Friday, July 29, 2016


Way back in the dark ages of my youth, long-distance telephone calls were very expensive. My mother rarely called her relatives in Ohio and Pennsylvania. To keep in touch, they often sent letters to each other. Not all the relatives reciprocated, but my Aunt Grace—Mom’s sister—was the most faithful correspondent. Her handwriting was atrocious and I found deciphering her words a difficult task. However, every one of her letters was treasured—read and reread.

Aunt Grace wrote to everyone who wrote to her. As I grew up, she wrote letters specifically to me. When my oldest daughter was able to grasp the intricacies of cursive writing, Aunt Grace directed letters to her. A letter from Aunt Grace usually consisted of advice—but she dished it out in clever and amusing ways. For instance, when my sister was seeking Mr. Right, Aunt Grace suggested a new wardrobe which included a dashing chapeau and a cute little dog. My sister was supposed to take the dog to the boardwalk and stroll about. She was bound to attract attention in that manner.

One of the saddest things about our changing world is the demise of the art of writing letters. I will be the first to admit I love Facebook. It’s a great way for keeping in touch with far-flung relatives. I know where my daughters are. I know my niece is going to the cabin for the weekend. I enjoy seeing everyone’s photographs. However, correspondence on the internet is usually kept to a minimum amount of words. Today’s youngsters will probably never receive a single handwritten letter in their entire lifetime. There are four- and five-year old children who do not know the word envelope.

There are very few people who write letters anymore. Lately, I only write letters to my sister-in-law because she writes back. We talk on the phone occasionally, too, but a letter in the mail is a nice surprise--something to keep.

For those of you who have no idea how to start writing a letter, I found an interesting site that might be helpful

Send someone special a letter. It’s the next best thing to being with them and they can cherish it forever.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Prayer Shawls

I'm crocheting a prayer shawl. This is the beginning of it. I knew nothing about prayer shawls until my father attended a grief counseling session after my mother died. At the end of the session, he received a prayer shawl. Dad didn't know what to do with the prayer shawl but he thought it was a nice gift. He kept it in his closet. I found it there after he passed away. 

I've always enjoyed crocheting. I wrote a post about how I learned the craft when I was young. You can read it HERE. Last year, one of my dearest friends joined a group which provides hats, blankets, and other handcrafted items for children in hospitals. (Blankie Depot) My friend asked me to teach her how to crochet a hat for an infant. We had a grand time one afternoon as she learned how to make a small hat. She soon excelled and made an incredible amount of very lovely little hats and donated them regularly.

One day my friend asked me to show her how to make a blanket. I found an easy pattern but she struggled with it and admitted she really only wants to make the hats. I promised her I'd make some blankets to donate while she continued making hats. 

I made some pretty little baby blankets like the one pictured on the left. At the end of the day, I enjoyed sitting down with my crochet hook and crafting something special in the hope of bringing some warmth and maybe a touch of love to some small individual.

Then my dear friend told me there's a need for prayer shawls for women in the local hospital. I never made a prayer shawl but I decided to try it. She dropped off a huge skein of yarn, I found a pattern, and my fingers got busy.

In the Jewish faith, prayer shawls are part of a tradition. However, the modern prayer shawl ministry began in 1998. You can read about it at Shawl Ministry. In essence, the shawl is dedicated to giving comfort to those who need it. It's almost as good as a warm hug, but it also comes with prayers the crafter recites as the shawl is being made.  

If you knit or crochet join a local group and use your skill to comfort  someone in need. It'll make you feel good, too. :-)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Will It Work?

After our delightful cruise, I stepped on the scale at home and discovered all those wonderful, elegant meals had converted into blubber. Usually, I count calories to lose extra pounds, but I've grown tired of that method. So I decided to try something different.

I saw Perfect Portions in the "As Seen on TV" section in The Christmas Tree Shop today and I bought it. I have no idea whether or not this is the solution to my excess weight, but it can't hurt.

Since I'm a writer with a painting hobby, much of my time is spent sitting. I like to crochet, too, and that involves more sitting. My exercise is either cleaning the house, or cycling on my recumbent bike while reading a book. (Multitasking!)

Have you tried Perfect Portions? Did it work for you?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Is It Love?

Another wonderful Prism Book Group author is my guest blogger today. See what she has to say about romantic love. 
St. Paul took a whole chapter in I Corinthians listing various hallmarks of love. Rather than attempt a pat definition, he revealed some of love’s many facets, turning it over and over as one might a brilliant, perfectly-cut diamond.
Since love is such a broad topic, let’s zero in on one aspect—romantic love. When a special person makes the heart beat faster, regardless of the season of life, we begin to question our emotions. Am I in love?  How will I know when it happens? How can I be sure when it is the real thing? Living a few years teaches us romantic love is accompanied with tender feelings, but that “gushy” feeling alone is not enough to stand the test of time. Love is more.  Real romance involves two people who care enough for each to put the other ahead of themselves.  In a “me first” instant gratification world, that kind of commitment is rare.  Yet it is the kind of giving, sharing love we hunger for at our very core.
Do I love him? Does he love me?  A simple test would be to consider each of the characteristics of love from I Corinthians.  Are we kind to each other?  Are we patient with each other? And so on.   Many heartbreaks could be avoided by thinking through that Biblical checklist, and turning away from a relationship with too many “no” answers.  Another person’s love is not directly measureable.  We can’t take out a yardstick and see how it stacks up. Instead, we observe love by its impact.  Oscar Hammerstein II is credited with this little rhyme that captures a singular way of looking at love:   
A bell is not a bell till you ring it. 
A song is not a song till you sing it.
Love in your heart isn’t put there to stay. 
Love isn’t love till you give it away.”
 Prism Book Group’s “Love Is…” series takes its inspiration from I Corinthians chapter 13.  Eventually there will be a short novel that takes its theme from one of the aspects of true love.  My contribution to this series is “Evidence Not Seen”, inspired by “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” Or, if you prefer the lyrical language of the old King James translation, “thinketh no evil.”  I hope those who read my story find it to be true to that sentiment.  
In the final analysis, we are left with faith, hope, and love.  What a marvelous trilogy!  And the greatest, of course, is love.  May we all practice it faithfully, daily, unrelentingly.  Love never fails. 
Check out Carlene’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series… 

Evidence Not Seen
“Love keeps no record of wrongs…” 1 Corinthians: 13:5
Although attorney Jeff Galloway’s career is in high gear, his personal life is a mess. Just before his father returns home from a 27-year stretch in prison, his girlfriend dumps him. When a chance encounter begins to blossom into new romance, soft-hearted Melanie Clark encourages Jeff to find a way to forgive his father’s long absence.
Buy it at AMAZON!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Creating Secondary Characters

Secondary characters are useful. Your heroine doesn't need to look into a mirror to describe her features. She's got a sidekick more than willing to point out her foibles. As Pinocchio relied upon Jiminy Cricket to become real, most heroines and/or heroes could use a confidante to guide them along on their journey--or sometimes point out the obvious when their rose-colored glasses obstruct the view.

Secondary characters are also great fun to bring to life. For instance, in my historical, PATRIOT'S PRIDE, Mrs. Ulery is the heroine's companion and chaperone on a long journey to England. The heroine barely knows the older woman, but it soon becomes obvious that Mrs. Ulery has an inordinate fondness for whiskey. While the heroine is horrified at this discovery, the heroine finds Mrs. Ulery's other hidden talents more than helpful.

Readers have enjoyed Mrs. Ulery. In addition to being a foil for the very proper heroine, she provides humor and a slight touch of wisdom, despite her love of liquor. In fact, it is that failing of hers which rounds out the older woman and makes her seem genuine.

Here's a great post about supporting characters and how to create them:

So have some fun with your secondary characters. Your heroes and heroines need some support!

Photo Credit: "A Woman Reading, The Chamber-Maid Brings Tea" via photopin (license)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Sense of Direction

I've been married for nearly forty years to a man who has no sense of direction. He possesses many other fine qualities, but it would be helpful if he was able to distinguish north from south and east from west. He compensates for his deficiency by using maps. He prints out endless reams of paper when he must travel somewhere new. He maps out every turn. He always fears getting lost.

Many have suggested he should purchase a GPS. He just laughs and tells them I'm his GPS. And I am.

While it is true that I have taken a few wrong turns in my life, I am not afraid of getting lost. I've lived in New Jersey all my life. It's a peninsula. There's water on the east coast, southern coast, and western coast. Besides, no matter where you are in NJ, there's either a Parkway sign or a Turnpike sign to guide you along. Besides, sometimes a new road is the start of a wonderful adventure.

While we were cruising along on the Carnival Sunshine in the Atlantic Ocean, hubby always had the map of the ship in his pocket. I really didn't think he could get very lost on the ship, but he worried about it enough to carry the little map with him at all times.


How about you? Do you have a good sense of direction or not?

Friday, July 01, 2016

Talking Love with Gail Pallotta

Please welcome my guest blogger GAIL PALLOTTA! Her latest release is one of the "Love Is" series of books from Prism Book Group. 

When I was in college I used to run into an atheist in the small cafe where we gathered for Coca-Colas, hamburgers and French fries after class. I tried to avoid him, because he always hopped over to my table and started an argument about my faith.

Perhaps he comes to mind on the release day of Breaking Barriers for several reasons. One, he was angry at me because I am a Christian. Even though today I can’t recall which verses he used, he’d take passages from the Bible and try to make me say they weren’t true. When I wouldn’t, he’d retort with a scientific argument and claim it had to be right.
The second reason he comes to mind—it was the mention of God’s love that finally silenced him. One day I grew so frustrated I asked, “If there’s no God, where does love come from? Why don’t you mix me up a little bowl of it? If scientists could do it, they would, because they could sell a ton of it for lots of money.”
His mouth gaped.
He never trotted to my table again.
Since then I’ve read that we have chemicals in the brain that produce love. I’ve often wondered if he came up with that theory. Even if that were true, the chemicals in the brain came from somewhere, and that would still lead back to God. I hope it wasn’t him. I hope he thought about God’s great love for us and decided to read the Bible.
Check out Gail’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…

Breaking Barriers
“…love is not easily angered …” 1 Corinthians: 13:5
Gunshots ring out as Ann Jones enters the church. She hides in the bathroom until they stop, then stumbles into the sanctuary. The congregation lies dead in pools of blood. To rebuild the church, she starts True Light Guardians. At the first meeting, she’s attacked by a terrorist, but rescued by James Crawford. He melts her heart, cold from her father’s abuse, and they fall for each other. She’s afraid to commit to love that might grow angry later, like the type she knew as a child. James yearns to stop other attempts on Ann’s life, but can’t. Tormented by her constant risks, he breaks up with her. When an assault sends her to the hospital, an unlikely ally shares Ann’s plight with James, but he reveals a lead that puts all three of them in even more danger.