Monday, July 18, 2016

Will It Work?

After our delightful cruise, I stepped on the scale at home and discovered all those wonderful, elegant meals had converted into blubber. Usually, I count calories to lose extra pounds, but I've grown tired of that method. So I decided to try something different.

I saw Perfect Portions in the "As Seen on TV" section in The Christmas Tree Shop today and I bought it. I have no idea whether or not this is the solution to my excess weight, but it can't hurt.

Since I'm a writer with a painting hobby, much of my time is spent sitting. I like to crochet, too, and that involves more sitting. My exercise is either cleaning the house, or cycling on my recumbent bike while reading a book. (Multitasking!)

Have you tried Perfect Portions? Did it work for you?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Is It Love?

Another wonderful Prism Book Group author is my guest blogger today. See what she has to say about romantic love. 
St. Paul took a whole chapter in I Corinthians listing various hallmarks of love. Rather than attempt a pat definition, he revealed some of love’s many facets, turning it over and over as one might a brilliant, perfectly-cut diamond.
Since love is such a broad topic, let’s zero in on one aspect—romantic love. When a special person makes the heart beat faster, regardless of the season of life, we begin to question our emotions. Am I in love?  How will I know when it happens? How can I be sure when it is the real thing? Living a few years teaches us romantic love is accompanied with tender feelings, but that “gushy” feeling alone is not enough to stand the test of time. Love is more.  Real romance involves two people who care enough for each to put the other ahead of themselves.  In a “me first” instant gratification world, that kind of commitment is rare.  Yet it is the kind of giving, sharing love we hunger for at our very core.
Do I love him? Does he love me?  A simple test would be to consider each of the characteristics of love from I Corinthians.  Are we kind to each other?  Are we patient with each other? And so on.   Many heartbreaks could be avoided by thinking through that Biblical checklist, and turning away from a relationship with too many “no” answers.  Another person’s love is not directly measureable.  We can’t take out a yardstick and see how it stacks up. Instead, we observe love by its impact.  Oscar Hammerstein II is credited with this little rhyme that captures a singular way of looking at love:   
A bell is not a bell till you ring it. 
A song is not a song till you sing it.
Love in your heart isn’t put there to stay. 
Love isn’t love till you give it away.”
 Prism Book Group’s “Love Is…” series takes its inspiration from I Corinthians chapter 13.  Eventually there will be a short novel that takes its theme from one of the aspects of true love.  My contribution to this series is “Evidence Not Seen”, inspired by “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” Or, if you prefer the lyrical language of the old King James translation, “thinketh no evil.”  I hope those who read my story find it to be true to that sentiment.  
In the final analysis, we are left with faith, hope, and love.  What a marvelous trilogy!  And the greatest, of course, is love.  May we all practice it faithfully, daily, unrelentingly.  Love never fails. 
Check out Carlene’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series… 

Evidence Not Seen
“Love keeps no record of wrongs…” 1 Corinthians: 13:5
Although attorney Jeff Galloway’s career is in high gear, his personal life is a mess. Just before his father returns home from a 27-year stretch in prison, his girlfriend dumps him. When a chance encounter begins to blossom into new romance, soft-hearted Melanie Clark encourages Jeff to find a way to forgive his father’s long absence.
Buy it at AMAZON!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Creating Secondary Characters

Secondary characters are useful. Your heroine doesn't need to look into a mirror to describe her features. She's got a sidekick more than willing to point out her foibles. As Pinocchio relied upon Jiminy Cricket to become real, most heroines and/or heroes could use a confidante to guide them along on their journey--or sometimes point out the obvious when their rose-colored glasses obstruct the view.

Secondary characters are also great fun to bring to life. For instance, in my historical, PATRIOT'S PRIDE, Mrs. Ulery is the heroine's companion and chaperone on a long journey to England. The heroine barely knows the older woman, but it soon becomes obvious that Mrs. Ulery has an inordinate fondness for whiskey. While the heroine is horrified at this discovery, the heroine finds Mrs. Ulery's other hidden talents more than helpful.

Readers have enjoyed Mrs. Ulery. In addition to being a foil for the very proper heroine, she provides humor and a slight touch of wisdom, despite her love of liquor. In fact, it is that failing of hers which rounds out the older woman and makes her seem genuine.

Here's a great post about supporting characters and how to create them:

So have some fun with your secondary characters. Your heroes and heroines need some support!

Photo Credit: "A Woman Reading, The Chamber-Maid Brings Tea" via photopin (license)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Sense of Direction

I've been married for nearly forty years to a man who has no sense of direction. He possesses many other fine qualities, but it would be helpful if he was able to distinguish north from south and east from west. He compensates for his deficiency by using maps. He prints out endless reams of paper when he must travel somewhere new. He maps out every turn. He always fears getting lost.

Many have suggested he should purchase a GPS. He just laughs and tells them I'm his GPS. And I am.

While it is true that I have taken a few wrong turns in my life, I am not afraid of getting lost. I've lived in New Jersey all my life. It's a peninsula. There's water on the east coast, southern coast, and western coast. Besides, no matter where you are in NJ, there's either a Parkway sign or a Turnpike sign to guide you along. Besides, sometimes a new road is the start of a wonderful adventure.

While we were cruising along on the Carnival Sunshine in the Atlantic Ocean, hubby always had the map of the ship in his pocket. I really didn't think he could get very lost on the ship, but he worried about it enough to carry the little map with him at all times.


How about you? Do you have a good sense of direction or not?

Friday, July 01, 2016

Talking Love with Gail Pallotta

Please welcome my guest blogger GAIL PALLOTTA! Her latest release is one of the "Love Is" series of books from Prism Book Group. 

When I was in college I used to run into an atheist in the small cafe where we gathered for Coca-Colas, hamburgers and French fries after class. I tried to avoid him, because he always hopped over to my table and started an argument about my faith.

Perhaps he comes to mind on the release day of Breaking Barriers for several reasons. One, he was angry at me because I am a Christian. Even though today I can’t recall which verses he used, he’d take passages from the Bible and try to make me say they weren’t true. When I wouldn’t, he’d retort with a scientific argument and claim it had to be right.
The second reason he comes to mind—it was the mention of God’s love that finally silenced him. One day I grew so frustrated I asked, “If there’s no God, where does love come from? Why don’t you mix me up a little bowl of it? If scientists could do it, they would, because they could sell a ton of it for lots of money.”
His mouth gaped.
He never trotted to my table again.
Since then I’ve read that we have chemicals in the brain that produce love. I’ve often wondered if he came up with that theory. Even if that were true, the chemicals in the brain came from somewhere, and that would still lead back to God. I hope it wasn’t him. I hope he thought about God’s great love for us and decided to read the Bible.
Check out Gail’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…

Breaking Barriers
“…love is not easily angered …” 1 Corinthians: 13:5
Gunshots ring out as Ann Jones enters the church. She hides in the bathroom until they stop, then stumbles into the sanctuary. The congregation lies dead in pools of blood. To rebuild the church, she starts True Light Guardians. At the first meeting, she’s attacked by a terrorist, but rescued by James Crawford. He melts her heart, cold from her father’s abuse, and they fall for each other. She’s afraid to commit to love that might grow angry later, like the type she knew as a child. James yearns to stop other attempts on Ann’s life, but can’t. Tormented by her constant risks, he breaks up with her. When an assault sends her to the hospital, an unlikely ally shares Ann’s plight with James, but he reveals a lead that puts all three of them in even more danger.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cruising--Then and Now

 Thirty-nine years ago, hubby and I went for a cruise on the Oceanic to Nassau in the Bahamas. We were celebrating our first anniversary. The ship could hold 1,600 passengers and 560 crew. We stayed in a small cabin with two narrow beds--separated from each other. There was a very small closet and small bathroom. Of course, we didn't spend much time in our room. There was plenty of entertainment and plenty of food--six meals a day, which included a fancy midnight buffet.  There was gambling, too, but hubby and I don't gamble.

This year, for our fortieth anniversary, we booked a cruise on the Carnival Sunshine to see the town of St. John in New Brunswick, Canada.  The Carnival Sunshine can hold 3,006 passengers and 1,150 crew, making it huge in comparison to the Oceanic.

Our cabin was compact but larger than the one we had on the Oceanic with a lot more storage space along with a bed big enough for the two of us together.

One of my daughter's friends compared it to a floating mall because in addition to lots of entertainment, the ship also has plenty of shops--all with sales, of course.

In the past 39 years, the cruise industry has perfected the art of parting you and your money. The key card used to open the door of your cabin is connected to your credit card. You swipe it for every beverage you drink along with every extra service or purchase you make. I purchased the Wifi for $35, which was the "value" Wifi. If I wanted a faster connection, it would have cost much more. But the value Wifi was all I needed to stay in touch via Facebook Messenger with my daughters.

Since it was an anniversary cruise, we were granted several extra amenities--a free bottle of wine with dinner, a meal at one of the exclusive restaurants, a free photo, and spa services. I didn't use the spa services, but everything else was great. :-)

While the Oceanic boasted six meals a day, the Carnival Sunshine offers twenty-four hours of food. The Sunshine also has more of everything and many, many options. My favorite places on the ship were the quiet places--like the Serenity deck or the Library. The Lido deck was always noisy--though in the evening there were movies on the big screen, which was awesome. Hubby and I enjoyed the Piano Bar where every evening Jimi played popular songs and everyone sang along. However, some nights the Piano Bar was too crowded--so we didn't venture in.

Our trip on the Sunshine was only four nights long--far too short. I think a longer cruise which stopped at a few more ports would have been more interesting. As it was, we were in St. John for a very brief amount of time.

Thirty-nine years ago, on the Oceanic, when we were in our cabin we could hear the engine grinding away all the time. On the Sunshine, we didn't hear the engine in our cabin. However, I did feel the bed chug-chug-chugging along with the movement of the ship. There wasn't much swaying back and forth, but the ocean was fairly calm. I'm sure there would be more swaying if the ocean was rough.

All in all, it was a nice diversion spent in pleasant company and it was over far too soon. It was wonderful to be pampered for a while.

Friday, June 17, 2016

New Cozy Mystery!

One of the Prism Group authors, Julie B. Cosgrove, is writing a new cozy mystery series. Here's the book blurb:

As Janie and Betsy Ann go for their morning jog, the city sanitation vehicle follows its normal five-mile Tuesday morning route through their retirement community of Sunset Acres. The two Bunco-playing biddies spot a leg dangling out of the dumpster when the truck lifts the trash container high in the air. Someone diced up one of their newest residents—a grouchy loner named Edwin Newman. Did he unpack too much of his dicey past when he moved in last weekend? 

This is what one Amazon reviewer said, "Living in a retirement community is supposed to be quiet and peaceful. When bunco loving friends happen upon a dead body, they decide to ensure their community is safe by solving the crime in this delightful book, full of humorous situations."

Check it out at the links below.