Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Easter from 1957

There's me on the right, perched on the fence. My youngest sister isn't there because she wasn't born yet. We all look good in our Easter finery, but the interesting part about this photo is the car. My parents purchased the car in a little town alongside the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Dad had been driving us all out to visit my maternal grandparents when the old car broke down, late at night. There was a small hotel nearby but the restaurant had closed for the night. However, there was an ice cream parlor so my parents gave us ice cream to eat for supper, which I thought was terrific!

Evidently, there was a used car dealer nearby, too. My parents handed in the old clunker and bought the black car you see in the photo. The next morning we were back on the road.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Transitions--Or How Did I Get Here?

I'm on the second round of editing Patriot's Heart, the book I finished during JeRoWriMo. On the first round I found plenty of glaring errors, but now I'm using a fine tooth comb--so to speak.

I've discovered some transition problems in my story. There are many ways to handle transitions, but each one must be clear.

I've found several blog posts with good advice:

http://menwithpens.ca/how-to-write-transition-scenes/

http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/12/16/mastering-scene-transitions/

There are many more blog posts on this topic for it is important. Transitions should be smooth and carry the story forward without boring the reader. The reader should know where the characters are and how much time has elapsed.

Writing a book is challenging! There are so many details to work out, but I have fun doing it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Job at the Glass Factory

Pictured above is a large lump of glass. I got it from the Midland Glass company where I worked two summers during my college years. The plant was located in the Cliffwood section of Aberdeen Township and employed many of the residents. You can read about the history of the plant HERE and HERE.

I considered myself fortunate to get the job because the wages were very good for a college student. I made about $1,000 each summer. (My salary for my first year as a teacher a few years later was $8,000.) I got triple time for working on the Fourth of July and overtime was usually available, too.

While many of our neighbors in Cliffwood Beach worked at the plant, only one was on the same shift as me. My family had only one car which my father needed to get to work, so I rode with our neighbor to work everyday.

The glass factory in the summertime was really hot. I swallowed salt pills so I wouldn't pass out from dehydration. There were fans here and there but they did not help. The noise level was horrendous. That is where I learned to yell, "Yo!"

I worked packing bottles into cartons on a line with two other women. I stood for most of the time although if I was lucky I got to sit at the light box and watch the bottles twirl by so I could spot bad ones and pull them out of the line.

There were a number of furnaces and each one produced millions of bottles. The bottles never stopped coming at us. If we didn't pack the bottles fast enough, the line would back up until the bottles started popping out. I got cut several times.

Sometimes, if a particular mold was bad, I had to run over to the lear, a huge metal link chain belt that brought the bottles from the furnace. I would pull out a whole row of that mold. Run back, pack bottles, and then run back to the lear to pull more of the bad bottles before we packed them.

Sometimes, the supervisor told us to look for a particular mold number on the bottom of the bottle and toss it out. When you're packing a gazillion bottles, it's hard to read mold numbers. We snatched up four bottles at a time, glanced at them and stuck them in the box. The supervisor would glare at us and tell us we were packing bad bottles.

No surprise there.

For me, the hardest thing about the job was the fact that we worked rotating shifts. We worked 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. one week. Then 4 p.m. to midnight the next week. Then came the midnight to 8 a.m. shift. Getting through that shift was a struggle. Some nights I found myself nodding off at the lightbox. One night, all the bottles twirled into dancing ladies with lovely long dresses. I nearly fell off the stool.

Working that shift messed up my entire body. I didn't know what meal I was eating and I wound up with strange cravings. I came home at 8 a.m. and gobbled down heaping bowls of instant mashed potatoes. I went to the pool, fell asleep, and wound up with a bad sunburn.

It was a terrific incentive to finish my education.

When we were cleaning out my parents' house to sell it, my sister brought the glass lump to me.

"Don't you want this?" she asked.

"What am I going to do with it?"

"Use it in the garden," she said.

Mostly I use it to hold down the tablecloth on the picnic table, but I'm glad my sister salvaged it before it wound up in the dumpster. It's a good souvenir of my job at the glass factory.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Win This Book!

There is ALWAYS a contest at my website. The two winners of the next contest will receive paper editions of The Company You Keep. This is my Fourth of July contest--so the winners will not be announced until July, which seems like a long time from now but it will go fast. So sign up today here: Contest.



There are some great reviews for this book at:

Novelspot (with the original cover)

Mindfog Reviews

Coffee Time Romance

Of course, if you cannot wait until July you can purchase the book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble (or Kobo, etc.)

The winners--as usual--will be announced in my fan newsletter in July. Good luck!


Friday, March 15, 2013

An Irish Blessing


The Irish have some very beautiful blessings. Yes, there are silly sayings and plenty of jokes for they are a witty bunch. However, of all the Irish blessings my favorite is the one the best man used as the toast at my brother's wedding.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


Síochána.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Belford Special

Here's the Irish side of the family at one their summer bungalows in Belford, New Jersey. (There were two bungalows. This photo is probably from around 1930 or so.) My grandfather is the man who is standing up on the right, my grandmother is leaning forward over the table, and my father is that cocky kid at the end of the table smiling at the camera. From what I've been told the family spent summers in Belford every year when my father was young. They lived in Jersey City, but air conditioning had not been invented yet, so summers at the beach must have been far better than roasting on the sidewalks of the city.

One of the favorite dinners in Belford was what my father called, "The Belford Special"--meatballs in tomato sauce served over mashed potatoes. An odd combination but I guess it adequately fed the small Irish army sitting at the table. At my father's request, my mother frequently served The Belford Special at our home when we were growing up.

Many years ago, we picked up my father's cousin Rosemary and went looking for one of the bungalows because Dad did not remember where it was. We found the little house had been converted to a year round residence complete with a deck. It was nice to know it was still there.

I should go back and see how it fared Superstorm Sandy.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Book Dedications

I am still editing Patriot's Heart. I dropped one entire thread as I raced to finish the rough draft, so now I am weaving that thread through the book. However, I paused for a moment last night to consider the dedication. When I wrote Sea Of Hope, I completely neglected to include a dedication, but that was my first published book and everything about the publishing process was new to me.

Since then, I have given considerable thought to the dedications in the front of each book. To me, it's the best way for me to thank and honor those who have helped me on my writing journey. I admit that sometimes the seed of the idea for the book came from the honoree, but most often I just want them to know how much they've meant to me and enriched my life.

Heaven's Blue: For my cousin, Sandy Karchella, and all the other lost children. May the Lord find them and bring them home.

A Rush of Light: To my three daughters...
Let your light shine.


The Keeper's Promise: For Bobbie L.

Irons In The Fire: Dedicated to my parents who taught me all about the magic of love.

The Company You Keep: Dedicated to Rich, my very own hero.

The Beast of Blackbirch Manor: For Billy

The Fiend of White Buck Hall: For Jan

Kiss of Blarney: For Emily, my friend

Prince of the Mist: For Tommy, My Irish Grandfather--A True Leprechaun

Daddy Wanted: For A. Thanks for the inspiration.


Who would you dedicate a book to?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Irish in Me

That's little me sitting with my paternal great-grandmother. She came from County Mayo in Ireland as a domestic worker and she married a man here in the USA who hailed from Roscommon. At least, that's what I've been told. Together they had nine children, though this fact is a bit fuzzy because one child died in infancy and another was later given the same name and afterward was referred to by all as "Brother". My grandfather was their oldest child. My great-grandmother died before I was old enough to really get to know her.

I was told my great-grandmother was offered the opportunity to go back and visit Ireland in her later years, but she said, "What would I want to do that for?" I have to assume that at the time she left Ireland, conditions were rather desperate.

Subsequently, some family members have visited Ireland. My uncle went many years ago and searched for the town where my great-grandmother's family had a farm. My uncle looked at the land and commented, "They must have been farming rocks."

Yet, for all their hardships, the members of that family maintained a certain type of wit that I think of as their Irishness. There are many examples of this, but a good one is here. One of my favorites on that page is by Sean O'Casey, "All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed."

So true. :^)

Friday, March 01, 2013

I Finished!

Yesterday I finished the JeRoWriMo challenge, the New Jersey Romance Writers' version of NaNoWriMo. I wrote a total of 30,148 words during the month of February. I actually wrote more than that since I deleted 800 words where I had written myself into a corner. On Wednesday, I came to the end of Patriot's Heart, but I I went right on to the sequel, Patriot's Pride.

Now I need to go back and edit. Once it's ready, I'll have to send the manuscript around and see if a publisher is willing to offer me a contract for it. It may be quite a while until it is up for sale. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to accomplish so much in just one month.

I did not come in first among the other writers in the group. There were many who surpassed me, but it did help to have a cheering squad. My thanks to Nancy Herkness for setting the challenge up. It was great!