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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Lucky Day

There's me looking hopeful. All set to autograph books. All set to go home with--at the very least--money to put gas in the car.

Did I sell any books? Nope. Not one. Zero. Nada. Zaden.

Am I going to quit writing? No. I've gone through this scenario many times, though when I was younger, disappointment hit me harder. I needed extra money when the kids were younger, but writing didn't provide it. So I got a job. Still, I could not quit writing. I had stories to tell. In the quiet of the evening, when the house settled down, I wrote.

Some people live to play golf, some live to sing, some live to shop. I live to write.

And though I did not sell any books at the book fair, my books do sell online.

As far as the gas for the car, I had money in my wallet to buy it on the way home. (I always remember to be prepared.) There was a gas station on Route 1 selling regular for $3.05 a gallon. What a bargain! Plus the proprietor actually cleaned the front AND back windows for me.

It was my lucky day. :-)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Huge Book Fair!

Do you like autographed romance books? Do you like meeting famous authors?

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, 515 U.S. Route 1 Iselin, NJ, the New Jersey Romance Writers will be hosting a Literacy Book Fair and Author Signing at the conclusion of their Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. The book fair is open to the public from 4:00-5:30 pm.

A portion of all proceeds from the Book Fair will be donated to Literacy Volunteers of America, New Jersey.

I will be there with my glass of wine, my books, and a pen. Come and chat with me for a while. :-)

Sunday, October 13, 2013


THE KEEPER'S PROMISE was an EPPIE Finalist in 2009. The story is set in Shucker’s Point, New Jersey, where Jack St. Marie, a well-known research scientist, is missing. Trooper Bryce Johnson believes the worst of Jack’s wife, Evie. In high school, Bryce loved Evie--enough to want to marry her. But that was before he witnessed her phone in a bogus bomb scare. And only two months before Jack disappeared, Bryce saw Evie aiming a gun at her husband.

In the following scene Bryce sees Tommy walking alongside the road. Bryce had arranged for Tommy to work out his community service at the lighthouse where Evie is the park ranger.

With an effort, he went back to his patrol car and headed off to the festival grounds where he would be redirecting traffic. On his way, he saw Tommy walking alongside the road. The kid looked neat for a change and Bryce wondered why. He stopped the car and opened the window.

"I heard you were walking along 553 last night with a lawnmower that looked a lot like the one at the lighthouse."

"It needed new wheels."

Bryce lowered his brows. "Where can you get lawnmower wheels on 553?"

The kid glared back at Bryce without flinching. "From a friend."

"You stole them." He kept his voice firm, but low.

Tommy swore. "I ain't a crook!"

Bryce tightened his mouth into a threat. Obviously, there was something shady going on. "So you 'found' the right-sized wheels?"


"Why didn't you just ask Mrs. St. Marie for new wheels?"

"She ain't got extra cash."

At that moment, staring into the face of the wiry young man, Bryce sensed the kid's inherent loyalty. Tommy liked Evie and trusted her. Most likely, he would not rob her, or hurt her--and Bryce felt himself relax--though only marginally, for Tommy could never be considered entirely trustworthy. He did break another kid's nose. However, Bryce had a hunch that Tommy wouldn't hurt Evie--though he might enjoy taking at swing at Bryce, given the opportunity. He could feel the animosity directed toward him in Tommy's scowl.

"Why didn't you show up yesterday at the lighthouse?"

"I did, but there was an ambulance and a lot of confusion. I knew what I was supposed to do--mow some more grass in that area behind the shed--but one of the wheels kept falling off the lawnmower. It drove me crazy."

"If you got there when the ambulance was there, you were very late."

Tommy nodded as his shoulders drooped. "Yeah."

"You are supposed to be on time."

"Pastor Strauss asked me to help with the church's festival booth."

"You were only there for an hour."

Tommy's eyes narrowed. "You got somebody spying on me? I had to walk from there to the lighthouse."

"You could have taken a shuttle bus."

Tommy's face clouded. "The people on the bus would have looked at me like I was some kind of lowlife."

Bryce set his mouth in annoyance. The kid would always have an excuse. "Where's the lawnmower now?"

Tommy kicked at a stone near his foot and sent it skidding along the road. "I-I cut the grass for my mom this morning, and I replaced the gas I used."


"I siphoned it out of my stepdad's car. Mom said I could."

Bryce knew the stepdad had lost his license. "If you walk the lawnmower back to the lighthouse, you'll probably be late again."


Bryce looked at his watch. "I can pick you and the lawnmower up and take you both to the lighthouse today."

"I dunno."

"You'd rather walk?"

"You put Mrs. St. Marie in jail."

It was an accusation and Bryce felt the sharp edge of Tommy's words like a deep cut to the flesh as he remembered Evie's words from only a few minutes ago.

You paint everyone with a broad brush. I was reckless and wild for a while when I was seventeen and that's the way you'll always see me. Tommy hasn't got a chance. Has he?

Bryce felt himself bristle. He had to be tough. On the other hand, he reminded himself that he should not be stereotyping people. He needed to be fair. Carefully weighing his words, he told Tommy, "I want you to make something of your life and you need to start by showing the judge how responsible you are. Things will go easier for you that way."

Tommy's laugh had a harsh note of cynicism in it. "It ain't never been easy for me."

Bryce's grip on the wheel tightened. "I have been willing to help you out. I've already stuck my neck out for you by getting you the job at the lighthouse in the first place."

Tommy kicked at another rock. "Yeah. So I owe you."

Bryce took that as thanks of a sort. He relaxed a little. "You look good today. Clean and neat."

"I was gonna meet someone."

"Is that someone a girl?"

"Ah...yeah." Tommy colored with obvious embarrassment.

"Dana Neville?"

"No way!"

"You used to date her."

"Yeah. When I was too dumb to know better."

"When did you break up with her?"

"When Greg Howland told her she ought to stop hanging around with me."

"Shellpicker's son?"

"Yeah. So I busted his nose, but I got the last laugh anyway."

"How's that?"

"She started dating Jack St. Marie."

"I guess she likes older men."

"Or at least their money."

Bryce nodded. The kid had learned a lot in his seventeen years. Most of it the hard way, no doubt.

Tommy pointed at the white building down the block. "Do you know when everyone gets out of that church?"

"It varies--depending on how long Pastor Strauss talks. You still have time to join them."

Tommy shook his head. "I wouldn't know what to do."

"You could start by just listening," Bryce suggested.

Tommy pulled a small Bible out of his pocket. "I thought I'd start by reading this."

A shadow fell across Bryce's heart. The sight of the Bible seemed to convict him. He hadn't been acting much like a Christian lately. True, he hardly felt like one anymore, but he knew his attitude this past week had been unyielding toward Tommy while others had seen the potential in the kid--most notably Pastor Strauss.

"Mrs. St. Marie told me she read one like this in a month."

Bryce sighed. That was just like Evie. Impulsive. When she embraced something she did it in a rush. "I think it's better to take each small part of it and think about it--go through it slowly." When was the last time I picked up the Bible? Six months ago? When did I stop feeding my soul?

Tommy fingered the gold letters on the cover of the small volume. "Maybe I'll sit down in the park over there and start reading. I could still see when the doors to the church open up and everyone comes out."

"There's doughnuts and coffee in the basement afterwards."

"For free?"


"Why do they give away so much free stuff?"

"Maybe you'll find the answer in that little book."

Tommy frowned at the Bible as if he couldn't quite believe what Bryce had told him.

"I'll stop at your house to pick you up at two," Bryce said.

"Yeah." Tommy walked away heading toward the town's small park.

Bryce slid the window back up and turned on the air full blast. He only had a few more minutes to enjoy it before he would be standing outside in the heat directing traffic. He would use his lunchtime to get Tommy to the lighthouse.

I know I am not seeing the goodness in people anymore. Tommy's had a hard life. I should cut him some slack. Evie, too. Why can't I ever get it right when I talk to her?

Bryce wanted an end to the misery. He wanted to wake up with a heart that didn't feel as if it had lead weights attached to it. Being married to Jack St. Marie must have been a nightmare for Evie. The thought of the man brutalizing her had Bryce squeezing the wheel in his hands in a crushing grip.

If she didn't kill her husband who did? And who had tried to kill her?

You can read more of THE KEEPER'S PROMISE at Amazon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Tin Pan Alley

Hubby first learned how to play ragtime a long time ago--way before I met him. He searched out collections of Scott Joplin's music in the New York Library, but discovered some songs were not included in the collections because the music publisher, Jerry Vogel, held the copyrights.

In his searching for more ragtime music, hubby discovered another publisher printing the songs only Jerry Vogel was entitled to publish.

Hubby took it upon himself to report this to Jerry Vogel who had a store in NYC.

Mr. Vogel appreciated hubby's report and informed hubby that he would sue the other publisher and give hubby 10% of the proceeds. Hubby declined the offer. So instead, Mr. Vogel said he would give him the money as a wedding gift when he got married. As I said, hubby didn't even know me at that point.

However, when hubby and I were married many years later, we received a check from Mr. Vogel and for years afterward, until Mr. Vogel passed away, we received a gift box of paper products at Christmas. (We figured Mr. Vogel had stock in that company.)

The moral of the story--report pirates, not because you'll get a reward but because it's the right thing to do. Also, don't be a pirate. Pay for the music and books you enjoy. Somebody worked hard to produce it.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sit Around the Fire

In our family, whenever we sit around a fire we sing old songs. The old songs are the best songs! This past weekend we were happy to have a our friends and relatives join us around the firepit. There is something about sitting around a fire in the dark that makes for special times. I think it is because everyone has to provide their own entertainment. :-)

I strummed the guitar and played a few songs, but one of our friends clamored for hubby to play "Charlie on the MTA." Hubby obliged. Those who knew it sang the words.

Our nephew's new bride was amazed. She had never heard the song. She hails from Pittsburgh but now lives in Boston. She wondered why the transit card there is called a "Charlie Card." Now she knows. Our nephew knew because he had heard the song at some of our other campfires.

We had a lot of laughs. My sister told a funny story. She had a problem with ants and decided to try an all-natural and safe deterrent for the ants--cornmeal. She made a barrier of it around the house. The next day she found the local turkey population enjoying her cornmeal!

I'm thinking that would be a good anecdote in a book somewhere.

For those of you with a bad case of writer's block, invite some friends to a campfire and see what develops. You are bound to get a few story ideas--and certainly some laughs. :-)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Scene from A RUSH OF LIGHT

A RUSH OF LIGHT is the story of Callie Turner. When she was sixteen her father was murdered but the crime was never solved. Callie became a cop with a mistrust of lawyers. Due to an accident, she is on a disability leave from her job, and trying to start a new career at her father's old inn. Nick Messina saved Callie's life the day her father was murdered. A devout Christian, but a burned out lawyer, Nick has plenty of reasons not to trust cops. Filling in at his uncle's service station, he is surprised to discover Callie opening up the old inn across the street.

In the scene below, Callie and Nick meet in the old inn...

Her customer regarded her with a measure of surprise that
made her feel as though he could look right through her.
Putting one hand up to touch the buttons of her white shirt,
she reassured herself that none had come undone. Her gaze
wandered to his lips and lingered there. Few men had a
mouth so generous.

What am I thinking? The room grew warm. To her, it felt
as if she stood in the middle of a street during a July heat
wave directing traffic. She grabbed an icy bottle of water and
went in search of the broom. Everything about him puzzled
her. Why did she have a nagging sense that she had met him
before this?

She had been back in town for two months. Very little had
changed in the area in the eight years she had been gone.
Her customer may have grown up here just as she had,
though she judged him to be slightly older. It could be
possible that he had known her sister.

She cooled down, located the broom and the dustpan, and
heard the front door open again. Another customer joined Mr.
Dirty Fingernails. The two obviously knew each other and
moved to a booth in the corner. Leaning the broom up
against the bar, Callie stepped on plenty of peanuts as she
made her way to the table.

Her newest customer wore a vested suit. Judging from his
leather attaché, she guessed that he was probably either a
lawyer or a securities broker, but since he was talking to Mr.
Dirty Fingernails, the lawyer idea seemed more plausible.

"Can I get you something?" she asked.

"Dewars on the rocks." He hurled the order at her with
words clipped, cold and exact.

When she announced the price, he slid a credit card onto
the table. He didn't even give her a glance—as if she were
less than human. A spark of anger ignited deep down inside

Definitely a lawyer. She hated them all.

"Cash only," she said, unable to eliminate the contempt
from her voice.

The man turned, narrowed his eyes and gave her a sharp
look. "I don't carry cash."

Mr. Dirty Fingernails hurriedly reached for his wallet again.
"I'll get it." He handed her the money.

Deliberately stomping the peanuts under her feet, Callie
went back behind the bar, finding it nearly impossible to stifle
her hostility. She should have taken the lawyer's credit card
and shredded it into slivers.

She chose a glass, scooped up the ice, poured the Scotch,
snatched up a cocktail napkin, and started back at the table.

She discovered that crushed peanuts are far more slippery
than whole peanuts. As she rounded the end of the bar, her
feet slid out from under her. The drink went flying and
crashed against the gleaming brass bar rail. She snatched at
the broom, hoping to break her fall. The long handle landed
on a chair and prevented her from breaking the same arm
she had mangled last year. Her bottom landed with a
resounding thud on the floor, miraculously missing the busted
glass by inches.

Mortified, she winced as the heat blazed in her cheeks.
This whole entrepreneurial experiment could turn out to be a
disaster if she made pratfalls the regularly scheduled

The two men rushed over to her.

"I know a great workers' comp lawyer..."

"Cut it out, John." Mr. Dirty Fingernails reached out to her
with one of his contaminated paws. "Can you get up?"

She glanced up into his face and found concern gentling
his rugged jaw. The crazy flutter tingled around her heart
again. She held out her hand, completely ignoring his
unwashed state, and that's when he gave her a genuine
smile—one that deepened a dimple in his cheek. Once again,
an odd sense of déjà vu came over her.

She had seen him before. Yet, for some reason, she could
not recall where or when, which for her seemed very strange.

The calluses on his warm hand rubbed against her skin.
That summertime heat wave-on-the-asphalt feeling came
over her once more and she could barely breathe as the man
who remained an enigma in her memory helped her to her

"Nick, I've told you a million times. Don't be so ready to
lend a hand. One of these days, you're going to get sued,"
the vested lawyer grumbled.

"Have you forgotten the good Samaritan?" Nick—or Mr.
Dirty Fingernails—asked the lawyer.

Callie could have sworn something magnetic kept her hand
in his. She had to force herself to draw away from him, to
edge away from his potent attraction, one millimeter at a
time. Once she broke away, she leaned against the bar with
her mind racing, searching for some scrap of recollection. The
lawyer had called him Nick, and though that did not help her
memory, she could easily envision meeting him in some dark
alley in the city where she used to work. She wondered which
crime he had committed. She wondered if he recognized her.

"A good Samaritan would be taking a deposition," the
lawyer insisted.

"Please tell me that someday you are going to turn into a
human." Nick sighed.

The lawyer aimed a look at Nick that could slice flesh.

Unfazed, Nick threw a glare right back at John. "The courts
cannot solve everything, as you well know."

Callie tried to surreptitiously dust off her derriere. Men like
Nick and his friend could smile at you as they pointed a gun
at your heart. She did not trust either of them.

The animosity between the two men charged the room
with tension and Callie's anxiety increased. She had thought
she could leave all the dark alleys behind her, but here in her
father's old inn she sensed danger.

"Are you feeling okay now?" Nick laid his hand on her good
arm and the impression of menace diminished while soothing
warmth shimmered up from his touch. If someone had
zapped her with a Taser, she would not have been more

"I landed where there's plenty of padding. No problem."
She wanted to sound flippant and tough—like the hard-bitten
cop she had been. However, her voice came out a little
wavery—which was his fault, not hers.

"What padding? You could use some of my Aunt Bella's
pasta." He gave her hand a tender squeeze before letting it
go. Callie found ice quickly creeping back into her soul.

The lawyer glanced at his ostentatious watch and ground
out a nasty word. "Speaking of pasta, I've got to run. There's
a political dinner tonight." He shook his finger at Nick.
"Remember what I said. Forget your uncle's advice. What
does he know? He's an old man! You've got far more
education than he does."

Nick's features hardened into granite. "Tell Alice and the
kids I said hello."

"Mind if I drink your wine?"

Nick's eyes narrowed. "Go ahead. I didn't touch it."

The lawyer guzzled down the wine in one long swallow
before he rushed out the door, letting in a blast of wind and
rain from the storm. Callie shivered and moved further away
from her lone customer.

"You'll have to excuse him. I think the job has gone to his
head." His mouth turned down in disgust.

Without thinking, Callie muttered, "I hate lawyers."

His expression darkened. "They're part of the food chain."

She made the mistake of getting lost in his startling eyes
again, but she caught herself after a moment. She decided he
could pass a lie detector test hands down.

"Now cops—those are the guys you have to watch out for,"
he mused as disdain hardened the classic line of his lips.
"They're the carnivores."

That remark cinched it for her and she gave him a
penetrating stare. Of course he didn't trust cops. He probably
had more than his share of run-ins with them. She could have
been his arresting officer—though she felt certain she would
have remembered that and so would he. She wondered how
much time he had already served.

You can read more about Callie and Nick at Amazon!

Friday, October 04, 2013


I am making dirt. I am being environmentally conscious and putting my cucumber peels, potato peels, and apple peels into a composting bin. I toss in coffee grounds and all those annoying brown leaves that fall from the trees onto my patio. The leaves are brown and very dry, so I add water.

I found a worm one day and I placed him in the bin, too. Had some deer poop on the lawn so I added that as well. Every now and then I stir up my compost. It takes a while for all that stuff to disintegrate into dirt, but I'm hopeful that by spring I'll have humus rich in nutrients to place around my flowers.

I can't help but compare the process of composting with the process of writing. It's similar to cooking, too, but it takes much longer. A little of this, a little of that, time, stirring, adding water, and voila--a book.

If you want to know more about composting, there are many sites on the web devoted to the topic--and quite a few excellent videos, as well.

If you want to write a book, get busy. Add a little of this, a little of that, give it time, stir, and drink some water (or coffee, or tea). It's slower than cooking--and you should use a thesaurus--but you could wind up with a book if you keep at it. :-)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Party Like It's the Eighteenth Century

Yesterday was Dad's 92nd birthday. We celebrated. I made lasagna because it's soft and he likes cheese. Lasagna is a lot of work, but I like it, too. I bought a little ice cream cake. ("Why didn't you get straight candles?" he asked.)

When it was all said and done I asked if he thought we had feted him enough.

Everyone gave me a strange look.

"Fete," I said. "It's a real word. F-E-T-E."

Daughter #1 said I wasn't pronouncing it right.

I turned on the iPad, hurried to, and discovered that I was indeed pronouncing it incorrectly.

Fete is pronounced just like the word fate, but fete and fate have entirely different meanings.

Fete is of French origin and it comes from the eighteenth century. It is a day of celebration. :-)

While I didn't pronounce it properly, I had the correct meaning.

That's one of the problems with being an avid reader. I am familiar with plenty of words, but I have never heard anyone speak them. Most people get by using very few words. Party is a far more popular word than fete.

But I've been mired in the history of the eighteenth century for a while. I wrote The Pirate's Wraith, which is set in 1711. I wrote Patriot's Heart, which is set in 1778. At the moment, I'm writing Patriot's Pride, which is set in 1784.

So I say we should all prepare a fete instead of a party. Let's party like it's the eighteenth century.