Monday, December 28, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

When I Knew

When I was seven, my brother, who was eight, told me he had seen the Easter Bunny. He smiled enthusiastically and I believed every word he said. Then I turned eight and Christmas came around. I wanted a doll house that year. I woke up during the night and heard my mother and father talking. I listened--and from what they said, I knew my father was following the instructions for putting together a doll house. At that point, I realized Santa Claus was a myth.

When and how did you stop believing in Santa Claus?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Converting Old Videos


I took a movie making course in college back when Super 8 film was the standard. I had a Super 8 camera and I had a great time using up rolls of film. Then video camcorders arrived on the scene. Super 8 film became very expensive, but VHS tapes were cheap. So I bought a huge camcorder and filmed everything from piano recitals, to confirmations, to graduations, and even weddings. My camcorder was huge--not like the smaller models that came later. 

When digital technology arrived on the scene, everything changed. I had a video/DVD recorder and converted many of my VHS tapes into DVDs--but I could not share them on Facebook or Blogger because they were .vob files. 

Then I found Free Video Converter. I could convert all my old .vob files into .mp4 files, which are perfect for sharing everywhere on social media. Now I can add videos to my Throwback Thursdays and my family can relive all those special moments. :-)


Monday, December 14, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway for FALLING IN LOVE


Take a chance on being one of five lucky winners who will receive print editions of FALLING IN LOVE! This little book is guaranteed to warm your heart and life your spirits. You won't find it difficult to find time to read these sweet, short romances despite your busy schedule. Sign up at Goodreads now!


Goodreads Book Giveaway


Falling in Love by Penelope Marzec

Falling in Love

by Penelope Marzec


Giveaway ends December 28, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter Giveaway

Friday, December 11, 2015

Peace--Someday


My daughters and I went hiking on a trail in Sandy Hook the day after Thanksgiving and came upon this huge peace sign. Fashioned of driftwood, shells, and even horseshoe crabs, it lay on the easternmost tip of Sandy Hook, directly opposite New York City. As the sun sank lower on the horizon, we turned our attention to NYC, across the bay, which suddenly turned into a shining city that appeared to be made of gold.


We were dazzled by the sight and took one photo after another. It was a stroke of luck arriving at exactly the right time--for after a few minutes the magic was gone. And yet, as brilliant as that sunset was, I have spend more time thinking about that large, handcrafted peace sign. Who made it? Was it someone who lost a relative in the Twin Towers? Was it a veteran? Or simply someone--like me--who longs for an end to the constant bitter division in this world? In this country?

I grew up during the 1960s and I still love and sing all the anti-war protest songs, but singing songs hasn't stopped any shooting or carnage or hate. In fact, hate is apparently doing very well in this world and increasing every day. Everyone hates somebody.

It's almost Christmas, which is a celebration of how much God loves us. His love is shining on us all the time--just like those golden rays of the sun. He certainly has a lot of faith in us. Can't we reflect some of that faith toward each other? Can't we put aside the labels we give to each other that separate us?

Please pray for peace.

(For those interested in the origin of the peace sign go to http://www.fastcodesign.com/3036540/the-untold-story-of-the-peace-sign.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

A Contract for OUTSIDE BLESSINGS




On the day before Thanksgiving, I received a contract from New Concepts Publishing for my YA paranormal romance, OUTSIDE BLESSINGS. NCP has published many of my books.

Some of the inspiration for the book came from seeing the harbor seals enjoying the winter along a sandbar at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The seals spend the winter there and leave in the spring for cooler waters.

There are Irish and Scottish legends of seals who can shift into human form. There are those who believe they are the fallen angels. According to legend, some of the fallen angels fell on land and became fairies, but those who fell into the water became selkies.

I decided some of the selkies could visit New Jersey, just as the harbor seals do every winter.  (They are so cute!)

Here's the blurb:
Neema is sixteen. She's a halfling, half selkie and half human. She shifts into her human form to seek the answers to her sister’s death. Officials in the town of Blessings, New Jersey, claim her sister committed suicide and in 1896, suicides were not buried in hallowed ground. Neema is certain her sister was murdered. 
While keeping her origins a secret, she feels drawn to a young surfman even though he killed a selkie. When she learns of the selkies’ plot for revenge against him, she cannot tell him for she knows he won’t believe her. Then he stumbles upon the reality of what she is and she is crushed. Certain he can never love her, she vows to save him anyway, although it is doubtful whether she can save herself.

Inspiration for any of my books usually comes from more than one source. For Outside Blessings, in addition to seeing the harbor seals lolling about on their sandbar, I also visited the Centennial Cottage in Ocean Grove. It was there I learned that very often seamstresses were hired in the summertime to sew trousseaus for the brides in a family. After hearing that, my heroine became a seamstress for a wealthy family. :-)

I had so much fun writing this book! I can't wait until it's released.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Oat Shortbread for Lazy Cookie Bakers

It's that time of year when many people turn to baking cookies. I'm a lazy cookie baker. Life and writing leave me very little time for dropping teaspoons of cookie dough on a baking sheet. I found this recipe in The New York Times New Natural Foods Cookbook. However, I changed one thing. Rather than use 3/4 cup of butter, I used 1/2 cup of butter and 1/4 cup of Canola oil. It worked.

This is a terrific recipe. It's quick, there aren't many ingredients, and it's delicious. :-)

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and work thoroughly together with both hands.

3. Press mixture into a greased 13x9 pan.

4. Bake for 30 minutes.

5. Cool for 10 minutes.

6. Cut into squares.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Christmas Project



In addition to preparing the Thanksgiving feast and serving it to eleven hungry people, I spent last week working intensely on a family history book. Two family members initiated the project by asking questions. My nephew wanted to know how my paternal grandparents met. Nobody knew the answer. We still don't, despite questioning several sources. In addition, my younger sister evidently had no clue that my father's brother who died in World War II was a Marine. Obviously, there were some knowledge gaps among the younger family members concerning our family's past.

This prompted my father to start writing down what we know about our predecessors. I was delegated the task of being Dad's collaborator and editing the project. I also uploaded the contents to an online photo site. (I used Snapfish.com because they offered a huge discount.)

Many of the photos I scanned for the project are very old and very small--the size of today's typical business card. Our predecessors didn't take many photos, so the ones we have are rather precious. I don't know how clear they will be in the finished product.

Yesterday, I put the finishing touches on the book and ordered enough copies so that each of my father's grandchildren will have a copy (which is why the huge discount was important). I also ordered copies for my sisters, my uncle, my cousin, me, and Dad, too.  If any family members read this blog they will know what they're getting as a Christmas gift, but it's definitely better than another gift card.

What gifts will you be handing out this holiday season? Anything special?