Saturday, December 31, 2005

Upstate NY

Here's Daughter #1 with her godchild and other young cousins. We went to Upstate NY yesterday to visit with hubby's brother and family. There was only one glitch in our plans. Hubby had an upset stomach when he woke up yesterday morning. We did not want to disappoint the young cousins, so we left hubby and his germs at home. Daughter #3 stayed home to keep an eye on him.

Daughter #1 and I shared the driving. I had a short article to write for the "Heartline Herald," the newsletter of the New Jersey Romance Writers, so I jotted down ideas as we cruised along the Parkway and the Thruway. It was a perfect day for a long drive--lots of dry road and not too much traffic.

We had a very nice time seeing everyone and chatting, but we had a long ride back so we did not stay too long. On the way home, I give up trying to write in the dark. We put on some music and sang along with Johnny Cash, the Beach Boys, and a couple tapes of sea chanties. I love sea chanties. "Clear away the running gear and blow, boys, blow." It's very good driving music.

By the time we got home, hubby was feeling somewhat better.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back to Brooklyn

Yesterday, I actually had some time to write. Daughter #1 took her father with her to get a new car battery while Daughters #2 and #3 went shopping at the mall. When everyone returned we went out for pizza and then watched a really terrible movie that my sister gave to my hubby as a gift. It was an old horror movie titled FROGS. Hubby loved it. He laughed through most of it and kept right on laughing the rest of the evening.

Today, we drove Daughter #2 back into Brooklyn. She had way too much stuff to carry on the train--and besides, we wanted to visit some of hubby's Brooklyn relatives, too. Daughter #1 came along for the ride. We stopped in to see hubby's cousin first. She lives only a few blocks from Daughter #2's apartment.

After seeing her, we dropped off Daughter #2's stuff at her apartment. She had decorated a small plant with paper snowflakes which she called her Christmas tree.

Then we all visited hubby's aunt. His aunt is 89 years old! She insisted on feeding us. One of her granddaughters was there along with two of her great-grandchildren. It was wonderful to see them.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Taking Aim...


Here's a photo of Daughter #3 taking aim. She gave each of us a gun that shoots colored ping pong balls. Yesterday morning, we had a ping pong gun battle in the living room. Red, blue, yellow, and green balls went flying everywhere and everyone had a good laugh.

I usually buy some sort of game at Christmas. This year I got a dartboard with magnetic darts. It was opened yesterday but so far nobody has used it. It is far more exciting to bop someone with a ping pong ball!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Bread

I made Christmas Bread yesterday. Many years ago, one of my coworkers gave me her recipe and since then it has become a family favorite in our home. It really is scrumptious, so I thought I would share it. Give it a try. You'll enjoy every morsel.

Christmas Bread

Measure into a large bowl:
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Add 2 cups scalded milk. Cool to lukewarm.
Add 2 packages yeast softened in 1/4-cup lukewarm water.
Add 2 beaten eggs and 4 cups flour. Mix well.
Add 1-cup raisins
And 2 cups mixed fruitcake fruit.

Beat in 4 more cups flour.

Place dough in very large bowl, cover and let rise until double.

Punch down and knead on floured board.

Shape into 2 loaves. Place in greased loaf pans and let rise again.

Bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes.



By the way, I made a Christmas card using the photo of my daughters. To view it go to:

Merry Christmas from the Marzecs

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mom and Dad's Taxi Service

Daughter #2 lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan. This has not been a problem for her during the transit strike because she is simply working on her computer from home. I rather envied her yesterday. When I called to see if the strike had affected her, she told me she was sitting in her pajamas on her bed working on a project. That was around two in the afternoon. I would like to sit on my bed at two in the afternoon in my pajamas and write, but somehow that never happens.

Anyhow, Daughter #2 wants to come home for Christmas. We would be happy to see her, too. However, if the strike continues, it looks like hubby and I will be driving into Brooklyn to pick her up. I know she could take a taxi and then take the train--even though the cost of the taxi would be more than the train fare home--but it's okay. Going into Brooklyn to save the day makes us feel like superheroes.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Another Culinary Adventure

Ever since our favorite fishery closed, we have been searching for another restaurant with good food at an inexpensive price--but food which is a step up from the typical fast food restaurant. This is not an easy task--especially because we usually take my parents with us and Mom is tough to please.

We tried a barbeque place this weekend. We paid more for less food--although I thought the food tasted fine. However, hubby and Mom were dissatisfied so the search will go on. But I am enjoying our culinary adventures. We were very much stuck in a rut when it came to dining out. It's nice to be broadening our horizons.

My father is doing most of the investigative work for our weekly adventure. He procures menus during the week.

What's your favorite restaurant?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas Lights

I woke up this morning to see that the rain had melted all the snow off the bushes in front of the house. So I informed hubby that we would be draping the bushes with the Christmas lights.

Since most of the other people in the neighborhood have tasteful white lights adorning their houses, I love to string our bushes with colored blinking lights--the kind that blink in distinctively erratic patterns. Hubby, the engineer, checked all the strings of lights and inserted new blinker bulbs where needed. I did the artistic work outside.

When I was finished, hubby admired my work. "It looks obnoxious," he said with a smile. To me, it's a celebration of joy.

Santa will not be able to miss our house when he flies by. :^)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Coming Soon!

A Rush Of Light is on the Coming Soon page at Awe-Struck E-Books! I am so excited! I could stare at it all night long.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another List

Daughter #3 has finally given me her Christmas Wish List. For your reading enjoyment, I pasted it here:

  • Size 5 cotton underwear.  (just regular briefs, pretty (not neon!) colors/patterns). 

  • A toolbox.  Yep, I need one of those.  Walmart and Kmart have nice toolboxes.  The Stanley ones are between 7-15 dollars, approximately, and are a heavy duty plastic.  There's a really cool one I've had my eye on that is yellow and black, with the metal "diamond grid" stuff on it, like on a truck bumper. 

  • And lastly, tuition for the Spring (due Jan. 3), and car insurance for my jeep. 

Hubby was delighted that she wanted a toolbox. I'm glad she wants ordinary underwear.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Preparing

I am not getting much writing done lately. Christmas is only 12 days away and there are things that need to be done. There are those who get out all their Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving. Hubby and I lugged the boxes of Christmas stuff out of the attic today. Then we rearranged the living room to accomodate our artificial tree. As hubby sorted through the branches, I did some cleaning. (That job never ends.)

We are not finished with our Christmas shopping--and none of the gifts we have bought are wrapped. We always wrap the presents after the tree is in one piece. However, we did send out the cards last week.

It is below freezing outside and most of the bushes still have snow on them from last week's storm. I usually drape the bushes with lights and I should have done it before the snow fell. Now I'm hoping some of the snow will melt--at least the snow that is on the bushes. Sigh.

There's too much to do this time of the year.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Two Christmas Gigs In One Day

Yesterday I sang with a small group from the Happy Days String Band. The entire band would never fit in the library where the show was held. We did Christmas music with that classic string band sound. We all had a great time together and the audience seemed to enjoy the music, too.

Hubby and I rushed from there to the next gig at History House at Sandy Hook where an even smaller contingent of the string band entertained--the glock player, one banjo, one sax, hubby with his accordion, and me. It was a hectic day, but hubby loves this time of year because everyone wants Christmas music.

What's your favorite Christmas song?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Lists

Hubby is feeling better so we started getting ready for Christmas. We went shopping yesterday and bought a few presents for our daughters. I had asked them to send me a list of some of the things they would like or need. They know that there is no way they are going to get everything on their list. However, they make plenty of suggestions. The lists make me laugh. You can easily see the difference in my girls from their wants and needs.

Daughter #1's Christmas List:

Pajamas, size small
Underwear, size 5 high-cut
Mock necks (fitted, no old-lady pastels, but cream is okay. No patterns either)
Slippers (size 7)
Advent wreath
$65 so I can Make My Own Paperweight
Futon, or contribution towards one
Table to go underneath my window in living room, or contribution towards one
A surprise!

Daughter #2's Christmas List (More detailed--she's the artist. The list is also longer. What a dreamer!):

i would really like a good electric wireless drill.
i would like to have an electric pick-up for my guitar.
i also need kitchen implements, like a bread knife and various other knives, mixer, a bix mixing bowl, a cookie sheet. stuff like that.
cheesy as it sounds, i do use scented candles. new york smells.
my 2 favorite bands of the moment are: the darkness and the white stripes. and i would like a book about jenny holzer because she is my idol.
you can also contribute to:
my student loan fund
my clothing fund
and the more general, indie flicks, cheesy bands, and ice cream fund
as for pajamas, i like the plaid flannel pants that you see me around the house in. i like them larger than expected because they always shrink.
i like bikini underwear. it usually says this on the package. this is very different from those kind that my sister likes. size 5.
i am eternally in need of black socks and other drab colors that match the clothes i wear.
i do like alcohol and candy.

Daughter #3 has yet to send a list to me. I already know she needs new eyeglasses.

So what do YOU want for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Very Early Morning Drive


Here's our winterberry bush covered with snow. We had lots of fluffy soft snow early this morning. I had to drive in it. At 2 am I took hubby to the hospital. There is nobody on the road at 2 am.

Hubby became violently ill last night. He has never had more than a muscle sprain in all the years we've been married. From my Merck Manual of Medical Information, Second Home Edition, I was quite sure he had kidney stones. I bought the book to be sure that my fictional characters have the proper symtoms for their illnesses--but it is a useful book for real people, too. :^)

After the doctor in the emergency room had x-rays and a CAT scan taken, I learned I my diagnosis for hubby was correct. Still, it was rough on hubby. And I didn't get any sleep, so I am a walking zombie right now.

However, after pain medication and a referral to a urologist, hubby was freed from the ER. By that time, the sun had come out and the snow was melting.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lucky Night

Last night, hubby and I went to a gift auction. We wandered around carefully deciding which prizes we thought we would like to win. There were several men's baskets with such things as tools and gifts cards to Home Depot. Several area restaurants had donated free dinners to the winners. The grand prizes were awesome. There were such things as a bicycle, a night at the Embassy Suites in Manhattan, or a designer dress.

We dropped our tickets in the little containers in front of each prize and then enjoyed some dessert. Finally, the prizes were raffled off. I won one of the men's baskets. Hubby won the designer dress! The dress is orange. It looks like something an actress would wear to the Oscar ceremony. It is amazing-slinky is the word that best describes it--or maybe sizzling. The way it is constructed makes it drape so beautifully--despite the fact that it doesn't have any back to it.

It was really sweet of hubby to win the dress for me, but I don't know that I will be invited to any occasion worthy of such an outfit. Although I could hope that someone would make a movie out of one of my books and then I could actually wear the dress to the Oscars.

I can always dream.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Scary Babies

Our church has an Advent Giving Tree in the foyer. The tree is decorated with paper ornaments listing the gift requests of those in need. I don't have any grandkids (this is a good thing since none of my daughters are married yet) and all the nieces and nephews are quite grown up--so I always look for a tag that lists an unwrapped toy. Buying a toy for a needy child gives me an excuse to cruise the aisles of Toy R Us--not that I'm looking for any other toy than a baby doll. I have fond memories of baby dolls and I want to spread the joy.

Today I headed straight to the doll section of Toy R Us and started to poke and prod the baby dolls. Hubby came, too, but he mostly looks at prices. It did not take me long to notice that baby dolls have changed. Some of them are really scary. I poked one in the tummy and as it made gurgling noises its lips moved and its eyes opened and closed--slowly. It reminded me of something from a horror film.

Then there were the baby dolls that looked overfed--sort of like Sumo wrestlers. On the other hand, there were other dolls that were supposed to be cuddly but when I prodded their bellies they were so squishy they seemed to have no substance.

I finally found one doll that I liked. It had eyes that opened when in a vertical position and closed when placed in a horizontal position. It had nice pajamas and a little cap. When I squeezed its hand it had a limited repetoire--mama, dada, and some giggles. It was soft in the middle but not too soft. It had a nice expression on its face. I think it is the sort of doll a little girl could love.

Happy Advent.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

Hubby and I went to see Pride and Prejudice this evening. It was wonderful! Hubby appreciated the music. :^) I thought it was an excellent idea to show the Bennets looking rather shabby. It highlighted the class distinction far better than any previous version.

This movie was well worth the price of the ticket in my opinion.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Music of the Season

Hubby is practicing his Christmas carols. Every store I walk into has piped in Christmas music playing. I'm getting tired of it already. Tonight as I was driving on the Parkway I found one station--101.5--playing oldies. I love singing along with the radio--but it helps if I know the words. :^)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Our Thanksgiving

Here's the whole gang--Mom, Dad, sisters, brother-in-laws, niece, nephews, daughters, hubby and me. My sister's dog refused to cooperate and is not in the picture. Daughter #2's friend took the photo--so he's not in the picture either.

Anyone under 30 years of age was seated in the kitchen. The old folks ate in the dining room. We had plenty of food and there are lots of leftovers--including pies. After we posed for the photo, I lit a fire in the fireplace and we sang some old songs while some of the kids watched a DVD in the family room.

I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Reviewer's Copy


A few days ago, I discovered this advanced reading copy of my paranormal romance, Irons In The Fire, on sale at Amazon.com. I put the advanced reading copy together myself. It is unedited. At the time I put it together, the cover art for Irons In The Fire had not been completed--so since the herb yarrow played a part in the book, I plucked it out of my garden and used that on the cover.

The reviewers evidently liked the homemade edition of the book because it was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award. However, reviewers are not supposed to sell advanced reading copies, though they can pass them on to someone else. I'm wondering who Harriet is. Hmmm.

At any rate, the genuine edited version is still available as an e-book at New Concepts Publishing. You can even read some of the wonderful reviews the book received as well as an excerpt of the book itself.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Will Power

Last night we went out for pizza with some very dear friends--T & E. We had not seen them in a month or so, and in that time, E. had lost a lot of weight. I knew she was on a diet--the LA Weight Loss diet--but E. has been on other diets. However, this time she is really serious. E. did not have any pizza. She had a turkey sub. She told us that since she started the diet--which is more than a month ago--she has lost a total of 47 pounds, but she still has more to lose.

I am in awe. I can't lose the ten pounds I would like to lose because if someone waves a potato chip in front of my nose I will grab it.

After the pizza, the rest of us dove into the leftover Halloween candy--but not E. She had a cup of hot water with lemon in it. She brought her own lemon. I felt terrible for eating the candy.

My friend, E., has amazing will power.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Savings from the Local Newspaper

There are a lot of people who do not buy or read newspapers anymore. I have heard some people say they cannot afford it, but I know that the local newspaper pays for itself. Between yesterday and today, hubby and I saved about $7 eating out by using the coupons I clipped from the local newspaper. $7 buys a lot of newspapers. Of course, we were not dining out at the finest of restaurants. Yesterday it was a coupon for McDonald's--buy one quarter pounder, get one free. Tonight's supper was a similar deal at Quiznos subs. Yes, after defrosting the 'fridge, I was too tired to refill it. If my diet is a little unbalanced at the moment, I can always gnaw on a carrot.

Food is not the only free thing one can get from the newspapers. Our daily paper lists lots of free or inexpensive entertainment ideas. The concert given by our friend the harp player was listed in the local paper. Hubby's band will be playing at the library next month and the information about that free concert will be printed in the newspaper. (I'll be singing, too!)

Every week, the craft stores have 40% off or even 50% off coupons in the paper. The newspaper is one of the best deals around! Everyone should have it delivered every day so you can save money.

Do you buy the newspaper?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Melt Down

Since we do not have a frost-free refrigerator, every few months our 'fridge starts looking like Antartica. With Thanksgiving upon us, I figured I might need a little extra room for the huge turkey I have to buy to feed the hungry horde. Before I defrosted the 'fridge we ate whatever good stuff was still in it. We wound up eating leftover pizza slices and fries last night. I thought it made a perfectly wonderful supper. We'll have to try that combination again.

After supper, I put the milk, eggs, and etc. into the cooler. Then I turned off the 'fridge. When I woke up this morning, I found that not all of the ice had melted. However, by the time I returned home from work there was only a small amount of ice left. I hacked away at it and then cleaned the interior and put back the milk and so forth. I told hubby I would have to put some more food in the 'fridge if he wanted supper. Hubby decided we would use up a hamburger coupon and eat out. I loved that idea. :^)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Leaves

Today, hubby and I began the chore of clearing the leaves from the yard. I have an impressive pile of leaves. This mountain of leaves will undoubtedly get bigger since today was only the first pass. Hubby mulched up all the leaves on the lawn with the mulching mower. I got out the leaf blower and the rake. I cleared out some flower beds, the patio, and the driveway. Unfortunately, the leaves will not be picked up by the township for a few more weeks. That gives the wind time to blow the leaves around some more.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Contract!

I received a contract for my novella, Kiss of Blarney, from my editor at New Concepts Publishing. I do not know when it will be released yet. I have to fill out the art questionnaire for the cover as well as write up the blurbs. I have decided that my heroine should look like Keira Knightley--except with lots and lots of curly red hair and very pale blue eyes. After seeing "Prime" last week, I decided my hero should look like Brian Greenberg--except with deep blue eyes. He is so cute. :^)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wheaton Village


Yesterday we went to Wheaton Village with daughter #1. She had visited there and thought we should see it, too. Located in Millville, NJ, it has a spectacular glass museum, but we found the glassmaking demonstration to be the most interesting part of the tour. The pottery demonstation was also nice--but I took pottery in college so I already know quite a bit about that. (Why don't I use that in a book?) There are shops where the glass and pottery are sold, but only the marbles were in my price range. :^)


There is a real one room schoolhouse on the grounds. I always thought it would be fun to teach in a one room school. However, when I read one of the former teacher's plans which was posted on the wall, I changed my mind. The poor teacher had so much to do with so many different levels in that one room.



Here's a photo of daughter #1 on the bridge. Hubby refused to hold still for any photos and ran off whenever I lifted up the camera.
She also showed us a really wonderful used bookstore in downtown Millville. I bought three books. I wish I had more time to read!

On the way home we stopped in to visit daughter #3. So it was a long, busy day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Meryl Streep, My Mother, and McDonough's Pub


Today was my mother's birthday. Isn't she sweet? I took her and Dad to see Meryl Streep in "Prime." Dad said the last time they went to see a movie in a theater there was a piano player for the music. :^) There was nothing scary in "Prime" which is one reason we saw that movie--Ma cannot take suspense. Ma and I both like Meryl Streep, too. I suspect that when daughter #2 was born, Meryl Streep was my roommate in the hospital--under another name, of course.

Afterwards, we went to McDonough's Pub--a new pub in Keyport which Ma has been wanting to go to since it opened. The food was excellent. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

As Good As It Gets

Today turned out to be an almost perfect writing day. We went to Mass last night so we did not have to go today. Hubby had an accordion festival to attend. Daughter #1 wanted to sleep late (she spent three days out on the boat last week) and then go to lunch with friends before she headed home. I stayed in my nightgown until noon writing--something I never get to do and which to me is the ultimate in luxury. Then I ate lunch, got dressed, and continued to write some more.

Nobody called me. It was such a gorgeous day outside that I had an urge to go out and rake some leaves, but I stayed away from the windows so I could not see the sunshine. Yes, at some point I will still have to rake leaves, but it will be more fun if hubby does it with me.

I took a break to buy some food for the week, but then I went back to writing. When hubby came home we went out to eat pizza. I folded some laundry, threw more clothes in the washing machine, got things together for work tomorrow--and here I am--ready to type a bit more before I get too tired.

It's been great.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Mary and Her Harp


Mary LeBus played her harp at one of the local libraries today. Mary also plays at weddings and other events. We saw her last at the Clearwater Festival. However, today I got to play the harp, too--not that I know anything about playing a harp, but I plucked some strings. Hubby tried it as well, but he seems to be able to pick up just about any instrument and pick out a song on it--but it would take a long time before he was as good as Mary is on the harp.

There was one instrument that hubby never got the hang of--the bagpipe. I was ever so grateful when he finally decided to stop attempting to play it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween Costume


I decided to make my life easy and borrowed this outfit from hubby's closet. It's one of the string band costumes. I dazzled everyone with all the sequins. The only problem with the costume was that it was too hot. String band costumes are designed for winter in Philadelphia. Yesterday, the weather here was extremely mild. I could not wait to take the costume off.

Being an author, I get to pretend to be a lot of different characters anyway. I don't really need any costumes for that. :^)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Bicyling

We have a tandem bike--a bicyle built for two. Hubby bought it at a fleamarket a long time ago, but we really never used it. We gave it to my sister and her husband, but after a while they gave it back to us. However, yesterday was such a gorgeous day, that we decided to try out the bike on the bike trail at Sandy Hook. This is a lovely trail that winds through the old holly forest at one point.

The hard part was getting the bike on the roof of the car, but once that was accomplished we were on our way. We parked next to the old Nike missile site and rode our bike to the north end of the trail. Yesterday happened to be Fort Hancock day and there things to see--the most interesting of which was the old Nike missile site itself. From 1954 to 1974 there were over 200 sites in this country with two nuclear warheads at each site. There were lots of them in NJ. We could have been blown to smithereens if there had been an accident. Though the guide at the site explained all the safeguards used at that time, it was rather chilling to realize I grew up completely unaware that the missiles were there.

We hoisted the bike back up on the roof rack and drove home feeling considerably younger after our bike ride. We're going to polish up that old bike and use it again. There are many new bike trails being built and we're going to try them all. :^)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Halloween Party Time


Some of daughter #2's high school friends were throwing a Halloween party so daughter #2 and her boyfriend hopped on a train in the city after work and arrived here before eight. Then they dressed as Quagmire and Andy Warhol. I had no idea who Quagmire was since I watch very little television. We did not have a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup in the house, and so daughter #2 had to substitute a can of Campbell's Low Sodium Chicken to complete her outfit.

Daughter #2 told me one of her other friends dressed as Abe Lincoln and another--a rather large fellow--claimed to be a Chippendale dancer with the white cuffs, but no shirt, the bowtie with a collar and money in his belt. She said there were a lot of zombies, some witches, and a nurse. Someone else was Professor Snape and one came as an anchorman in a suit. There was a devil along with Jack, the Pumpkin King. Mary Poppins showed up. And one fellow came in a white lab coat and carried a toy chainsaw. Quite a variety.

They played games, too. There was a doughnut eating contest. Professor Snape won.

It's nice that daughter #2 keeps in touch with her high school buddies.

Monday, October 24, 2005

NCP's Birthday Bash

New Concepts Publishing is celebrating their ninth year in e-publishing by having a Birthday Bash.

For all the details check out:

New Concepts Birthday Bash.

There will be plenty of prizes!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

No More Carving

I went to the pumpkin farm this week and bought a small pumpkin for a table decoration. I am not going to carve it and make it into a jack o'lantern. My jack o'lantern days are over. Until our daughters grew up I carved out a pumpkin every year. Then last year, I bought a ceramic jack o'lantern. I can put a candle in it and voila! No mess. Never again will I have to dig out all the slimy seeds.

I still like singing Halloween songs, but I don't miss carving the pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Bell House at Pemaquid Point


Here's another painting I did. Hubby and I visited Pemaquid Point in Maine several years ago and I took a photo of the bell house just below the Pemaquid Point lighthouse. I used a bit of artistic license and made the roses more flamboyant. :^)

Maine is a nice place to visit. We had a wonderful vacation there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

To Be...Or Not To Be...What?

I need a costume. Last year, I dressed as a clown--even though I have never liked clowns. I find them scary. I bought a rainbow wig and a red nose and wore a crazy sweater I got in a thrift shop. The year before that, I was an angel. I used a white graduation gown from one of my daughters and bought wings and a halo. The year before that I was really lazy and used a black graduation gown and cap from one of my daughters. I have been a queen, an equestrian, the Blue Fairy, and a mummer. The mummer's costume was the best of all. I just borrowed it from my husband's closet. He's in a string band.

But what now? I don't want to be a witch, or a vampire, or anything very mean and wicked. What can I be for Halloween that isn't going to cost much money but will make everyone smile?

Any ideas?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Picking Up Branches

Everytime the wind blows, we have fallen branches in our yard. One rather large limb fell down yesterday--big enough to be a small tree. It landed in a verticle postition only inches from the outside air conditioning unit and very, very close to the house. If it had landed on the roof, it might have put a hole in it. The branch came from one of the tulip trees. Those trees shed large branches on a regular basis and this is not the first close call we've had. A few years ago, one large branch hit one of the gutters and dented it. We've had some of the trees removed, but that was terribly expensive. We still have still several more tulip trees on our property. They are extremely tall and a few are scarred from being hit by lightning.

We did not finish picking up branches yesterday. So I'll be getting more outdoor exercise today. In addtion, hubby is going to have to saw some of the large branches into smaller pieces. Oh well.

Often when I'm doing menial chores, I'm working out plot problems in my head--so picking up branches was actually a good thing for my current work in progress. Inspiration comes at the strangest times.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Cranberry Everything

After a week of rain, the sun finally came out so hubby and I drove to the Cranberry Festival in Chatsworth,deep in the heart of the Pine Barrens. This is what the road to Chatsworth looks like.


There are lots and lots of very short pine trees, the landscape is rather flat, and the soil is sandy. Most of the time, there is very little going on in Chatsworth--other than the growing of cranberries. However, once a year people from everywhere inundate the town to buy cranberry everything--cranberry bread, cranberry cookies, cranberry wine, cranberry hot sauce, etc.

In addition, there are the usual craft tables and festival food. I bought cranberry jam, no-salt sesame sticks, and a new cookie sheet. Maybe I'll make my own cranberry cookies. I bought a cranberry cookbook last year, but I haven't tried any of the recipes in it yet. :^)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

One of My Paintings

Yes, I paint with oils, too. At the urging of a friend, I signed up in Grace Graupe-Pillard's painting workshop when daughter #3 was a baby. Ever since then, I paint once a week. Every painting takes me forever to finish because I love to use outline brushes and put in every blade of grass.

This is a painting of Nauset Marsh on Cape Cod.

When our daughters were young, we used to go on camping trips every summer. The year we went to Cape Cod, we took a boat ride around Nauset Marsh and I took a photograph that I later used for the painting.

On that boat ride, the crew pulled up a bunch of sea creatures from the marsh. My children were thrilled when they got to hold a tiny starfish in their hands. Maybe that had something to do with daughter #1 becoming a marine scientist.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Doughnut Day

After Mass today, there were doughnuts, coffee, juice, and bagels for all in the cafeteria. Daughter #1 and I opted for the juice and bagels--we decided that would be lunch. Hubby nearly ran down the stairs so he would not miss out on getting a jelly doughnut, one of the more sought after treats usually snatched up first by the young children.

It happened to be Vocation Awareness Sunday. All the church ministries had sign-up sheets ready and were scanning the crowd, looking for fresh volunteers. After talking with one of the women, I signed up to be a Eucharistic minister. I have been involved with a number of the other ministries, but this is a new one for me.

Our pastor told us he has several photos of hubby playing the accordion at the church picnic. Hubby was delighted. Right now, I guess hubby's vocation is in entertainment.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

An Overload of Romance

I have returned from the New Jersey Romance Writers conference. My mind is still spinning. I am suffering from an overload of information about romance writing.

I went to a variety of workshops--on blogging, on the male point of view, on promotion, on rewriting, about adding steam to romances, and an editors' panel.

I always find the editors' panel one of the most interesting. Last year, just about every editor wanted chick-lit. This year, they all want dark paranormal romances. Nevertheless, they all want something fresh and interesting with a different voice.

Right. To me, it seems as if they are all jumping on the same bandwagon.

Anyhow, I had a wonderful time seeing many of my writer friends. It was a great conference!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The First

Yesterday I discovered that my upcoming January book has already been reviewed. It's the first review for A Rush Of Light and it was a really nice one. :^)

Among other things, Gene King of JoyfullyReviewed.com said, "A Rush of Light by Penelope Marzec is a romance for all ages....The characters are very real, they come alive in their thoughts and interactions....I look forward to seeing more Ms Marzec stories. I recommend A Rush of Light for those wanting to explore a sweet, spirit filled story."

You can read the entire review at JoyfullyReviewed.com

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Aquarium Visit

Hubby and I visited the Adventure Aquarium in Camden today. It is directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. I have visited lots of aquariums--Sea World in San Diego, the Coney Island aquarium, Mystic Seaport's aquarium, the Mote aquarium, and Tampa's aquarium. But none of those had a shark tunnel like the Camden aquarium. It is really awesome to see sharks swimming above you.

We saw the 3D movie, too. Hubby had a good laugh and so did a lot of other people in the audience. I just thought it was silly.

But it was a nice way to spend a rather gray day.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Recalcitrant Creatures

I always think I have a good idea of who my characters are when I start writing a book. However, invariably the characters start to assert themselves as the writing progresses. Often, they change the entire plot with their shenanigans. Right now, I think I have a handle on my latest hero and heroine--Tadeusz and Victoria, but one never knows.

I was reminded of this when hubby and I went to eat at Charlie Brown's tonight. We were seated in a booth surrounded by books--lots of books. The temptation to pull one off the shelf was irresistible--and then I saw Andrew M. Greeley's Ascent Into Hell right within easy reach. Of course, the book was red, so it was hard to miss. Even hubby--who never reads fiction--was interested because Greeley is a priest. I read The Cardinal Sins years ago, but I haven't read any of Greeley's books since then.

I opened up the cover and found Greeley's disclaimer in the "Note." In it he said, "...like God, I refuse to assume responsibility for the moral behavior of my creatures."

Yes. Sometimes those characters misbehave--and there really isn't much an author can do about it. But that's part of the fun of being a writer--breathing life into creatures made of words.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Young Accordionist

Daughter #3 informed us of an accordion player who would be appearing at a coffee house nearby. Hubby and I never go to that particular coffee house because it is usually packed with teenagers. However, despite a $10 cover charge, hubby wanted to go to see the show.

We entered the coffee house and felt conspicuous amid the usual horde of teenagers. Sipping our vanilla chai (yummy), we suffered through the first band. Then, finally, that band packed up and a young man wearing a fedora stepped up on stage and pulled out his accordion.

Jason Webley is a terrific entertainer with lots of energy. He plays a smaller accordion than my hubby, but Jason needs to have something light weight because he jumps around a lot. Climbing on chairs, he exhorted the audience to join in as he sang. Obviously, he has a following because many of the young people in the audience did sing along and had specific requests.

The highlight of his show came at the end where he sang a drinking song. Since nobody was drunk, he suggested we all hold our index finger above our heads and then look at the tip of our finger as we turned around twelve times. This made everyone rather dizzy. :^)

Then Jason asked everyone to put their arms on each other's shoulders. Pretty soon we were all swaying to the drinking song and having a wonderful time.

Hubby was so happy to know that there is at least one young man still playing the accordion.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Reading Excerpts

On Saturday, I will be at the Old Bridge Library talking about e-publishing and reading excerpts from some of my books. I spent last night searching for the proper excerpts. I've found it's easier for me to read excerpts of the character's internal thoughts. Reading dialogue is tougher for me. I think that's because I am used to reading children's stories and acting out the parts of the characters--I have a very good witch voice, and I can do a nasty wolf voice, too. :^)

I liked this excerpt from The Company You Keep. It is a bit tiltilating.

Abruptly, he ended his nervous pacing. Tonight he had stumbled upon Jennifer in the woods and had seen a look of total panic on her face that had nearly made his own heart stop. She seemed a completely different woman, which made the entire episode eerie, like a vague but haunting dream. It was as though she had shed her shield and for the first time he had touched flesh instead of hardened steel. The Iron Lady had turned into a winter sprite. He had felt the tender curves lurking beneath her sweater. Lust fired through him at the thought of her full lips, rosy, quivering, and so close to his own as he carried her over the snow.


Nevertheless, he knew that at the next planning meeting, Ms. Brant would again be suited up in her gray, tailored armor. Her heavy braid would be tucked into a spinster-ish knot, and her eyes, so desolate in the woods, would be as unyielding as gunmetal.


Try reading it aloud--with expression and slowly. What do you think?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fresh Scallops

Daughter #1 came home from the second leg of her research cruise with a few pounds of fresh ocean scallops. That is one of the perks of being a marine researcher. I cooked the scallops tonight for supper using my favorite recipe. Here it is:

Put 1/2 cup flour in a plastic bag, add 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I use no-salt crumbs), and a 1/2 teaspoon of hot Hungarian paprika. Shake this mixture well, then toss the scallops into the plastic bag, a few at a time, and give them a shake. Arrange the scallops in a single layer in a pan. Melt 1/4 cup of butter (I also use unsalted butter) and pour over the scallops. Pour the juice of one lemon over the scallops.

Place the scallops in the broiler and broil until they are turn lightly brown. Then turn them over and broil them on the other side. Be careful not to overcook them or they will get tough.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Sang With the Band

Last night I belted out "God Bless America" with a thirty piece band backing me up. This surprised most of the band members because they did not know that I can sing. I'm not Kate Smith, but I can carry a tune.

Hubby belongs to the Happy Days String Band. He plays the accordion. However, he and I used to be music ministers at church. He played the organ and I was a cantor. The Happy Days String Band lured him away. He always felt that being in the string band was like running away to join the circus.

The band plays gigs all over the county and sometimes I go along to take photographs. Most of the time, it is a bit boring being the wife of a band member. I feel like a groupie. Last night, the band had a short gig nearby and the band member who usually sings "God Bless America" wasn't going to be at the gig. At the previous gig, there had been no one to sing that song either. This bothered hubby. He asked if I would sing that song.

I know it. In fact, I had just sung it at the parish picnic on Sunday. So I figured...why not?

When I sat on the side, I got a few stares. One band member asked me what I was doing there. I told her I was going to sing. From her expression, I could tell she didn't believe me.

The house was packed. "God Bless America" was the last song. Even the director of the band looked a bit fearful as he handed me the mike.

According to hubby, I got a standing ovation. However, since everyone usually stands for "God Bless America," that isn't exactly correct, but it was fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just for fun...

After a week long hiatus from writing, I decided to get back to work and start something new. I had finished Kiss of Blarney and sent it in, but there's no word from my editor yet. I had plans to write a sequel to A Rush Of Light and I had another book outlined as well. However, my fingers were itchy to try something...different. Sort of.

I decided to try to write an old-fashioned Gothic. I grew up reading Mary Steward, Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels, Phyllis Whitney, Velda Johnston, and Dorothy Eden--her Ravenscroft is one of my favorites. Jane Eyre is my top favorite.

So I sat down and had fun.

Daughter #1 came home on a 24 hour layover and rolled her eyes when I told her about my latest project. She is currently a Diana Gabaldon fan and thinks she knows all there is to know about history because she has read the Outlander series--more than once. She thinks I know very little about history, despite the fact that when she was young I dragged her and her sisters to every historical sight within driving distance.

No matter. I'm still having fun writing my Gothic. I've always loved old houses. :^)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Box

Last week, I decided that I could not stand the way the back porch looked for another day. Hubby thought it looked fine. Somehow, he just did not see how a rusty log hoop packed with logs, a wheelbarrow with a broken wheel, a blue tarp, two buckets, and the watering can could annoy me. I told him I was going to buy a big plastic box to store some of the items, but some of them had to go.

Hubby decided to go to Home Depot with me where I choose a large Rubbermaid "deck box." Hubby informed me that we don't have a deck. I told him that it doesn't matter. The box was lifted up to our roof rack with a forklift and we took it home. It was very easy to put together, the only necessary tool needed was a rubber mallet which we already own and which I usually use to flatten chicken breasts.

The box is taupe and dark green--about the most natural colors available in plastic, I suppose. In no time, I filled up the box with the firewood, the tarp, the buckets and the watering can. Hubby dragged the wheelbarrow out to the street for the garbage pickup. However, our neighbor saw the wheelbarrow and decided he could use it.

Our back porch now looks nice and neat. The firewood is dry and the other items that hubby cannot live without are out of sight. I really felt as if I accomplished something.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I've Been Tagged!

Actually, I was tagged a while ago, but I just did not have time to figure this stuff out--especially when I should be working on my current book. Here are my answers--finally.

10 years ago today: I was writing Irons In The Fire when I wasn’t hacking at the bushes in the yard (it seems that in the summertime, I become the groundskeeper around here--hubby mows, I hack). Then our television died. I took it to a repairman and borrowed a small black and white set from my parents. When I turned it on, my daughters wondered what was wrong with it. They did not understand that it was supposed to be simply black and white.

5 years ago today: I was writing Heaven’s Blue. I had to help move daughter #2 into her dorm in New Brunswick, while hubby and daughter #3 moved daughter #1 into her dorm in Stony Brook. It was hot and daughter #2’s room was on the third floor. (No elevators.) Daughter #1 was on the second floor. I got the more difficult job.

1 year ago today: I was writing A Rush Of Light. Found out I wasn’t in menopause--yet. The day before I helped daughter #3 move into her dorm. The day after, I was out there clipping those hedges again. But I also made Kuchen (had to have that sugar). :^)

Tomorrow: Enjoy a visit from daughter #1 and daughter #3.

5 snacks I enjoy: All the things I shouldn’t eat--potato chips, Cheez-Its, sesame sticks, cheez-doodles, and Craisins (one healthy thing).

5 things I would do with $100,000,000: Hire a maid for my mother and myself. Put an ad in the NY Times Book Review for my books. Buy a new hybrid car. Get the living room completely redone. Add on a sunroom. Have a new driveway put in.

5 Locations I Would Like To Run Away To: Ireland, Hawaii, Florence (been there and loved it), San Francisco, and England (been there, too, but did not get to see everything).

5 Bad Habits I Have: Falling asleep when I’m watching the news, covering my eyes when there’s a scary part in the movie and asking hubby what’s happening, chewing my fingernails, leaving the clothes in the dryer when they’re done, and zoning out when someone is talking to me (when I zone out, you can be sure I'm thinking about whatever the hero and heroine are doing in my current work-in-progress).

Things I Like Doing: Writing, reading, singing, painting, playing the piano, playing the guitar.

5 Things I Would Never Wear: parachute pants, sweat pants, painful pointy shoes, very high heels, and tight stretch pants.

5 TV Shows I Like: I don’t watch much television but I have enjoyed episodes of Crossing Jordan, Numbers, and The Medium. Mostly I watch the news and 20/20.

5 Movies I Like: Jane Eyre (also my favorite book), Sense and Sensibility, Gone With the Wind--you get the idea.

5 Famous People I'd Like To Meet: Bruce Springsteen. I've already met quite a number of authors. I like meeting ordinary people and learning about their entire life history. I consider it research. :^)

5 People to Tag: momnancy, robyn bayne, Ellen Fisher, k, and carina--if you have the chance. :^)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Edits & Kruise Night

My editor at Awe-Struck sent the file of A Rush Of Light to me last week and asked me to fix some things--pronto. All week long, I've been busy with the edits. My life is on hold in the meantime. I do want the book to be as perfect as it can be. I thought I had caught everything the day before yesterday, so I loaded the "fixed" file into my Rocket and proceeded to read through it once more.

I found a lot of wincing going on. Both the hero and heroine winced on several occasions. How did I miss that? So I cut out some of the wincing. I found some sentences I didn't like. I fixed those, too.

However, my husband wanted to go to the final Kruise Night for the summer. We haven't been to a Kruise Night this summer at all--which didn't bother me in the least, but for some reason hubby enjoys the noise of a zillion motorcycles all revving up at once and the smell of exhaust in the air. The only thing I like about Kruise Night is that the little library in town has a used book sale going on where the old paperbacks are going for twenty-five cents each.

I brought my Rocket and read in the car, finding more things to fix, as hubby drove. Then we arrived and proceeded to wend our way through the street which was packed with men wearing leather and tattoos--many of them had grey hair.

I stopped at the library and bought two books.

We checked out the cars on display, too. I saw several Novas. I used to own a Nova. It was my first car and I loved it, but it did not have air-conditioning and after a while it had lots of rust holes aong with a trunk that filled up with water everytime it rained. Still, it was nice to see restored Novas.

But the motorcycles were really annoying. They are so loud.

We got back in our car and I opened up the Rocket to continue looking for things to fix as hubby drove us home in the quiet air-conditioned comfort of our minivan. Then I went back to the computer for a while. Hopefully, I'll finish the editing tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Favorite Picnic Spot in Florida

Every year, we have had at least one picnic lunch at Howard Park in Florida. The last time all of our daughters were with us, both daughter #1 and I knew it would be the last time we would share our meal there together. As it turned out, our hunches were right. Our daughters have since been rather busy making their own way in the world.

Hubby and I still enjoy the place. It is a nice spot. It's shady and there's a breeze blowing in over the lagoon. Usually, there are hungry fish begging for crumbs, but hubby and I did not see them this year. I hope they didn't get wiped out by the red tide.

Here's a photo of me and hubby in front of his parents' place. Notice my new hairdo. It was perfect for Florida. We had a nice time, but I was so glad to come home.

Monday, August 22, 2005

One Mistake

I made one mistake in my life that nobody can seem to ignore or forget. In an effort to save money when the kids were young, I would always cut their hair. However, once when I was cutting daughter #2's hair, she moved. As a result, I nicked her earlobe with the scissors. It wasn't a bad cut--it did not require stitches. It did not bleed much. I felt horrible, though the small cut healed up nicely. Still, nobody has forgotten the incident.

My family does not trust me with a pair of scissors in my hand. Daughter #2, scarred for life, grew up and now cuts her own hair.

Last night, my mother asked me to give her a trim. She was desperate and just too tired to go to a beauty salon now that she's getting old. Nevertheless, when she sat down in the chair and I picked up the scissors, she put her fingers over her earlobes. I trimmed the back of her head first, but I did mention that in order for me to trim the sides evenly, she would have to remove her fingers. She did, but she was rather tense throughout the ordeal.

I finished the job without bloodshed, but I know that doesn't mean my one mistake has been forgotten.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Heroes

I'm back.

Hubby and I have returned from our annual trek to Florida. We have driven south once a year for the past seventeen years. There is a lot of road between New Jersey and Florida--long stretches of flat, straight interstate highways bordered by trees on both sides. It is an extremely boring drive. To relieve the tedium I always bring along plenty of books to read, but when it's my turn to drive I crank up the country music and sing along.

As I was listening to Randy Travis sing about heroes and friends, I started thinking about who my heroes are. Randy Travis admires cowboys. I glanced at the bag of books I had brought along with me and I knew that all those authors are the people I respect most. Publishing is a tough business. After five full-length novels and one novella, I am still on the ground floor of the published authors hierarchy—although sometimes I feel as if I’m in the basement. However, every author starts out that way. The trick is not to give up.

I've met some authors who wrote only one book, had it published, and then never wrote another. Then there are the authors with two or three published books who realized there wasn't much money in the world of publishing and quit.

The books I brought along with me to read on our journey were by authors who keep producing.

I started off with Linda Howard's A Game of Chance. It was a wonderful story! Linda Howard has written an amazing number of terrific books. I am in awe of her talent.

Next came Kathye Quick's Falling for You and Roni Denholtz's Somebody to Love. Kathye and Roni are members of NJRW, as I am, and they've been there as long as I have—which is forever. They did not quit in the face of repeated rejections. Both of their books are sweet romances from Avalon Books. Both of the stories are set in the wintertime. I figured they would help to cool me off in the Florida heat. :^)

One of my friends told me that my writing reminded her of Janet Evanovich. I now know that was a compliment. Until this road trip, I had never read any of Janet Evanovich's books. So, of course, I brought along To The Nines, and loved every minute of it. Ms. Evanovich, a very prolific author, has a wonderful characters in her books and her self-deprecating humor had me laughing out loud.

The last book I read on the trip was Kate Welsh's Their Forever Love, one of Steeple Hill's Inspirational Romances—a Christian romance. It was inspiring.

Yes, my heroes have always been writers. I think it takes a lot more grit to write--and to keep writing--than to ride a horse.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Florida In August

I am in Florida where it is HOT! It is definitely hotter than New Jersey. I watched the weatherman on the local news last night say that the high for the day was 91 degrees.

No way.

The Floridian weatherman was being deceptive. Maybe it was 91 next to the water in the shade of a palm tree where there was a breeze blowing, but it was definitely not 91 on the concrete sidewalk in Tarpon Springs when my hubby was checking out the antique shops in the middle of the afternoon.

The sun here is far brighter than it is in New Jersey. In fact, the sun here is relentless.

To be fair, I have never visited Florida in the winter. I have heard that it is very nice, but for me right now it is brutal.

Hubby loves the water here. It is the same temperature as a bathtub. I prefer the refreshing Atlantic.

However, I did find something in one of the antique stores yesterday--a nice canister set for daughter #1's apartment. I got it at a good price, too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Old Haunts

I got a haircut after watching that wedding video. My hair now looks nearly the same as it did twenty years ago. Daughter #1 told me that I will not look twenty years younger with the haircut. I told her it doesn't matter because I will feel twenty years younger--or at least a little younger than I am now. Besides, in this heat, it is good to have shorter hair.

We went to visit daughter #2 today. We helped her move out of her dorm and into an apartment last week. (We do an awful lot of moving.) Her apartment is only a few blocks away from the apartment where her father grew up. Hubby was delighted to show us his old haunts. He took plenty of photos, too.
Here's a photo of me and daughter #2 standing in what used to be the diving pool where hubby cooled off. It was sixteen feet deep. However, it has been filled in with dirt. Such is progress.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Twenty Years Ago...


Daughter #1 had a week off from work so she joined hubby and I for a visit to younger sister #1 and her gang who live near Hartford, Connecticut. The day we arrived happened to be the twentieth wedding anniversary of my sister and her husband. After a supper of pizza, my hubby suggested watching their wedding video.

Everyone was so much younger! My daughters made up the little herd of flowergirls--and now my daughters are all grown up. Despite having given birth to the three of them, I looked terrific. I led the singing at the wedding and hubby played the organ. Quite a few of our friends and family have passed away since that wedding, but it was nice to see them again on the screen.

Hubby and I were married before wedding videos were invented. We have still photos of our wedding, but that is not as nice as seeing everyone in action.

We had a wonderful visit with my sister and her family. I wish they lived closer to us.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Christmas in July

Last night, hubby and I drove to Ocean Grove to listen to an organ concert in the Great Auditorium. Gordon Turk was performing on the amazing Hope-Jones pipe organ. Hubby used to play the organ at church for quite a few years until he joined the Happy Days String Band, so he has an appreciation for the complexities of playing the instrument.

Gordon Turk made the floor rumble with the 32 foot stops on the organ. Hubby LOVES to feel the floor rumbling. It's like an earthquake.

When our daughters were young, we would take them to the organ concerts, too. Evidently, they now claim that was the worst thing we ever did to them. :^) We knew they hated going, so we would bribe them and offer them an ice cream cone at Day's afterwards.

However, last night, it was Christmas in July at Ocean Grove. Many of the little tent houses were strung with Christmas lights and decorated with red ribbons, Christmas trees, and wreaths. After the organ concert, we strolled down to the Pavilion on the boardwalk where the band was playing Christmas carols. While we were there, Santa arrived on a firetruck. Santa had on his red hat and beard, but he also wore shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and sandals. It was a funny sight and brought smiles to everyone's face.

Santa handed out lollipops and warned everyone to be good before he exited via the firetruck again.

We walked on the boardwalk after that. There was a beautiful, huge moon in the sky last night, too. It looked lovely over the water.

Monday, July 18, 2005

My New Bookcover!

I just received the stamp of approval from my editor for the cover of A RUSH OF LIGHT!

I love it because it is exactly what I want. Daughter #2 put it together for me. It's nice to have talent in the family. :^) The book will be released by Awe-Struck E-Books in January 2006. It will be my third inspirational romance from Awe-Struck. I can hardly wait!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Moving In

Yesterday, hubby and I loaded up the minivan with a dresser, a desk, a chair, a set of dishes (purchased by me over a period of months at the supermarket), a set of utensils (hubby's original bachelor set), and the cooler which was filled with a batch of my own enchiladas. Daugher #1--our marine scientist--has moved into an apartment, but after years of living in dorms she did not own any furniture. She did have a small television, her computer, and her piano keyboard, but that was it.

Grandma gave her lamps, a table and some mismatched chairs. She bought a bed, a microwave, and a coffee table from one of her coworkers who was leaving to have a baby. Her godmother gave her the dresser, desk, and chair, but hubby and I had to transport the stuff. The apartment is one hundred miles from our home--so it's not around the corner, but we had a pleasant drive yesterday.

After we unloaded all the stuff, the apartment looked a bit more as if someone lives there. I heated up the enchiladas in the microwave and we ate supper. Then hubby and I hit the road for the return trip home. We didn't get back too late, but I was still too tired to do any writing. So I read someone else's book.

Daughter #1 is reading Wuthering Heights. She tells me she is enjoying it. :^) But she wonders why the Bronte sisters liked the tall, dark, and ugly types.

Here's a photo of us standing on the apartment's front porch. I'll have to look around for some porch furntiture next.

Monday, July 11, 2005

In The Good Old Summertime

My hubby belongs to the Happy Days String Band. The band plays cheerful music and they have a bunch of strutters who dance around in outlandish costumes covered in sequins and feathers. In the summertime, the band plays regularly for the public in gazebos up and down the Jersey shore.

I attended the performance last night. My hubby is the band member with the red accordion. (Hard to miss.) He loves playing with the band. He says it's almost like running away and joining the circus. Sometimes, the members of the band put on the feathers and sequins, too.

Today, hubby and I went to the beach. It was a perfect beach day. The water was just right.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

My Hurricane Story

Today's Asbury Park Press has my hurricane story in it. Lake's treasure gone foreveris part of a series. I was ten years old when Hurricane Donna brushed the New Jersey coast and it was rather scary!

There are other stories from people who witnessed the 1944 hurricane in New Jersey which had no name.

Nature's fury can be devastating. I hope NJ never receives a direct hit from one of those storms especially since, in the past few decades, so many people have built their homes right up on the dunes in places like Long Beach Island.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

In the Poconos

Hubby and I spent a few days in the Poconos. The trip was supposed to be his Father's Day gift, but I had a good time, too. It was especially nice to have someone else do the cooking.

We visited Grey Towers in Milford, Pennsylvania, the summer home of the Pinchot family which is a National Historic Landmark. It was well worth the visit. I love to see old mansions.

The next day we visited the Asa Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe, Pennyslvania. It is another National Historic Landmark. Unfortunately, it is not air conditioned and it was a very hot day. Nevertheless, it is an amazing home and our tour guide was very entertaining.

We also visited some antique shops. Hubby enjoys searching for old accordions or old toy trains. He saw a few accordions but he did not bring any home. :^)

Friday, June 24, 2005

My Old Computer

I took my Mac Performa to the recycling center today. I hated to leave it there. That computer opened up the world of publishing to me. I wrote Sea Of Hope, Irons In The Fire, and lots of short stories on that machine. It still works, but nobody wants it. The technology is too old. Nobody needs a machine with limited capabilities--especially on the web.

But it was almost like a friend. I am sure that the hard drive is imbued with my emotions.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Deer Enjoy Daylilies

Yesterday morning I stepped outside and discovered my daylily blooms had vanished in the night. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a rather ragged edge on the remaining stems. Evidently, the local deer decided to make a midnight snack of my daylilies. I am getting really annoyed with those pests. Recently, the deer in this neighborhood have become annoyingly bold. The deer population has increased and my backyard has become their feeding ground. It makes me want to start eating venison burgers.

Last year, we found a dead deer on our property. It must have ventured out into the road and been hit by a car. I called up the munipical office to tell them about the dead deer and ask that they remove it. The woman on the other end of the line insisted that if it was in my yard, it was my responsibility to remove it. The truth was that it had expired on the small strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road--which technically belongs to the town. I explained this to her. She asked if it was obstructing the sidewalk. Naturally, I insisted that it was definitely a problem to life and limb--although only one hoof lay on the sidewalk.

Fortunately, someone came to remove the dead carcass. If any other deer decides to take his or her last breath in my yard again, I will drag that animal to the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, I have tried cayenne pepper and horrible smelling anti-deer products to protect my garden, but the deer do not seemed fazzed by the spice or the chemicals. There are certain plants they do not eat. I guess I'll just have to plant more of those.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

For the past several years, I have been grilling up burgers for Father's Day. This year, hubby and I took the hedgeclippers and chain saw to my parents' house. Things are getting rather overgrown there.

It was the perfect day for yardwork--a little cool. My husband took down several small trees while I decimated some bushes (my specialty). With the power tools, the work did not take long. Then we all went out to eat. I enjoyed the day--so did my mother. I think the guys had good time, too.

Hubby is getting a few days in the Poconos for his Father's Day present from me. :^)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tired Fingers

The chat at Romance Junkies last night was great. I had a good time, but my poor fingers were exhausted after an hour of chatting. I had to type faster to keep up with the running dialogue. I enjoy the chats at Romance Junkies because they are moderated. Having a moderator makes everything run more smoothly.

I gave away a t-shirt with the cover of Prince of the Mist on it. I'll be giving away another one on Labor Day to one of the lucky people entering the contest at my website. It's fun to give things away because I know what it is like to win. I enjoy the idea of making someone else happy--even if it's just for a little while.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Chat at Romance Junkies

I'll be chatting at Romance Junkies on Wednesday, June 15th, at 9 pm (Eastern). Please stop in for a visit. It should be fun!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Long Island Luncheon

I drove to Jericho, Long Island, today for the Long Island Romance Writers' Luncheon. Ethan Ellenberg was the keynote speaker, but there were plenty of editors there from a number of publishing houses.

It took me an hour and forty-five minutes to drive there. There was absolutely NO traffic on the Belt Parkway, or the LIE. I just sailed through and got to the luncheon an hour ahead of time because I assumed there would be tie-ups. After all, it's Friday, it's hot, and everyone wants to go to the beach. Right? Well, not quite.

The luncheon was wonderful. It was much smaller than I expected, allowing everyone the opportunity to schmooze with the editors. I sat at a table with two editors, one from Crown Books and one from Avalon. Talking with the other writers was interesting, too. A whole contingent of New Jersey Romance Writers came, but there were three writers from Connecticut as well.

We all received a copy of Bertrice Small's book, LARA. She attended the luncheon and signed the copies. :^)

Some of the news:

Kensington will no longer publish Regencies. However, Signet will continue publishing them.
Historicals are on the decline. Paranormals on the upswing.
Men's fiction is dwindling.
Everyone wants Chick-Lit. Erotica is popular, too.
Harlequin is branching out. They will be releasing thrillers.

At least, that's some of what I heard.

Then I drove home. It took me four hours. The traffic barely crawled all the way from JFK to the Verrazano Bridge. Was everyone on the way to the beach? Or was the traffic due to the thunderstorm? I have no idea, but for the first time in history I actually got tired of listening to my Juice Newton CD.

However, I got back in time to join hubby and daughter #1 for pizza.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Bay Day and Dabbling

Hubby and I traveled down to Port Norris to join daughter #1 in experiencing Bay Day, an annual festival. You can read about it here.

Along with vendors, food, tours of NJ's tall ship, and shuttle bus rides to the East Point Lighthouse, several easels had been set up along the pier above the marsh for children and adults to paint watercolor scenes of the view. I have never been very good at watercolor painting, though I am quite proficient with oils, but I felt tempted to dabble with the watercolor paints that day.

Way back when I first started taking art courses, I had one watercolor teacher who sent the whole class off once a week at 8 a.m. to some part of town to do paintings from life. I enjoyed those expeditions, even if my paintings were less than stellar. Painting a landscape from life is a different experience than painting from a photograph, which is what I've been doing for quite a while now.

True, the white paper can be scary. Plus you know you will have people looking at your work as you paint it. Creating under those circumstances can be intimidating, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and paint anyway while daughter #1 and hubby walked all the way out to the end of the pier.

I had a nice time. The brushes were way too big--I'm used to working with much smaller ones when I use my oils, but I granted myself permission to mess up. Allowing myself that freedom made it more like play. A dab here, a dab there.

The painting is not very good, but I took it home anyway. I can unroll it and practically smell the salt marsh. I can feel the sun on my arms and see the fiddler crabs scuttling for cover. It's more of an evocative memory than a photographic representation. I felt daring and brave and more like an artist than I've felt in a long, long time.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Second Hand Books

My hubby had heard about a gigantic used bookstore from his friend. So this week we traveled to Cranbury, NJ, to visit the Book Worm, an old house on Main Street stuffed with second hand books. We found paperbacks as well as leather bound classics--with everything in between. It is sad to see all those lonely books on the shelves waiting for someone to pick them up.

I'm on a Celtic history binge and I found three hardcovers on that topic--which cost me all of $17. It was easy to find the historical books because some of the books in the store have been sorted, but those in the front are the new acquisitions and have yet to be properly placed. By the way, the store does take donations, but only on certain days.

There are tons of fiction books, of course. At home, I tend to hold onto the non-fiction books, but my "keepers" shelf for fiction is small. There really is not enough room--which reminds me of one of the best reason for e-books--they don't take up any space and when you don't want them anymore, it is a simple matter to delete them.

I also wondered why authors are not paid a percentage when the book is sold the second time around in this country. It seems only fair that they should collect a bit more money on their work. There ought to be a law concerning the matter.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

In Memory

Below is a photo of me and my brother at Disneyland. He was a navigator/bombardier in the Air Force and flew in the F-111 which was at that time an experimental fighter jet. His plane crashed in New Mexico a year after this picture was taken. He was twenty-five years old at the time of his death.



He did not die in the jungles of Vietnam, but he served his country nevertheless.

Both of my grandfathers served in World War I. My father served in World War II and his brother died on an island in the Pacific. My mother served in World War II, too, as did her brothers.

For all those who protect our country, I offer my thanks and prayers today.

May we soon have peace.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

An Opening

The students of Parsons School of Design had their thesis show last night. Hubby and I took the train into Manhattan again to see daughter #2's exhibit--which you can see below.



She replaced the door leading to a rest room in the gallery with another door that had an LCD screen. Instead of the usual man or woman symbol, the picture changed--or morphed--from a man into a woman and back as people passed the sensor installed above the door.

It was a popular exhibit and a few people actually used the rest room--both men and women. Daughter #2 stood by filming the reactions. Hubby and I presented her with roses to celebrate the occasion.

Of course, getting to Parsons by subway was a new experience. Neither my husband nor I had been on a subway in at least thirty years. We've gone into the city, but we've driven our own car. So last night, when we tried to get the Metro card to open the turnstile to enter the subway, we did not have any success until the subway attendant told us we had to swipe the card through with attitude. "You're in NY now," he said. "You've got to do it with attitude."

Okay. I swiped that card more forcefully and it did work.

There are homeless people here and there in the city. Yesterday was a cold, rainy, and dreary day. I saw one bag lady so covered in black plastic bags leaning on a cart also covered in black plastic that at first I thought she and her cart were a pile of garbage.

Nevertheless, I find the subterranean world of Penn Station fascinating with all the shops, restaurants, and bars far beneath the street. We had arrived in Penn Station at rush hour and the swarms of people running for their trains is--in itself--an amazing sight to see.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Graduation!

Today daughter #2 graduated from Parsons with a Masters in Design and Technology. The graduation ceremony was held in the theatre at Madison Square Garden. My hubby and I took the train to Manhattan. The weather felt more like March than May--cold and rainy.

We emerged from the depths of Penn Station into the hustle and bustle of Seventh Avenue. I contacted our daughter by cell phone and discovered she had not left her apartment yet--29 blocks south of where we were. However, she said she would be there in a half an hour.

We went across the street to a Roy Rogers restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, we stood on the corner of 33rd Street and 7th Avenue looking for our daughter. I called her on the cell phone and she said she was at the same intersection. However, she was on the opposite corner and it took a few minutes before I finally spotted her face in that sea of people.

After the graduation, we had to use the cell phones again to locate each other. (Cell phones are a wonderful invention!) Then we took some photos. Here's one of us.



After the pictures, we ate supper at Sbarro's restaurant--also across the street from Madison Square Garden. Daughter #2 showed us where to catch our train home and we left all the hustle and bustle behind us. New York is a rather exciting place, but I like peace and quiet, too.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

My Friend, the Harp Player

There's an article on my friend, Mary LeBus, in the Asbury Park Press. You can see it at:

Harpist is happy to pull some strings

What the article does not mention is Mary's skill in playing Scrabble. She plays Scrabble like some people play Poker. Her harp playing truly is wonderful, but I'm just jealous that she always beats me at Scrabble. :^)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pet Cemetery

In today's Asbury Park Press there is an article about a very upscale final resting place for pets.

You can read the article at:

Final resting place for pets

In the story, Bob Jordan quotes Howard Schoor as saying pet funerals will cost "from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars." Schoor has big plans.

We have always buried our pets in the backyard. It hasn't cost us anything. Of course, we never had any large pets. I can understand that the burial of a dead horse would be a gigantic undertaking. However, for parakeets, fish, and guinea pigs, the backyard has been sufficient.

We have always embellished the burial with a pertinent reading of the scriptures and a prayer. One of the most distressing pet burials happened to be the one for Pansy, a sweet little guinea pig. She happened to die on one of those miserable winter days when the weather outside consisted of sleet and freezing rain. My husband, at work, instructed me to use the post hole digger. I did that, but then the hole filled up with rain. I had to use the old manual boat pump to remove the water before we could place the deceased Pansy in the hole.

I was rather broken up about the event, in addition, I was exhausted from all my digging. My middle daughter read the twenty-third psalm.

When spring arrived, our youngest daughter planted some crocuses and daffodils at the site. I think it is much nicer so have our furry friends here in the backyard. Maybe there are some people who don't know how to use a post hole digger--or those who have a dead horse--but I won't be spending large amounts of money for our little pets.

Friday, May 13, 2005

If You Want To Know...

Romance Junkies posted the review for Prince of the Mist. So for anyone interested in reading it you just go to:

Prince of the Mist

My favorite quote by Romance Junkies reviewer, Billie Jo:

PRINCE OF THE MIST is a charming, sexy, and fun read.  Penelope Marzec outdoes herself again with another magical love story that kept me enthralled from the beginning to the end."

I located the review by searching for my name on the internet. Often, a reviewer will send an email to let the author know that the review has been posted on the internet--but sometimes they don't. Then I have to go find it--and I am not the only author with this problem.

My writer friends who do this sort of thing on a regular basis have coined a new term for it--"googling." I google myself frequently. When I'm procrastinating, I google members of my family.

At last count, I received 308 links for my name in .29 seconds. Compare that with 1,420,000 for "Nora Roberts" in .08 seconds.

Such is life. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Our Changing Society

I teach in a pre-k class. Most of the kiddies in my class are already five and they will all be going to kindergarten in the fall. Five is a wonderful age.

Today I read them a book titled OWEN, a Caldercott Honor book, it was written by Kevin Henkes. It's a cute story about Owen who has a blanket named Fuzzy which he refuses to give up. Finally, with kindergarten approaching, Owen's mother gets the bright idea of cutting up the blanket and stitching it into handkerchiefs.

At that point in the story, the kids all looked up at me and asked, "What's a handkerchief?"

I wish I had brought one in to show them. However, I suggested that perhaps their grandfather might carry one in his pocket. A few of the kids nodded with understanding. One of them said her grandmother carried a handkerchief.

Times have changed. Everyone uses tissues nowadays. I still have a few dainty, embroidered handkerchiefs tucked in my drawer--one of which I carried with me, tucked underneath the bouquet, on the day I was married.

Next time I read that story, I guess have to bring in a handkerchief. Such a simple thing, but it's becoming obsolete in a society where everything is disposable.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stroking My Ego

I received two more terrific reviews on "Prince of the Mist" yesterday--one with 5 Coffee Cups from the Coffee Time Romance review site, and a 4.5 review from the Romance Junkies' site. Getting wonderful reviews is one of the perks of writing. I get my ego stroked and I feel absolved from the responsibility for the layers of dust in my house.

Writing each of my books has been a long process with lots of hours spent in a chair in front of the computer. For me it has meant not watching television, not going out to lunch, ignoring friends, and being in a fog most of the time whenever one of my family members is talking to me--although my family has gotten rather used to it. They can tell when I'm not "in the real world."

My writer friends all talk about "filling the well"--that's what we do in between writing projects. For me, it mostly means cleaning the house as well as contacting all the people I have ignored while I've been submerged in my fictional world.

So fueled by my great reviews, I'll tackle some of that dust today. No doubt, some other story idea will attack me while I'm dusting though. I'm at the mercy of my muse.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My New Review

I just received the first review on my latest release, Prince of the Mist. It's at ecataromance for anyone who wants to read the whole review. Here's the link:

http://www.ecataromance.com/html/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1089

Of course, there is one sentence I adored. "Penelope Marzec is a very talented author who keeps her readers hooked with this fabulous story which is full of fun, passion and intrigue." It made my day. :^)

Yesterday, I was up at 4:30 am, my head swirling with ideas for my current work-in-progress. I started jotting down notes, but even after that I found I couldn't sleep, so I gave up trying to rest, turned on the computer and typed.

Then I went to work as usual. Fortunately, I did not fall asleep on the job.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Homemade Music

We visited with my hubby's nephew and family this past weekend. The nephew's daughter was to receive her First Communion. We drove five hours in the pouring rain on Saturday and arrived in time for take-out pizza. We stayed at the house and slept in the First Communicant's bed. Oh well. She didn't seem to mind.

We haven't seen the nephew and his wife in a year, so it was nice to catch up. The conversation flowed, helped by generous servings of wine.

The most unusual part of the visit was how truly fascinated the children were by my husband's accordion playing. The night we arrived, my hubby pulled out the accordion and proceeded to go through his usual repetoire. The kids rearranged the furniture in the living room to resemble something more like a theater.

The next day, after the First Communion, the kids clamored for my hubby to put on another show. The kids and their small guests watched in fascination as my hubby entertained. Some of the adult guests enjoyed the music, too.




My hubby loves an audience. He used to play the organ at church for a while--that way he had a captive audience. However, these youngsters who listened with such rapt attention made him very happy.

I wonder if any of them will ever be inspired to play an accordion.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

It's Still Cold At The Beach

My husband loves to go to the beach, and I do, too. However, hubby always assumes that whenever it is sunny and mild several miles inland, the same weather will prevail at the beach. I know better because I grew up by the water. It is invariably at least ten degrees cooler at the beach plus there is a stiff breeze blowing as well. Hubby grew up in Greenpoint.

We went to the beach today. Though there had been showers in the morning, the sun came out in the afternoon. I brought my jacket. Hubby did not want to bring his, but decided to toss it in the car at the last moment. It was a good thing he did. Only a few people had left their footprints in the sand today. The water was choppy and the air was misty. To me, it was a great day for a walk along the water's edge. Hubby wanted to know how long it will be before it's a good day for the beach. I told him that might be in July.

But I like it better now, when there's nobody there except the sea gulls. Today I listened to the lulling sound of the surf. In July, somebody's CD player will be blasting out music.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Day of Romance

I had a very nice time at the library today. I was given flowers, balloons, and even lunch. Six other romance writers and I were part of a Day of Romance celebration. People strolled through the library and talked with us. Some of them bought books. Some just picked up our bookmarks.

What I enjoyed most was talking with the other writers. We discussed covers and plots--a little bit about our real lives, but a lot about the book business. The librarians never told us to be quiet. :^) In fact, one of them seemed to be an interested listener.

I hope we get invited back!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Some Creep Stole My Car Radio

There are mean people in this world--nasty, rotten low-life thieves who have no qualms about taking what they want. One of those creeps ran off with my car radio and CD player. Inside the CD player was my favorite Dixie Chicks CD. None of my other CDs were taken. I guess the creep does not have the same musical interests as I do.

The day started out so well. I had no idea some miscreant would have a hankering for my car radio. At 7:45 a.m. this morning, I pulled into the parking lot of a very nice hotel. I was excited about attending a writers' workshop. I parked my car as close to the front of the hotel as possible--which was not all that close but in a direct line of sight to the entrance.

I spent the day happily drinking in tips on writing. The presentation was terrific and sparked a lot of good ideas that will help me in editing my own book.

At 4 p.m. when the workshop ended, I went back to my car. I opened the door to find the car radio gone. Where the radio used to be was a big empty space with wires hanging out. The plastic trim around the radio had been tossed on the passenger seat. The glove compartment had been opened, but the hoodlum did not snitch the two maxipads. This was a rather upsetting experience. I never had anyone steal my car radio until today. I suddenly did not feel very safe in the middle of the parking lot.

I went back into the hotel. They wrote up a report and called the police for me. A young, but good-looking policeman arrived and looked at my car. He said whoever took the radio, popped the lock on the door to open my car. He seemed surprised that the radio had been stolen in broad daylight. He got back into his car, tapped my phone number into his laptop, and asked a few more questions. He handed me a Post-It note with the phone number of the police department and the number and my case number. In two business days, I can get a copy of the report, which I can then give to my insurance agent.

I got back into my car while the police officer was still there. I worried whether the engine would start, but it did.

So now I'm wondering what good is locking the door of the car if thieves can easily pop the lock? Why bother?

I'm Catholic and I know I have to forgive the thug. I have prayed for him--so he better watch out, his conscience will be bothering him soon. Hopefully, he'll reconsider before he breaks into someone else's car.

Still, one good thing came out of the incident. If I need to put a young, but good-looking policeman into one of my novels it won't be a problem to dream him up.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Is Anyone Reading Anymore?

Today my husband and I drove out to Long Island with daughter #3. She has been getting treated for a back problem and today she had an epidural. (Not fun.) I brought along my Rocket to read the latest e-book I had loaded in there while I sat in the waiting room. My husband brought along his model railroad magazine. There was a man sitting across from us in the waiting room reading a novel and another man a few chairs away who was also reading a novel.

The television was blaring away, but nobody was watching it. Two women were sleeping. Another man was whistling--I could not recognize the tune, I don't think he had any particular melody in mind. There were magazines scattered on a table, but few people picked them up.

We were there for a l-o-n-g time. My husband went outside after a while to walk around the area. He found a Subway sandwich shop where we later grabbed something to eat.

It amazed me to see so many people who were not reading. With a loved one going through a medical procedure, a book is the perfect distraction.

Our daughter got through the epidural just fine, though it will be a few days before we know if it was effective.

Perhaps novels and other books should be available in all waiting rooms. Certainly, the televisions should be turned off. Nobody is watching the box and it is wasting electricity.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I finished it!

I ended my sixth novel, A Rush Of Light, this morning. I spent my spring break this week dedicated to the task of getting to the end. I still have to edit the book once more, and there are a few plot points that need ironing out. But it is essentially done--on time. :^)

Today, I'll celebrate by going to an art show with Mom and Dad.