Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Most Precious Gift

My sisters, along with their spouses and children, visited last weekend. My house overflowed with relatives, but it was great to see everyone and simply chat for hours. We reminisced about many of the visits to the ER with our children when they were young. What had been traumatic at the time, became funny in the retelling with all the details. We recounted the stories of the births of our children. We looked at old photos. 

It was an enjoyable trip down memory lane, but too soon everyone drove off and I was left with an abundance of clean up chores. I don't mind. 

Time is the most precious gift anyone can give. Those moments shared with my sisters and their families were a true blessing. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Pray for Peace

This animated short film was nominated for an Oscar in 1939. Unfortunately, it's still relevant. People are more polarized than ever and argue about everything. Why can't we just get along?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sans Day Carol

Last minute stuff to do before Christmas! Daughter #1 introduced me to this carol and now it's one of my favorites. I'm going to listen to it while baking today. I hope you enjoy it, too.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Ornaments

Want to make your house smell delicious? Need decorations for your tree?

Make a batch of my Cinnamon Apple Ornaments. These are not edible, but they smell wonderful and the aroma lasts for a few months. They can decorate your holiday tree, your wreath, or you can put them on top of packages.

Here's the recipe:

3/4 cup cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

Add:

1 cup applesauce

Pour in 1 1/2 tablespoons white glue

Mix well until the mixture is stiff.

Between two sheets of waxed paper, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the ornaments. Using a drinking straw, poke a hole in each one for hanging. Allow several days to dry at room temperature. When dry, insert a ribbon in the hole in each ornament.



It doesn't look very appetizing--and it isn't.


Cutting the shapes with cookier cutters is easy.


Use a drinking straw to make a hole. Later, when the ornament is dry put a ribbon through the hole for hanging.


You can use a cookie stamp, too. :^)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You Do Have Time to Read

Books can enrich your vocabulary, expand your mind, and widen your perspective. Book make great gifts.

Why aren't you reading a book? Most people claim they don't have time. I've already written a post about listening to audio books: http://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com/2011/05/no-time-for-books.html

However, Daughter #1 pointed me toward an excellent link about how to make time to read a book when you're busy. You can find it here:

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Time-to-Read-a-Book-when-You%27re-Busy

I've written a book and started writing another this year. In addition, I've read twenty-two books. I don't consider that a lot, and I probably would have read more if I didn't have the responsibility of caring for elderly parents.

Often, I read while I'm pedaling on my recumbent bike. I don't watch television, except for the news. I find books are far more interesting than television shows.

So pick up a book, download a book, or listen to an audio book. Give books to your loved ones this holiday season.

You do have time to read.




Friday, December 12, 2014

A Real Tree

That's me and my brother, circa 1954 (I think). We're showing off our Christmas tree. It's real. It's very eclectic--just the sort of tree I like with a little of this and a little of that. I remember my mother was very particular about the icicles. We were to drape them, one at a time, on the tree. They were undoubtedly lead icicles at that point in time.

What do you put on your Christmas tree? Do you have garlands, or icicles, or old-fashioned ornaments?


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Real Or Artificial?

Pictured is hubby putting together our artificial tree the first Christmas after we were married. It was his tree, purchased before we even knew each other. It didn't bother me. What did bother me were the decorations he placed on the plastic boughs. He had blue and white satin balls with a blue and white garland.

Very boring.

I eventually replaced his decorations with a more eclectic selection. However, the plastic tree remained for a few years until we bought a better artificial tree. As the years went by, our second tree looked a bit worn and so we searched around for the latest style with the lights already attached.

I like artificial trees. They are economical. They don't shed pine needles.

How about you? Real or artificial?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Guest Post: The Dating Wish List



Once again, I am pleased to host a guest post by Daughter #1. This time she offers some insights on how her dating wishlist changed over the years. 

            Once upon a time, I believed Santa Claus would bring me anything for Christmas, as long as I was a good girl. Most of the time, I was. I expected to be gifted with my heart’s desire and every year Santa worked his magic and I received at least one very special item.

Maybe that wasn’t such a good thing because when I was in my 20s, I continued to expect extraordinary miracles—especially when it came to finding just the right man for me to date or to marry.

I developed a very, very long wishlist of characteristics I expected in a man. Reading it would have given Santa a migraine. Some of these qualities (a.k.a. the Short List) were the following:
  • ·      Educated (Master’s or higher)
  • ·      Makes enough money to support me
  • ·      Taller than me, at least 6 feet
  • ·      Capable of carrying on highly intelligent conversations
  • ·      Musical talent
  • ·      Catholic
  • ·      Very good-looking
  • ·      Blond or Asian
  • ·      Not boring
  • ·      Older, but not too much older—maybe up to 8 years older, no more
  • ·      No divorces or kids
  • ·      No smoking

While dating a variety of men, I soon learned very few of them fit my exacting criteria. 

So I focused my attention to three items on my list: musical talent, highly educated, better job and money than me.  Still, I preferred the man have an education in a science field, so we’d have something to talk about.

As time wore on, reality set in. Tall men were snapped up early in life.  The handsome ones were more interested in themselves than in me.  Musical talent is rare. M.S. and Ph.D.’s have become increasingly rare among men.

Then the recession hit, and nobody had a job anyway.

I struggled forward and tried online dating sites, eliminating men based on my admittedly shallow criteria.  When I was 28, I decided 38 was too old, but 35 could be okay.  Anyone 5’5” was too short and if they were bald, there was no way I would be interested.  Forget fanatical sports fans, too.  When it came to job information I crossed men off if they were self-employed, made less than $25,000 a year, or had an Associate’s degree.

By 32, I gave up online dating altogether, but meeting men in real life wasn’t much better than dating online.  I went through a series of losers: the pickup artist, the poet who quit his lucrative day job to write a novel, the man who wore a wetsuit to a pool party, and the neuroscientist who never wanted to leave his house.

At 34, I decided to try online dating again.  I was smarting from a series of nasty texts from one of the losers, and decided I could do better.  I decided to try a much smaller dating site, howaboutwe.com. My reasoning was simple because the people at howaboutwe.com actually wanted to get out and go on dates. 

For my first date, I met up with an Israeli postdoc in particle physics. While he was definitely intelligent, he went back to Israel. I was doubtful about enduring a long-term, long distance relationship.  Besides, there was the question of religion.  I am not the world’s greatest Catholic, but it was hard for me to see how I’d handle the hurdles of a relationship with a devout Jew.

My second date at howaboutwe.com was Joe—and suddenly all my rigid requirements evaporated. 

Here’s Joe’s basic criteria:
  • Educated—Bachelor’s in biology
  • Less income per hour than me
  • No musical talent, although he attempted guitar once
  • 5’9”, so under 6 feet
  • Brown hair
  • Catholic
  • 4 years younger
  • No smoking
  • No divorces or kids
Still, he came with a lot that I had never considered to be important.  He’s kind and considerate.  He loves his family, even when they drive him up a tree.  Most of all, he loves me.  I can still feel my heart race in anticipation of seeing him—and then I never want to let him go.  He’s probably not anything that I thought I wanted, but instead may be everything that I really wanted.

So, did I lower my standards?

Do men have lists too?


What’s on your boyfriend list for Santa?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Aging In Place or Assisted Living?

That's my father, 93 years old, a World War II vet stationed in the South Pacific for three years, a journalist for forty years, a staunch Democrat, and a widower after 62 years of marriage. He had a stroke on Columbus Day which affected his right side--but not his throat or his mental acuity.

He's been making gains in physical therapy. After the stroke, he was depressed for a while but lately he's returned to his usual witty self.

My problem is that I get conflicting advice on how to manage his care after he leaves the rehab facility. Assisted living facilities are incredibly expensive, but there are those who claim it's so much better for the social aspects of the elderly.

My father is very gregarious. He can--and does--talk to anyone. He makes up jokes all the time.

The thing is, he's been very happy in his senior apartment building, where he has lots of friends who miss him.

I think he could go back to his apartment with home care, which is not cheap either but it's a familiar environment. His building does provide many activities for the residents such as movie night, armchair adventures, birthday parties, holiday parties, Communion services, and etc.

Dad suggested to me yesterday he could take a cruise around the world. (Although, he said he'd like to skip the South Pacific part.)

What would you do?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thanks To Triberr and My Tribes


This past week my blog went over 100,000 hits. I owe it to all to Triberr and my awesome tribe mates. Thanks to them my blog posts are read by an incredible amount of people.

So for all my Triberr peeps, here's a little video. You are the best!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Winners of the Purple Tote Bag Contest!


The winners of the purple tote bag contest are Mark, Pat, and Karn. Not only do they receive a purple tote bag, but they get one of my books. Mark, Pat, and Karn have to decide which one they want. (That's the tough part.) Then they simply send me their decision, along with their address.  I can be reached through the comment box at the bottom of the website page at http://penelopemarzec.weebly.com/sign-up.html

Thanks for entering the contest Mark, Pat, and Karn! Enjoy the bag and the book. :-)

Friday, November 07, 2014

Do You Like Purple?


I have six of these bags. I really don't need six purple tote bags. I intend to give one to each of my sisters  for Christmas. (Please don't tell them!) I have two sisters. That means I still have three extra purple bags, assuming I want to keep one for myself as a memento, which I do since my name is on the back of the bag. In fact, the names of plenty of famous authors are on the back--like Jennifer Probst, who is listed directly under my name, and Nancy Herkness, who is listed above me.

I have three daughters, but I doubt that any of them would really appreciate a large purple tote bag. They have a different sense of style than I do. I love huge bags. I want to carry around the entire world in my bag. Somehow, my daughters manage to get along with small, teeny-weeny handbags, though I can't understand how they do that.

At any rate, I am willing to part with three of these large, purple tote bags. I will pick a winner from the individuals who add a comment to this blog post. To sweeten the deal, I will add an autographed paper edition of Daddy Wanted to the bag OR ANY OTHER of my published books. You have a choice!

How wonderful is that? The winners get a book and a bag--and not just any bag, but a huge, purple bag capable of holding a lot of stuff. You could use it to go grocery shopping. You could carry around a gigantic frozen turkey in this bag!

So sign up. Add a comment below. I'll pick three winners by Tuesday and let them know in Tuesday's post. (November 11, 2014)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Chicken With Mustard

Many years ago, when I was visiting my northern sister, I saw a recipe for Chicken with Mustard in the Hartford Courant. I tried the recipe. There was too much mustard and it wasn't saucy enough for hubby or me. It also involved too much preparatory work. I fiddled with the recipe and now have a version more suited to my family's taste (and mine).

Also, it's a lot less time consuming because I use frozen carrots and canned onions.

Give it a try. :-)

  • 4 chicken breasts skin removed (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 8 ounces dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1 - 15 ounce jar baby onions
  • 1 pound frozen whole baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed into 1/3 cup of water


Over medium heat, brown the chicken on all sides in a big skillet with the oil.
Sprinkle with the pepper, add the wine, thyme, garlic, and chicken broth. Cook for 35 minutes over low heat, covered.

Add the onions and carrots. Simmer, covered for another 10 minutes.

Stir in the mustard and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch and water. Stir until mixture thickens.

I always serve this with brown rice since it's so saucy.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Eastern State Penitentiary

Many year ago, hubby and I visited the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The prison started out as a great idea for the Quakers assumed people were inherently good. Therefore, the penitentiary was built so that those incarcerated would have time to reflect on the bad things they did and return to good behavior.

Each inmate had a private cell. The only book with each prisoner was a Bible. They did not talk to anyone. They each had a private yard to walk in for exercise.

It was, in truth, solitary confinement. Evidently, a lot of inmates went crazy and the system changed.

Al Capone stayed there briefly. He had a rather nicely appointed cell--with a radio, lamp, rug, armchair, and desk.

We were told that the prison holds reunions every year.

The audio tour is great and part of the price of admission. It is an interesting place to see. I hear they have some awesome Halloween tours. :^)

Friday, October 24, 2014

The First Time

That's little Penny. I probably made this sketch when I was in my early twenties, but that's how I saw myself as a kid--a skinny klutz. Notice the bandage on my shin and the scraped knee.

One summer, at the age of nine, I decided to write a book. It was a very short book. I used green ink on yellow legal paper and added illustrations. Not many people have seen it. Today it would be considered a paranormal romance--mostly because in the story the protagonist could fly. If I was able to fly at that point, maybe I wouldn't have had so many scraped knees and other injuries from tripping over my own pigeon-toed feet.

I enjoyed every moment of writing that story. That is what got me hooked on writing. Still,  I had other things to do as well--like get an education, work, get married, and raise children.

I knew, even as a youngster, that my writing would probably not be profitable--at least, not for a while.

So as the years went by, I was often too busy to write, though sometimes I wrote poetry in desperation because the urge to put words down on paper and express myself remained strong. However, my poetry was horrible--or at least when I handed it in as an assignment, the instructors wrote all over it and thoroughly discouraged me because I was not brave enough yet to believe in myself.

Courage is a necessary part of writing but it took a long time for me to develop that type of confidence.

Nurturing my children reignited all my creative juices. I read a book on smuggling as I nursed the baby at my breast. Suddenly, I had a whole novel running around in my head--and it kept clamoring to be let out.

It wasn't until my youngest turned four that the book I had been holding inside for quite a while refused to wait any longer. I was about to return to work in September. If I was going to write a book, I figured it was now or never. I set up my old manual typewriter on the dining room table and I typed out the story--page after page piled up.

Truthfully, writing in a great rush was like flying. It consumed me. I lived in the story and only came up for air to feed the family and tend to laundry. It took me two months to reach the end.

Then we went on a camping vacation and hubby took the time to read my story. He was surprised. "Where'd you learn to write like that?" he asked.

The truth was that I had a rough draft in my hands and it took a long, long time for that book to be published. However, by then I had acquired the necessary determination to survive endless rejections.

Writing is a tough business which requires the same kind of tenacity as a superhero, but writing a story is better than a magic carpet ride. Well, it was for me and still is.

That's why I write.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Inspirational Medieval Romance, The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia

Today I would like to introduce you to Rachel James. She grew fascinated with the medieval time period as a child. Dubbed a bookworm from a young age, Rachel found herself surrounded by places steeped in history and adventure. She enjoyed trips with her family to visit nearby derelict castles and Roman ruins, and that coupled with a zealous imagination and love for stories, sparked her interest in knights, fortresses and ancient kingdoms.

Born and bred in England, Rachel writes adventure driven historical romance, she is also a pastor’s wife, and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others in their own spiritual journey. She’s also captivated by romantic tales… combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she’s smitten! Find her at www.rachelajames.com

Rachel has written an Inspirational Medieval Romance, The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia.

The story is set in 616AD, when one fatal night the ancient Kingdom of Elmetia falls. Saxons kill the Elmetian King, and capture Princess Teagen. Teagen poses as a slave girl and works for the Saxons in the Kingdom of Deira, until she discovers her brother is alive. She finds a way to escape, and her path crosses with Ryce the Warrior.

Struggling with his past, and angry against the tyrant Saxon king, Ryce helps the princess in pursuit of her brother. But just as the connection between them intensifies, obstacles get in their way. The Saxon king now wants vengeance, and will stop at nothing to get it.


Excerpt

616 AD, The Kingdom of Elmetia

Teagen scrambled under the table as the first fire-drenched arrow shot through the sky. Within seconds, thatched rooftops blazed and smoke bellowed throughout the palace. Frantic screams replaced the joyful music playing moments before.

“Princess,” Teagen’s nurse hissed from behind a wooden bench. “Are ye injured?”

“Nay.” She cast a wary glance as the battle unfolded before her. “What’s happening? Is it Saxons?”

Her nurse stretched her arm over and stroked her hair. “Aye, princess. Seems to be. Now stay put here while I find yer brother.”

Teagen flinched. “Don’t leave me Dera, please—Niall will be with Papa, they’ll be safe.”

Dera’s face paled. “I hope not, lassie, for yer brother’s sake, I pray he’s not.”

What could she mean? Was Papa in trouble?

She jumped out from her hiding place. “Then I’ll come with ye—”

Dera pushed her down firmly. “Nay, ‘tis not safe. Whatever ye do, do not let them capture ye, understand?”

She nodded, dumbfounded as Dera disappeared.

Grabbing the bottom of her long silk dress, she covered her face in an attempt to subdue the nausea that welled within. She wouldn’t look. She couldn’t. Where was Papa? She needed him right now, to hold her, and keep her safe.

“Teagen.”

A wave of relief washed over her. “Papa!” Teagen ran toward him, tears threatening her eyes.

“Shhh, lassie.” Her father scooped her up and headed for the kitchen just off the Great Hall. He opened a small stone cupboard and placed her inside.

“Stay in here, do ye understand? Do not come out until yer brother gets ye.”

“Please don’t leave me, Papa. Everyone keeps leaving me.” She tasted the salty tears that streamed her face.

Her father stroked her cheek. “Oh, lassie, I love ye so much. Ye know this, don’t ye?”

She nodded.

“Now be a brave girl and stay put.”

She gave her father a lingering hug and breathed in his comforting musky scent, her eyes averting his blood stained tunic. As he shut the cupboard door, the sound of the latch closing sent shivers through her body. The darkness did not mask the coldness of the damp stone walls, or the stale air which stifled her breathing. A sob lodged in her throat. I need to be brave for Papa.

Muffled sounds from outside grew louder—the clash of iron on iron, the collapse of buildings, and cries for help.

“King Ceretic is dead!”

Teagen stopped breathing. It could not be true.

“And what of the rest of the family?”

“Not yet found.”

“We do not leave until they are dead. Burn everything, and gather the survivors—we’ll take them to the slave market.”

She squeezed her eyes together, shutting out the fuzzy sensation that threatened to overtake her. Please, God. Nay. There surely must be some mistake.

Teagen could wait no longer. Despite her father’s strict instructions, she pushed open the door and fell on the kitchen floor. She gasped in a huge breath of air and scrambled to the doorway. Soldiers littered the outside, and in the centre, stood the Saxon King—Edwin the Tyrant. Her stomach lurched as she saw the remains of her father’s body.

Oh, Heavenly Father.

She collapsed to the ground. If her father was dead, it meant her brother Niall would likely be too. She studied the hem of her fine tunic and caressed the intricate beading Dera had sewn on the day before.

She stiffened. If they discovered her true identity as the king’s daughter, she too would be slain. She had to get out of these clothes. Her eyes rested on the dead bodies piled up outside the kitchen entrance and her heart broke as she spotted one of her friends lying on the ground. She kept low, reached out and pulled her friend further inside the kitchen.

“I’m sorry, Hilda,” she whispered to the girl, “but I’m going to need yer clothes. Ye won’t have use for them anymore.” She closed the girl’s eyelids, said a quick prayer, and removed the simple tunic and redressed her young friend in her own grand attire.

She ran out of the kitchen and toward the oak tree at the top of the hill, knowing she would be seen. She perched under a sloping branch and gazed out—her entire world ablaze. Soldiers rummaged through the dead bodies looking for valuables to keep for themselves. Teagen covered her ears as cries penetrated the night. Curling herself into a ball, she cradled her arms around her knees and rocked herself back and forth watching her kingdom fall. They were coming for her, it was simply a matter of time. To survive this night, her identity would have to be forgotten.


Watch the book trailer!





Connect with Rachel: 


Buy on  Amazon


Friday, October 17, 2014

Looking for a Sign

My mother had red hair when she was young. Later on in life, she let her hair go gray. But sometimes, my father would still call her "Red" instead of her name. I believe he was quite taken with the fact that he had captured the heart of a beautiful redheaded woman.

Just after they celebrated their sixty-second anniversary, my mother died. However, my father continues to believe she is watching out for him.

Actually, I think so, too.

On Monday, my father suffered a stroke, which affected his right side. I sat beside him in the ER all day while he underwent numerous tests.

Directly opposite him, in a direct line of sight, a woman with red hair waited on a gurney for treatment. She was probably in her late fifties. She calmly read a book while the hustle and bustle of a very crowded ER went on about her.

Dad stared at her for a while. "Is that a sign?" he asked.

I knew exactly what he meant, but I shrugged it off.

A little while later, he asked, "Is her hair color real?"

I smiled at that question, but again I shrugged. However, I went searching for the nurse a little while later and passed right by the woman on the gurney. The roots of her hair were not red.

I returned to my father and whispered in his ear. "Her hair is not really red. She uses hair color."

He nodded and smiled. Nevertheless, he still believes it was a sign.

Maybe it was. Just a little bit of hope in the ER is good medicine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gay N. Lewis and Sarah, Heaven’s Little Love Angel


Today I am pleased to present Gay N. Lewis, a native Texan, who lives in a small town west of Houston. She has always been involved with creative and artistic ventures. Two videos she produced—The Canadian Rockies, in English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, were sold in Canada, America, as well as all international markets.

Her real love is writing. As a pastor’s wife, she has written, produced, and photographed many programs. Her Faith Features have been published in various church periodicals.

Teaching an adult Bible study every Sunday morning is Gay’s joy, and she is often called upon for speaking engagements. When needed, she plays the piano or organ and serves as worship leader in her husband’s church.

Currently, she has been writing a series about Sarah, a dyslexia angel, for the Prism Book Group. You can read excerpts at http://prismbookgroup.com/angels


In fact, Sarah has her own Facebook page. You can follow Sarah @Sarah Wingspand.

Gay shared a candid moment with me which illustrates her hope for everyone to be accepted and appreciated.
In an early church my hubby pastored, a stately gentleman came to the parsonage to express his concern. A lady wanted to become a member, but she had a well-known, scandalous background. My husband agreed to chat with the woman and did so. She assured him she’d changed her lifestyle and had no plans to return to it. Paul stood before the congregation, told the group this dear lady had asked God to forgive her, and God had done so. He went on to say that it wasn’t our place to judge anyone.  The congregation accepted this sweet lady, and no word was ever spoken against her.  She became a popular person in our midst and was able to use her many talents for the Lord and His church. 
Years later, my husband was senior pastor of a sizeable church, and I taught Bible study to women who were twenty something. I usually had a large number each Sunday morning, but one particular Sunday, there were two of us—one other plus me.  I asked a teacher in an adjoining class if we could visit for the lesson.  She immediately said, “No, you can’t come in here.” She later apologized and said she’d responded that way because I intimidated her. 
Rejection hurts people and shouldn’t take place in church. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen it happen.   Felt it too. Everyone needs a place of worship where they feel comfortable, accepted and appreciated.  
When I wrote Sarah and a Dad for Mandy, I had a few of these situations in mind. Galena, Mandy’s mother, didn’t know who fathered her child. Matt, the minister, realized his church would not receive Galena in a cordial fashion. This story is written from Sarah, the angel’s point of view. Sarah wants to defend Galena and wishes to bring inconveniences to all the people who give Galena the cold shoulder. Of course, that’s a problem in itself and leads to hilarious results. 
Many authors write from their own experiences. I think that’s what makes a book poignant. As I wrote about Galena and Mandy, my heart went out to them, but I also laughed at Sarah’s antics. 
Sarah and a Dad for Mandy is the third novella in a trilogy that began with Sarah and the Internet Dating Service. The second in the trilogy is Sarah and the Scary Ferris Wheel. The reader becomes acquainted with all the characters in the first book.Each book stands alone, but when all three are read together, they become a complete novel. The eBooks are .99 each, and the print bundle of all three will soon be available.


Sarah and a Dad for Mandy will be released tomorrow. Here's the book blurb:

The Superiors left Sarah, “Heaven’s Little Love Angel," on Earth to complete the third consecutive and inter-related mission. With instructions to find a mate for Galena Maddox and a dad for six year old Mandy, Sarah should have no problem, right? Well except that dyslexic Sarah, known for bungles and goof ups, creates more mayhem than she ever imagined possible. Pesky human disguises cause her trouble--again. In mortal form, she either injures people or embarrasses herself. At this undertaking, the earthlings think she’s a fugitive from a mental hospital. Sarah wonders about the challenges of the new assignment. With her shady past, will Matt Austin, a minister, consider Galena as a wife? If Sarah can bring them together, will Matt’s hoity-toity church accept Galena?Angels shouldn’t worry, but this task is daunting.

Maybe if Sarah doesn’t attempt to wear those red stilettos she loves, she’ll stay upright and succeed, but foregoing those shoes for Sarah might be impossible.

For more information, please go to www.GayNLewis.com
Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.
http://www.gaynlewis.blogspot.com
You can find all her books at:
https://www.amazon.com/author/gaynlewis
She's on Twitter  @GayNLewis2
Visit her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GayNLewis

Friday, October 10, 2014

Playing With Photos


I subscribe to Penny Sansevievi's newsletter, which offers great marketing tips for authors. Yesterday, she mentioned three photo imaging sites. Of the three, I had not heard of Canva, but after playing with it for a while, I was hooked. Oh yes, I spent too much of my writing time having fun with photos yesterday. At Canva, there are a variety of templates--including Facebook covers and Kindle covers. I take photos constantly--the image above is one of my own. However, Canva has images available for purchase at the terrific price of $1. There are free backgrounds, but the fancier ones are priced at $1, too.

So check it out. I sure hope I get some more time to play with it today. :-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Grist for the Mill



Old Mill, Oil Painting by Irene S. Kierce
Many years ago, I attended a talk given by Mary Higgins Clark at the Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library. I hung on every word for that was very early in my quest to become a published author. One thing she said--over and over--remains ingrained in my memory. She claimed everything in life is "grist for the mill." In other words, all the various situations we experience in life, whether good or bad, can be used in our fiction.

That does not mean a writer can jumble together a series of episodes and expect it to be a book. A novel has to make sense. It has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most of the time, life doesn't make ANY sense, but fiction should lend the impression of reality. It is more real than real life.

When a writer has gone through a particular life experience, he or she can detail that time with such truth that it will resonate with readers. Writers are often told to write what they know. However, a writer doesn't have to break a leg to write about that type of pain. If the writer's sister broke her leg, the author would have a very good frame of reference to include that situation into his or her own story.

I don't have to get a divorce to understand the trial of that separation. I have friends and relatives who needed to vent when they were enduring the terrible dissolution of their marriage. I was a sympathetic listener. Really, that's all it takes.

Being a good listener is one of the best things an author can do to improve their writing. Everyone has stories to tell. If you want to put a mountain climber in your story, but you haven't climbed a mountain, find someone who has and would enjoy telling you about it.

Everyone's life experience can be your "grist for the mill." Keep your ears open. You could become a better writer.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Fleamarket Photo


This is one of my favorite photos of hubby taken not long after we were married. It makes me laugh--but he is still going to fleamarkets and antique stores and looking through junk to find gems. He used to collect old records--truly ancient stuff. However, he gave that up and now runs around the fleamarkets looking for old accordions. Sometimes, he finds them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Saving Your Life


This is a familiar site in NJ in the spring. This pair of horseshoe crabs are involved in important work.  They could be saving your life.

Horseshoe crab blood is worth about $15,000 a quart. The pharmaceutical industry uses the blood to test for impurities in drugs and medical devices--everything from injectable medication to stents. So far, there is NOTHING else as reliable as the blue blood of these prehistoric creatures. No one has invented anything to replace it either. It's highly accurate.

It was when I was writing The Keeper's Promise that I went off on a tangent and discovered the worth of horseshoe crabs. The book is set in the Delaware Bay area, which has the highest population of horseshoe crabs. One of the characters in the story is a scientist conducting horseshoe crab research. I knew a bit about horseshoe crabs because I saw plenty of them in Raritan Bay when I was growing up there. But I did not have a clue about their amazing blood.

Naturally, there's really nothing in my book about the value of horseshoe crabs. I got sidetracked while I was writing. That sort of thing happens to me all the time. It isn't always easy to stay focused on the story at hand. It's a problem. Especially when I discover something truly incredible--and this thing about horseshoe crab blood is rather awe-inspiring.

So although I wasted some of my writing time in unnecessary research, I gained a new respect for the lowly horseshoe crabs.  I was reminded of it when I read an article in the Asbury Park Press the other day, "Rutgers lab churning out baby horseshoe crabs."

I suggest you read it, too. You can find it here:

http://www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2014/09/27/rutgers-lab-churning-baby-horseshoe-crabs/16329981/

Those crabs may look grotesque, but they are invaluable to advances in medicine.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Trailer for PATRIOT'S HEART!

This is short. It takes all of forty seconds. I went to the annual Battle of Monmouth Reenactment during the summer in the hope I would get a few good visuals specifically for this project. So I finally sat down and put it all together. The book was released in February--but, of course, it's still available AND the sequel, PATRIOT'S PRIDE, will be coming out in June 2015. I hope that's not too long for anyone to wait! :-)


You can buy the book at Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.--or just go to the publisher's site: http://www.prismbookgroup.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Falling Leaves


I love autumn. I love the cooler weather--so crisp and energizing. This morning it was fifty degrees outside. To me, that's wonderful! The autumn colors are gorgeous, too--red, orange, and yellow.

I just wish the leaves could stay on the trees. But no, they come down fast and furious. As soon as I remove them, more litter the ground. I don't mind so much when they're crunchy and dry, but wet, soggy leaves are horrible. They stick to shoes and wind up inside the house. This situation goes on for months. In our town, we pile the leaves at the curb for pickup. Usually, the leaves are scooped up at the beginning of December. If we have snow on top on the leaves, it gets really messy.

I bought a leaf blower that has an attachment so I can vacuum and chop up the leaves. I put the chopped up leaves into my compost bin. It makes great compost. However, I should have bought a bigger compost bin because I don't have enough room for all the leaves in our yard. :-(

I like practical gifts so for my birthday, hubby bought a six-foot long mat that should help collect the wet leaves from people's shoes when they walk in the door. I hope it works. If it doesn't, it should be useful when everyone walks in with snow on their boots this winter.


Friday, September 19, 2014

A Little Fog


Daughter #2 looked at this photo and thought the lavender cloud in the sky looked like a UFO. To me, it looked like a cloud. I took this picture because the foggy mist settling on the ground fascinated me. I wanted to walk through it, but I was expected elsewhere and so I didn't. I've seen this phenomena a few times in the past and I've always wanted to walk through it, but I never have the time.

Driving in fog is dangerous. Walking in fog is interesting, but the fog on the ground in this photo was only about four feet high. Could I see my feet if I walked into it? What would it smell like? Would my clothing become damp from the mist? Would it swirl around me as I moved through it?

I could write up an entire scene about this low-lying fog--if I got out of my car to investigate it.

One of these days, I have to stop being too busy.