opinion will help readers decided if Tiger Drive is right for them. Also, please tell your friends about Tiger Drive. Word of mouth is everything.

Tiger Drive by Teri Case

Author Accelerator

Author Accelerator interviews Teri Case

Author Accelerator Teri Case Tiger Drive
Click here to read the interview. I’ve used several of Author Accelerator’s services. Over the past year, several people have asked me how they can start writing or establish a routine. I always tell them about Author Accelerator who has a variety of programs, ranging from ones for the writer who doesn’t even have an idea what to write about to those for writers who have finished a manuscript and need to fix it or have it reviewed. Want to write, check them out. In the meantime, enjoy my interview with them.

A Tiger Drive Thanks

Vitality Stories

Tiger Drive Acknowledgments

A Tiger Drive Thanks

It takes a village to write and publish a book. Here are the people and groups who are recognized in Tiger Drive.



Finishing a book requires soda, licorice, yogurt covered peanuts, magazines, glue-sticks, alligator skin, earplugs, candles, walks, a timer, a door, two saw horses, a fitness ball, The Civil Wars, and olive branches. But mostly, it takes a village of believers, coaches, supporters, and collaborators.

I would not have been able to write this novel without the support and encouragement from Ted—he has opened up my world and has challenged my views in countless positive ways.

Thanks to Karsen and Adam who started the “three pages” challenge several years ago. Unbeknownst to each of us, my first three pages of this pre-internet, snail-mail exchange would become Chapter Two of Tiger Drive.

Thank you, Tia, for the author’s new hire package that I woke up to in June 2011—you set the perfect tone for the first day of my new career. Also, thanks to Lanita, Annie, Christine, and Elizabeth for not telling me I was crazy to quit my job to write.

Detective Gonzales, the experience you shared about lawless motorcycle clubs was most instructional (and funny and terrifying). Though I have butchered everything you told me and created a gang of amateurs (I blame my paranoia), I couldn’t have created said amateurs without your help.

While writing this work of fiction (yes, that’s a reminder that this is not a memoir—Hi, Mom), I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for the Stocks, Lamers, Langsons, and Huntzingers for sharing their homes and families when I needed both the most. Apryl Huntzinger and Julie Langson, I am a better person for having known you and am honored to remain close.

Many thanks to Karsen for reading each page as soon as I wrote one and for thinking each was the best it could be. Hugs to the readers on the frontline who braved reading the first craptastic drafts full of typos and insanity, and for helping me pinpoint the lines that shouldn’t be drawn: Crystal, Sarah, Jessica, Tia, Kate, Gretchen, April, Stephen T., Michele, Annie, Julie R., and Ingrid, and authors Cathey Graham Nickell, Brian Peyton Joyner, Angela Alvarez, and Lisa Sinicki. Lisa—you’re so patient and always believe I can write better. Brian—you worked wonders with WJ’s introduction.

Chris L., thank you for sharing your creative knowledge.  Steve Z., thanks for telling me to “stop worrying and get that book published already.” Bridgette, thanks for reading the romance I wrote long ago (and then burned). Author Heidi Ayarbe, thanks for some synopsis sympathy.

Editors change everything. First, Deborah Halverson with You gave me advice that not only changed Tiger Drive but me as a writer: “Give me a reason to care about this guy.” You also nailed the ending of Carrie’s essay.

Lizette Clarke with Author Accelerator, thanks for the light bulb moments around POV and how to better share Harry’s letters. Thanks to additional editors Carrie Ann Lahain, Kit Frick, Paige Duke, and Eddy Bay—your input gave me the confidence to charge into the publishing arena.

Online courses and masterminds with San Diego State University, Author Accelerator, Story Genius, and WeGrowMedia have taught me much about collaborating, writing, and establishing a routine.

Authors Mary Jo Hazard, Brian Peyton Joyner, Jack Schaeffer, Lisa Manterfield, and Maya Rushing Walker—you people rock my creative world, and I will continue to strive to return the favors and GIFs. Rupert Davies-Cooke and Gemma Glover, our micro-group has created macro results from day one. Cheers!

“Kicksass” creator, Kelsey Browning, you are the best (and most relentless) coach and Say-It-Like-It-Is friend out there. That you introduced me to Mrs-Can-Do-Anything-Reva is a bonus.

Dear newsletter subscribers, thank you for being you and for joining me almost weekly. I’m grateful to all of the Tiger Drive Squadsters, especially Mary Jo Hazard, Mary Incontro, Donna Barker, Lorraine Watson, Crystal Case, Aimee Strathman, Susan Murray Kurilla, David Prater, and Lisa Sinicki. Donna, one call with you and the squad was born. Validation? Check!

Mr. Thompson, as you’d say, “BOOM!” Thank you for our We-Can-Write-Books-Right? calls. Answer: YES, WE CAN.

A book is judged by its cover. Thank you cover designers Olya Vynnychenko, Estella Vukovic, and LancelotZ01 for taking on the challenge. Colleen H., thanks for being my non-reader who judged the covers and description. And author Carlen Maddux, thank you for suggesting a subtitle. Thanks to Buffalo Street Books and Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub for your feedback on my book covers and media sheets.

Thank you, King Features Syndicate for supporting my use of E.C. Segar’s Popeye. And Patsy Cline, thanks for being ahead of your time and for inspiring Janice and me.

Finally, thanks to Crystal for picking up the phone every time I call (excluding nap time).


Next week I’ll share what’s been happening since Tiger Drive‘s release, including some awesome interviews and pictures shared by friends as they received the books. In the meantime, if you’d like to order Tiger Drive or read what people have been saying about the novel, scroll below.

Until then, thanks for being you!!!!


What people are saying about Tiger Drive

Thank You Mr. Tobey


Vitality Stories

Mr. Tobey

Alcoholism A Family Problem by Teri Case Tiger Drive


In Tiger Drive, Carrie is seventeen years old and desperate to go to college but needs financial aid. She turns to her English teacher, Mr. Hill, to proofread her scholarship essay. He is an honest and candid man, and while Carrie doesn’t fully open up to him, she trusts him. Mr. Hill believes in her, and this makes all the difference to Carrie.

In reality, Mr. Hill was inspired by my ninth grade English teacher, Mr. Tobey, at Carson Junior High School. While Carrie’s story is not my story, writing creates an opportunity to recognize people who have made a difference even when writing fiction. Mr. Tobey is one of those people. But in the past thirty-two years, I’ve never reached out to thank him. In a recent exchange with my hometown high school librarian, I said it was because of people like her that there are adults like me. She made a meme of that comment and put it on her computer to remind herself that she makes a difference. She so does. Our exchange inspired me to reach out to Mr. Tobey, finally, to thank him. To tell him how the following three interactions with him have stuck with me always.

I was in the ninth grade in 1985-86. I was a respectful and quiet student. Like Carrie, I liked rules and structure. I prided myself on being unlike some of my older siblings who most of my teachers remembered, seldom favorably. So one day in October 1985 when Mr. Tobey shouted my name in class and said I had detention, I was shocked. I was having a particularly horrible morning and overwhelmed by anxiety about my younger siblings. My family was in a bad place. Our dysfunction was at an all-time high. Getting detention was something that would happen to my older siblings, not me.

When I got to his classroom that afternoon, he asked me to sit in front of his desk while he closed the classroom door. He sat across from me and said, “I gave you detention to give you privacy and to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to you.” And then he said these words that bring me to tears still today. He said, “I come from a family of alcoholism too.”

I use this scene in Tiger Drive. I’ve always wondered how Mr. Tobey could tell I came from a family of alcoholics. Did I act differently than other students? I wondered if in the future I would recognize or intuit when someone loved an alcoholic (I can). Or did he somehow find out about my family? I’ll never know. But from that moment on, I knew that he understood. I didn’t have to say anything. I was no longer alone.

In February 1986, Mr. Tobey would instruct my class on how to write our first research paper, using a bibliography and everything. The title of my first ever report was, “Alcoholism: A Family Problem.”

I poured my time and heart into this paper. The report was the only therapy I’d had to date. I got a 93% on the paper with a note from Mr. Tobey written on my Conclusion page. Note my conclusion started with, “Alcoholism can cause a great deal of pain, a pain that may never be forgotten.” And it ended with, “Most important is that the child’s life does not have to remain in the painful situation; it can get better.”

Teri, on a strictly academic basis, this paper is in need of far better substantiation. On a personal level, I know that what you present here is largely true, and I know the turmoil you had to fight through to write it.

I think I’ll give it a better grade than it deserves because you have demonstrated basic understanding of the format and because I really can’t do otherwise! Please keep this to yourself.

Until now, I have never told anyone about my grade. I loved that Mr. Tobey expected me to do better while also validating I knew what I was talking about. It was an amazing moment for me. And when my dad would die only three months after writing this paper, and I would walk into Mr. Tobey’s class and he would look me in the eye and simply say, “I’m sorry.” That was enough. I knew he knew how I felt. I was reminded that I wasn’t alone.

Three years later when I’d walk across the community center stage to accept a Rotary Scholarship that would help me begin college the following year, Mr. Tobey was in the audience. His daughter was in my class. Mr. Tobey would get a message to me: “You are a wonderful lady and will go far. I am proud.”

I made some calls last week to locate Mr. Tobey and tell him what a positive influence he’s been in my life, and to tell him about Mr. Hill in Tiger Drive. It had not escaped me that the above paper was written in February 1986 and now in February 2018, my debut novel is releasing. Sadly, I learned that Mr. Tobey passed away two years ago. My message and gratitude are being passed onto his wife by one of her close friends who assured me, “This will mean so much to her.”

Mr. Tobey, thank you for being you.

Who has made a positive influence in your life? What can you do to let them know? There is no time like the present.

Until next time, thank you for being you. And if you’d like to read Part Two of Granted: My Close Encounter with a Possible Pedophile, click here.


Tiger Drive is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Ingram. A portion of the proceeds will help fund the Tiger Drive Scholarship. And if you read Tiger Drive, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Your opinion will help readers decided if Tiger Drive is right for them. Also, please tell your friends about Tiger Drive. Word of mouth is everything.


Granted: My Close Encounter with a Possible Pedophile (Pt. 2)


Vitality Stories

Granted: My Close Encounter with a Possible Pedophile, Part 2

Granted: My Close Encounter with a Possible Pedophile

Click here to read Part One

Part Two

Grant had two passions: photography and astrology. I’d become a willing participant in both.

My older sister always read me our horoscope (we’re both Scorpio), but at eight years old, the promises or warnings meant nothing to me. I wasn’t looking for romance, to change jobs, and I wasn’t worried about my health. They were boring and silly. So when Grant first pulled out all of his books and charts, I was not interested.

But Grant would get so animated while discussing astrology, carefully spreading out his materials like treasures. To my surprise and non-delight, he’d started my astrological chart. He explained how my birthday and time of birth would influence the rest of my life. He went over the various “houses” and how the moon, sun, and other planets could influence said houses. After a few weeks, he finished my chart, and he told me something I have never forgotten.

Grant told me that someday I was going to be a “wealthy and humble woman.” I asked him what he meant. He said, “You’ll live in a mansion, but you won’t be a show-off. You won’t rub your riches in anyone’s face.” I kid you not, right then and there, I pictured my older self standing on the front steps of a mansion, holding wild picked flowers, and wearing worn out overalls (and we all know how I felt about overalls). And I had a beat-up truck in the driveway. It’s highly possible I was influenced by reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres.

Today, people talk about the power of positive thinking, applying The Secret, and more. I always think about Grant and the positive influence his passion for astrology had on the outlook of my life. He gave me hope. Not that I’d have money someday, but that my future would be very different than the way I was being raised.

But in hindsight, he was also moving me away from talking about topics interesting to a little girl to discussing more adult topics. He was changing the playing field.

to be continued

For an update on Mr. Tobey and Tiger Drive, click here.


Granted: My Close Encounter with a Possible Pedophile


Vitality Stories


Granted: My Close Encounter with a Possible Pedophile

Part One

In 1978, my family moved our mobile home from a trailer park on the east side of Carson City to a trailer park on the west side of Carson City. My mom always said, “The west side is the best side.” So we were “moving up.” Plus, we were moving away from the K-Bar, my dad’s favorite bar which had been across the street from our old park. So things were “looking up” too. Continue reading

My Overhauls: Then and Now


Vitality Stories

Teri Case Overhauls

My Overhauls: Then and Now

My Overhauls: Then

Author Cathey Graham Nickell and I recently shared the ways our mothers extended the life of our clothes when we were little. Cathey’s mom would add different colored strips of cloth to the bottom of her favorite jeans to lengthen them–Cathey liked them because she felt very “hippie.”

With my eight brothers and sisters, my mom repurposed our clothes both as hand-me-downs and hand-me-ups. My mom and I had many arguments about fashion once I started kindergarten. The first would be when she tried to get me to wear some used black overalls that were given to us for my younger brother. They were too big for him so my mom said I’d have to wear them until my brother grew into them. “Besides,” she had said, “you need clothes to start school.” But I was having none of her idea. I loved bright colors, skirts, and dresses already. I cried. My mom got creative. She cut out the inseams and sewed bright green polyester triangles to the front and back and voila–the overalls became an overalls dress and I loved my “overhauls”–as I liked to call ’em. I wore the dress all the time until I outgrew it, and my mom turned the dress back into overalls for my little brother. Continue reading

Mom’s Jailbreak

Vitality Stories

Teri Case Vitality Stories

Mom’s Jailbreak

No one puts Bonnie in the corner

Recently, my eighty-two-year-old mom had pneumonia which caused her to lose strength in her legs. She could no longer stand long enough for the staff to transfer her from the bed to her wheelchair, from her wheelchair to a recliner, etc. Ultimately, her pneumonia worsened, and she had to be checked into the hospital. She gets pneumonia quite often, but because she had lost so much strength and mobility, the hospital recommended she be transferred to a local rehabilitation nursing center (non-hospital affiliated) to rebuild her strength rather than discharge her to return to her assisted living center–her home.

What we didn’t appreciate at the time, but do now, is how poorly the rehabilitation nursing home was staffed and managed. My mom was grossly ignored for several days and was not receiving any physical therapy to rebuild her strength. Instead they were performing mental tests and assessments all in an effort to make a case that she stay at their facility for the rest of her life. She was starting to decline under the care of the rehab facility. There was no rehabbing a-happenin’. She’d try to talk to the nurses, but they just spoke over her. She tried asking for her doctor, nothing would happen. Continue reading