Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Sing Old Songs


In The Cowboy's Miracle, Seth finds a battered, old guitar in the guesthouse and strums chords while singing classic western tunes. Mentioned in the book are songs like "Goodnight Ladies," "A Man Without a Woman," "Buffalo Gals,"and "Oh My Darling Clementine." Those songs are cultural gems--a link to our country's past history. Music chronicles historical eras in a very succinct manner. It is another way to bring past times into focus and make them easy to remember.

As a retired teacher, I worry the future of musical education. Often, the arts are the first thing to go when cuts are made in education. I always included music as part of my curriculum when I taught--especially in a closed classroom situation. My own daughters took piano lessons for years, but in addition our home is packed with music of all types.  

As a family, we often sit around the fire and sing old songs. Once, my younger sister questioned this habit. 

"You're singing the same songs you sang forty years ago," she said. 

I informed her that the old songs are the best songs. They've stood the test of time, but there's more to it. Those songs are references to our national cultural heritage. We must not allow them to fade into dust. 

Teach your children well. Sing old songs. 



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ups and Downs


Hubby loves roller coaster rides. I do not. Life has enough ups and downs. While the ups are really wonderful, the downs can be hair-raising.

In October, the roller coaster of life gave me a new scare. I found a lump in one of my breasts. I didn't hesitate and called my gynecologist right away. After several mammograms and an ultrasound, a cyst was the probable cause of the lump. The cyst was aspirated. However, there were a few suspicious findings on the ultrasound and I went through biopsies as well. One biopsy showed I had an invasive ductal carcinoma, another biopsy diagnosed a ductal papilloma.

The biopsies were not easy to go through. Neither was the MRI guided biopsy. But my surgeon had planned to do a lumpectomy, and precision is important.  Markers were put inside my breast, and just before surgery, wires were inserted to the markers to guide the surgeon.

The surgery was the easy part. While all the removed tissues will be carefully examined, the surgeon was quite sure the lymph nodes were clear, which is as good as it gets. I will be receiving more treatment to eradicate the cancer.

The moral of this story is simple. Make regular breast self-exams part of your routine.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Release Day for THE COWBOY'S MIRACLE!


Here's a short excerpt from THE COWBOYS' MIRACLE. Enjoy!

     The door opened and Seth blinked in shock. A young woman with long, curly, coal-black hair and hazel eyes smiled at him.
     “You must be the vet.” She reached over to an oak coatrack and slipped into her jacket.
     “Yes, ma’am. I’m a veterinarian, but—”
     “I’m so glad you’re here. I’m terribly concerned about Harley.” She stepped onto the porch and closed the door.
      “Harley?”
      “╩╗Call the vet,╩╝ he said.” She laughed. “Of course, he didn’t say that exactly, but he meant it.” She hurried down the steps. “Come along. I know it’s the day after Thanksgiving, but our regular doctor is out of town—as is everyone else in the county it seems—and I had to do something. Harley was very insistent.”
     “Yes, ma’am, but where’s Mrs. Holmes?”
      “In the nursing home, as usual. I visited with her earlier and she’s doing fine, all things considered, but Harley’s the problem right now. He’s not himself. I’m so worried—”
     “Ma’am, is Harley Mr. Holmes?” He barely comprehended her. She spoke rapidly, without a breath between any of her words as he hobbled along in her wake.
     She halted for a moment and peered at him as if he possessed a substantial mental deficit. “Why, no. Harley is one of the alpacas. I believe I mentioned that detail when I left the message on the phone, though it is possible I forgot, I was—after all—a bit upset since no one would come out here and examine him. Mrs. Holmes loves the alpacas. I still bring them around to the nursing home on fine days and it cheers her more than you can imagine—calms her, too. Sometimes, she’s almost lucid when she touches their soft fleece.”
     His heart sank. Was his grandmother suffering from dementia? “Is Mr. Holmes here?”
     “Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t you hear? Dr. Holmes died three years ago.”
     Doctor? Seth swallowed. “He’s...he’s gone?”
     “Yes, a massive heart attack. It was so...sudden...” She took in a ragged breath before
continuing. “He was the mayor for some time and practically a celebrity in these parts, though it doesn’t take much to be famous in Greenburg. Was he your professor? So many of his former students drop by on occasion. He’s still remembered fondly by many of them.”
     “I went to college in Colorado. What did he teach?”
     “English. Oh, how he loved Shakespeare,” she exclaimed. “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
     A cold chill slid up Seth’s spine. His father often used that quote—mostly because it invariably impressed folks. He realized he discovered a link, though tenuous, but at least one thing made sense.

Download a sample to read more or buy it now at

AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, KOBO, SMASHWORDS, and iBOOKs!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The HEA...


A romance must have a happy-ever-after ending—known as the HEA among romance writers. Romance authors sometimes write those HEAs even when their own lives are in turmoil. It would be interesting to conduct a survey to discover how many authors have written some of their more successful books during times of crisis.

Many years ago this particular topic came up as a question at an NJRW meeting and I spent some time thinking about it afterward. I’m guessing that the majority of romance writers are idealists. I know I am—but coincidently I am also a realist. I am very much aware of life's ups and downs. Though the sun may be shining in my life today, a cloud is surely looming on the horizon.

Life is like that for everyone and there is no escaping it. However, when the going gets tough nothing cheers me up as much as sitting down for a little while and working on a story—a story where despite difficulties, the hero and heroine wind up as perfect for each other and everything is rosy--not that I don't create a considerable amount of havoc for my beleagued protagonists. They do have some big problems to solve. Yet, they will succeed. I make up my own wonderful little world and—in my mind at least—erase some of the gloom and doom of the real world.

I think this is better than drugs or other self-destructive behaviors. Obviously, if someone has a serious problem with depression, they should get professional help. But if you’ve been following along on this blog and you read between the lines you know there have been a host of disruptions in my life. If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you are privy to more details.

Still, I never stop writing—except for a day or two when I truly don't have a single moment to spare. Most days I write even if I’m not feeling particularly happy, or romantic for that matter. My hero and heroine are going to get their HEA, no matter what. If something good is happening in my characters’ lives, I feel better.

It’s as simple as that.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Irene for President


Yesterday would have been my mother's ninty-fifth birthday. Irene would have made a great US President. This is a photo of her at her high school graduation. She had red hair and brown eyes. She was the daughter of a coal miner who had come to this country in his teens from a town near Prague, which was part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire at the time. Her mother came to this country as an infant. Irene was the second of their seven children--and their second daughter.

She supported herself while going to art school. When World War II broke out, she joined the Marines. Eventually, she came to New Jersey where she met my father.

She was compassionate and helped others less fortunate on a regular basis. She lived her Christian values. She was always willing to listen to other people's troubles and offer them helpful advice. She raised four children to be good citizens and encouraged them to go for higher education, which they all did.

When needed, she took on odd jobs to help out with family finances, but for the most part she managed to put good food on the table despite the income my father brought home as a journalist. The budget was always balanced and my parents were not in debt.

And Mom saw the beauty in this world. She painted and sketched--so that others could see the beauty in this world, too.

She was an extraordinary woman. Given the chance, she could have been anything--a lawyer, a diplomat, a senator, a governor, or the leader of our country. She knew what needed to be done and she did it. Always.

There are plenty of women today who would make excellent leaders of our country. They know how to balance the books. They know how to be diplomatic. They know how to be strong.

They just don't have a lot of money.

Unfortunately, this country is run by billionaires but it's the hard workers like my mother who would do a much better job at it.

Next time vote for someone like Irene.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Pre-Order Your Cowboy!


THE COWBOY'S MIRACLE is available for pre-order now! It will be released on November 18, 2016. Wouldn't you like a cowboy for Christmas? Find him at AmazonSmashwords, and Kobo.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Autumn Scenery


On Sunday, hubby and I went for a walk in Cheesequake State Park. I  snapped several photos. Autumn is my favorite time of the year. The air is crisp and the colors of the foliage make for a stunning sight.

Of course, whenever I shoot scenery, I'm always hoping it will make either a nice bookcover or a nice painting. However, I was wondering if there are those who do not like photographic bookcovers. What do you think? Would you prefer a photograph or artwork for a book cover? Do you think you would be more attracted to a cover with people on it, one with just scenery, or something more abstract?