Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Jersey Romance Writers' Conference 2017


Writers' conferences are amazing! As you can see above, I received a bunch of free books at the New Jersey Romance Writers' Conference this weekend. I actually could have gotten more, but I didn't want to be too greedy. πŸ˜‡ 

However, there's more to a writers' conference than free books. There's enthusiasm and encouragement along with a heaping dose of helpful, practical information about the business of writing and marketing books. The workshops at NJRW's conference ran the gamut from a beginner's class on point of view to round table discussions with other published authors concerning the state of the industry.


My top tip this weekend concerned Amazon ads. I had tried signing up for an Amazon ad more than a year ago, but my ad did not seem to work for me. As it turns out, other authors have found the ads successful by using their own extensive and exhaustive lists of keywords. 


One of my favorite workshops was given by Eileen Dreyer titled "His Brain/Her Brain: Why It Took Moses 40 Years to Get out of the Desert." Ms. Dreyer put together all the facts concerning the differences in men's brains and women's brains. As soon as I returned home, I showed my notes home to my husband. He studied them with some bemusement. I don't know if he'll understand me any better, but I believe I'll understand him far more now that I know the facts. πŸ˜‚


I was looking forward to Tracey Lyons talk titled "Keeping the Sexy in Sweet," but unfortunately Ms. Lyons didn't show. Still, I did get a copy of her book The Heart of an Agent, and I've already started to read it. (It's GOOD!)


Of course, the best thing about a writers' conference is simply being with other writers and meeting authors from all over the country. As romance writers, we are invested in hope. Our stories have happy endings and sometimes a happy ending is all you need to BELIEVE. 

Monday, October 09, 2017

My Swedish Meat Balls


A long time ago, I was the bride-to-be in an age where bridal registries were not what they are today. Among my many gifts I received at my bridal shower were three slow cookers. I gave one to my mother and kept the other two.

At first, I rarely used the gadgets, but as time went on I found their usefulness went beyond stew. For instance, they were excellent for keeping mulled cider hot at a party.

Still, a recipe my family and I enjoyed early on was one for Swedish meat balls from a booklet that came with one of the slow cookers.
These meat balls are not like the famed Swedish meat balls served at IKEA. What I like in particular about this recipe is the addition of dill in the sauce.

Give this one a try--and double the recipe so you'll have plenty of leftovers.



SWEDISH MEAT BALLS
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons shortening
1 can beef broth
3/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Soak bread crumbs in milk for 5 minutes.

2. Combine crumb mixture with meat, eggs, and next four ingredients. Shape into balls about an inch in diameter.

3. Heat shortening in skillet and brown meat balls.

4. Place meat balls in cooker and add broth, dill weed and pepper.

5. Cook on low 4 hours.

Yield: 3 dozen meat balls.



Wednesday, October 04, 2017

In Life and In Books #ActionsSpeakLouderThanWords

For my parents' sixtieth wedding anniversary in 2007, we celebrated with a backyard party. Dad put a garter on my mother's ankle. Everyone donned flower leis and there was a bit of champagne as well. It was a small affair--just family. Two years later my mother died and last year my father passed away. They were good people and I was blessed to have them as parents.

Everyone in our family--and in our extended family has been rather loquacious. They have all loved to talk. Any gathering was guaranteed to be boisterous, but fun and always memorable.

While all my parents' words have faded away, there are many things they did that remain embedded in my memory. My father never failed to tip his hat when he passed a church. Dad spent forty years working for the Jersey Journal and took pains to get the stories right. He was unfailingly honest. Whenever my parents argued, my father bought flowers. He bought flowers for other occasions, too. There was never any doubt that he loved my mother.

When one of the neighbor's children became ill, my mother made a huge batch of cream puffs and gave them to the family. When another neighbor needed a ride to the train station, my mother drove her. If someone was hungry, Mom gave them food. One mentally disabled young man often came to the door for cookies and my parents bought cookies just so they would have them for him.

My parents treated everyone with respect. They were the good guys.

When I'm writing a book, I know there will be times the characters may say something they don't mean. Talk is--after all--cheap. But a protagonist must do the right thing, no matter what. The protagonist will go out of their way to help someone in need. Of course, the antagonist may play along and say the right thing, but he or she will invariably do the wrong thing.

This may sound rather simplistic, but to put it another way a leopard can't change his spots. Most folks behave in a certain manner all the time--like that aging uncle who invariably hands out a lecture on the same topic every time you see him. He's a good man, but he can't remember where he left his car. A detail like that conveys more than pages of description. It doesn't take much to paint an accurate picture readers won't forget.

Actions do speak louder than words, in life and in books. I know the good guys goof up sometimes, but they always learn from their mistakes and when the time comes for the hero or heroine to show their true mettle, they do. I write fiction, but in many ways it's not that far from the truth.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Praying for Puerto Rico

In 2006, for our 30th anniversary, hubby and I visited Puerto Rico. The pigeons loved me. πŸ€£ 

We had a great time touring the fort, the rain forest, and the Bacardi rum factory. Best of all, we enjoyed the people of Puerto Rico. My heart goes out to them.

I pray their beautiful island will soon be healed. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Updated Book Covers


The two books of my PATRIOT series have been updated by the publisher and they look terrific! I am thrilled. Both of the books have already received wonderful reviews, but I believe a great book cover truly helps to sell books.

I admit book covers have often tempted me to buy books. I do read the blurb on the back, and I often read at least the first page or two, but the cover is the biggest factor in drawing me to the book in the first place. If it catches my eye, I'm likely to pick it up and take a closer look.

How about you? Can you answer these questions?

1. Does a book cover influence your decision to buy a book or not?

2. If the book cover is not a major factor in your book buying decision, what is?

3. Do you make a decision based upon the reviews of the book?

4. Do you only read books that are posted on the New York Times Best Seller list.

5. Do you only read books your friends have recommended to you?

6. Do you only read books you get for free?

PATRIOT'S HEART and PATRIOT'S PRIDE are not free, but the digital versions are very inexpensive. Only $4.99 on Amazon. Check them out. πŸ’•

And follow me on Amazon! That way you won't miss out on any new reviews, new releases, or updated covers. πŸ“š

Just visit my author page at https://www.amazon.com/Penelope-Marzec/e/B002BLQGA4 and hit the FOLLOW button. So easy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Guest Author: Gay N. Lewis

Gay N. Lewis has been a guest at this blog twice but I'm very delighted she's posting again today! I've enjoyed reading several of her stories about Sarah, the klutzy little angel, and Clue Into Kindness was a real keeper. Please welcome Gay as she tells us about her latest release, Mattie's Choice.

Thanks for having me, Penny. I hope after our visit today your hubby will play the accordion for us. I’ll sing!

Gay: Hubby will play for you anytime. πŸŽΌ 🎹


With my newest book, Mattie’s Choice, I’ve departed from my sweet, whimsical, fantasy genre about a dyslexic angel. Oh, Sarah is still up to her bumbles and antics, but I’ve put her in time out for a while.

I’ve been writing a Woman's Christian historical about two women married to abusive brothers. Mattie’s Choice was inspired by my mother-in-law and an aunt by marriage. The book is not biographical, but many of the events in this book actually happened to these women.

My father-in-law wasn’t physically abusive, but he was emotionally cruel. My husband's mother wasn’t allowed to visit her twin brother or any family members. She couldn’t go to her dad’s funeral. Hard to believe, right? Most of us ladies today would say, “No way, buster. Out of my way.” But even today too many women today live with a controlling man. Choices are not easy in these circumstances. My mom-in-law was a strong woman who managed to live within her claustrophobic existence while rearing eleven children. All of those children are now emotionally healthy adults—none took after their dad’s controlling ways. They are successful and respectable citizens. 

Everyone has a choice.


Here's more about Mattie’s Choice.

In 1925, against her father’s wishes, a romantic and naΓ―ve seventeen-year-old Mattie elopes with Jesse Colby in rural Oklahoma. Dreams shatter when Jesse slaps her. Jesse believes women are to obey husbands and forbids Mattie to have a relationship with her “infernal” family. Mattie can’t imagine life without her twin brother, Maury. Her self-confidence ebbs away as Jesse degrades her.

Joe, Jesse’s brother in Galveston, marries a nurse and returns home to Oklahoma. His wife, Ella, becomes Mattie’s best friend. Ella feels one’s safety is more essential than marriage vows. Mattie believes a vow made before God takes priority over abuse.

To bring relief from responsibilities and dreariness of life, Jesse and Joe embark on an illicit entertainment with two sisters who live near-by. In the meantime, Jesse refuses to allow Mattie to visit their eleven-year-old son, Adam, in the hospital. Adam is diagnosed with Polio.

One woman discovered the strength to stay in an abusive relationship.  The other found strength to leave.  Neither choice was easy, and both women believed they did what God wanted them to do.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

There are study questions which follow the book: 
What would your choice have been? 
Women are abused today. How can you help them?

Assistance was unavailable in 1925, but shelters and aid exist today. In 1925 the vogue of the day indicted the woman and exonerated the man.

In my research for this story, I discovered that America has only 1,500 shelters for abused women, but 3,800 shelters for animals. Statistics show that one out of four women will face abuse in their lifetime. On a personal note, I can verify this statistic. I have three daughters, so counting me, there are four women in my household. One daughter was married to an abusive man. Fortunately, that was a short marriage.

Here’s another statistic. Police will respond quicker if an intruder is a stranger rather than a member of the household.


A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear, a small town west of Houston.  As a pastor’s wife, Gay writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country.  As a published author for Pelican Book Group, she writes in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles.

Her latest books, Mattie’s Choice, and Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. They are Christian women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to unhealthy relationships.

The books are available in print, eBook, and audio.
For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/
Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.
www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2.
Sarah, the angel, has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Once Upon an Egg Cup

My mother tried every sort of craft there was. At one point, she tried ceramics. She made egg cups. This is the last one left, which was made for my brother. It's missing part of the base on the other side, but it's a cute piece. There was one for me, I'm sure, but I probably broke it. I learned about the fragility of china early on. 
My mother had a fascination with china and glassware. Eventually, in her later life she amassed a considerable collection of Depression Glass as well as unusual china pieces and sets. 
So I wound up with a decent amount of knowledge concerning dinnerware and other serving pieces, none of which has been particularly of use in my writing. But one never knows. I may need it someday when I'm writing about a woman cracking open the egg in her egg cup and eating her breakfast. 
At any rate, I found an informative article online about soft boiled eggs, how to cook them, eat them, and their history. (http://www.factsfacts.com/EggCups/EggCups.htm)
Perhaps tomorrow I will have a soft boiled egg for breakfast.