Friday, October 30, 2015

When You Come to the End of a Chapter Jump Off the Cliff

An author must make many decisions in the course of writing a fiction novel. One very important choice is how the end of every chapter is handled. There should be a hook at the close of a chapter that intrigues the reader enough to turn the page. In other words, jump off the cliff. Most times, this suggestion should be handled figuratively, not literally, since too much tension might wear the reader out. Often, revealing a new secret or a new character will do the trick, deepening the crisis for the protagonist.

In my book, PATRIOT'S PRIDE, released in June of this year, the first chapter ends with the hero threatening to put the heroine in the brig. The second chapter ends with the hero wondering what new sickness has come over him. At the end of the third chapter, the heroine shows her mettle and takes over the care of an emotionally disturbed young woman despite the hero's warning. Nobody jumps off a cliff, but emotional leaps are perilous as well.

There's a wonderful blog post on the topic at The Editor's Blog that's worth reading. Jami Gold's post, Cliffhangers: Not Just for the End of a Book, offers good suggestions, too.

How about your book? How did you end the first, second, and the third chapters in your book? Tell me in a comment below and then give a link to the book.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I took this photo last week in the park. I am forever trying to get pictures with rays of sunlight streaming out of the clouds. I like the quote attributed to Jon Bon Jovi because I think it's true. Miracles are perceived by those receiving them. To someone else, a specific incident might mean nothing.

For instance, last week when hubby and I entertained the seniors, I went behind the piano to borrow the bench. I looked up at the songbook and saw it was open to "Moon River," a song which brings back some fond memories. (You can read about it HERE.) So I sat for a minute and played the song. Was it simply chance that the book was open to that page? I suppose it could be, but I think it was a little hello.

So keep your eyes open. Miracles are everywhere.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Brick By Brick

There's me on my wedding day posing outside the house where I grew up with Mom and Dad, my sisters and sister-in-law. My father built most of the house. It was a mere shell when my parents purchased it. It had plywood on the outside, which was painted pink. Inside there were 2x4s, but no walls. It was intended as a summer bungelow, but with the addition of a heater, it was converted to a year-round residence.

My father, a journalist, with no experience in carpentry became a do-it-yourself expert. He stapled insulation against the exterior walls. He put up sheetrock. He framed in the porch and made it into two bedrooms.

Eventually, he dug out a cellar, poured a concrete floor and put up cinder block walls. He did this all little by little, a section at a time, and it took many years.

Since the original porch became bedrooms, my father made an entrance facing the street with a small, wooden porch. However, there was a brick factory in Cliffwood, N.J., and Dad decided to make a nice brick porch. He bought one hundred bricks and loaded them into our Ramber station wagon. One hundred bricks weigh a lot. The back end of the wagon came awfully close to the ground, but Dad happily unloaded all those bricks and started his project.

He soon had to return and buy more bricks. Again he purchased one hundred bricks and loaded them into the back of the old Ramber. That still wasn't enough bricks. He returned again and again to the brick factory until finally the porch was complete. It had flower boxes and was large enough for a few chairs and a small table. In the summertime, when the flowers were blooming it was quaint and charming.

For a journalist with no previous experience in masonry, it was an amazing feat. Dad proved to me that you can do just about anything if you set your mind to it, which is probably one of the reasons I'm still writing. :-)

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Memorable Interview

I've been interviewed many times. I've been interviewed for jobs. I've met with editors and agents. I've even been in the newspaper several times. While it's nice to be the center of attention for a little while, it can also be unsettling. After all, much depends on the attitude of the interviewer and the questions asked.

But when Danele Rotharmel asked to interview me for a blog post, I felt completely at ease. Some of her questions were tough and required considerable thought, but she didn't rush me. Her positive attitude shows in everything she does, whether it's writing a review or a blog post.

I am very pleased with the results. You can read the full interview at her blog

Stop by and you'll learn a few things about me that most people don't know. :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Strange Tale

When I taught first grade in a NJ public school, the teachers were given a few days off in November, allowing them to attend the teachers' convention in Atlantic City. It was a two-hour drive from where I lived at the time. I had stayed in a hotel with other teachers several times over the years, but one year I decided just to drive down for the day and come home in the evening.

I got into my trusty six-cylinder 1971 Chevy Nova (no air-conditioning, plastic upholstery, and a stick shift) and headed south. However, it began to rain--a lot. It became a deluge and turned out to be a horrible day for driving. The rain came down in sheets. For safety, I drove slower. New Jersey was a lot less developed in those days. Once I passed the Asbury Park tolls there wasn't much to see. Besides, the dismal weather kept most people home.

As I rounded a curve, I saw a man on the side of the road. He was rather tall and wore a trench coat. He did not have an umbrella or even a hat on his head--despite the flood pouring from the sky. He also did not have a car. He was waving his arms in a strange manner, but he wasn't looking at me. He seemed to be looking at the opposite side of the road--where there wasn't anything to see.

It was very, very odd. I had mixed feelings about stopping--so I didn't. But my conscience bothered me, so I slowed down further and glanced in the rear-view mirror.

He wasn't there anymore. That was chilling.

It wasn't until years later I figured out I must have seen the Parkway Phantom. Yipes!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Advertise With Memes

This was one of hubby's ideas. We happened to find a baby snapping turtle in the yard and hubby happened to have a can of snapper soup. I was the one who added the little speech bubble. It's the closest I've come to creating a usable meme--although this one is an advertisement for soup. However, I need to advertise my books.

For an author, memes can be a terrific means of free promotion. I should have added my URL to the image on the right because the best memes are shared over and over on the internet.

I love to take photographs. I take lots and lots of them. Sometimes I get one that reminds me of a scene from one of my books. Then I add a short quote from that book to a photograph--just as I did in the photograph on the left. As much fun as I have doing this, just adding a short quote does not make a good meme--unless the quote is attributed to someone already famous and it highlights one of those life truths everyone understands.

The image on the right was one of my more successful memes, but too heavy-handed to go viral. Brainy Quote offers many similar images with well-known quotes--and they are popular.

Nevertheless, the best memes are funny, short, and simple--more like an editorial cartoon or a brief comic strip.

If you are interested in putting together memes, read more about using them to help you promote your books at

In the old days, it was said a picture is worth a thousand words. Now we can combine both and create something with an indelible impact--if we're very clever. :-)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Sign Up Now!

This is my newsletter, published on an erratic basis and usually short. It features news about upcoming books, special deals, and sometimes contests.

You can receive your own personal copy by email if you sign up at my website:

Go ahead and do it now before you forget.

Hoping to hear from you soon. :-)

Monday, October 05, 2015

In Defense of Art

Hubby and I were intrigued when we read an article in the Asbury Park Press, 'Shorehenge': Is Sandy monument tribute or eyesore? Highlands, New Jersey, a very small town, was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. The storm damaged 1,250 out of 1,500 homes. The monument pictured above was donated to the town and placed on the site where a gazebo once stood.

Some people in the town don't like it and have dubbed it Shorehenge, which is one of the reasons why we felt compelled to see it for ourselves.

I like it. Hubby thought it was fine, too. It's different, but it is art. The openings in the roof lend a spiritual effect. It would be a natural place for meditation--a place to remember what once was.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

My Grandma

That's my grandmother on the left and my mother on the right in a photo taken somewhere in the 1960s. Today would have been my grandma's 114th birthday, but she died at the age of 90. She was feisty, but sweet. She always had plenty of time to talk with her grandchildren--or anybody else for that matter--and she always cooked enough food for an army. She was a force to be reckoned with.

She was funny. She put ketchup on Oreos just to freak out her grandchildren. All the kids called her Grandma--even if she wasn't their own grandma. She was soft--some people would call her fat--but maybe they didn't know how good it felt to snuggle up to her plumpness.

At sixteen, she fell in love with an immigrant, but her mother told her she was too young to marry. He went away to war and became a US citizen. Three years later, he returned and they were married. They had seven children.

My grandmother had cervical cancer and survived. She had her gall bladder taken out. She worked hard raising children. She grew tons of vegetables and canned them. She didn't complain.

When my grandfather refused to buy her a new stove, she went on strike. After two weeks, he bought her a new stove.

She was the best grandmother ever.