Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Scary Stuff

Early on Tuesday morning, December 11th, my mother woke up unable to speak. She had a stroke. I've been running back and forth to the hospital since then. My father spends every day with Ma and she is doing somewhat better, but she will need rehab. She has regained her speech, but she's lost words. Also, her swallowing reflex is not good. She must drink thickened liquids which she does not like.

It's been scary.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My New Cover!

Here it is! The Keeper's Promise will be released in March--and I can hardly wait.

I did the painting of the lighthouse. Actually, I used the Sandy Hook lighthouse for my reference--but I changed the landscape. Due to shifting sands the Sandy Hook lighthouse isn't very close to water anymore.

Daughter #2 took a photo of my painting, flipped it around, added a blue edge and a bluer sky along with the words. It's nice to have such a talented daughter. :^)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Sister #1 and her family visited us for Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad were with us, too. The meal turned out very nicely--no burnt casseroles or exploding casseroles as we have had in the past. :^)

On Friday night, after a supper of Thanksgiving leftovers, I pulled out some of our older video tapes of the kids when they were young--really young. We laughed hard as we watched those old videos. Little kids are funny--not that they intend to be, but they are. There were some episodes that my daughters felt too pained to watch--so we used the fast forward button in a few places, but mostly we all sat with our gazes riveted to the television screen watching the kids grow up all over again.

Time flies.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Me and My Osteopenia

After a recent bone scan my doctor informed me that I have osteopenia--something I had never heard of until now. Evidently, it's the level of the loss of bone density before osteoporosis sets in.

Risk factors include being white, thin (until I went through menopause I was thin), inactive (I sit when I write), and a diet low in calcium and vitamin D (I'm not fond of milk). There are other risk factors as well but those don't apply to me.

My doctor told me to up my calcium, vitamin D, do weight resistant exercises, and take Boniva.

Boniva made me sick. I wasted a weekend feeling like death.

I told the doctor I did not want to take that stuff again. So she told me that I should continue the calcium, D, exercises--and take magnesium. That intrigued me. Why hadn't she mentioned it before? I looked it up online and found that studies have indicated the importance of magnesium in bone density.

Not only is magnesium way less expensive than Boniva, I also discovered that magnesium has a salutary effect on high blood pressure as well.

Naturally, my doctor warned that if I don't make any progress on my current regimen, it's back to the Boniva. Ugh.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Bog Trail

This is the bog trail in Shark River Park. I think it is awesome.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Halloweens Past

Few parents make costumes for their children anymore. Most of the costumes are purchased from the store. There are Power Rangers, Disney characters, and superheroes.

I used to create Halloween costumes for my daughters. It was fun--though challenging. Sometimes, they had rather unusual requests. Daughter #2 wanted to be a snowflake one year so I did my best to come up with a costume for her.

The following year, Daughter #3 wanted to be a butterfly. Fortunately, Daughter #1 was okay with being a Native American again--and Daughter #2 wore the Polish outfit that Babci had given her. I was able to throw all my energy into the butterfly.

But I'm getting lazy now. This year I decided to be a farmer. I wore my jeans, put on one of hubby's plaid shirts, tied a bandanna around my neck and stuck a straw hat on my head. Simple--and boring.


I'll have to come up with something more interesting next year.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Half Price for Apples

Daughter #2 visited this weekend. She wanted to go to a pumpkin patch--and I wanted some more fresh apples from the orchard. I was so happy when I found out that all the apples were half price, but that was because all the apples were on the ground. :^)

Nevertheless, there were plenty of good apples and we made baked apples when we got home. Yum.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Taste of NJ Bureaucracy

On Wednesday, my hair looked good--and it wasn't humid so I could count on it remaining just how I wanted it. I decided it was the day to renew my driver's license because there was a better than average chance that the new photo on my driver's license would not resemble a mug shot. Yes, I want to look like a glamorous romance writer even on my driver's license. I had all my identification in order, so I went to Motor Vehicles.

However, I did not get past the first step. Unfortunately, I was born in Jersey City and the DVM no longer accepts birth certificates from Jersey City. This is evidently because a Hudson County clerk was issuing fraudulent birth certificates.

I had to get a new birth certificate. I decided the fastest way to do that would be to go to Trenton the next day.

I spent $20 on gasoline, $3 for parking, and $25 for the new birth certificate.

Somehow this does not seem fair. (The state has to be making a lot of money on this deal.)

I guess I'll try again next week to renew my driver's license.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Blessing of the Animals

Today is the Feast of St. Francis. Our guinea pig, Speedy, was blessed today along with a few other guinea pigs, a hermit crab, a parakeet, and plenty of dogs. It was hot, noisy, a bit chaotic, and fun. :^)

Speedy looked terrified. However, she was a popular little animal--several children asked to pet her. She was extremely well-behaved as usual. She's such a sweet little thing.

Father Lang posed with us. He was very happy that nobody had any snakes for pets today. Evidently, he doesn't like them. :^)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My Grandmother

My grandmother was not a biker. In fact, she never drove. But she had a quirky sense of humor and enjoyed posing for the camera. That's how this picture came about.

Today would have been Grandma's 107th birthday. She was an amazing woman who raised seven children--one of them being my mother.

Grandma liked to tell stories. When we visited her, we would sit out on the back porch and simply listen. Time seemed to move slower at her house.

I miss that unhurried pace.

I miss Grandma, too. But I do remember her stories. :^)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nine Authors in a Booth

A small contingent of nine authors from the New Jersey Romance Writers put in an appearance at the Red Bank Street Festival. That's me in the purple T-shirt with the NJRW logo on it.

Between us, we covered quite a few subgenres of romance--historical, inspirational, paranormal, contemporary, and chick-lit. Something for everyone's taste.

Each of us took turns standing outside the booth and trying to encourage the passersby to visit with us. Some people refused and said they did not read romance. (They don't know what they're missing.) Some went by and said they did not read!!!! And then there were those who walked right by, gazing straight ahead as if they did not see us.

Still, some took the suggestion and slipped into the shade of our little enclave. We handed them bookmarks, pens, and candy.

We sold books, too.

It would have been a perfect day if it wasn't so HOT! But we did have fun talking with each other.

Writers are very interesting people. :^)

Monday, September 10, 2007


I am so delighted!

You can check it out at:

The Beast of Blackbirch Manor.

You can read the beginning, too. :^)

Friday, August 31, 2007

HEAVEN'S BLUE, Book Trailer

I've been playing with iMovie. Here's my book trailer for HEAVEN'S BLUE.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Guest Blogger: Karina Fabian

Today I have a guest blogger--Karina Fabian!!! She is a freelance writer and catechist at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Fredericksburg, VA. She has sold her fiction to Eternal Night, Samsara, Hereditas, and Asimov’s. Rob Fabian, her husband, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force who is actively involved in the use of space, whose articles have been published in Journal of Space Policy. Her book INFINITE SPACE, INFINITE GOD won the EPPIE award this year for Best Science Fiction. The book is available from Twilight Times Books at www.twilighttimesbooks.com or more information go to: http://isigsf.tripod.com

* * * *

Penelope invited me to be a guest on her blog as part of my virtual book tour (link: karinafabian.tripod.com/id36) for INFINITE SPACE, INFINITE GOD and since she doesn't write or read a lot in science fiction, to talk about that genre. Thanks again, Penelope, for the opportunity.

I have always been a science fiction fan. In fact, when I received two romance novels for my 16th birthday (must have been a joke), I promptly returned them for the latest Star Trek novels. I'm sure at the time, a lot of it was having grown up watching Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, but there must have been something more. After all, we faithfully watched CHiPs, Emergency 51 and Dragnet, yet I never got into those like I did science fiction. There was something more to the genre that I couldn't articulate, but definitely responded to as a child and a teen.

Now, as an adult, I could probably intellectualize it by saying science fiction provides a venue to step back from society or a problem and look at it anew. Or I could say it provides the perfect means to ask "What if?" and to project a current trend or a new idea to an extreme that would not make sense in a genre that demands a level of realism or the known.

Yes, I could say that, and it'd be true to an extent, but the main reason I love sci fi is simply that it provides escapist fun. Exploring strange new worlds. Seeking out new life and new civilizations. Boldly going where no one has gone before. Gene Roddenberry had it right--there's excitement in the future, thrills in the unknown. The best part is, you can't escape "normal" romance or history or personal trauma. You just get to add tech toys, aliens and bizarre new experiences. You can even have fantastic accidents and vehicles going up in a pyrotechnic display--they just might be spaceships. You get it all, baby!

OK, calming down…

This explains why I like to read sci fi; my motivations for writing sci fi tends to veer more toward the "adult" reasons. I enjoy exploring new ideas and the possibilities of the future. I enjoy letting my imagination soar without having to worry about realism or historical facts. Aliens are fun to write about, too, though more often than not, my characters are human or humanoid. I also enjoy playing with space.

Let me give you an example with "Our Daily Bread," which I wrote with my husband Rob for Infinite Space, Infinite God. (BTW, writing is a romantic activity for us. Read more on Ann Lewis's Blog from August 18. (link http://www.annmargaretlewis.com/) It takes place on an asteroid mine with 50 people, most of whom are Catholic. The overall theme explores interpersonal relations and religious tension in a closed environment. (Or so your literature professor might tell you). The Catholic twist is that most of the asteroid station's supply of Communion Hosts, consecrated wafers believed by Catholics to be the Body of Christ, have been lost in an accident, but the remainder are miraculously multiplying just before Sunday. However, we also devote a lot of time to the details of living in microgravity, from how to sit (do we really want Velcro on the chairs? Imagine the sound!) to how to fight (Pulling your arm back to punch pulls you away from your foe.) to how to pray (If you're skilled and can stay still enough, you will settle to the floor in a kneeling position.) It’s the details like these that make the story fun for us, and we believe for our readers.

Regardless of the tech toys and bizarre aliens, most of science fiction involves problems that speak to humanity. It's not about the phasers; it's about the guy holding the phaser…
…but the phaser just makes it more fun.

Karina Fabian has focused the last few years on science fiction and fantasy that appeals to the mind, the soul and the funny bone. Learn more about her at www.fabianspace.com.

Infinite Space, Infinite God can be ordered directly from Baker & Taylor, Ingram, or the publisher, Twilight Times Books, PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664; or via the Internet at http://twilighttimesbooks.com.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Alternative Uses

My in-laws have an alternative use for their clothes dryer which they never use because they are afraid it will cause a fire. They use their dryer to store their recyclable aluminum cans and plastic bottles. There they keep them out of sight until it is time for them to be picked up by the trash collectors.

Since they live in Florida, most of the time they do have plenty of sunshine which is equally efficient in drying clothes.

They have never embraced new technology but they do own some of it.

They have a microwave. I am sure it is never used except when we visit them. When I went to make myself a quick cup of tea by filling a cup with water and putting it in the microwave my father-in-law told me the microwave "no work."

I think he and my mother-in-law forgot how to use it. I plugged it in, touched the keypad and voila. Hot water.

Dziadzi then told me "it no have the right time."

I glanced at my watch, touched the keypad, and corrected the time.

For the rest of our stay, I used the microwave. I am sure that after I left, they unplugged it. It will lie dormant until our next visit.

That's the way it is. Some older folks just cannot adapt--or they find alternative uses that most of us would never consider. One of my mother's friends regularly used her dishwasher as a sorting facility for her mail and continued washing the dishes by hand.

My in-laws have a dishwasher, too. They turn it on when they have a lot of company--a rare event. Most of the time they wash the dishes by hand.

I suppose I should have looked inside the dishwasher to see if there was anything else inside there, but I didn't. Now it's really bothering me. I wonder what they store inside it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The In-Laws

We just returned from another trip to Florida to visit my in-laws. Babci and Dziadzi are doing well--all things considered. Dziadzi--at the age of 90--is not steady on his feet. He stopped driving this past year. He does use his cane when he goes out but most often around the house and in his yard he takes his chances. He fell on his elbow one day and it is swollen. The doctor is going to drain it.

Dziadzi wanted to cut down a tree in his yard. He wanted us to drive him to Home Depot so he could borrow a chain saw and cut it down himself! Can you imagine! Fortunately, Babci called someone to cut the tree down for him. Oy.

Babci looks great for 86. She has not changed at all. She still tells the same stories over and over and over. She has always done that--ever since I met her, when she was in her fifties.

Babci's greatest joy is watching us eat lots of her food. It has always been a bit unnerving to me to look up and see her grinning at me in supreme contentment while we are eating.

But that's Babci.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Our Trip to Gettysburg

Do you see any ghosts in this photo? I don't. Hubby and I drove to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for a mini-vacation. Hubby had never been there. I was there once as a child, but things have changed. There were no ghost tours available when I last visited Gettysburg. Now there are ghost tours everywhere! I wasted several shots trying to capture an image of some spectral being. Still, I did enjoy our one ghost tour. In fact, I would have liked to try a few more since I did not get any spooky feelings on the ghost tour. However, I did experience a creepy sensation when we visited the basement of the Jennie Wade house.

This is a view from Little Round Top where one of the battles in Gettysburg took place. It is interesting to note that reenactors are not allowed to use the actual battlefields. Hubby and I learned a lot from the tour guides. We found the park's rangers to be very knowledgeable and interesting. But it is depressing to consider the massive loss of life that occurred in the three days of battles at Gettysburg. Some bodies were never identified.

I found several books written about women's experiences during the Civil War. I bought three of them--just in case I might want to write a romance using that time period as a setting. I'm always thinking about writing!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Hubby and I went to the theater and saw Ratatouille. We both thought it was great! There was plenty of action for hubby and a little romance for me. Daughter #2 had recommended it to us.

When I got home I began to look for ratatouille recipes in my cookbooks--I have way too many cookbooks. I discovered that in each cookbook there was something slightly different. So I put together my own recipe.

I like my ratatouille. Give it a try and see if you like it too.


Enough flour to lightly coat the eggplant and zucchini
(HINT: The easiest way to do this is to put the flour in a plastic bag. Put the
sliced zucchini or eggplant in the bag. Then shake the vegetables.)

1 teaspoon black pepper added to the flour
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 green peppers, cut in small, short strips
1 eggplant, cubed and dusted with flour
3 small to medium zucchini, sliced and dusted with flour
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon parsley
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added is fine)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. In 2 tablespoons of the oil, saute onions and garlic until they are golden. Remove from the pot.

2. In a large 8 quart heavy pot, combine the ingredients in layers--except for the Parmesan--that goes on top. (I had three layers.)

3. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to heat for 10 minutes longer to reduce the liquid.


Monday, July 16, 2007

A Night Out With The Band

Last night the Happy Days String Band played an outdoor gig. Listening to music with the breeze blowing in from the bay in the summertime is such a treat. I took some photos. The one here makes me laugh. At one point in the program, the captain of the strutters demonstrated how to strut. Then the audience was asked to try it--and some people were brave enough to get up and dance around. The band sometimes ropes in new strutters with this technique.

And after all, who wouldn't want to dress up in feathers and sequins so you could look like this?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Yesterday one of Daughter #3's guinea pigs, Leenda, appeared to have difficulty breathing. After rushing it to the vet, our daughter learned that the guinea pig's digestive system was paralyzed. Daughter #3 decided to have her pet put to sleep. Leenda was old--for a guinea pig.

Hubby got out the post hole digger and we had a brief, but sad funeral for Leenda. We bought some perennials and planted them over her little grave. Guinea pigs are such sweet pets. It's hard when they must leave us.

Monday, June 25, 2007

60th Wedding Anniversary

On Saturday, we celebrated my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. Daughter #3 was in charge of the decorations and she decided on a Hawaiian/Tiki/Luau wedding theme. We all wore flower leis. Everyone who arrived early was recruited to carry out Daughter #3's orders.

Though the guest list was small, we still had a few special moments planned.

There was a champagne toast.

There was a garter for my father to slide up his bride's leg, and we all threw silk rose petals at my parents.

All in all, it was a wonderful day and everyone had a good time--especially the Bubble Brigade! They were in charge of bubble attacks!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chat with me!

On Monday, June 18, 2007, I will be chatting at Novel Talk with two other NJRW authors. The chat starts at 9 p.m. (Eastern time). I will be giving away a T-shirt with the cover from The Beast of Blackbirch Manor on it.

Join me at the chat! It should be lots of fun. :^)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Not Phlox!

Sister #1 has corrected me. She has a Masters in horticulture. She is also a Master Gardener. She knows a lot more about green things than I do. She told me the flowers in the photo I took are not phlox. She says they look a like wildflower called Dames Rocket, which is considered an invasive weed. She said phlox has five flower petals, not four, and phlox blooms much later in the summer.

However, she really likes the invasive weed variety and she has some in her home garden. She also said she'll give me some. :^) I shouldn't have any problem growing them.

Now, if I do write a scene with those flowers in them, I'll be able to give them the correct name.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Memory

On Memorial Day, I always remember my brother. He was a year older than me, but he died in 1973. He was a navigator/bombardier on an F-111.

I like to look at old photos and remember all the good times--and there were lots of them. The photo above shows me, my brother, and sister #1 riding on the lake behind our house. We had christened our little dinghy, Scout, with a bottle of Seven-Up. We spent our summers in that boat.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I went back yesterday with my camera to snap some photos of the beautiful and abundant phlox. Now I have the photo on my desktop. :^)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Enchanting Flowers

I love flowers and despite my lack of luck in growing things, I plant flowers every year. This year I am trying sunflowers from seeds. So far the seedlings are doing well. I also bought some dianthus and marigolds. I planted them this week. The weather was nearly perfect and it was nice to wield a trowel in the sunshine. Of course, it will be wonderful if I get lots and lots of flowers, but I'm a realist and I expect that some of the local critters will eat my flowers. Also, if we get a very dry summer and I don't water the flowers enough, the plants may not survive.

I am an optimist though, and occasionally I have enough flowers to cut and arrange in a vase. That makes all the work of cultivating seem worthwhile. So when I see a field of flowers that nobody planted, it seems like a miracle to me.

Today hubby and I went for a walk along one of my favorite trails which winds down into a wide ravine. At the bottom is a very swampy area. Most of the trees in the woods are tulip trees, which are incredibly tall and majestic.

Only a month ago, the trail was still gray and barren, though I could see signs of spring in the fiddleheads, the skunk cabbage, and the periwinkles. Today, I was greeted with the sight of lavender and white phlox. Not just a few phlox. A whole field of them! And I forgot to bring my camera along. :^(

It was an enchanting sight and brought to mind fables of fairies and other magical creatures. I think I will have to put it in a book somewhere.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Daughter #3 graduated on Sunday. Daughter #2 attended the ceremony as well as hubby and I. Daughter #1 was out at sea. :^(

The program was delightfully short--due in part to blessedly brief speeches but also because the college had two ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Afterwards, we nibbled on cookies and cake at the reception. Then we headed home.

I'll miss that college. Daughter #1 started there in 1996 and then Daughter #3 decided to go there. too. The place holds a lot of memories. Whenever I smell the scent of pine trees, I'll remember it.

Still, we all agree that Daughter #2 had best graduation ceremony when she got her BFA at Mason Gross. Those people know how run a party. At the reception, they even served wine.:^)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Grandnephew's First Communion

It was party time in Massachusetts this past weekend. Our grandnephew received his First Holy Communion. He looks a bit bored in the photo, but just a few hours before the big event we found him full of energy, swinging his baseball bat and launching a tennis ball across the street.

His parents ran a terrific party with plenty of food. Naturally, hubby brought along one of his accordions and provided hours of entertainment for everyone.

Some of the kids became inspired and joined in on other instruments. The percussion section of the band was a wee bit painful to the ear. :^)

Nevertheless, we had a great time. And who knows--one of those kids may actually take music lessons someday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My New Toy

I bought a new ebook reader--the ebookwise. My old Rocket still works--sort of. However, it won't find text anymore, or make notes, or even go backwards. :^(

The new ebookwise has some nice features that the old Rocket did not have--I can make notes directly on the book I'm reading!

It came with several books already loaded into it, but I immediately bought a book I wanted to read and also loaded in my unedited version of The Beast of Blackbirch Manor--so I can check it for errors. I got the word from my editor that the book will be released in May--which isn't too far away. :^)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere

There has been a lot of rain in NJ due to a nor'easter. We live near a dam and today there was a rather impressive amount of water flowing over the dam. There was also a rather impressive amount of water beneath the dam. I worry about the road washing away or about the dam breaking.That hasn't happened yet in all the years that we've lived here, but it is possible.

My writer's mind has an unfortunate tendency to consider worst case scenarios. After all, it would make an excellent setting for a scary disaster story. But fiction is one thing and reality is another. There are communities here in NJ that are being evacuated today due to flooding. It seems to be a perpetual problem along the shore and along the rivers--wherever there are low-lying areas.

Hopefully, the rain will stop, the sun will come out, and the dam will hold up despite the great quantity of water spilling over it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

KISS OF BLARNEY Reviewed at The Romance Studio

Better late than never, I suppose. Kiss of Blarney was released in February 2006. The review at The Romance Studio was posted April 10, 2007.

Among other thing the reviewer said, "Kiss of Blarney is a lusty adult fairy tale ...an adventure filled with magic and surprises." That's the good part.

You can read the rest of the review at http://www.theromancestudio/reviews/reviews/kissblarneymarec.htm--or not. I believe the reviewer did not understand that Kiss of Blarney is a novella. Yes, it is a quick light hearted diversion--because it contains approximately 29,000 words.


My favorite review of Kiss of Blarney remains the one Ciar Cullen gave me. You can read that at her blog at http://ciarcullen.blogspot.com/2006/05/review-kiss-of-blarney-by-penelope.html.

She's such a sweetie. :^)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm Unique

LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny greeted everyone at church this morning. After Mass, Daughter #2 took this photo with her cellphone. It was really quite chilly this morning--there were a few snowflakes flying around here and there. Inside the church, there were lovely flowers all around the altar--so inside it felt like spring. But outside--brrrr.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Finished--sort of...

Last night I finished THE BEAST OF BLACKBIRCH MANOR. Sort of. I know it will return to me after the editor goes over it and then I will have more to fix. A book is never done until it is released. But it was a good feeling to type "The End." :^)

Today is the last day of my spring break, so I was happy to put the book aside and go gallivanting with hubby to the Columbus Farmers Market. Hubby is a frequent visitor to Columbus but this was the first time I went with him. He has flea market friends. There's the nut lady, Dottie. She is such a sweet lady and she gives away free samples. Today she was handing out dried pineapple and prunes. She said the prunes were good for osteoporosis. Hmmm.

She also had candied ginger. She said it is good for the stomach and if we were going on a cruise we should take it along. We are not going on a cruise, but both hubby and I were instantly addicted to the candied ginger, so we bought it.

Then we went to the spice dealer. He told us that cream of tartar is good for cleaning silverware. Hmmm. (I think it's really for aluminum.) It doesn't matter to me--I use it to make playdough.

There's a large restaurant apparently owned by Mennonites. We had subs for lunch with Lebanon Bologna.

I saw the perfect hall chair in a small furniture store. I did not buy it--yet--but I am seriously thinking about it. I've wanted one for a long time, but I never found one that fit all my specifications--until now.

So I may go back to the Columbus Farmers Market.

On the way home we stopped at the Book Garden--a used bookstore in Cream Ridge. It is an awesome place and one of our favorite used bookstores. I bought two history books. I am thinking of writing another historical. :^)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

My Spring Break

I have spent the past week immersed in writing, but I ventured out several times. On Tuesday, hubby and I went to the local library to have the AARP expert help us with our taxes. We had to wait our turn, so I wandered around the stacks and found a few books with clothing styles of the 1890s. I have borrowed the same books from the library previously, but this time I was looking specifically for an evening gown for my heroine to wear and a tuxedo for the hero. I photocopied pictures from the books of the outfits I liked. You can see the heroine's gown here.

On Thursday, hubby I went to the Stitch 'n Sew Centre in Lakewood. I had heard that it is a terrific store with a wealth of fabrics and other sewing supplies. Walking into the store, hubby and I were overwhelmed. There was too much! I checked out the pattern books for costumes of the 1890's while hubby browsed the aisles looking for fabric that would make a good grill cloth for one of his accordions. He wound up buying nothing, and I only bought two spools of thread. But it was worth a visit. The array of fabrics is mind-boggling.

Last night, hubby and I attended the annual gala of the Monmouth Festival of the Arts. Hubby gorged himself on Swedish meatballs along with a variety of other hors d'oeuvres. He judges art shows by the quantity and quality of the food. :^) I enjoyed looking at the artwork and chatting with people.

On the drive home after the arts festival, several more ideas for the book rushed into my brain. So as soon as I got home, I hurried back to the computer and started writing again.

Sometimes, taking a break is a good thing.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

One Pot Meal

We always combine our St. Patrick's Day celebration with Daughter #3's birthday. I make my Irish soda bread, and then boil corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes--all in one pot. I love the simplicity of it. No fuss. One pot to clean.

For dessert we have ice cream cake--purchased, of course--so that's no work for me.

This is one of my favorite parties because it involves so little effort. The soda bread takes a bit of time, but it is worth it because nothing tastes quite as good as homemade soda bread fresh from the oven. My daughters have told me they have bought soda bread and it is never as good as mine. :^)

One of our guests told me I should sell it.

But I don't know if I would want to make soda bread everyday. I think it wouldn't be so special to me anymore.

Monday, March 12, 2007

EPICon 2007

Here I am in Virginia Beach! EPICon, the annual conference for EPIC members, was held within driving distance of New Jersey this year so hubby and I packed up our suitcases and cruised down Route 13 to Virginia. On the way we discovered that the Delmarva pennisula is very flat--which could make for a boring drive save for the fact that there are a number of large antique stores along the way. Our drive to Virginia Beach took longer than we anticipated due to a few of those antique stores. :^)

The conference was held at the Surfside Inn. We had a lovely room facing the beach with a private balcony. Friday morning we were greeted by the dawn. On the way to breakfast, I met Janet Lane Walters--who is also a New Concepts Publishing author. She gave me a hug, but I think she was just so glad to see me because I had signed up for the first shift in the bookstore. :^)
The keynote speaker was Sherrilyn Kenyon. Her talk was terrific! Hubby and I shared a table with Lorna and Larry Collins as well as P. June Diehl. The conference was considerably smaller than the one run by the New Jersey Romance Writers--but that made it easy to get to know a lot of other writers.
Hubby went to a few talks with me and our favorite was TJ Glenn's "Bruise and Consequence: How to Build a Better Beating." My heroines are always getting into some kind of trouble so I figured I ought to know how to get them out of it. To keep a good reference handy, I bought Teel's book, Them's Fightin' Words!

The highlight of the conference was the EPPIE banquet. I sat next to Jane Toombs--a lovely lady and a prolific author. I am hoping that some of her talent rubbed off on me. Jeff Strand was the emcee--and he was hilarious. There were so many categories this year, but Jeff held everyone's attention with his over-the-top writer's humor.

I did not take photos of all the winners. However, I had to take a picture of my fellow Awe-Struck author, Sherry Derr-Wille. She was the winner in the inspirational category this year for her book, The Outlaw's Daughter.

Another winner was Linda Bleser for her book East of Eden.

By the way, the above photos can be viewed larger just by clicking on them!

It was a great conference. Next year it will be in Portland, Oregon! Start saving now. :^)

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Contract!

This week New Concepts Publishing gave me a contract for THE BEAST OF BLACKBIRCH MANOR! I do not know yet when the book will be released, but I am having fun filling out the questionnaire for the book cover.

I would like the manor to look like Grey Towers.

I would like the heroine to look like Sienna Miller.

And the Beast? Well, if he wasn't so hairy, he would definitely look like Pierce Brosnan. :^)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ice Storm

Yesterday, the Andromeda bushes in our yard looked lovely with a coating of ice--and so did all the trees. But the limbs were too heavy and many soon came crashing down--pulling down power lines. We had no power for 27 hours. We used up almost all of the firewood we had trying to keep warm. We did not get much sleep. Hubby kept an eye on the fire for the first half of the night, and I took the second shift.

It was dangerous to be outside. The tulip tree seed pods were the size of golf balls and every time the wind blew, the ice encrusted seed pods came crashing down. One large limb broke a window on our trusty minivan--but we're thankful that is all that was broken. We were so happy to see the power company trucks arrive to fix the power lines. This was certainly a memorable Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ocean Grove's Chocolate Weekend

Yesterday we went to Ocean Grove for their annual Chocolate Lover's Weekend. Hubby thinks of it as trick or treat for grownups. There is lots of free food. We went to the Manchester Inn first because they have the biggest selection. We both had some soup, but while we were sipping our soup a waiter came around several times with chocolate covered delicacies for us to try. We sampled chocolate covered potato chips, chocolate covered bananas, and white chocolate covered popcorn.

From there, we went to the Ocean View Inn and the Ocean Plaza where I took the photo of hubby and the chocolate fountain. The Carriage House had chocolate cheesecakes, and the Henry Richard Inn had tortellini soup--which I heard was wonderful but by that time I had sampled so much that I did not have any room left in my tummy.

It was chilly in Ocean Grove, but the sky was blue and the weather was considerably warmer than it had been most of the week. I love the beach in the winter when the tourists are gone. It is so much more peaceful. Even the pigeons were unperturbed as we walked by. They continued to huddle together on one sunny rooftop atop a gingerbread covered cottage. There are some new houses being built in Ocean Grove, but the new ones are not as fancy as the older homes. Obviously, the pigeons like the older homes, too.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Celebration

Saturday, hubby and I attended a Fortieth Anniversary celebration for our friends A & C at our church. We've known A & C since we moved to this town. They had six boys and then adopted a girl. They were always active in the church and handed us the job of running the Pre-Cana program--which we did for many years.

After the ceremony where A & C renewed their vows, everyone went downstairs to the cafeteria where there was plenty of food. A & C could have fed an army! Hubby and I ate way too much.

In these times when so many young people simply live together, and so many young couples who do get married get divorced, it was wonderful to celebrate a successful marriage. A & C have had some very hard times, but they weathered the storms.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another Move

Here's photo of hubby putting Daughter #2's bed together. Yesterday, she moved from one part of Brooklyn to another--using Mom & Dad's moving service. We packed her bed and a desk Grandma had found (most definitely an antique) into the minivan and headed north. It is incredible how much stuff Daughter #2 has accumulated in only a year and a half. She had picked up a chair in someone's trash and refinished it. She had picked up a shelf in someone else's trash. She had acquired an extra computer, too. (I don't think she got that in someone's trash.)

We had to make three trips from one apartment to the other. Fortunately, the BQE was not too busy yesterday--though it was a bit slow on the last trip because we caught the tail end of rush hour. Still, we were very lucky in getting good parking spots. I got an aerobic workout climbing up and down the three flights of stairs to collect her belongings from her old apartment, but I was glad that the new one is on the first floor. Her room has a window that faces a wall but the apartment has a nice feature with a spiral staircase which leads up to the kitchen and living room area.

Here's how the room looked with Daughter #2's possessions in it. She has quite a bit of organizing to do. But she does have plans. She wants to paint the room and she has a friend who is willing to sew up some curtains for her. So I guess, she is standing there envisioning how it will all look in the future.

She treated hubby and I to supper at a small, but nice Chinese restaurant. It was a very long day and we were tired by the time we returned home. We hope Daughter #2 will be happy in her new place.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Once upon a time...

Hubby and I went on a cruise for our very first anniversary. That was BC--before children. We did not have a fancy room, but we had six meals a day and plenty of entertainment. When we went back to our room at night, we found our cabin boy, Giovanni, had placed my nightie on my bed. He pleated in little folds at the waist. I was quite surprised.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Make Them Cry

Yesterday the New Jersey Romance Writers had a terrific program, "Emotion: Underwriting for Tearjerking" presented by Alicia Rasley. Ms. Rasley is an amazing speaker. She was able to elicit tears from EVERYONE listening to her talk. She told us all a very moving story--but she did not cry while telling it. I know I could not have done that. I would have gotten all choked up.

I'm such a softy.

Of all my books, the one that stands out as a tearjerker is "Heaven's Blue". So as I was driving home after the meeting, I started devising ways to make my current book into a five-hankie masterpiece.

But don't worry, there will be a happy ending. :^)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's Snowing!

Today it finally snowed. Not much--but this week the weather has felt a lot more like winter is supposed to feel.

So I played around and made another banner for Irons In The Fire. If you are feeling cold, you should read this book. It may help warm you up. :^)

"...a truly engrossing, mystical tale...IRONS IN THE FIRE is a fabulous read," said Susan Mobley in Romantic Times Book Reviews.

Click on the banner to order your copy now!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Rainy Day Activity

Today was a rainy day. On days like today, hubby likes to browse through antique stores. He is always searching for old sheet music or old accordions. Lately, I've been looking for a nice Victorian hall chair. Daughter #1 joined us as we roamed through a few antique stores this afternoon. However, it was an unsuccessful shopping trip. We came home with nothing. :^(

Nevertheless, we did pick up one of those free papers with a list of some antique stores we have never visited. So perhaps on the next rainy day we'll get lucky.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Special Bread

While I was out taking a CPR/AED course on Saturday, one of our neighbors left a call. When I returned home, hubby told me about the message. He explained it as something that sounds like a chain letter--only it involves bread. Sort of.

My neighbor needed someone to agree to take a portion of her Padre Pio bread starter. Supposedly, this bread comes from the Vatican. Also, my family gets blessings from the bread. My family could use a few extra blessings so I agreed.

Today I came home to a container of dough which I have to take care of for the next ten days. There are very specific directions. I had to put the dough into a glass bowl. I must stir it only with a wooden spoon. At the end of the ten days--after having added milk, flour, and sugar a few times--I have to divide the dough into four portions and give it away to three other people who have never had the opportunity to do this until now. Then I get to bake a loaf of bread to share with my family.

I was just a teeny-tiny bit skeptical about whether or not the starter came from the Vatican. So I looked it up online and found this.

Nevertheless, it is a nice gesture and I'm looking forward to eating the bread.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Holidays Are Over

We packed away the ornaments and the tree today. Yesterday, we took all the lights off the bushes outside. As much as I enjoy the lights at this dark time of year, all in all Christmas involves too much extra work.

I enjoy the parties and the get-togethers, but I think everything would be a lot easier if Christmas was more like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July--skip the gifts and eat picnic-style food. Grilled burgers, hot dogs, potato salad--and watermelon, served on a red and green tablecloth.

Tomorrow, I'll take down the Christmas cards which I hung all over the family room. Then I'll go through my list and see who has been naughty and who has been nice. Usually, if I don't receive a card from someone for two years, I scratch them off my list--unless they're a relative. Then I'll send them Christmas greetings via e-mail.

This year, hubby did not send a card to an old friend of his since he had not received one from the friend last year. Then a few days after Christmas, his friend called wondering why he had not gotten a card. Oy. Some people expect too much.

Hopefully, I can get back into my usual routine now--and finish the book.