Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cape Cod Cranberry Pie


I have mentioned this pie in a few posts in the past, but I never typed out the recipe. I bake it every Christmas (except for the one year we did not have a working oven). It's quick and delicious. While I enjoy it plain, ice cream or whipped cream on top is nice, too.

I originally discovered the recipe in my New York Times Heritage Cook Book, but the recipe can now be found easily online.

2 cups cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Spread the cranberries in the bottom of a well-greased ten inch pie plate.
3. Sprinkle with one half cup of the sugar and the nuts.
4. Add the remaining sugar to the eggs, beating well. Beat in the flour, butter, and shortening. Pour over the cranberries.
5. Bake about 1 hour, or until crust is golden brown.

The pie goes fast--so you better make two of them. :^)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

No Cookies, But Edits Nearly Complete

This Christmas I was--for me--ahead of schedule. I sent out the cards, I bought the gifts and wrapped them. Then my editor sent Daddy Wanted to me for preliminary edits. I decided the Christmas cookies will have to wait.

Last night, I finished combing through the edits. I've removed many of the obnoxious thats peppering the manuscript. I spell checked the document and discovered I spelled interrogation incorrectly. :^(

I printed out the whole thing and began reading through it today. I've found some little mistakes so I'm glad I decided to give it another look.

I can always buy cookies.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cover for Daddy Wanted

Here it is! The cover for Daddy Wanted. I love it. It's perfect. Really.

The heroine lives in Brooklyn--a place I've gotten to know fairly well.

I do not have a release date for the book, but I'll tell the world when I find out.

Visit the Prism Book Group to see more of my publisher's titles and take advantage of a special offer--30% off all titles until January 2nd and there are two free books available for a download as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Times Have Changed

This is my first grade class from 1973. Over the years, I taught in both public and private schools, but I always felt safe and secure on the job--despite the fact that for most of those years the schools did not have security systems.

Times have changed. Now, nobody is safe.

My heart goes out to those who are grieving in Newton, Connecticut.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Overused Word--A Plague of THATS

I am bogged down with the preliminary edits of Daddy Wanted and working away until I am bleary eyed every night.

I don't mind. I want my book to the be best it can be. The passage below needed to be fixed.


So I studied it, switched words around, eliminated the plague of THATS and now it looks like this:


I hope the editor will find it satisfactory, but it is definitely better than it was.








Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Playing With Photoshop

I have an ancient version of Photoshop. Mostly, I use it to fix red eyes in photographs--but there is a lot more the program can do. I wanted to superimpose one photograph onto another and layer a transparent image onto a solid image.

Using the Help menu in Photoshop, did not help me. Instead, I found clear, concise answers from other people online. The internet is a wonderful thing.

So after an evening of fooling around, I can now place a giant woolly bear caterpillar on a bridge. This is wonderful because I have an idea for a book cover. No, the book cover will not be an image of a woolly bear on a bridge. That is simply practice, but it is a lot of fun. :^)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rejections

I received another rejection yesterday for The Pirate's Wraith. It was a very sweet, very well-written rejection, but the basic message was negative. I went to the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference last March and talked to four editors--none of them leaped at the chance to publish my book. I went to the New Jersey Romance Writers conference last month and had interviews with two agents. Both of them have now rejected the book.

Trying to land a publisher or an agent is not an easy task--even though I've written plenty of other books. It's like banging your head against a brick wall, which is why I reissued Prince of the Mist on my own and I am glad I did.

Above is a colorful pie chart from Metric Junkie. It illustrates the sale of my Kindle books at Amazon. Prince of the Mist accounts for half of my Kindle sales this year so far at Amazon. My books have sold at other distributors as well, but Metric Junkie doesn't pick up the statistics from other sites and Metric Junkie only allows me to list ten books.

I look at the chart every now and then to boost my morale. I have not sold a lot of books but there are people willing to download my stories and live in my fantasy worlds for a while.

It is great to have a publisher. Having a professional edit the story and an illustrator design a cover allows me to spend my time writing more stories. I am delighted that the Prism Book Group is going to publish Daddy Wanted, but The Pirate's Wraith is not appropriate for their line.

Oh well. My imagination is far too active.

I may try one more publisher, but if that turns out to be a dead end I'll be releasing The Pirate's Wraith myself. I do not enjoy bashing my head against brick walls.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Cyber Monday Purchase

I ordered this Sterno stove yesterday. It is a Christmas present for Dad. He's been requesting one ever since the power went out after Sandy's wrath. So while this will not be a surprise gift, I know it is one that is wanted. Of course, my sister is afraid of allowing Dad to use matches, but I'm hoping we won't have another superstorm anytime soon.

There are newer, more modern versions to hold Sterno fuel, but this one looks exactly like the one my family used when we were young. Many people today are only familiar with Sterno as it is used by catering facilities to keep food warm. However, my family used the little folding stove all the time on our trips out to western Pennsylvania to visit my mother's relatives when I was young.

With four kids, my parents rarely stopped at a restaurant to eat. On the long trip out on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Dad pulled off the road when he spotted a rest stop with a picnic table. There Mom would whip up hot dogs and beans using the Sterno stove--or sometimes scrambled eggs. Whatever she made, we ate it up quickly and climbed back into the car to continue our long ride.

I can't wait until this little stove arrives. Maybe, once it's presented to Dad, I'll make him an omelet with it. Just for fun--even if we have power.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Aunt Grace's Instructions On How To Catch A Man

This is a photo of Aunt Grace, my favorite aunt. Intelligent and out-spoken, she was my mother's sister and one year older than Mom. Aunt Grace suffered with a heart problem all her life, but that did not stop her from keeping up lively conversations.

An inveterate letter-writer, her letters were treasured by all. Of course, she always gave advice, whether anyone asked for it or not. Before Thanksgiving, my father found a letter Aunt Grace wrote to my mother concerning one of my sisters. Aunt Grace firmly believed it would be easy for my sister to catch a man using this technique.

Tell her to get a baby tiger, put it on a leash and walk down the streets of New York, or the boardwalk at Atlantic City. I guarantee if she does it every day she'll get plenty of attention.

Tell her to wear an Angora sweater, a skirt with a slit up the back, highheeled slip-on shoes. Hair tousled "casually". Or maybe a little Corgi, a long red, or tartan cape, black stockings, a large red velvet beret, and a heavy upholstery fabric peasant skirt (I like this better--dramatic, yet with flair, and just right for her outdoors image). The floppy hat would work well with this second outfit. Then, of course, how about the long cape, a short tousled haircut highlighted with gold or titian, long earrings the color of her eyes, with matching junk jewelry. The cape over a bright blue leotard matching the earrings. Nothing under the cape, of course, but the leotard. I think I like this last idea best of all! What drama.

This time she can forget the tiger or dog, and carry a knobby cane--the better to hit them with if they try to mug her. Again, locale is Atlantic City, or maybe Southhampton, or Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island. There is money, big bucks in all those places. Of course in Atlantic City she'll have to take herself and her costume into a casino, and see if she can get eyes riveted on dice or the roulette wheel riveted on her. But, it seems like a good way to spend a couple of weekends. You can chaperone her from the rear just in case weirdos are attracted to these outfits. Frankly, I think she could carry all this off very well. It's a change from her job.

Now why didn't I do all this when I was young? I settled for turtleneck shirts. I'm so conservative in my dress today it's just plain disgusting. If something will be out of style in twenty years I don't buy it. Hence I have lots of clothing that dates back 25 years. Honestly.


Aunt Grace had a fantastic imagination! I miss her, but she left us a wonderful legacy in her letters.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'll be hosting dinner for a dozen--so I still have a lot to do in the next few days. However, I'll be looking forward to the pumpkin pie at the end of the meal. I love pumpkin pie! What's your favorite?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Writing in the Dark

I type much faster than I can write in longhand. For our extended power outage I wrote using my old Alphasmart Neo with a Mighty Bright booklight clipped on the side. I did not use my iPad because I did not know when or where I would be able to charge it. (I intend to get an power inverter for the car for the next power outage.) I also read books with the booklight, too.

My Alphasmart and my booklight were great to have when the lights went out. If I sat right in front of the fireplace, I was nice and cozy. :^)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Cellphone and Sandy

When Superstorm Sandy roared into New Jersey, she took out one quarter of the cell towers in the area. As the storm moved away on Tuesday morning, I wanted to call my friends and family to let them know we were fine--and I wanted to know how they had weathered the storm, too.

Our landline phone did not work because the battery backup only lasts for a few hours and our power had gone off a little after 8 p.m. on Monday night, which meant no wireless as well. I had charged my cellphone before the power went off, but it had no bars--no signal at all--in fact, it had a little gray x in front of the gray bars of powerlessness. I could not call anyone and no one could call me.

What would I do if I needed help? My anxiety level went up. As I said in my previous post, this was one of the worst aspects of the experience for me. I was cut off. I did not know how those near and dear to me fared in the storm.

I discovered that my neighbor, who has a different cell phone provider, had service, which was good because she had a huge hole in her roof and truly needed help.

We were fine, but I learned not to rely on technology for communication after a terrible storm. I sure hope the cell phone companies build stronger cell towers in the future.

I still love my little smart phone--when it works, but this country needs to work on a better way to handle communications during a disaster.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Superstorm Sandy

I was overjoyed to see utility trucks on my street on Tuesday night. After eight days without power, those trucks brought hope with them.

I was born in New Jersey and I have seen many storms blow through the state. In my lifetime, Superstorm Sandy tops them all in the devastation it left behind all along the Jersey shore.

My family and I are fine. Our house remained intact, only losing several shingles. While our yard is littered with massive branches, we are lucky that none put a hole in our roof. Some of our neighbors weren’t as fortunate.

In our neighborhood, the biggest danger in ANY storm comes from falling branches and trees. In the nor’easter of 1992, five pine trees were uprooted in our yard and one of those trees took the power lines down with it.

Afterwards, we had many huge trees removed that were close to the house. (Expensive!) Still, the trees remaining on the property continue to be a threat. During the Valentine's Day ice storm of 2007, one dropped a large branch on hubby’s car, which broke the window.

When the monster storm, Sandy, made a direct hit on New Jersey homes close to the beach or on barrier islands were destroyed. The destruction was so thorough it appears as if a tsunami caused it. My heart goes out to those who lost everything.:^(

We live on high ground—66 feet above sea level to be exact. However, we also live close to a large dam over a river which is a tidal estuary. Last year, during Hurricane Irene, the dam overflowed and the river rose so high it covered the road and destroyed another neighbor’s house.

Before Sandy arrived, we took precautions—stocking up on water and non-perishable food. We had plenty of flashlights, our cellphones were charged, and I had restocked the woodbox.

As Superstorm Sandy approached, we checked out conditions online and viewed frightening photos of the flood conditions preceding the storm. One by one, people began to report that they had lost power.

We ate supper as the gusts outside increased. Our power went out a little after eight and the winds whipped up into a fury. By then, darkness had fallen. We could no longer see what was happening but that only made the situation worse as we heard loud thumps reverberating all around the house—the sound of large limbs or trees crashing to the ground.

At one point, a great branch from a silver maple landed inches away from the front the bay window.

The experience was nerve wracking. Daughter #1 checked the attic to make sure it did not have a hole in it since several times we heard something fall on the roof.

The ferocious roar of the wind died down after a while and we went to sleep wondering what the dawn would bring.

In the morning we looked out the window and saw a gigantic tree embedded in our next door neighbor’s roof. Several other neighbors had gutters ripped off, or had smaller branches stuck in their roof.

Large trees had been uprooted and fallen over the power lines. Roads were blocked by the trees or the power lines or both.

We had no power, no phone, and no internet for eight days. My cell phone was useless, too. Previous to this storm, the longest we had gone without power while living in this house was twenty-six hours during the ice storm of 2007.

Still, since we had a gas stove with a pilot light we could cook. We have a fireplace. We had hot running water. However, we do not own a generator.

It didn’t take long for the milk in the refrigerator to sour. We had to toss everything except the beer in the ‘fridge.

For the first few days after the storm the temperature inside the house remained comfortable. Then the thermometer outside dipped into the thirties at night and the house became rather chilly. Sitting directly in front of the fire is great, but halfway across the room it is not as toasty.

Candlelight is noted for its ambiance, but it is tough to read in the dim glow of a candle—or even a massive collection of candles. However, I have a book light, which is great for reading in the dark, and I have a little emergency radio.

Hubby does not need electricity to play his accordion. When I got tired of reading, Daughter #1 and I played Bananagrams. (I love that game!)

The hardest part of the experience was not being in touch with all the relatives. Daughter #1 went back to work on Wednesday, where she had heat, light and cellphone service. She sent everyone a message to let them know we were fine.

I managed to get out a few tweets here and there, but we had the clean up to contend with and Friday morning we went looking for gas for my car and wound up sitting in a gas line for an hour.

The gas station had a separate line for those with gas containers. Many people have generators and while they do make life without power more bearable, getting gas for the generator creates another crisis.

Since our water company did not fail, we donated the water we had purchased before the storm to those who are without anything in the many shelters in the state.

We missed our internet and television news but sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine and a book is pleasant. If it had been cold enough to freeze the pipes, our experience with Superstorm Sandy would have been far, far worse.

While we have been inconvenienced, there are many, many families in New Jersey and New York who lost everything and would be grateful to return to their home even if it lacked power.

This one storm decimated our state. If you can help out, please donate to the charity of your choice to bring aid and comfort to those affected by this massive disaster.

Friday, October 26, 2012

On the Cover--a Man or a Woman?


I am filling out the cover art form for Daddy Wanted. I know what my heroine looks like and I know what my hero looks like. I have cover ideas. The problem is I have too many ideas. All the scenes in the book run through my head and I find it difficult to narrow down the choices.

I know simple is better. Too busy is not good. Too dark is bad. In today's world, a cover needs to be stunning though only an inch in height. I put together the cover for the current edition of Prince of the Mist. I know it is not an award-winning design, but it has been able to catch the attention of readers and that is what it was supposed to do.

But what about Daddy Wanted? Should there be a man on the cover or a woman? Do women readers of romance seek to identify with a beautiful woman, or are they longing to gaze at a handsome man?

What's your opinion?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Paranormal Research for Your Story


This article was originally written for an online workshop, but with Halloween coming up I thought it would be fun to share with everyone.

The term, paranormal, encompasses many aspects of unexplained supernatural phenomena. Science has yet to detail the facts behind experiences with ghosts, demons, poltergeists, alien abductions, and channeling. In addition, some people claim to possess unusual mental powers such as telekinesis, clairvoyance, ESP or extrasensory perception while others believe themselves to be intuitive, or what some call sensitives. The realm of possibilities for your paranormal story is endless.

Research for your paranormal story can be accomplished online, by reading books, at special presentations, watching television, or simply by listening to the experiences of friends and coworkers. You can use your own experiences with the supernatural as well.

The web is a always a magical place to explore and offers everything from the explanation of terms to plot ideas. Paranormal research societies abound all over the world, and each one of them has a website. Though much of their evidence is anecdotal, you can read the stories of those who have experienced the supernatural first hand. Some of those tales can really give you the creeps!

Special presentations or conferences are also a good way to get ideas. If you like being scared, you might try what I did one time. I attended a Horror Writers meeting where ghost hunters presented a talk and told of their experiences. I got lots of good material, but also lots of goose bumps. However, if you are unable to go to a ghost hunter’s presentation and your heroine and hero long to be ghost hunters, the web is the place to learn how to do it. You can find lists of equipment needed to record ghostly activity.

You can go on a ghost tour, too. It seems every city in the country now has ghost tours. I doubt that you’ll see any ghosts, but it is a good way to learn some history and gather ideas for your own story.

There are a wealth of books on the topic of all things paranormal. Time-Life Books has an excellent series, Mysteries of the Unknown, which include books on Psychic Powers, Dreams and Dreaming, Mystic Places, Transformations, and so on. Reading the books in that series can spark ideas in your mind.

The idea for my book, Irons In The Fire, came to me when I read this small paragraph:
On Fridays the fairies have special power over all things, and chiefly on that day they select and carry off the young mortal girls as brides for the fairy chiefs. But after seven years, when the girls grow old and ugly, they send them back to their kindred, giving them, however, as compensation, a knowledge of herbs and philtres and secret spells, by which they can kill or cure, and have power over men both for good and evil.

................................Lady Wilde, 1826-1896
My heroine, Catherine, is a descendent of one of those young mortal girls who had been a fairy chief’s bride. However, Irons In The Fire is not a historical, it is a contemporary.

I do feel there’s a lot of truth in the old writers’ admonition, “Write what you know.” True, I’ve never met an Irish fairy, but though I am not a paranormal expert, I have had some paranormal experiences.

On a few occasions, I have accurately read someone’s mind. Apparently, it is not a difficult skill--especially if you know someone well. According to an article in Psychology Today (http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20070830-000002.html) just about everyone is a mind reader. Annie Murphy Paul wrote, “Drawing on our observations, our databank of memories, our powers of reason, and our wellsprings of emotion, we constantly make educated guesses about what another person is thinking and feeling.”

I’ve been married to the same man for a long time. Reading his mind is easy. :^)

My heroine, Catherine, can read minds. While she’s much better at it than I am, she can’t read everyone’s mind. When it comes to the hero in the book, she is at first distracted by his sexual appeal. And who wouldn’t be? Britt has the brawn to save her from a watery grave, but he is also the senior reporter at the newspaper where she has been hired. He is to be her mentor on the job and they are going to be in constant contact with each other on a daily basis. As Catherine becomes more familiar with Britt, she knows what he is thinking--and he is thinks she is a very desirable woman. One who really turns him on.

It’s enough to make her blush constantly.

But Catherine has more than one simple problem. She has precognitive dreams. She had one of her uncle’s death and she knows he has been murdered despite the fact that the police have labeled his death an accident.

The accuracy of precognition has not been proven, but I believe it because I have experienced it. My mother, and my oldest daughter have received messages about the future, too. All of our incidents involved communication about our close family members. For instance, one of my mother’s more dramatic dreams involved seeing her brothers in an accident. Later she found her dream to be the truth.

I’ve never doubted that precognition happens and that it can be accurate. But my hero is a full-fledged skeptic and believes that anyone claiming to be psychic is a charlatan. In every instance, he believes there is a logical explanation when Catherine demonstrates her abilities. He has his reasons. Here's an excerpt from the book:
Psychic. The very word made him grit his teeth. Fakes, the lot of them. Visions, séances, crystal balls, and Tarot cards. He'd seen it all. His mother had fallen under the spell of a psychic claiming to have received messages from Britt's long dead father. Believing that other world to be a better place, his mother had committed suicide.
Unfortunately, in another precognitive dream, Catherine sees the hero as dead and lifeless. Horrified, she tries to warn him, but he refuses to listen to her premonition.
Catherine yanked on his lapels until his lips were a whisper away from hers. She closed her eyes and murmured a fervent prayer for his safety, but she decided he needed something even more powerful than a prayer. She kissed him. At first, he kept his lips firmly pressed together. But she poured all her heart into her wish that he would escape his unhappy fate. She savored his taste, and with a groan, he relented and let her tongue slip into his velvet warmth. There, mingling with the flavor of coffee, she discovered a passion that left her breathless.

As they spend time together, she grows to care deeply for him and mourns the fact that she cannot save him from his terrible fate.

Or can she?

People have been using spells and incantations for thousands of years. I do not advocate relying on any charms to get what you desire in life, but when used in fiction, spells and incantations can be useful plot devices for paranormal stories. In fact, you can often put your hero and heroine into more trouble when they rely on such charms, which is exactly what happens to Catherine and Britt.

I researched Irish legends and myths to find the incantations I used since Catherine has been told she is the descendent of fairies. She wears a cross said to have a drop of fairy gold in it--a talisman from her mother.

One of my favorite books on the topic is Irish Cures, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions, by Lady Wilde. Another favorite is Celtic Myths and Legends, by T.W. Rolleston.

Online, there are plenty of spells and charms. Love spells, lucky spells, protection spells, money spells, missing pet spells, and spells for health. You can be deluged with subject matter if you go searching for it. There is so much information you might get lost in the web forever, so it’s best to keep your search within a narrow range, which is why I stuck to Irish spells in keeping with my heroine’s heritage.

When Catherine finds an ancient book of spells in her uncle’s study, she realizes that perhaps she has a chance to save the man she has come to love.

For this, I used an old spell involving yarrow. I remember my mother putting a little square of cloth with yarrow inside it under my sister’s pillow so she would dream of her future husband. As far as I know, my sister did not have any dreams of her future husband. She did eventually marry, though I cannot say whether the yarrow had anything to do with that decision.

By all accounts, yarrow is considered a very powerful and effective herb in the use of spells. According to one reference I found, yarrow could be used to guarantee an individual’s safety and in my book Catherine uses yarrow for that purpose.

Because Catherine knows Britt is doomed, she feels compelled to share her love with him. She finds bliss in his arms, but that only serves to make her more desperate to save him. Hoping to be with him in his next life, she uses a forbidden spell--one that will change his destiny forever and take away his free will.

Of course, the villain in the story uses the most powerful charm of all because he is a serious threat.

Whatever paranormal story you write, make sure the stakes are high. That’s what creates tension and keeps the reader turning the pages. No matter which paranormal path you choose for your story, the plot should make sense just as it would in any other type of story.

While there is little scientific evidence to support paranormal incidents, people love spooky tales. Have fun researching paranormal ideas for your story! You’ll never tire of the supernatural.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One Mischief Night Long Ago

I never allowed our daughters to go out on Mischief Night. Aside from the fact that I don't believe allowing children to commit acts of mischief is ever a good idea, I had a personal experience with Mischief Night that continues to haunt me.

Once when I was young, my brother, my younger sister, and I grabbed a few slivers of soap and went out into the early evening one October 30th. It was already dark. We ventured away from our own block because my brother suggested it. (He was adventurous, I was not.)

Some big teenagers came along and demanded our soap. They looked huge and mean and we were scared. So we handed our soap to them. I have no idea why they wanted the soap, the pieces were pathetically small, but because they were so terrifying I assumed they wanted to soap up some windows. However, our younger sister started bawling and the big guys gave her back her small piece of soap.

At that point, my brother and I decided it was a good time to head home. We had not soaped up any windows and we never went out again on that night--even when we grew into big, scary teenagers.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

There for the taking...

The New Jersey Romance Writers Conference is over. It was fantastic--as it usually is. Authors and writers from all over the country come to the conference to network, give workshops, and schmooze. :^)

Many of the authors bring along promotional items and set them out on the tables provided for that purpose. I put out candy bars attached to Buy One Get One Free offers for the Prism Book Group. Those disappeared before the last Friday evening workshop. I also set out some sticky notes and people did take them, but the candy bars went faster.

I think there are a lot of hungry writers!!! (I ate some of the candy other authors offered.)


Some authors gave away books. These are the ones I took. There were more. I think giving away books is great if an author can afford it. (Hint: Authors have to buy their books. The books cost a little less for the author, but the books are not free--unless the author has a deal with their publisher for a certain amount of free books.) I have become a fan of several authors after receiving a free book from them.

Hope Ramsay gave away a little holiday pin to advertise her latest release, a Christmas book. I thought this was so clever! Makes me want to write a Christmas story.

Julie Rowe gave away beautiful--and useful--Thank You notes with envelopes. I thought this was a brilliant idea.

Catherine Greenfeder gave away matches and a candle in keeping with the theme of her book, Sacred Fires. M.Kate Quinn gave away emery boards. I always need emery boards. I love useful giveaways. :^)

Sabrina Jeffries gave away her books, brochures, bookmarks, and a red pencil case. (I love pencil cases!) However, I found her bookmarks intriguing because they open up--like little brochures. So nifty. Inside, are The Parasol Papers--with "All the Regency News Fit to Print." Fun and collectable.

There were plenty of other wonderful giveaways: lip balm, pens, key rings, etc. Authors spend plenty of money on these items. In addition, the New Jersey Romance Writers gave all conference attendees a totebag and a mug.

You should go next year.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Come See Me at the Book Fair

You can see many other authors, too. You can buy their books and ask them to autograph them for you. Books are wonderful gifts. Do your Christmas shopping early. :^)

The nicest thing about this book fair is that a portion of the proceeds go to the Literacy Volunteers of America so that everyone can read.

Don't miss this fantastic event!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Promotional Giveaways


The New Jersey Romance Writers' Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is coming up. I spent yesterday afternoon wrapping up candy bars in tulle, tying a red ribbon around them and attaching them to a Buy One Get One Free card for Prism Book Group. The Prism Book Group will be publishing Daddy Wanted, my sweet contemporary romance. Right now my book is in the editing stage so I will not have it available at the book fair. However, I will have several of my other books there including Prince of the Mist. The book fair is open to the public, so if you're looking for something to do in New Jersey next weekend stop by. There will be lots and lots of authors at the book fair--most way more famous than I am. You can read about it HERE, where you can also find the important details--such as time and place. :^)

I will also be giving away sticky notes, which everyone seems to enjoy because they disappear rather quickly. Whether the giveaways have helped my sales, I cannot say for sure. Nevertheless, I enjoy offering handouts to one and all.

What kind of author giveaway do you like?

Friday, October 05, 2012

My Old Songbook

This sad-looking, beat-up songbook has been with me for a long time. I bought it while I was in college. It was a great extravagance at the time, but folk songs were very popular then and I loved them.

I sang "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and strummed along on the guitar. "The Tramp on the Street," "We Shall Overcome," and "Amazing Grace" were other favorites.

The Civil Rights movement was in full-swing and anti-Vietnam War fervor was at its height during my college years. I was not a protester. I had enough to do with commuting to college and studying. In addition, my brother was headed for the Air Force and I had a penpal in Vietnam.

Nevertheless, I believed in the message of all the peace songs--and still do for that matter.

The penpal abruptly stopped writing. My brother died when his plane crashed. I could not sing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" for a long, long time.

Ultimately, my grief diminished. The war ended. I was able to sing again. I got a job and bought more music books--which contained more folk songs. I got married and gave birth to three daughters. I started singing my folk songs to them. When we went camping, we packed the guitar into the car and brought it out to sing folk songs around the campfire.

I've been singing the same songs for forty-five years--but so has Joan Baez.



The old songs are the best songs.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Even Blizzards Are Human

Last October, an unusual early snowstorm crippled part of the nation. The photo above shows my northern sister with an old-fashioned two-handled saw. She and her husband had to use it to get rid of the tree that fell on their driveway. They had an electric chain saw, but no power. In fact, they had no power for eight days--an event my sister refers to as Snotober, but some folks called it Snowmaggeddon.

Hurricanes have been named for decades, but now blizzards will have names, too, according to USA Today. The Weather Channel will be using classic Greek or Roman names for this year's blizzards.

Yes, humans like to names things. They could simply attribute numbers to storms, but people have a crazy tendency to attribute human personalities to everything. There's a long word for this--anthropomorphize.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary it means:

: to attribute human form or personality to

: to attribute human form or personality to things not human

People give names to their computers, their boats and cars. Some people are rather creative when it comes to naming things. I love to go to the marina and read the names on boats. Some people are quite clever when it comes to creative license plates on their cars, too.

As an author, I name the imaginary people I invent for my stories--and I give them personalities, too. This is not so crazy when you look at the fact that meteorologists are now going to give blizzards names.

As the article in USA Today states, it could make for great headlines.










Friday, September 28, 2012

On the Day I Was Born

I made the newspaper on the day I was born. My father, a reporter for the Jersey Journal, was covering a very important press conference with Governor Driscoll (the Driscoll Bridge over the Raritan River is named for Governor Driscoll).

Several years ago, my father handed me the yellowed clipping of the article mentioning my birth. It was directly underneath the article he had written about the governor.


Happy Birthday to me! :^)

P.S. Governor Driscoll did not become my godfather.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Memories of Camping

This is a picture Daughter #2 drew on one of our family camping trips. It depicts our three daughters washing and drying the dishes after a meal. There are two basins on the picnic table for the dishes--one for soapy water and one for the rinse. The big green shape is the big old canvas tent we slept in our our camping trips.

Aside from being economical, camping was a good way for all of us to learn to cooperate with each other and to get closer to nature. Back then, the internet and cellphones did not exist--so there were fewer distractions to miss. :^) We spent our days touring the nearby sights and swimming. At night, we sat around the campfire, toasted marshmallows, and sang songs (we brought the guitar).

Our expeditions were made more memorable because as the girls grew, our vacation journals became more elaborate. They drew pictures and I typed in explanations to go with the drawings.

This picture was drawn by Daughter #3. You can see where I typed in the description--using my daughter's words.

As nice as it is to stay in a fancy hotel, camping is an experience children never forget. For parents who want to foster great creativity and imaginations in their children, I suggest you take them camping instead of going to Disneyworld.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Coming to a Kiosk Near You


The Espresso Book Machine has been in existence for quite a while, but according to an article in Publisher's Weekly, more of these machines should be arriving at a Kodak kiosk near you. This is good news for everyone.

Most big book stores (aka Barnes & Noble) do not shelve paper copies of my books. While anyone can go to a bookstore and order my books, it will take a while for the books to arrive.

Technically, with the Espresso Book Machine anyone can order any book--as long as it is formatted in pdf and included in the catalog. Whether my books will be listed is a matter of speculation, but the possibility exists.

For those who insist on reading only paper editions, this is fantastic news. A book lover can select the book they desire at the kiosk, go shopping, and come back for a nice fresh book in a matter of minutes.

I can hardly wait to see one of these machines. I am looking forward to getting a brand new book, hot from the press. I bet it will smell heavenly--like ink and clean paper. :^)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Stairway to the Top






















Is it worth the climb?
Do I have the energy to get to the top?
Can I go around it?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cioci

Here's another ancient photo. Hubby's guess is that it's from around 1940. On the left is hubby's aunt. We called her Cioci, which is the Polish word for aunt. To her right is her husband and next to him is hubby's mother. Our children always called her Babci, which is another Polish word and translates into grandmother.

Cioci died last week at the age of 96. She was not in good health for the last few years and needed help, but she stayed in her home and passed away quietly in her sleep.

She did not have an easy life. Her husband had a good job with the transit system in New York, but one day he was digging in the garden to plant tomatoes and hit his foot with the shovel. He died of lockjaw. Her daughter died of cancer. Her son, a musician whose band played at our wedding, also died.

Despite the tragedies, Cioci remained positive. With a tender heart, she felt compelled to feed the stray cats outside. When she found a mouse in her house, she put it in a cage fearing that is she let it go the cats would get it. She always had a joke to tell and she loved to feed us when we visited. She kept in touch, too, by phoning on a regular basis.

She had eight grandchildren and several great-grand children. Her funeral was a celebration of her life. Yes, we'll miss her, but it was a privilege to have known her.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Always Check the Facts

I'm a fiction writer. I make up stories that are not true, although even in fiction the characters, setting, and so forth must appear real.

Many have noted that truth is crazier than fiction, and strangely enough that often seems to be the case. However, an email message I received the other day left me speechless.

Here's what it said:

"In the Muslim religion, dogs are unclean and not allowed to travel in the same vehicle as the Muslim.

Bo has never traveled in the same means of transportation with the First Family."

Um ... really?

No!

This is the season for politics and crazy political messages abound.

While it is true that politicians on both sides frequently state half-truths or distort the statistics to their own advantage, there are some things I've received in email that are so fantastic, they resemble fairy tales.

Yes, it is great to support your favorite political candidate, but before you hit send, at least check to see if the facts are correct. Otherwise, the lies and distortions are perpetuated.

And really...I hate to see lies and distortions being tossed about. Lies and distortions are my business and must be carefully crafted. I write much better lies than whoever is making up some of these wacky political propaganda messages.

The website I usually go to first to check wild rumors is Snopes.com. They have an one entire page dedicated to myths about President Obama, another one dedicated to Mitt Romney, and more pages for other well-known politicians.

Snopes is not the only fact-checking website. You can go to FactCheck.org for plenty of concise information on what's real and what's not.

An awesome site is PolitiFact. This one has the Truth-O-Meter. You can add the app to your cellphone! In seconds, you can discover whether a political candidate has spoken the truth, a half-truth, something false, or something truly wild--real pants on fire stuff.

I know everyone makes mistakes. Politicians in their zeal to win voters to their side are often caught twisting facts. Concerned voters have a right to know exactly which facts were scrambled in the endless rhetoric spewed from the podium, but it is highly unlikely you will find truth in a forwarded email.

I write fiction, but when it comes to political truth, I want the real thing.

Oh. And don't forget to vote. :^)




Friday, September 07, 2012

Thank You, New Jersey!

Here I am in my official graduation portrait, the proud recipient of a teaching degree. I had help getting the degree. The State of New Jersey gave me a scholarship. NJ also gave a scholarship to my brother. We got the scholarships because we were good students, but came from a low-income family. My father worked as a journalist every day for forty years, but most journalists don't make the kind of salaries that chief executives make.

The scholarship paid for my tuition. I went to a state college and the tuition was very low. I wound up costing the state approximately $1200 over four years. The scholarship did not pay for books or any other college costs. I did not live on campus, I commuted to college on buses--a round trip of approximately sixty miles. I worked during the summers.

I finished college on time and got a job in my hometown. My salary for the first year of teaching was $8000. I lived at home with my parents, but I bought a car. :^)

I taught for twenty-five years, but it wouldn't have happened if I didn't have help in the beginning.

So thank you, New Jersey. I will always be grateful to you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Got the Sunshine Award!


The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogosphere. I am delighted to have been awarded one by Jennifer Wells, author of Magick Charm (A great book which I read.) and Practically Dreaming! (A book which is now on my TBR list.) Go check out her blog here.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:

* Link back to the person who gave me the award.
* Answer the following questions.
* Nominate ten bloggers for the award.
* Link my nominees to the post and let them know about the award.

How easy is that?

Now you get to see the questions and my answers. :^)


What is your favorite Christmas/festive movie?

It's a Wonderful Life has always been my favorite Christmas movie. It's old but it chokes me up every time, and hubby always watches it because there is a scene with an accordion in it!

What is your favorite flower?

This is a tough question. Flowers are all beautiful. I love every single one--wildflowers, invasive weeds, and as well as the cultivated kinds. However, even more amazing than the colors and shapes are the fragrances unique to each bloom. My top three for fragrance: roses, lilacs, and lily of the valley--though even the lowly clover has a deliciously sweet scent. I simply cannot choose a favorite. They are all wonderful.

What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

I drink large quantities of tea, mostly ordinary black tea--sometimes with skim milk and sometimes without. I let it steep forever until it is really dark and lukewarm. In the evening I'll drink herb tea. My current favorite herb tea is Celestial Seasoning's Bengal Spice. I don't put sugar in my tea, which makes it very low in calories. :^)

What is your passion?

Aside from writing, I do oil paintings. Lately, I've been doing a series of seascapes. My paintings are very detailed and it takes me forever to finish a painting but I enjoy every moment. I also like to sing, which is a good thing because hubby sometimes wants me to sing along while he plays the accordion.

What is your favorite time of year?

I enjoy cool, fresh air so fall is the best. Spring is good if it's not raining. Summer is too hot, and there are mosquitoes waiting to drink my blood. Winter would be great without all the snow. Snow is pretty, but it turns into ice and that makes walking dangerous.

What is your favorite time of day?

Every hour of the day has its good points. I like to be up when the sun is up, and I enjoy being busy in the morning and in the afternoon. Nevertheless, the peaceful time after supper is done and the dishes are put away is a lovely part of the day. I rarely stay up late. Nightime is for sleeping.

What is your favorite physical activity?

I have never been good at most sports, although skating was a favorite of mine when I was younger and lived above a lake that froze over every winter. I used to enjoy bicycling, too, when I was younger. Now, I have a recumbent bike, which I like because I can exercise and read at the same time. I also like to walk. I tried the gym for a while, but I hated it--mostly due to the music.

However, hubby signed us up for a bocce team and we are now playing bocce. So far, I think I will be able to handle this game. It's easy.

What is your favorite vacation?

I like to go to places that are full of history and old houses. I loved Williamsburg and Plimouth Plantation. I also love to visit the homes of famous authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain. But I don't always have to go that far to find old houses because New Jersey has plenty of them.

Here are several of my favorite bloggers and my nominees for the Sunshine Award:

1. Veronica Singleton at Thursday's Child

2. Irene Peterson at Days of Glory

3. Jon Gibbs at An Englishman in New Jersey

4. Debora Dennis at Scribbling Through Time

5. Kim McMahill at Embrace Adventure

6. Kiersten Hallie Krum at Two Left Shoes

7. Janet Lane Walters at Eclectic Writer

8. Aaron Michael Ritchey at The Blog of Ritcheyanity

9. Lindsey R. Loucks at Jesse Said Yes

10. Katie O'Sullivan at Author. Editor. Mommy. Dog Whisperer.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer in the Past

As summer draws to a close, I have been thinking about summers in the past. When I was young, my family drove (in our non-air conditioned car) out to southwestern Pennsylvania to visit my mother's family. That was our vacation. Every year. We never went to Aruba, Paris, or even Miami. Nope. We visited my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since my mother had five brothers and one sister, we had a lot of relatives to visit. For the most part, we stayed in my grandparents' home because the majority of the relatives lived nearby--except for my aunt in Ohio. We had to drive even further to visit her.

My siblings and I slept in the attic at my grandparents' house. It was stuffy and hot. No air conditioning there either. It did not exist.

We had fun as I recall. We jumped into the hay in the barn. We picked wildflowers and berries. (Even if we handed Grandma a dandelion, she put it in a vase.) My mother made pies and jam from the berries.

The photo above was taken in 1966. It shows my mother's father and my father discussing world events--a coal miner and a journalist. My grandpa came to this country when he was sixteen and became a coal miner. He always spoke English with a heavy accent. While he had little formal schooling, he was smart, talented, and artistic. He maintained a small farm and built three houses on his property over the years.

Nothing was ever wasted in his household. He built a loom and in the wintertime he made rag rugs from scraps of fabric because nothing was ever wasted. I studied the rag rugs when we visited in the summer and could recognize former clothing woven into the rugs.

The pace of life slowed as we listened to everyone talk. In the evenings, we all moved to the front of the house because it was shady there. The house sat on a hill. A two-lane highway stretched below it and we simply listened to the conversation and watched the cars go by. No television, no radio. Sometimes heat lightning on the other hills gave us a little show.

Nobody complained or said they were bored.

Simple was nice.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Grow Stories, Not Plants


If I were a farmer, I would starve. So far this year, my chives, oregano, and basil did well. They must be hardy plants. I gave up growing tomato plants years ago because I would need an eight foot high fence to protect them from the deer. This year, deer ate my cucumber leaves.

However, deer are not my only problem. I have a brown thumb. Either there's too much shade or not enough. Either there's too much water or not enough. Maybe the soil is anemic and needs fertilizer or maybe I need to mulch.

I work well with words, but plants are impossible. If I type a story and save it, the document stays in the same place, ready to greet me the next time I open it. If I dig a hole, drop in a plant, and water it, it dies or gets eaten.

My sister, the horticulturist, gave me a flowering plant, Bouncing Bet. She thinks I may not be able to kill it. The flowers resemble phlox, but Bouncing Bet is an invasive weed. This is great. Invasive weeds survive on whatever rain falls on them. They don't need fertilizer and flourish in nutritionally deficient soil.

I found some interesting information about bouncing bet online. (Check it out here.) The plant is toxic. The deer should get a tummy ache. Perhaps they'll avoid my yard. Then I can spend less time outside trying to make things grow and more time writing.

Growing stories is fun.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Round Robin

I participated in a writing round robin with the authors of the Prism Book Group. A round robin has nothing to do with the bird of the same name. In a writing round robin, everyone takes a turn writing a segment of a story. This can be fun--or it can be a nightmare. Since I was scheduled to write the ending of the story, I was a bit nervous. In addition, since hubby and I went on our long road trip to Florida, I knew I would have to wrap everything up in the story after we returned.

We returned on Friday. I spent Saturday working on the ending of the round robin. I finished by ten o'clock that evening. It presented quite a mental challenge, but I found it a fascinating. The story, After the Storm, will be offered free at the publisher's website once it is edited. The first round robin, Lightning Strikes, put together by the authors at the Prism Book Group will be offered free at the website during their grand opening kick-off on Wednesday, August 22nd. There will be an opportunity to win a Kindle and a pitch day for aspiring authors.

So visit the Prism Book Group and join in the fun!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Matter of Taste

When Babci makes up her mind, there's no stopping her. She insisted upon buying a shirt for hubby and a blouse for me. We did not believe we needed anything new, but that did not matter to Babci. We went to Beall's.

Buying clothing is not fun for hubby in general and when she picked out a polo shirt, he groaned. He never wears polo shirts except in the band since the band's summer uniform is a polo shirt. However, I saw a tropical-style summer shirt with bright colors and bold flowers--the kind hubby favors in the summertime and pointed it out to Babci. She swooped it up and put it in the basket. Hubby muttered how he didn't really need another shirt, but it was an inexpensive shirt so he did not grumble too much.

My turn came next. Babci went to a rack of women's blouses and picked up several blouses with designs of the type she favors, the kind with large pastel flowers. (Maybe hubby's love of crazy tropical shirts is genetic.) It was actually rather funny because she kept pulling blouses off the rack that resembled stuff in her closet.

But that's not me. Lately, I tend to choose solids.

I found a simple pink tee and a somewhat fancier brown tee. Real exciting stuff.

Nevertheless, Babci was happy because she succeeded in giving us gifts. At least, we had a choice. A shirt or blouse given as a gift that is never worn is a waste of money.

Everyone has their own style and that sense of style extends to far more than clothing. It includes books.

I am not a fan of science fiction or vampire novels. I've read a few, but they do not appeal to my taste as a rule. To me, vampires are the bad guys and all that blood-sucking is gross. I liked Bram Stoker's Dracula, because Dracula dies in the end.

But that's just me. Plenty of people enjoy those types of books and that's great. Reading is supposed to be fun.

What was the worst gift you've ever received?

Monday, August 06, 2012

Thirty-Six Years

Hubby and I were wed on August 7th, 1976. Tomorrow is our thirty-sixth anniversary. Happy Anniversary to us! How time flies.

Friday, August 03, 2012

No-Wilt Lima Bean Salad

I found this recipe in our local newspaper six years ago and it has become a favorite, probably because I love lima beans, but the feta cheese is a real treat, too. I've taken this to many summertime potluck suppers and it always disappears so I know there are others who have enjoyed it.

Ingredients:

* 1 bag, 1 lb frozen lima beans ( approximately 3 cups )
* 1 sm red onion finely chopped
* 2 cups chopped tomatoes
* 1/2 bunch fresh parsley chopped
* 1/4 cup chopped green or black olives
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 cup olive oil (I've used less and it's been fine.)
* 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
* 2 garlic cloves minced
* 8 oz feta cheese crumbled or as desired
* Salt and Pepper to taste if needed

How to make it:

* Cook beans to pkg directions and drain and cool.
* Combine remaining ingredients except cheese.
* Add lima beans and feta cheese.
* Mix to blend. Taste for seasoning
* Chill well, about one to two hours.

Serves six.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Special Guest: Jenn Nixon


Today I am offering a special feature! One of my author friends, Jenn Nixon, has had a new book released, Lucky's Charm. Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.

Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

Here's the blurb for the book Lucky’s Charm:

To protect her family and find a killer, Felicia “Lucky” Fascino assumed her adoptive father’s identity and joined the network, an organization of moral assassins to finish the job he began. Eliminating the man responsible for murdering her mother has consumed her for the last five years. While keeping her Uncle Stephen and cousin Elizabeth at arm’s length, Lucky begins to feel the weight of her career choice and reclusive lifestyle. Then a chance encounter with an enigmatic hit man, during one of her jobs, turns into a provocative and dangerous affair. Distracted by the secret trysts with Kenji Zinn and mounting tension within her family, Lucky makes reckless mistakes that threaten her livelihood and almost claim her life.

Excerpt:

Lucky learns her uncle is retiring…

When Lucky decided to step into her father’s network shoes, one stipulation had been telling Bet. Although she wasn’t pleased to learn Lucky killed people for a living, Bet eventually accepted the truth.

During the last year, Bet integrated herself into network conversations and privately mentioned suspecting her father had been into something shady for a while. She’d been right. However, the more she learned about what Lucky did, the more she’d want to know. Always a cousin first, Bet was big on family and didn’t mind shoving her nose in everyone’s business. The reasons were simple: a family had to stick together. Most families handed down a farm or at least a tax preparation business, but contract killing was way out in left field.

Family first. That was their expression, had been for years. Bet said it more than once: family doesn’t turn their backs on each other. Even though Lucky never told her the real reasons that she did what she did, Bet had always been there to help.

“There’s not going to be any trouble is there? I mean, do people quit from this business and live to talk about it?” Lucky glanced over at him. It was rare a contract killer made it to “retirement.” The cops found you because you got sloppy, someone else killed you, or like her father, it wore you down and diseased your body. Handlers had a certain amount of anonymity and better survival rates, but they were still at risk.

“The network likes to keep tabs on those who opt out, just for safety reasons, but there’s no reason to fear retribution from Ruddy and his partners or other contractors. He knows I’ve been thinking about it; the few I know won’t be surprised either. Some think we’ve gone soft because of the earlier jobs I’ve turned down for you.” He pressed his lips together in a tight smile.

“Hey, don’t give me shit; you know how I feel about those scrap board jobs.” She ran her finger along the edge of the shelf and turned back to the fire. “I’ve kept us in so we can keep digging, and I’ve made us a lot of money.”

“Luke was the same way. He wouldn’t take a job unless he felt justified.” He patted the spot beside him, and when she sat down, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “You have enough money saved to call it quits too.”

The thought had crossed her mind many times over the last five years. What would it be like to feel normal again? Stop killing and start living. Lucky had no idea. She was in so far, so deep, she didn’t know if there was a way out for her. Even if she did get “out,” what would she do? Contract killing didn’t exactly give you real-world skills to work in an office building or retail store.

It didn’t matter; getting out was a long way down the road. She still had an obligation to fulfill to the people who adopted, raised, and loved her. Questions needed answers. She and Phen hadn’t come close to those answers in all the years they’d been searching, but maybe his renewed focus could change things. Her life stayed on hold until she fulfilled her promise and gave her parents a bit of peace.

“You know I can’t quit,” Lucky said, resting her head on his shoulder. She allowed herself a moment of comfort from Phen; he was still her uncle, despite knowing what she had to do to keep that promise. “When you get me some solid leads and I find out who killed her, I’ll stop. Until then, Lucky lives.”

You can find Jenn Nixon at her website:
www.jennnixon.com

Or her Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/JennNixonAuthor

Check out her tweets, too!
Twitter: @jennnixon



Monday, July 30, 2012

Belated Book Birthday!


It has been a little over a year since I uploaded Prince of the Mist to the Kindle platform. Afterward, I uploaded the book to Smashwords for wider distribution. Finally, I struggled over the paper edition, which I uploaded to CreateSpace.

At first, I set the price for the ebook at $2.99, but since it is a novella I later dropped it to $1.99. The paper edition is $5.99--a real bargain.

I designed the cover using a stock photo I purchased. It is eye-catching at 1" high, which helps. I have really been pleased at the response.

Here's a piece of cake for this momentous occasion! (Chocolate is good for you!) Enjoy.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Studying the Stats

Above is the overview of the stats from my Facebook fan page. The graph goes up and down depending on whether I manage to snag someone's attention on the never-ending scroll of status messages in their news feed. It isn't easy and other people can have different results depending upon who their fans are. I do have fans who read my excerpts and enter my contests, but by far the overwhelming favorite topic on my fan page is food.

My fans like to look at food--though not usually the food I have prepared at home. I snapped a photo of my sausage biscuit in a fast food restaurant one day and was amazed that people found it so interesting. Yes, it was tasty but really there wasn't anything unique about it. I took a photo of my fried shrimp at the Lobsterfest and lots of people looked at that. I know there are people who claim to hate reading about what anyone had for supper, but people on Facebook sure are interested in looking at a photo of it--add the recipe and it's even better.

I try to include photos or videos with every post. I don't have an amazing number of fans like Diana Gabaldon (one of Daughter #1's favorite authors). Diana Gabaldon doesn't post photos with every status message on her fan page, but it doesn't matter. For me, it matters.

Flowers and gardening seem to be a big hit, which is a problem for me because I do not have a green thumb. My luck with plants is abysmal. This is embarrassing since my sister is a horticulturist. She is always searching for plants for me that I can't kill. Still, I have taken some nice photos and my fans apparently appreciate the pictures. They can commiserate with me when the deer eat my plants. They can give me advice about what deer might not eat.

Yes, my fans enjoy giving me advice. It's okay. I can always use it. Especially when it comes to gardening.

I'm not terrific when it comes to decorating either. So when I put up a photo of the lampshades I bought that did not look right, I received a wealth of suggestions.

When I dropped my favorite Corningware roasting pan, I got a lot of sympathy. Evidently, there are those who can relate to my klutziness.

Losing weight is a great topic, too.

My fans do look at photos of my artwork, an area where I do have some skill. I get lots of compliments, which sort of makes up for the posts about my klutziness.

Ancient photos receive quite a bit of attention. So far, the photo I posted of me in my Girl Scout uniform has gotten more hits than anything else I've posted. I've gotten more hits than my number of fans. Maybe they all looked at it twice?

What would you like to see on my Facebook fan page?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Was Lucky

There's me on the left, mixing paints, which is something I still love to do. My brother is sitting on the floor with my sister. In the photo on the right, my mother is at the easel.

It is now three years since Mom passed away. Today is the anniversary of that loss. Mom is still missed, but I consider myself very lucky to have had such a wonderful mother. Mom stayed home to raise us. Yes, the majority of mothers were stay-at-home moms during that era, but my mother put her heart and soul into the job. Nurturing came first.

Still, she never gave up her art. Often, she would paint late at night. Later, when everyone had grown up, she had more time to devote to her passion. For a look at some of her work go to this post:

http://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com/2009/07/some-of-my-moms-paintings.html

No matter how important her art was to her, when someone needed her, she was there. She did the right thing and gave out the best advice. Always.

I wish I could use my cellphone to give her a call. :^(






Friday, July 20, 2012

The New Blue Arrow

I noticed something new on the Barnes & Noble website when I went to check out the status of my books. There's a clever little icon on the bottom right corner of my newer books, a small blue arrow with the words, "Read instantly." It reminded me of Alice and the bottle that said, "Drink me." The arrow intends to entice readers to open the book right away and begin reading a sample.

It worked for me. I checked my own books and then I went and checked out a whole bunch of other books. This could be dangerous. My to-be-read stash of books has been out of hand for a long, long time.

There is one glitch. The cute little blue arrow does not work with older browsers. While that does not matter because anyone can download a free sample, the instant gratification of reading a sample with one click makes it so much more satisfying and you can be assured that you will not wind up ten inches high as Alice did.

So go on over to my page at Barnes & Noble, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/penelope-marzec. Read a few samples and see which one grabs you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life Skill #34A : Changing a Flat Tire

I believe all of us need to know certain Life Skills. I taught my daughters to cook, do laundry, and clean toilet bowls. They met other students in college who did not know these things.

On my list, Life Skill #34A is changing a flat tire. I was reminded of this particular skill on Friday night. Daughter #1 went out with a friend and at the end of the evening, her friend discovered she had a flat tire on her car.

Everyone who owns a car should know how to change a tire. It's easy to use a cellphone to call a road service, but it might take a while for help to arrive. If you are in a cold place, waiting might not be a good idea. Also remember that cellphone batteries sometimes fail at critical times and that often flat tires happen in places where there are no cell towers, pay phones, or other people.

When our daughters bought their first cars, hubby taught them how to change the tire. A young woman should never expect a hunky hero to be nearby. It would be nice, but in real life it doesn't always work out that way.

I know this because it happened to me.

Once, I had to change a flat tire while it was snowing on a dark lonely interstate in February. Cellphones had not been invented yet and I did not have a CB radio either. Fortunately, I was not alone. I had my mother, my youngest sister and my friend with me. We had been visiting my other sister in a hospital in Scranton.

By the time we headed for home, it was dark and snow was falling. I drove slower because the road had become icy.

On a lonely stretch of Interstate 380, the car pulled to the right as one tire went flat. I had flares, which I lit. I got out the tools, the spare, and the jack. My younger sister held the flashlight. I took off the hubcap and handed it to my friend for safe keeping so we didn't lose it in the thickly falling snow.

A few eighteen wheelers passed us. We did not see a single patrol car.

I had gotten the wheels balanced a few day before the trip and the lug nuts were on so tight that it took both my mother and I to loosen them. As we removed each one them, we placed them in the hubcap which my friend held.

The snow continued to fall. We put on spare in about twenty minutes--just as the flares sputtered out.

As soon as we got rolling again, I turned up the heat. We could have turned into icicles if we had stayed in the cold much longer.

Make sure your daughters know how to change a flat tire. Make sure they are strong, independent women who know what to do--just in case a hunky hero isn't nearby. Or, in case, they have to change a flat for a clueless hunky hero. :^)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Barnacle Dad

My father was never a seafaring man. Yes, he traveled to the South Pacific during World War II in a troop ship, and he could row our rowboat in Treasure Lake, but that was the extent of his watery adventures. So when the dermatologist told me Dad has a barnacle on his back, I thought it was funny--and so did Dad.

The technical name for Dad's unsightly bump is seborrheic keratosis, but it is commonly called a barnacle. Big, ugly, crusty and brown, it stuck out and was visible under his shirt. Yesterday, I took him to the dermatologist who sliced it off quickly and painlessly.

Years ago, when hubby had a boat. He used to put a special paint on the bottom to prevent barnacles--the real ones. Can barnacles be prevented on people? Hmmm?

Monday, July 09, 2012

King

This is an old photo of my sister and our dog, King. King was a mutt with obvious traces of husky in his genetic makeup. His house was a fifty-gallon drum, and he lived outside most of the time except during extreme weather situations like hurricanes and blizzards. My parents were of the opinion that dogs were dogs.

King was presented to my brother and I as a birthday present. I was six at that point and my sister was one, but as the years went by she loved that dog so much that at the age of three she proclaimed that she was going to marry him. :^)

The dog catcher incarcerated King when he was nine years old. We got him back, but he died shortly afterward. Dad buried him on the hill behind the house.

We had other pets over the years, but King lived the longest and was much loved. When I put dogs into my stories, I always think of him.

Friday, July 06, 2012

New Website


I spent quite a bit of time yesterday working on my new website. It is plain and simple, which is the way I generally like things to be. Less is more is most matters--although I haven't been able to apply that principle to my collection of books. :^(

I used a free Weebly site and forwarded my domain name to it. So anyone can type in penelopemarzec.com and wind up at penelopemarzec.weebly.com. (I love the magical internet.)

I intend to add more stuff like links or banners in the future. For now it has all the important information, which is mainly my books and links to each of them. There's a contest and a contact form, too. So go ahead and sign up for the contest! What have you got to lose.

Monday, July 02, 2012

My Newsletter

Here's a view of the newsletter I send out sporadically to my fans using MailChimp. If you go to Summer Scuttlebutt you can read the entire newsletter, which includes a recipe for Lemon Bars that you won't want to miss. (It's easy, quick, and so delicious!)

If you would like to receive the next newsletter go to the contact page at my website HERE. In the comment section write NEWSLETTER. That's all you have to do. Then the next time I send out a newsletter, you'll get one. I don't send out a newsletter very often, so you won't have a cluttered email inbox on my account. :^) However, if you would enjoy hearing from me on a daily basis, LIKE my Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/penelopemarzecbooks Right now I have a lovely photo of the blizzard of 2010 there--maybe it will cool you off. :^)