Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My New Year's Resolution

2008 had some highs and lows--the usual roller coaster of life. Still, with my mother spending a total of two months either in the hospital or in rehab--we had some really low days. Nevertheless, while my mother is still very frail, my father is able to take care of her most of the time. My sisters and their families, despite living so far from us, have pitched in whenever they can to help out, which has made a big difference.

Daughter #3 got a new job this year and loves it. She also presented a program at a FEMA conference. The high point of her year!

Daughter #1 had a terrific time on a surf clam research cruise. She and her labmates traveled on a very large ship, 168 feet long. It had two dredges mounted on the stern. She loved being at sea. In June, she took a course on protein purification and had a blast! Her protein was the best. :^) But recently she has been suffering with an inflamed gallbladder. Oy.

Daughter #2 finally got her very own apartment this year and some recognition for her musical talent. (See The Missed Connections: 'Some Girl, Some Bar, Some Other Time'.) Then she lost the hearing in her left ear quite suddenly the weekend before Christmas. She’s currently on steroids and we’re hoping her hearing will return, but there’s no guarantee on that. (See Sudden Deafness.)

On a positive note, I am faithfully working out at Curves three times a week and hubby started a weight-lifting routine back in May and has stuck with it. Hopefully, the workouts will keep us in good shape.

Professionally, it was a great year. The Keeper’s Promise was released in March and is now an EPPIE finalist. Though the contracts for three of my books ran out at New Concepts Publishing, Crescent Moon Press gave me contracts for two of those books and they will be reissued in 2009.

In addition, The Beast of Blackbirch Manor will be released by New Concepts Publishing in print in April and will be available in Borders bookstores.

On the down side, I did not finish writing my current work-in-progress--so my New Year’s resolution is to finish that book--and then another one I had to set aside. Afterwards I want to complete a third manuscript that I barely started but found I had so much enthusiasm for it.

So for 2009, three books. I hope.

That’s my New Year’s Resolution. :^)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Craziest Time of the Year

Here's a photo of hubby and I at a party. The red bow is not in my hair. It is on the top of a Christmas tree behind me. But yes, it makes me look silly. :^)

This is the craziest season. I know there are those who agree with me. There is simply too much to do: attend numerous parties, decide what gifts to purchase, buy those gifts, wrap them, put up the Christmas tree, put ornaments on the tree, put gifts under the tree, string lights outside, send out Christmas cards, clean the house, bake calorie-laden treats, and feed visiting relatives.

In our case, there’s also several extra entertainment gigs. Everyone wants Christmas music this time of the year and hubby is thrilled to provide it. Very often, I’m leading everyone in song with those fa la la la la’s.

So far this season, I haven’t lost my voice.

However, writing time has been nearly impossible to find though I still need to squeeze it in. Crescent Moon Press is going to reissue The Company You Keep, which means I have to fill out the cover art questionnaire. It includes a blurb and a short summary of the book.

Naturally, I don’t want the same blurb previously used. So I agonized for days over a new blurb and finally got it down--well aware that the editor may change it.

I am currently working on the short summary, which reminds me of all the book reports I had to do when I was young. I’ve always loved reading books and I love writing books, but books reports are not fun for me--even if it’s my own book--maybe particularly because it is my own book. I know I have to leave out a lot and just hit the high points. Sigh.

But I am delighted that the book will be reissued! I had such a great time writing it. :^)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

EPPIE Finalist


The Keeper's Promise is an EPPIE finalist in the inspirational category. To see the complete listing with all the categories go to EPPIE Finalists.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Going, Going...Gone


Once upon a time, my mother and another woman had an antique shop. Mom's specialty was Depression Glass, but she had plenty of other wares and she loved to go to garage sales and yard sales to pick up more treasures.

Eventually, the shop closed. Then for a while, my mother had a booth in an antique center. As she aged and that got to be too much for her, she put her wares on display in a small case in another antique store closer to home.

However, Mom's been rather frail for the past six years. An auctioneer had sold off most of her collection of Depression glass. But she had several large pieces of furniture that she did not need and a lot of boxes cluttering up the basement.

We contacted the same auctioneer who had liquidated her Depression Glass and he set up a date for an auction of my mother's stuff. He took the Victorian rocker, the old-fashioned washstand, the oak server and china cabinet along with a number of ceramic pieces. My mother was extremely apprehensive about the sale.

The evening before the auction, she had trouble breathing. She went to the hospital. She had water in her lungs. Neverthelesss, she wanted hubby and I to go to the auction on Saturday. We did. It was a bittersweet experience to see my mother's treasures on display and it was at times disturbing to discover that some of the things I always considered most valuable went for so little. On the other hand, some items fetched a surprising amount.

In general, the antique furniture did not sell for much. Nevertheless, Mom did have some Hess toy trucks, some Roseville china, a bit of sterling, and one very old souvenir from the 1851 World's Fair which attracted some interesting bidding.

Mom got out of the hospital just as the auction was ending. She was pleased with the total amount of the sale, though disappointed that some of her things did not make more money.

Still, she told me, "See, you should save everything." :^)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

E-Book Talk at the Nutley Library


Yesterday, Kathye Quick and Patt Mihailoff, Cathy Greenfeder, and I presented a panel discussion at the Nutley Library. The library provided a lovely luncheon.

I went through my Power Point presentation. I get very enthusiastic talking about ebooks.
We had a good crowd. :^)

Cathy had lots of handouts for everyone.


Kathye talked about the book of her heart.


Patt told everyone how she loves to read about love. :^)


Our Gracious Hostess


It was fun talking with everyone.


The raffle winner!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hand Holding

I did a lot of hand holding this past week. Daughter #2 had three wisdom teeth removed on Friday.

My mother went into the hospital on Friday evening. She could barely breathe. It turned out she had water in the lungs--not pneumonia. Hopefully, diuretics should help.

Today, hubby and I were with Daughter #1 who had an endoscopy to check for ulcers and celiac disease. Once those problems are ruled out, she will probably have her gallbladder removed.

Daughter #1 lives two hours away, down in south Jersey--which is considerably less populated than north Jersey. I took the photo below as we were zipping home on the Parkway on the bridge over the Mullica River. I have always loved the view there. Miles and miles of nothing.



It could be a very boring drive, but there are things to keep it interesting. For instance, we wanted to see if milepost 66.6 was there. It wasn't. Somebody keeps stealing the sign.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Soaking Up Sunshine--I Wish

Do you see the turtle sunning himself on the log? I took this photo last week. Hubby and I took a walk in the park hoping to see a turtle or two. It isn't easy. The turtles always hear us coming no matter how quiet we are. But this one was braver than most. So though his friends slid off into the water, he remained--alert, but still able to soak up the sunshine.

Life is so hectic lately, I was simply glad I got out for a walk. Soaking up some sunshine would be great. I was envious of the turtle.

Our oldest daughter apparently has gallbladder trouble. She's gone for a few tests and still has another one coming up. In the meantime, she is unable to enjoy eating. She is not eating anything with fat, milk, or caffeine. She came home for the weekend and I did not know what I was going to feed her. I went to Whole Foods and bought some vegan cheese and soy hotdogs. Neither went over well.

However, I made my oatmeal pancakes for breakfast and that seemed to be okay with her and her gallbladder. Otherwise, she is living on organic vegetable soup. She has lost a lot of weight. :^(

Saturday, November 01, 2008

This Year's Costume


This year, the boss and I coordinated our outfits. Hers appeared more authentic with the belt, the canteen, and the dogtag.

Now what am I going to do next year? Any ideas?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Fantastic Conference



NJRW's conference was fantastic! I sat in on a PAN workshop with Maggie Shayne, pictured above. She's a great author and a classy lady. :^) I listened to Kathleen O'Reilly and Dee Davis talk about networking. I also caught Angela James workshop on E-Publishing.

There was a special presentation with J.R. Ward. Eloisa James gave Saturday's breakfast speech and Lisa Scottoline gave the keynote speech at lunch.

I helped out by being a time keeper during the editor and agent appointments. I also moderated a talk by Teagan Oliver called "Creating the Believable Anti-Hero."

I listened to Elizabeth Hoyt give pointers in her talk, "Sex Scene Viagra." :^)

I met the CEO and the marketing director of Crescent Moon Press, too! They're the ones who are going to reissue Irons in the Fire.

The book fair was mobbed, but as things wound down a bit I snapped a few photos of other authors.

If you're an author, you should go next year.







Friday, October 24, 2008

Over the Driscoll Bridge

The New Jersey Romance Writers conference began today in Woodbridge, which is not far from home. I zipped up the Parkway to get there and crossed over the Raritan River on the Driscoll Bridge. The bridge was named after Alfred E. Driscoll who was governor of New Jersey from 1947 to 1954. The Driscoll Bridge has expanded over the years. It now has 15 lanes, making it the world's widest bridge.

The view from the top is impressive--though I always like the southbound view better. Maybe because that means I'm going home. :^)

I have a connection--sort of--with Alfred E. Driscoll. On the evening I was born, my father was covering an important press conference given by Governor Driscoll. The phone rang during the proceedings and my father was told my mother was on her way to the hospital. My father stayed for the rest of the press conference.

A few years ago, my father gave me the aging newspaper clipping that had the story he wrote that night. He described Governor Driscoll as a "tall, lanky man dressed in a light brown gabardine suit" and noted how the governor fingered a pair of rimless glasses as he talked to the newsmen.

My father could have been a romance writer. :^)

But he choose instead to be a romantic man who has always loved my mother devotedly--even now when she is so very frail.

I've learned about love from my parents. I'm sure that's why I became a romance writer. I believe in the magic of true love.

And sharing the weekend with a bunch of other like-minded romance writers is awesome--even if the conference is on the other side of a very wide bridge.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Muse Online Writers Conference and My New Cover!

On Monday, October 13th, I will present a talk at the Muse Online Writers Conference. "Researching Paranormal for Your Story" is the title of my talk. You can find me in the forum for Crescent Moon Press.

Crescent Moon Press now has a cover on their front page for Irons In The Fire, which will be coming soon to their site! So stop by Crescent Moon Press and check out my new book cover. I love it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Back and Forth

I’ve spent the past week revising my current work-in-progress. I haven’t actually gotten to the end of the story. Many writers will write clear through to the end and then go back to edit. I go back and forth, several times. I’ll write for a while, and then go back and fix up what I’ve written. After I’m satisfied with that, I’ll move forward again until I am compelled to stop and edit once more.

It’s not that I don’t know what the end of the story will be. I do. But I have some perfectionist tendencies and I cannot let things slide when I know there are parts of my work that could be better.

Besides, sometimes I actually want to edit and sometimes I want to lose myself in the story progress. It all depends on what else is going on in my life--how busy or how crazy it is. And since I also have a job, elderly parents, one daughter still living at home, and a retired husband (who plays the accordion--a lot)--it does get a little insane around here at times. :^)

I’ve listened to many experienced fiction writers detail their methods of writing. I’ve read plenty of books about writing, too. Currently, I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s an excellent book and he has some wonderful advice.

But Stephen King writes his way, and I write my way. Of course, Stephen King is way ahead of me.

My way is--perhaps--slower and less efficient, but it works for me.

The one thing I’ve learned after listening to many authors detail their methods is that everyone does things differently.

What process do you use for writing?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Writing Tips and a New Antenna

I attended a meeting of the New Jersey Romance Writers today where Elizabeth Devlin and Annette Blair presented two great talks with plenty of excellent writing advice. Aside from the handouts, Annette offers an extensive list of sensual words available at her website. So when you're in need of just the right touch go to:

http://www.annetteblair.com/sensual-words.htm

She mentioned Linda Howard's Twelve Steps to Intimacy, which I found on the web--and which I know I have somewhere in my collection of notes, but I am not exactly sure where. :^(

However, that is important stuff when you're writing a romance and it was good to be reminded of it.

I came home all ready to completely revise my current work-in-progress. But hubby had hired someone to put a new antenna on the house, a new coaxial cable, and hook that up to our new converter box. It is difficult to concentrate when there's someone tramping around on the roof and stapling cable along the walls.

But the results were great. We have a lot more channels and they come in clearly.

Hubby did not want to get cable service. Aside from the fact that he did not want to pay a monthly service charge, we really don't watch TV that much and we live very close to New York City--as the crow flies. We can receive all the major television channels with our antenna.

Of course, we won't be getting the History Channel, or the Discovery Channel.

But that's okay.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Too Hot for a Picnic

It was too hot for our church picnic today. So everyone ate in the air-conditioned cafeteria. Hubby provided entertained with his accordion.

I contributed my favorite lima bean salad, which disappeared very quickly. :^) One woman asked me for the recipe.

Daughter #2 had come home yesterday for a visit. She wanted to take videos of the woods. After the picnic, I went off to the woods with her. Though we were in the shade, there wasn't a single breeze.

September is usually much more pleasant! video

Monday, September 08, 2008

Red Bank Street Fair

I spent most of yesterday at a street fair in Red Bank with four other members of the New Jersey Romance Writers. The weather was perfect and plenty of people walked by our booth. Many insisted they don't read, but there were some interested in our books. A few were interested in joining our illustrious organization. :^)


We all sold books. There were some readers who bought our books in previous years and came looking for us again to buy our latest releases. Here's a photo of me with my best fan!



















Red Bank is a great place for a street fair.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Roadtrip To Florida










For the past six years, hubby and I have traveled by ourselves to Florida during the summer to visit hubby’s mom and dad. Our daughters were very busy during those six years. They were in graduate school, or working, and unable to join us. Babci and Dziadzi took a plane a few times to come up and see them.

This year we got lucky and two of our daughters were able to schedule vacation time so they could along for the ride--Daughter #1 and Daughter #2.

The last time they went on a road trip with us, they were barely adults. Now they’re all grown up and responsible.

Daughter #2 intends to learn how to make golombki from Babci. Daughter #1 has plans for us to go on a day cruise past the homes of film stars.

I brought along my Alphasmart in hopes that I can add another chapter or two to my manuscript before we return home. And I did do a little writing today even though hubby was driving and listening to one of his polka CDs.

But when the skies opened up and the rain poured down on our little car, I got nervous and stopped writing. Fortunately, the rain did not last long, but afterwards we stopped for lunch and then I took a turn driving.

I listened to my Peter, Paul, and Mary CDs while I was driving. I like to sing along with them. :^)

But I don’t know what our daughters will want to listen to when they take a turn at the wheel. I guess I’ll learn about some newer music.

Day 2:

I had searched the web to check out motels before we left home to see which had the best deals for our stopover on I95. I picked one which included a full, hot breakfast. Hubby gets all excited about a big breakfast, which he seldom has at home since he is supposed to be watching his cholesterol--and he does for the most part.

But this is a vacation. So we all had bacon and eggs this morning. :^)

Daughter #2 was taking photos all along the way. When we were stuck in a traffic jam, I decided to follow her example. However, while she was taking photos of cows, I took photos of the I95 sign and a 70 mph sign. When we passed that sign we were merely creeping along.

Lunch was a Subway sub at a truckstop in Georgia. Daughter #1 took the wheel when we finally reached I75. Her musical selections were surprisingly eclectic. First, she slid in a Johnny Cash album. The second one was Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, and the third--at hubby’s request was Preservation Hall’s Dixieland Jazz.

At one point, when I was driving today, I was cruising along listening to a Bread CD. My daughters said it put them to sleep--although hubby liked “If” and thought it would sound good on the accordion.

Naturally.

Hit several downpours, but they cleared up quickly. Wrote a little bit more on my manuscript.

Finally reached Babci and Dziadzi’s house at 7 p.m. We were all dead tired.

Day 3:
The first order of business was the flea market and the laundry. Daughter #2 had packed light, and needed to wash clothes. So she stayed with Babci while hubby, Dziadzi, Daughter #1 and I went to the flea market. I wound up buying a plastic butter dish and a little magnet so hubby will know whether the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty. (Very useful item.)

When we returned home, I got some down time while hubby, Daughter #2, and Babci went to the Polish deli. I polished up some of the writing I did while we were driving along the road--but I didn’t get much time to work for soon it was lunchtime. Then we went to the library to check our email. The library has a new policy for guests. We had to pay $1 to use the internet. Daughter #2, who brought her laptop used the free wifi.

Babci and Dziadzi always go to 4 pm Mass, so we went, too. On the way back we saw a herd of sandhill cranes walking through someone’s yard. Birds that are as tall as full-grown humans are rather scary.

After supper, we went to the beach at Anclote River Park. A couple who sat near us, told me about Key Vista Park--a nature preserve nearby--which is very nice, so I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to do some exploring there.

I got about a half hour to do some more writing later in the evening, but I felt guilty about it, like I was being anti-social. Besides, we have heard some interesting stories that we’ve never heard until now. Of course, there are the ones we’ve heard a zillion times being repeated, but one that never came up before was the one about how Dziadzi took out his own tonsils. Not even hubby heard that one.

Of course, Dziadzi used to boast how “he no need doctor, he doctor himself.”

So once, when Dziadzi was a young man, newly immigrated from Poland, he shared a room with five other guys. When it snowed, the snow would come inside.

Dziadzi got very sick. His throat swelled up, which made it tough to breathe. He had no money for a doctor. He had a fever. He coughed so much that he coughed up his own tonsils and he hasn’t had a cold since.

But he does go to the doctor now that he’s 91.

Day 4:

We went to the Gunn Highway Flea Market. Both of our daughters needed pots and pans and I’ve found those in the past at one dealer at this flea market. Luckily, she was still there. I got a pot lid for one of my Farberware pots, too.

We went to a winery on Route 52 which we had seen on our way into Port Richey. Naturally, we all bought bottles of wine after the tasting.

We went to the beach again. Hubby loves the hot water here in Florida. According to the newspaper, the water is 90 degrees. I like to swim in cooler water, but I’m the only one who knows the way to the beach. So I went along again, with a pen and paper and jotted down more ideas for my book while everyone else was playing in the water.

Then when we got back to the house, I incorporated my scribbles into the Alphasmart while everyone else took turns showering. I’m not adding a lot to the manuscript, but it’s better than adding nothing.

Day 5:

Spent a lazy morning in the house and had a bit of time to write. We had reservations for a boat cruise at 1 pm on the Miss Daisy II to see the homes of some famous people who lived along the Pithlachascotee River like Gloria Swanson, Babe Ruth, Shirley Temple, and others.

The most interesting part of the cruise were the stilt houses in the Gulf and the dolphins.

Babci came along for the ride, but Dziadzi was worried about having to walk too far to the boat. So again, he stayed home.

He’s really in his own world most of the time. He walks around muttering and fussing over this and that. Yesterday, he was angry because the placemats weren’t on the counter.

But I have no idea what he was muttering about today--because, of course, he grumbles in Polish and the only words I seem to be able to understand are the Polish swear words.

After our boat cruise, we went to the library again to check out the web. I was looking up motels for the return trip.

Babci and Dziadzi know nothing about the internet. Of course, they forgot how to work the microwave. “It no work,” says Dziadzi. I plug it in and it works fine.

They do watch a lot of television.

For supper, Dziadzi wanted to go to the pizza buffet restaurant, so we did. Afterwards, he wanted to watch a TV show that started at 7 p.m.

So hubby, our daughters and I went to check out the nature preserve we passed by the other day.

Day 6:
Another lazy morning. Daughter #1 got up before I did!

Before lunch we went to the accordion store which hubby visits once a year when we’re here.

We saw a pierogi restaurant and stopped there for lunch. The pierogis were excellent!

From there we went to Tarpon Springs to get some souvenirs. We were lucky that it was cloudy because it was much cooler than it usually is.

That evening Babci was trying to give away whatever we would take with us--but the car really cannot hold much more. I accepted a wooden Polish plate--handcarved, which I’ll give to Daughter #3 who could not come with us since she was presenting a talk at a conference.

Daughter #2 accepted a bunch of kitchen implements. Babci has a recipe book--handwritten in Polish and she translated those recipes while Daughter #2 wrote them down.

I got almost a whole hour to write while everyone else watched the Olympics on television, but then it was time to turn in since we have to get up early for the start of our drive home.

Day 7:

Got up at six and rolled out of the driveway with gray clouds overhead. Once we got into Georgia it began to rain--and it kept right on raining.

Rainy road trips are not fun. However, I did quite a bit of writing done. When it was my turn to drive, I listened to Jim Croce, Patty Loveless, and the Dixie Chicks.

Hubby played all the CDs our daughters have given him as presents. A scary music CD, a Zydeco CD, and his new Jimmy Sturr CD which he bought in Florida. Daughter #2 asked if he ever got tired of listening to Polkas.

Evidently not.

Day 8:

Up at 6 am, had our Continental Breakfast and got back on the road. I did not do any writing. We stopped at a marvelous truck stop and I bought coffee and a magazine. I drove through much of Virginia listening to Daughter #1’s Forrest Gump soundtrack. It has lots of great songs from my generation. :^)

Stopped in Bowie, Maryland for lunch, and then visited with Sister #2 who lives in Annapolis. Did not stay long because we all want to get home--back to regular email and our own beds.

But seeing Sister #2, however briefly, was fun. She has made her back screen porch into a Tiki bar. There are strings of flamingo lights and chili pepper lights. The ceiling has bamboo reeds stapled to it.

We got home around 7 p.m. and decided to go out for pizza.

Later, I loaded the writing I had done on the Alphasmart into my computer. I wrote a total of fourteen pages while we were traveling. :^)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Four Star Review for The Keeper's Promise!

Right now you can see only the four stars, but by the end of this month the full review should be there.

Go to:
The Keeper's Promise at Romantic Times BookReview Magazine

There is also a link to the book trailer video I made. However, that link will only be on the site this month.

I have an interesting interview at the Romance Junkies' Cocktail Hour page. It has photos, too.

You can see that at:

Cocktail Hour Interview

I have been spending most of my time writing book #10, which I have titled The Fiend of White Buck Hall. I've made considerable progress on it and it is coming together well. It's a historical paranormal.

Last weekend, I took a break from writing. Hubby, Daughter #1, and I went to visit Daughter #2 in Brooklyn. Daughter #2 took us on a long walk to a park by the East River. It was a beautiful day and I took a picture of my lovely daughters and hubby--and the Empire State Building.:^)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Itchy


I have poison ivy on my face. I do not know how I got it because I know what poison ivy looks like and I never go near it. I was pulling weeds this week and planting the flowers my sister gave me--but I did not see any poison ivy anywhere near me.

Whenever I do see poison ivy in our yard, I spray it with Ortho Max Poison Ivy Killer which claims to destroy even the root. So how I got poison ivy on my face is a mystery though it’s not too bad--three rather ugly, oozy, red patches. I just have to constantly put stuff on it to stop the itch.

My brother used to get poison ivy every time he went on a camping trip with the Boy Scouts. Once he had it so bad, his eyes were swollen shut.

My husband, who grew up in Brooklyn, does not know what poison ivy looks like. When we first moved into our current home, there was a bunch of poison ivy climbing up a tree and he pulled it off with his bare hands. I was totally hysterical. I ordered him to put his clothes in the washing machine and to take a shower immediately. He did, but he did not get any poison ivy. I did--probably from touching the door handle that he had touched or the washing machine cover or the faucets.

Anyhow, hubby has never, ever had poison ivy. I suspect he might be immune to it. But evidently, I’m rather susceptible.

So maybe someone smeared poison ivy on a shopping cart.

My mother is home and seems to be over her bout of diverticulitis. That’s what landed her in the hospital this last time. She was on a liquid diet for several days and IV antibiotics. But every time she goes into the hospital, she gets totally disoriented--probably more from lack of sleep than anything else. It can get very strange when she is lying in a hospital bed and believes she’s in her kitchen.

However, once she’s home, things go back to normal. Sort of.

Nevertheless, she is eating better now that her stomach doesn’t hurt.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our Newport Vacation

Hubby and I went on vacation! We visited Newport, Rhode Island. I’ve always wanted to see the summer “cottages” of the rich and famous.

We drove up on Monday. We only stopped at one antique shop so we arrived in Newport around 4 p.m. After checking into our hotel and eating dinner, we decided to check out the Cliff Walk. We started at the Forty Steps and walked south. We saw surfers at the foot of the cliff. To get to the waves, they had to wend their way out by walking barefoot through the rocks. They wore wetsuits and it looked as if most of them used short boards.

Hurricane Bertha had kicked up some mighty big swells and the surfers appeared to be having a mighty good time. In fact, all that surfing made them mighty thirsty. The trash can at the top of the cliff was brimming with beer cans and water bottles.

Hubby and I watched them surf for a while. It made me nervous wondering if they were going to surf onto the rocks at the foot of the cliff. However, their path along the wave carried them at an oblique angle.

As one surfer walked by, I asked him if there had been accidents when surfers ran into the rocks. He showed me his knees. A few scratches--that’s all, he explained.

I guess they know exactly what they’re doing.

The next day, hubby and I toured four mansions, The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, and Chateau Sur Mer. The first three reminded me of the palaces I had seen in Europe. Chateau Sur Mer was somewhat less ostentatious than the others, but there is carved wood all over the house and it is exquisite.

The daughters in the family who lived in Chateau Sur Mer never married. Of course, they had limited choices--they were only allowed to marry men from eight other families--at least that’s what the tour guide told me.

Stories like that are what intrigued me more than all the marble, gold leaf, and Louis the Fourteenth furniture.

I do believe that money cannot buy happiness and most of the people who lived in the grand mansions did not always get to enjoy their prosperity for they suffered tragedies. Divorce, premature death, and arranged loveless marriages are not my idea of a good time--no matter how extravagant the lifestyle.

After dinner, hubby and I drove along Ocean Drive. I took a picture of the Castle Hill lighthouse and then the Goat Island Lighthouse. Maybe someday, I might get a chance to do a painting of one of them.

On Wednesday, we checked out Hunter House--the oldest of the Newport mansions, built in 1748--so it was not a palace, but a center hall colonial--lots of those in NJ, too.

Above the fireplace was a painting by Gilbert Stuart--his first, a painting of dogs. The tour guide told me that the father of the Mr. Hunter who bought the house was a physician who cured Gilbert Stuart of an eye ailment. Gilbert was fourteen at the time and the doctor noticed the sketches the teenager had drawn. The doctor gave the young Gilbert paints and introduced him to the portrait artist who had painted the doctor’s portrait.

And thus, if it had not been for that one good doctor, Gilbert Stuart would not have finished the famous portrait of George Washington. I love hearing stories like that. It can easily be translated to a fictional story.

After Hunter House, hubby and I hopped on a ferry to Rose Island. I had originally thought of staying at Rose Island. I am glad I did not. I think I would have gone a little stir crazy.

The lighthouse is very nice, but guests can only walk along a small portion of the island. The rest of it is a bird sanctuary. In truth, the seagulls are the true owners of that island. Baby seagulls and their mothers were all over the place. The mother seagulls were not happy with any human who got anywhere near their offspring.

Hubby and I brought our lunch to the island. We ate at a picnic table in the shade of the lighthouse, I took some photos, picked up some shells, watched the baby seagulls annoy their mothers, and decided I’d had enough.

Back in Newport, we visited the Elms. The Elms was the home of Edward Berwind, the coal magnate. My grandfather, a coal miner, probably helped to contribute to Mr. Berwind’s lavish lifestyle. We actually had two tours of the Elms. One was the standard tour of the home, the other was a Rooftop and Behind the Scenes tour--which featured the places where the servants worked and lived.

It was a hard life for the servants, but the most startling fact was that the last inhabitant of the Elms, Julia Berwind, Edward’s sister, kept the house functioning in the same style with a full staff just as it had been back in 1901. When she died in 1961, there was still no electric washing machine. They used an agitator by hand to do the wash.

Crazy.

However, the house would have fallen to the wrecking ball had it not been for the Preservation Society of Newport County. Without them, there would be another shopping mall in place of the Elms.

The next day we started off the morning by visiting Kingscote, finished in 1841, a Gothic Revival home. We got there ten minutes before it opened and I looked through all the photographs I had taken while we waited for the tour to begin. I realized that I was not quite sure about the location of some of the pictures. Was that the Marble House, or Rosecliff, or the Elms?

So I bought a guidebook.

After Kingscote, we toured the Isaac Bell home, built in 1881. Isaac Bell was a cotton broker and brother-in-law of the publisher of the New York Herald.

After lunch, we headed to Chepstow, an Italianate villa, circa 1861.

At that point, we felt we had overdosed on mansions.

We drove to Green Animals, a topiary garden in Portsmouth. I am always cutting back the hedges in our yard--but ours are plain and boxy. It is amazing to see privet hedges and yews clipped into whimsical, fanciful shapes.

Not that I would do it. It is difficult simply keeping the hedge--and all the other bushes in our yard in check. Sometimes, I feel like a need a machete instead of hedgeclippers to hack away the jungle around the house.

We stopped at the Newport Winery and tasted quite a few wines. I liked their Gemini wine and the Great White. I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the wines. The ones that were most elegantly written were the ones I choose to taste. :^)

After dinner, we drove out to see Second Beach, Third Beach, and Purgatory Chasm. In Massachusetts, there is a Purgatory Chasm, too. It’s rather impressive. But Rhode Island’s Purgatory Chasm is different--and scary. It is a narrow cleft in a huge rock formation. The cleft is not wide, but it goes straight down to the water. From the top of the rock, there’s a wonderful view of Second Beach, Third Beach, and the wildlife refuge. Of course, I did not go anywhere near the edge of that huge rock.

We walked along Third Beach. The sand is light grey--unlike the sand in New Jersey.

On Friday, we left Newport and headed to Simsbury, Connecticut, to see my sister, her hubby, and their children. My sister is Curator of the Gardens for the grounds of the local historical society so she took us to the Phelps Tavern Museum--another old house!

However, it was not a palace and we learned something interesting. When fireplaces were being built people would place old shoes from family members in the fireplace. This was for good luck--or so it is thought.

My sister also took us to see the largest tree in Connecticut--The Gifford Pinchot Sycamore. With a girth of 27 feet it is very impressive.

Gifford Pinchot founded the US Forestry Service. Hubby and I visited Grey Towers a few years ago, which is the Pinchot mansion in Pennsylvania. But Pinchot was born in Simsbury--so they dedicated the largest tree they could find in honor of him. :^)

My sister gave me some of the plants from her garden--perennials that multiply. I hope they do well for me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Amazing Contest Response

I set up a new contest for Labor Day at my website. I will be giving away two diskettes. One contains an HTML file of my very first book, Sea Of Hope, and one is an HTML file of another one of my books, Heaven's Blue. They are both EPPIE award-winning inspirational romances. Since they are on diskettes, you need to have a disk drive to use them. Some computers no longer have disk drives and diskettes are becoming obsolete.

But if you do have a disk drive, the contents of the diskettes will open up in your browser where you can read my e-books.

The response for the contest so far has been nothing short of mind-boggling. Evidently, my contest was listed at another site on the web frequented by those who love to enter contests. :^)

News travels fast on the web, but this means that the competition for those two diskettes is getting really fierce.

I'm going to need a really big container to put all the names in when it's time to draw out the winner.

Monday, July 07, 2008

My New AlphaSmart

Last Thursday, my AlphaSmart Neo arrived. It is a terrific technological advance for me. I am now untethered. :^) I can literally write anywhere. The machine is lightweight and the batteries last a long, long time. I do not have to keep recharging it. (However, there is a model with rechargeable batteries.) Click on the link to get all the details at the AlphaSmart website: AlphaSmart.com

Meanwhile, my mother went back into the hospital on Saturday. She had severe abdominal pain. After a CT scan, we found out she has diverticulitis. My sister, her husband, and boys drove here to see Mom in the hospital. So I spent most of my time feeding people--and after they left, there were extra towels and sheets to wash. Not much time to write--or even think. But I am glad they could be with Mom in the hospital.

I did show my new Alphasmart to my sister and her boys. My nephew said that when he was in middle school, the teachers gave AlphaSmarts to the kids with the really bad handwriting.

Hmmmm. An incentive to have poor penmanship?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

E-Book Talk at the Sierra Club


On Monday, I presented my e-book talk to the local Sierra Club. After all, e-books save trees and prevent waste in landfills. My listeners were very attentive. They really were not familiar with e-books and asked a lot of questions. I passed around my eBookwise reader so everyone would understand exactly how simple it is to use.

They were a wonderful audience! However, I realized I should have had a handout for them with a page of URLs--places to go for e-books like www.fictionwise.com, www.ebookwise.com, or www.gutenberg.net or www.epicauthors.com.

Oh well. Next time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Great Presentation by Jane Porter

On Saturday, I attended the New Jersey Romance Writers meeting. Jane Porter presented a talk on the Alpha Male and the Unforgettable Heroine. It was an entertaining and informative talk. She used video clips from a variety of well-known movies to illustrate her points.

She was a wonderful speaker! You can find Jane Porter at Jane Porter (She has a great website, too.)

I sat next to Shirley Hailstock and Mo Boylan at lunch. Each of them have an Alphasmart keyboard and they let me play with their gadgets. I want one of my own now. I had thought of getting one a while ago, but now that summer is here it seems an even better idea. I could write anywhere!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Clean Dolls



I teach a pre-k class when I'm not writing. The school year ended last week and, as usual, the teachers had to clean up the classrooms. The dolls in my room were really filthy--and probably full of germs and other nasty stuff. I put them in the washing machine with bleach and hot water. They all survived. The genuine Cabbage Patch dolls fared the best. One other type of doll needed its hair glued back on its head. Another needed a few stitches, but that was it. They are rather hardy.

I put them on the line outside to dry, which looked rather strange. But now they are all ready for September and another class. :^)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Autographed Copy

I love to go to used book sales at libraries. My stack of books to be read is formidable, but that doesn't stop me from looking for more books. Daughter #1 is an zealous reader, too. Actually, she's worse than I am. I swear she inhales books. The nice thing is that we know each other's taste in books. So when we go to a sale together, we help each other find exactly what we like.

When the library in the next town put tons of books out on the porch, we happily planned to spend our Saturday morning searching for more wonderful books. We were not there very long when Daughter #1 pointed out a book that had one of my stories in it. I was rather surprised to see the book there. I picked it up and opened up the cover. I had autographed the book.


I felt a bit sad that the person who had purchased the book no longer wanted it. Of course, I do the same thing all the time. I regularly donate books that other authors have autographed after I read them. I cannot keep every book. I simply do not have the room for them all.

However, I could not leave that book on the shelf. I only had two copies of that particular book at home. So I bought the copy at the library sale.

It brought back a lot of good memories. The book is full of recipes for interesting dates and many of the stories were written by my New Jersey Romance Writer friends. I think I'll have to re-read it. :^)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Reunion

There's me on the right with hubby and some of my former classmates. We attended my fortieth high school reunion on Friday night. Hubby wound up spending a lot of time snapping photos since he was not a member of the class. He stood patiently in one place with five cameras on his arm and took the same shot over and over.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed the evening. It was so nice to catch up with everyone! One of the memorable moments occurred as we were all posing for a group shot. Hubby was standing on a chair in the center of the room to get the best vantage point. Then someone started singing "In The Still of the Night" and everyone else joined in. :^)



I hope we all get together again soon.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Big One

Hubby had a birthday. We celebrated with an outdoor feast on the patio. There were burgers cooked on the grill, potato salad, fruit salad, beans, pasta salad, and in addition to the ice cream cake, we had S'mores.

There was one funny incident. I left the back door open for a while when I was taking food back into the house. A few chipmunks were spotted heading toward the door, and one of them went inside. Daughters #2, #3 and her boyfriend went after the errant chipmunk. They managed to get him to run out the front door. They are such cute creatures, but I would hate to have one loose in the house.

It was such a beautiful day. We had our daughters and our friends with us. Plus my parents came, too. I was so glad they could join us.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Featured Author

Yesterday, I was the featured author at the monthly meeting of the New Jersey Romance Writers. I stood up to tell everyone about my book, but after developing laryngitis this week I sounded terrible and I did not want to talk for long. Nevertheless, I got a few chuckles when I explained that The Keeper's Promise is a book about murder and faith. And it is. Sort of. :^)

I had a wonderful time catching up with my writing friends. There's always something to laugh about at a romance writers' meeting.

At lunch, we commiserated about the difficulty of promoting books. Writing books is the easy part. Most of the published writers in NJRW have not quit their day jobs--yet. So for those of you who want to get rich quick, don't think you can do it by writing a book.

But if you have lots of stories to tell, go ahead and write. It is fun!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Life has been very hectic lately, but sometimes when things get tough I like to look at my old photo albums. This is one of my favorite pictures from more than twenty years ago--me and our three daughters at the Enchanted Forest. And I thought life was hectic then. Ha!

This weekend was busy as most weekends seem to be in this household--except for yesterday morning. While Daughter #1 had brought her boyfriend with her, they went to a wedding yesterday morning. Daughter #3 was working yesterday morning. Daughter #2 had to wait for a cable guy to come and install a cable in her apartment. Hubby went out to check all the garage sales in the area. So yesterday morning I was all alone for several hours. I had lots of peace and quiet. :^)

Then everyone came back and my peace and quiet evaporated. Still, our daughters can gab for hours and I love to listen to what is going on in their lives. It is fun to have them altogether and, of course, they gave me wonderful gifts.

Today we all went to Mass together. However, after lunch Daughter #1 and her boyfriend had to leave. Daughter #2 went with hubby and I to visit my parents. Hubby fixed Dad's lawnmower and put the air conditioner in the living room window. Daughter #2 and I scrubbed the kitchen. I also planted a few geraniums outside as well as a hydrangea.

Then Daughter #2 had to leave.

Sigh. Life whizzes by so quickly. I'm glad I have my old photographs.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Five Roses!

The Keeper's Promise has received a wonderful review from Mary at A Romance Review. Mary gave the book the highest rating--five roses! She thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommends it.

You can read the entire review at:

http://www.aromancereview.com/reviews/index.php?app_state=show_event&bookid=13449

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ideas From A Walk In The Park

My NCP editor told me I should do another beast book since the readers seemed to like The Beast of Blackbirch Manor. So although I was having fun with my pirate book, I set it aside and started working on another book with another beast. I usually do not switch like that. I'm afraid I would never finish anything if I hopped around from one book to the next. However, the editor had a good point and I decided I ought to do my best to follow her suggestion.

Inspiration for the setting of the book was not hard to find. My daughters and I went for a walk in the park at dusk one night. It was nearly time for the park to close, but I had my camera with me and I wanted to take a shot of one little bridge near the water.

As we walked along the trail, the sky became darker. We heard the sound of a great horned owl high up in the treetops and when we looked up we could see the silhouette of the creature. The park that we enjoy so much in the daytime took on a rather creepy aspect. Our imaginations started to go wild and every little noise became frightening. Daughter #2 was sure she heard the stamp of heavy feet behind us--the kind a large deer would make.

Quickly, I took a photo of the bridge. Then we hurried back to the car. The park ranger was hovering near the car. I'm sure he was glad to see us leave.

I was quite please with the photo. I put it on my desktop. The picture helped me describe the heroine's walk through the woods when she first meets the white buck. He's the beast. :^)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

E-Publishing Workshop

The maiden voyage for our PT Cruiser was a road trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. Hubby and I listened to some of our favorite CDs as the miles went by. It was much greener in North Carolina than in New Jersey--also much warmer.


It rained on Saturday, the day I presented my talk, but the Carolina Romance Writers greeted me warmly so the weather did not matter. :^) They have a wonderful meeting room and the food at the Hickory Tavern is terrific. However, I was not brave enough to try the shrimp and grits.


Hubby and I did some sightseeing on Sunday. There's an aviation museum in Charlotte with plenty of old fighter planes. We also checked out Lake Norman, and the Carolina Historical Museum where there was a wonderful exhibit with large toys.

We headed home to NJ on Monday. We were quite surprised when we pulled into a rest stop on Interstate 85 and saw three vanilla PT Cruisers pull in beside ours. A fifth one pulled in a few minutes later. It was an amazing coincidence.


I suppose it is a very popular car!