Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Simply the Best


By now I hope you've all had your fair share of eggnog and figgy pudding (yuck) and all things holly and jolly. It was another wonderful celebration at our house, complete with food, family, and fa la la la-laughs. So here I am, 24 hours later, still in party mode but for all intents and purposes the big Christmas extravaganza is over. Bummer. If I can level with you for a minute, there's something about the day after Christmas that gives me a slight case of the blues. Post holiday letdown or something like that. Perhaps I'm not the only one. Maybe you're out there feeling a bit sluggish, a tad sour. Let's keep in mind that New Year's Eve is just around the corner, but if that isn't close enough for you, how about a giveaway to help lighten the mood?

Thanks to Kathy at I'm a Reader Not A Writer for arranging another fun hop! Check it out:  http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=169384 This time we're paying tribute to the best books we've read in 2012. I hope you'll take a moment and leave a comment here about your favorite read of the past twelve months. Enter the Rafflecopter below (click "read more") for your chance to win an autographed paperback copy of WISHLESS plus a $5.00 Amazon e-gift card so you can buy a new e-book on me! Perhaps with all the great internet sales happening at this time you can even purchase two e-books.

Good luck and happy hopping, gang!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Heart - Guest Blog


Please help me welcome my Guest Blogger, my 20 year-old son, Nicholas, who wrote this Christmas tale for you today.I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The Christmas Heart
By Nicholas Martone

It was December 24th, Christmas Eve, and children everywhere were preparing for the arrival of their gift-bearing, bearded friend. This was true for all but one young man from a small suburban town in the Midwest. The boy was convinced that Santa Claus did not exist and even insisted that it was his parents who stayed up extra late to do the deed of present laying. After making a strong case to his parents about his beliefs, they simply laughed and rushed their son off to bed. There the boy sat and devised a plan to catch his parents in the act once and for all. He decided that he would set his alarm clock for every hour on the hour and quietly tip toe down the stairs to peak into the living room. He did just that, hour after hour, only to find sleeping parents and a tree without gifts every time. Eventually it was morning and still no presents were to be found. The boy confronted his parents who he believed had purposely disregarded their "Christmas Duty" in an attempt to outwit him! 

“We would never do such a thing!” They told him. “Christmas isn't about deceit. It’s about having hope and believing that what your heart needs most of all will somehow find you.”

It was at that very moment that they all heard a firm knock at the door. The father answered the door in record time but to everyone's surprise not a soul was to be found. Not a truck, car, sled or reindeer. Just a stack of presents and a note. The boy raced for the gifts but first stopped to read the note. It said: “I didn't forget. I just wanted to help you to believe, as belief is what the Christmas spirit is all about. Merry Christmas, Santa Claus.” 

It was like a light bulb had gone off in the boys head. He was enlightened. He "witnessed" the appearing of the gifts on the front doorstep all while keeping an eye on his parents. As far as he was concerned, they were not involved and that's all that mattered. He finally believed. 

The boy ended up receiving everything he’d asked for, but the toys and games weren't what were most special to him. It was the "lesson" he’d learned that morning. That was the one that mattered most of all.



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dust in Santa's Eye

It had to happen. With Christmas bearing down I ventured, somewhat wearily, toward the mall yesterday to finish up with my purchases. In light of the recent mayhem in the news, I'll admit to feeling something other than merry and bright. I'll also admit to a low level of anxiety, a current akin to that of a distant engine running soft and steady. It said, "Look around you. Be aware. Not everyone is a happy shopper." Holiday music, piped in from speakers unseen, did what it could to keep spirits high. A cheerful sign reminded folks that Santa was in the building - a sign of normalcy during a suddenly strange and surreal time. I didn't follow the candy cane arrows, pointing the way toward the Jolly One himself. Yet I saw parents hustling their kids in that direction, looks of hope plastered on tiny faces. I went about my business, systematically aiming for a quick and painless exit. It was the last store I stopped in. The one with the longest check-out line. That was where I saw them. Two moms, two small children tucked between them. They spoke to one another and I couldn't help but overhear.

"I thought he was going to ask Santa for that video game he wants," one woman said to the other. "It was what we'd rehearsed that he'd say. But when he sat down the first thing he did was to ask Santa to help those children in Connecticut. I was stunned, frankly. Then he wanted to know if Santa was crying. I told him that Santa just had a little dust in his eye."

I imagine that particular Santa Claus had heard his fair share of wishes for fire trucks and dolls, video games and toys of all kinds; most reasonable requests. Standard operating procedure. Still...these are not standard times, are they? Life dictates that we digest tragedies gingerly but with all due haste. Because, in as much as it's an imperfect plan, life goes on. Holidays come along in spite of unexpected wishes whispered from the mouths of babes. Or from the hearts of mankind. Mornings arrive drenched in a misplaced sun, seemingly idyllic innocent hours following the very darkest of nights.

And so I pause momentarily to mourn, to lick invisible wounds, to wonder if Christmas will feel the same to children here and there. And to grown-ups everywhere - with dust in their eyes.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Crazy for Gift Cards!



The holidays are here...again. My, how this year has sped on by. You didn't blink, did you? Yep. Me too.
By now you are surely knee-deep in shopping, hunting down the perfect stocking-stuffers and the like. Sometimes the ideal gift for that special person in your life is the freedom to choose exactly what they'd like to receive. Gift cards can often do the trick, especially when you just can't decide what to get. That's why I really enjoy this hop. There are so many great blogs participating. See for yourself: http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=167042 Thanks to Kathy at I'm a Reader Not a Writer for her hard work in putting this hop together. Check out the Rafflecopter below (see more) for your chance to win a $10.00 Barnes & Noble e-gift card.

I hope you're taking some time to relax a midst the hustle and bustle. Perhaps carve out an evening or two to sit and enjoy a few of your favorite holiday movies. I'm especially fond of "The Miracle on 34th Street," "Elf" and "A Christmas Story." Be sure to take a minute to leave a comment here, sharing your own personal fave.

This week I'm taking a trip into NY city to see the Nutcracker Ballet. It's been nearly a lifetime since I've seen this show and I'm super-excited to see it again. This performance reminds me that there is more to the holiday season than just go-go-go, buy-buy-buy. The holidays are really about recalling what it is that defines Christmas for each one of us. It's revisiting a cherished childhood memory, and creating some new ones along the way. It's about touching base with our beliefs, discovering our hearts again with a little wonder mixed in for good measure.

As the remainder of 2012 winds down, remember to indulge in some reflective moments each and every day. And don't forget to read a good book or two or three! (They aren't just for crafting...)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Middle (r)Aged

I'm shooting the breeze with a friend over lunch, discussing the typical cache of topics ranging from gel polish to world peace when she halts, almost mid-sentence and emits a deep sigh.

"What?" I ask. "What's wrong?"

"I don't know. I mean, what does it matter? Does any of it really matter?" She muses.

"I don't follow."

"Nothing. I don't know. It is what it is, right? Ugh. I hate that expression, by the way. What does it even mean?"

I shrug. "Are you okay?"

She shakes her head from side to side as if it's gone loose at the neck and needs tightening. "Not really. It seems like ever since I turned forty I've become way more...more..."

"More what?"

"I don't know..."

"Introspective? Existential?" I suggest, attempting to help her along.

"No..."

"Blase'? Uninspired?"

"No. That's not it!" She says and then sighs again. "I'm just, just, ya' know..."

"Cranky?" I try.

"That's IT!" She exclaims. "Why do you suppose that is? I mean, I know OLD people get like that, but, I'm not old yet. Is this how it's supposed to be?"

"Relax," I tell her. "It's perfectly normal. Haven't you ever heard of Middle Rage?"

"Middle Age?"

"No. Middle Rage. Oh, it's nothing new. Been around since the stone age."

"Really??"

"Sure. Why do you think they stopped filming The Flintstones? Once Betty and Wilma hit the big 4-0, they got too crabby for TV. Not to mention the scandals."

"What scandals?"

"I'm told Betty and Barney suffered an awful acrimonious split and Wilma had a torrid affair with Mr. Slate. It rocked the socks off the quarry. All due to Middle Rage."

"Wow," she says. "That's crazy. I can't believe I was never aware of this. Is there anything a person can do to avoid it?"

"Fraid not," I say. "You just have to tough it out. You'll have good days and bad. It's like riding a roller coaster. Sometimes you'll be sitting calmly on the track and other times you'll be flying through the air doing 90, screeching like a madman."

"But it gets better, eventually, doesn't it?" She's on the verge of tears now. Far be it for me to be the bearer of bad news. And yet...it won't do her any good to feed her delusions, give her false hope. I slowly shake my head. Break it to her as gently as I can. "Middle Rage ultimately turns into Old Rage. It's a natural progression." I reach my hand out to hers, tap it softly. "There, there. No sense getting upset over it."

Her eyes meet mine.

"It is what it is," I whisper.

"Ugh. I was really hoping it wasn't terminal. The holidays are here and I did so want to be jolly."

"Oh, that's no problem. They invented eggnog for this exact reason. Just have to double up. You'll be good as new."

"Thank goodness!" She says. I can see the relief wash over her. For the moment she's her young self again. Sweet, gentle, kind, waiting on the track. And then she leans in, lowers her voice. "I always knew that Wilma was a fast number!"

And we're off.





Sunday, November 25, 2012

Don't Forget to Remember

Ask any writer when their Muse typically visits and you'll hear such replies as: "When I'm driving," or "When I'm showering." Yes, our fair Creative Creatures have an odd sense of timing when it comes to delivering divine doses of literary splendor. Some have a tendency to creep up in the wee hours of the morn, commonly sometime just after midnight when the writer is tucked away in another night's slumber. I've been privy to this particular happenstance. Most often I'll awaken, even if only for a few minutes, to entertain the ideas as they are laid out before me. And I'll jot them down on the notepad at my bedside, right? Nope. Up until a short while ago I was more than capable of committing these lovely  little ditties to memory, more than sufficient at rising the next morning to find them waiting in tact in the sleepy-eyed recesses of my mind. But, that was then...



They say the memory is the second thing to go. What's the first, you ask? Well, that depends on who is giving the answer. It isn't relevant to this conversation anyway. No matter what order of appearance. No matter its rank. The act of recollection is a thing of fleeting beauty. And as with most of life's little beauties, allow me to be among the first to tell you. Eventually it begins to slip. Here's another newsflash: You don't have to be older than dirt for this to apply to you. You don't have to be hurried, harried or otherwise overwhelmed. And it isn't always the big things you forget (like your kids, as Mrs. McCallister did - shame on you, dear woman!) It could be something as simply sinister as the placement of a small yet (somewhat) equally troubling item - i.e. "Where the hell did I put my car keys?"

How's that? You say this has happened to you? Raise your hand if you've ever barreled into a room, full speed ahead only to suddenly have no clue why you went there in the first place. Yep, me too. Hands down now. What can we do?

Fret not! This is the stuff of humanness at its most perfectly imperfect. Oscar Wilde said, "Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us." Thing of it is - sometimes we don't have a pen handy. Sometimes the pages get so yellowed and faded it's hard to read the words. Sometimes the images are too blurry or obscure to make them out with any certainty. Therein, my friends, lies the unfortunate fly in the ointment. So take pictures, take notes and take heart. Enjoy and appreciate that which you can easily recall. Conjure your precious past at will and treat it kindly. And never for one minute assume that Memory is yours to keep forever.

It isn't.

Now where was I? Ah yes! The weary-eyed writer. All at once it seems her Muse-inspired plot hole has gone missing in the light of day...well, the writer will learn. She will start sleeping with a notepad on the nightstand - just in case. Kind of like insurance, minus that smart-mouthed gecko.

Carry on. If you can remember what it is you were going to do next ;)



Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Turkey



It isn't that I'm here with another gripe. I know y'all are about as tired of my fussiness as I am. This time I'm merely speculating with a teeny-tiny side dish of disdain. Okay, not that. More like wistfulness. I'm wistfully wondering what happened to Thanksgiving. In case you haven't noticed your turkey has a belly like a bowl full of jelly. Yes, yet another holiday is being hustled and hurried along to accommodate the spinning calendar  which suddenly seems to be super-charged in its rotation. Lately Xmas arrives in the stores hot on the heels of Halloween. The witches hats and bags of candy are stocked Klaustrophobically close to the candy canes and silver lanes aglow. If you're lucky, or if you happen to have your super-sonic X ray vision handy, you might spy an errant Cornucopia or a can of cranberry sauce, a sure sign that Thanksgiving is still around, if only sandwiched between the months a tad more snugly than it was before.
Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I don't like Christmas. In fact, I'm quite fond of it. It's more that I don't like the feeling of being rushed into things. Gives me the sensation that I'm late to a party I was just invited to. Can't a girl have a moment to throw together something decent to wear? Sheesh!
Consider me the voice of the turkey. Okay, on second thought, don't do that. What say I'm merely a proponent of all the holidays. I firmly believe they each deserve their 15 minutes of fame. Why should any of them have to share the spotlight? Santa is a jolly old soul. And we know he's Nice and not Naughty. He'd never knowingly steal the Turkey's thunder, now would he?
So what's the big deal, you ask? So what if St. Nick borrows some extra  limelight? There are worse things, right? Naturally. Still...
Perhaps I'm merely worried I'm falling under. This morning there are Christmas songs playing on the radio and yes, I'm listening. I'm debating decking the halls. It IS the hap - hap - happiest season of all. Isn't it?
Oh the pressure. I'm simply suggesting we slow down long enough to smell the gravy.
I suppose it's another one of those "if you can't beat 'em, you may as well join 'em" scenarios. Maybe it's more like "If you can't EAT 'em, join 'em."  After all it's impossible to ignore the fact that the star of this particular show usually ends up baking in a 350 degree oven for about four hours.
Ho-ho- Happy Thanksgiving all the same, gang!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Of Bullies & Bill Murray

Right off the bat allow me to state that my title is not indicative of any ill will I have for the great comedic actor, Mr. Murray. Quite the contrary. I really enjoy his dry humor and performances. I'm merely referring to the movie starring Bill, entitled "Groundhog Day" wherein the main character is trapped in an odd universal chasm where he is forced to relive the same day over and over and over again - until, ultimately he gets it right. Check scene here:
Yes, it is extremely frustrating, indeed, Bill. This is how I'm feeling lately too, thanks to the bully that has been Mother Nature, pummeling the east coast first with a major hurricane and then with a quickie Nor'easter dumping rain, snow, trees and power outages on our already wet and previously-pummeled parade. In my case with both storms, I went to bed in a warmly heated, pleasantly lit home and awoke at an Ungodly pre-dawn hour in a dark, cold room. Quickly, I checked the alarm clock for the red glowing numbers.
And they were gone. (Groan)
It's like I wanted to stand up, throw open the window and scream, "NO! NOT AGAIN! MAKE IT STOP!" But that would be senseless and I might disturb the neighbors. I was forced to face facts once again. As we spoke about in the last post, we human beings don't stand a snowballs chance in hell against the fury that is Nature, an ill-tempered beast that she is, at times, bent on destruction and heartache. If that isn't a bully I don't know what is.
Bullies, it would seem, take many forms. (Insert seamless segue to the actual topic at hand.) In addition to the weather, lately it has come to my attention that bullies hide behind their computer screens in the most seemingly innocent of places. Some bullies pose as readers, lovers of the written word. Yet, dare they come across a book that does not fit their particular style. Woe is the author who spends two years or so of his life crafting a novel that the Bully doesn't happen to like for one reason or another. The Bully, disguised as a "reviewer" will think nothing of attacking said author, to within an inch of his life - all from the comfort of Bully's keyboard. Please, readers, I implore you. Dislike and disagree all you want to but do not disparage. Pause before you write. Ask yourself if you would be inclined to say those things to the author's face. State your case, share your opinion, and remember it is just that - an opinion. Not a rule. Others may be likely to see it differently. And by all means try a little tenderness.
Another case is that of these so-called forums designed to provide an informative meeting place for gathering information on literary agencies and agents, publishers and editors. Of late, I'm discouraged to find so much in the way of mob-mentality, name-calling, nasty, mean-girl attacks against innocent people on these forums. This behavior is simply atrocious and unacceptable. Haven't we learned to do unto others? To settle our grievances like adults? To play nice? I'd like to think we have. And yet...the sad fact is, bullies roam here too.
In the wake of the recent weather-related natural disasters I climb aboard my soap box to suggest that we take a moment to consider the feelings of others, the possible suffering of which we may not be aware by outward appearances and conduct ourselves accordingly. With humility, graciousness and kindness.
Thank you for allowing my minor rant. Please know that I appreciate the good in each of you lovely people who visit here. Your support means the world to me :) Peace out!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

With A Huff and A Puff of Gratitude



As most of you know by now, the Big Bad Wolf Sandy, strutted her stuff around here this past week, leaving a trail of mass destruction in her wake. I was one of those folks affected by her huffing and puffing. Allow me state up front, THIS WAS A NATIONAL DISASTER and I by no means wish to trivialize this catastrophic weather event. Many people lost their homes and some lost their lives. I'm constantly humbled by the power of Mother Nature and how truly meek we are in comparison. In contrast, I suppose I was one of the fortunate few. My roof suffered some minor damage as did our fence and we lost lights, heat and hot water for four days dictating that we to$$ a fridge full of food. I was inconvenienced. I was anxious. I was put out and put upon. My mind frantically sought out some sense of normalcy as my kids moved into my sister's house where there was still electricity though no TV or Internet. I drove around town dodging fallen trees and avoiding accidents at intersections with missing traffic lights. I rationed my gas, as it swiftly became, and still remains, a precious commodity. I jokingly referred to these days as my "Amish Experiment." Yet deep down I was not laughing. I was panicking. I was learning. I was taking stock of the human mind, my own and others, and observing how it reacts to being thrust out of its element and into a state of chaos.

Most people are creatures of habit. We relish the known. We shrink from that which is foreign or uncomfortable. Uncertainty breeds anxiety. And perhaps we don't truly appreciate the simple luxuries in life - like flipping a switch and having it obey. Like a cup of coffee in the a.m., going to work, earning a paycheck, and coming home to a hot meal in a home you know and love. Watching your favorite TV shows in the evening. A warm shower. A warm bed. Maybe we take these things for granted. Maybe the Universe intends to remind us, every now and then. The message:

Be Grateful.

All that we have is terribly temporary and can, at any given moment, be taken away from us, just like that.

Waking this morning in a place that feels like mine again (TV playing softly in the background, laptop up and running, toast on my plate) is a strange yet lovely sensation. It's crazy how the mind quickly forgets its routines when forced out of them, and how when presented with the opportunity, will become cautiously, giddily reacquainted.

At this moment many East Coast residents are still without power. Many have suffered unimaginable losses. Please continue to keep their recovery in your mind and consider helping out in some small way, even if only with a prayer.



This is just one scene of what transpired, a tree across a roadway near our home.This was mild in comparison to other photos I've seen. May God bless this area and its communities and bring about a speedy return to life as we knew it.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Fun




It's that time of year again, kids! If you just love all things dark and spooky you've come to the right place. We're all about celebrating the eerie and frightening this time around. Okay, I'll fess up. I'm a bit of a scare-dee-cat. But we all have our fears, don't we? Tell me here and now..What are YOU afraid of?
Is it that monster hiding under your bed? You know if you let your hand or foot dangle over, something is gonna grab it, right?
Is it the ghost in the attic? Come on, that bump in the night - you know it's not really the "house settling" don't you?
Or is it snakes, sharks, rats or spiders that rattle your nerves?
We ALL have something that gives us the creeps, don't we? And we all have our fave horror flick, and that one book that totally terrified us. I found The Shining to be particularly unsettling - the novel and the movie. "Here's Johnny." Thank you, Steven. 
And thank you to Kathy at http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/2012/08/spooktacular-giveaway-hop-sign-ups.html for hosting another awesome (and HUGE) giveaway to toast this scary season.
And naturally we are giving away two copies of WISHLESS eBooks. (see more below) 
Be sure to leave a comment. Let us know what it is that makes you lose your cool. Happy Haunting to one and all!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Maid's Day Off - Dirty Little Details

It was one of those gorgeous fall weekends here; copper-colored leaves swirling in an amber, sun-drenched sky. A light jacket, favorite pair of jeans, comfy shoes and you're good to go. Outdoors, anywhere. Days like these spark thoughts of freedom, of hours without limits, of endless chores and dirty little details you would wish away if only you were able.

But on any given day the average person has a to-do list that just won't quit. Would I sound terribly sexist if I were to edit that sentence to read: "...the average woman..?" Yes? Oh darn. It truly isn't the case. And I'm not about to debate who works harder. Nor do I really care. It's a matter of opinion and a highly subjective one at that, I'm certain. Yet there's an old saying, "A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." As a single, working mother myself - I concur. And if history is any indication, further proof is in the pudding.

Rewind a few dozen years ago, (and then some) and there I am. A young girl, laying belly-down on the carpet, elbows bent, fists supporting my chin, television droning in my ear. From the corner of my eye, she flits by me - my own mother hoisting a fully-loaded laundry basket from one floor of our house to the other. Some time later she cruises by, a hanger suspended from her forearm, my father's shirt flapping in her breeze. Before the night is over she'll iron and then balance the family checkbook  - all while I lounge comfortably in front of the tube wondering why on earth she can't just wrap it up and chill out. I recall asking her to join me, on many occasions, as if her relaxation were solely contingent upon my invitation.

"Can't," she'd say. "There's too much to do and it's the maid's day off."

No. We did not have a maid. Ever. It was simply mom's way of implying that if she didn't do it, it wasn't getting done. And, by George, she was right. Again. (Aren't they always?)

Now before you get all riled up - yes, I'd help out - now and then. However, most often my mother was like the Lone Ranger minus Tonto. Most mothers are (including me.) If we want something done right we end up just doing it ourselves.

But I digress. A bit. The point is: our free time isn't ever entirely free. Even when we set it up to be that way. Even when we spend months planning a vacation somewhere far from our dirty little details, safely hidden from our laundry baskets and our checkbooks. Even when we swear we're going to devote an entire beautiful autumn afternoon to doing nothing other than comparing the different hues of red in the trees. Before you know it, it slips into your mind. A detail. Let one in and soon another follows. And another. And another. They're like ants flocking to an open picnic basket.



Now I ask you...where is that maid with the vacuum when you need her?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Medium at Large

I spent this past Saturday night with HER- the flaxen-haired, crystal-heeled Medium a 'la Long Island. Together with about 3000 others, huddled in the NYCB Theatre (footnote - if you grew up on Long Island, and no, it isn't pronounced Lawn Guyland, this theatre will forever be known as the Westbury Music Fair) we witnessed Theresa Caputo ring up the spirit world - on speed dial to boot.

Now, I'm no Medium Virgin. This isn't the first time I've seen Ms. Caputo or other lesser-blinged psychics. And I've received my fair share of messages delivered from my relatives and friends who have passed. Yet, I've never heard from them in a crowd. It would seem that when faced with jockeying for position or standing in line for their turn to chat, my dearly departed are somewhat slow to the draw. So our L.I. Medium cruised stealthily through the aisles ("Oh! I stepped in gum!") with her spirits in tow and I waited. I wondered if anyone I know might drop by and say hello. Before I knew it, the event was over and I hadn't been "read."

Ms. Caputo says that you don't really need to consult a medium in order to converse with your loved ones on the other side. She says they are with us all the time - listening, watching, knowing. So with that in mind (and with Grandma a no-show at the show-show) I closed my eyes and opened my mind to the conversation.

"Gram? Are you there?"
"Yes," she said, "I'm always here."
"That's great! So you're okay. I'm guessing you've seen the kids. They're nearly grown."
"Yes," she said, again, "And they are very special."
"Gram, do you know I'm writing books  now?"
"I do! That's wonderful. I'm so proud. I told Loretta. She's always so busy bragging about her granddaughter, the rocket scientist."
 "Loretta?"
"A friend."
"Wow," I said. "so you have friends up there? That's great. About my books...have you read them?"
There was a pause. "Well...dear, I've been meaning to, but I'm quite busy these days."
"Busy? With what?"
Grandma explained. "Chubby Checker is teaching a Twist class on Tuesdays and Thursdays and of course, there's my Mahjong club. We meet every Wednesday at three."
"Oh, I had absolutely no idea."
Grandma's voice got further away. "But I'm told these books of yours are good. Keep at it. One day you'll make yourself a living from them."
"I will? Do you really think so?...Gram?"
Silence. She was already gone. The question would remain trapped in the universe, somewhere out there. As yet unanswered. I wanted to wish her back. Tell her that I love her. That I miss her. That I wear her ring. That I think of her and the life we shared way back when. Ask her what color the sky is where she is. Ask her what heaven looks like, has she met God.
Is she an angel now?
Silly me.
I already know the answer to that last one.

Ms. Caputo is right. You don't really need a medium to speak to the ones you lost. You just need an open heart.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reality Bites - You Don't Say...

For a girl who was weaned on equal part written word and rabbit-eared screen, it seems these days I don't have much time for watching the tube. What little TV time I do manage to catch typically revolves around either the paranormal (as in L.I. housewife converses with the afterlife) or that never-ending loop of home fix-up programs - fitting since we are currently residing in a self-induced construction (DEstruction?) zone. (Dare I not tread upon those raging coals...) So it dawned on me, that what reality TV is lacking is a close-up dose of WRITER 101. Perhaps something day-in-the-life of an average aspiring novelist. I imagined phoning one of those big-shot TV execs to pitch my idea.

Big-Shot: "So what's this great new reality show idea you've cooked up. You've got two minutes to win me over. I have a 10 a.m. tee time."

Me: "Okay well, I was thinking the cameras could follow a writer around and record her daily goings on. Ya' know - like a Kardashian only with less hair. People could watch her as she labors at the keyboard in search of the perfect sentence, checks emails, posts periodic updates to Twitter, suffers rejections, courts the Muse."

B.S.: "Hmm. Can this writer also talk to dead people?"

Me: "No."

B.S. : "Is she a pudgy southern beauty queen with a crazy redneck family?"

Me: "Again, no."

B.S.: "Was she a former child-star tackling her adult-sized demons in rehab?"

Me: "Not quite."

B.S: "Is she a real housewife of any coast?"

Me: "Perhaps, but that's not really the point..."

B.S.: "(sigh) What about action? What have you got?"

Me: "There'll be lots of staring off into space."

B.S.: "That's not exactly edge of your seat stuff."

Me: "Head banging. Regular spewing of expletives. Jealous rants."

B.S.: "Well, that's better, but...I'm not convinced. Tell ya what. Fine tune your concept and then have your people call my people."

Me: "Wait, I - I don't have any people...!"

Click. Dial tone.

Okay, so we writers may not lead the most exciting lives, I grant you that. However, just think. Where would TV or the silver screen be without us? Seems to me it would simply be a bunch of actors running around speechless.

You don't say...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's a Banner Day for AKA

AKA Literary Agency is partying hard this week. Just yesterday our own Johnny Knew's very first book was released. This beautiful and smart children's book is entitled, "The Tree With No Branches." This from the publisher: "The tree with no branches may be different than all the other trees in the forest but it has some 
unique qualities and a very special purpose. Brilliantly crafted by author Johnny Knew and wonderfully 
illustrated by K. Von Ward, nature-loving children learn about the joy in accepting others different than 
themselves and that standing up to a bully is the right thing to do."
http://www.cutiepiepublishing.com/Pages/05-Tree.html
If you haven't dropped by Johnny's site, Knewville, by all means do so, and bring the youngsters along for the ride. I guarantee a good time for all!
http://knewville.com/ 
Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or wherever you usually go to purchase your favorite reads and pick up your copy. And remember...you don't have to be a kid to appreciate the important messages and lyrical prose in this book. It's one size fits all! If you aren't sure, check out this preview: http://knewville.com/twnb/

Ya see? You're smiling aren't you? I won't say I told you so....but I did ;)

AKA Literary is such an amazing group of writers. I am so very fortunate to have found a home there. It isn't often you combine strangers from all over the world, people whose only common bond is their love of books and their desire to be published, and have them forge the solid family-type foundation that exists within our team. We are all so incredibly proud of Johnny and wish him sales o' plenty.

Congrats to our agent and leaders, Terrie Wolf, Neil Erickson and each and every one of us!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ten and Ink

It isn't so much that I'm waxing nostalgic today. It's more the case that I came across some old photos and it got me thinking. About how life starts out one way and as we grow, becomes a very different place. The girl in the picture below is ten years old. I thought it fitting that it's somewhat blurry, since that's how I remember her. In a hazy film of years gone by, days piled on days, details piled on details. By the time a decade or two (or three) passes, memories turn yellow-edged and murky. But I know this much. I know she's smiling because she's blissfully unaware. She's on vacation with her family and she doesn't know that it's such a precious thing, so sacred she ought to regard it piously- this moment with her parents and grandmother who, as far as this little girl is concerned - will share this earth with her for a bazillion years. And bazillion is an actual frame of reference. Because at ten she has no concept of time. Summers roll on through with endless crayon-scented breezes and chlorine induced highs. Winters arrive and she's cozy, safe, warm and dry, surrounded by the people she loves the most while she awaits the coming of another merry Christmas. Life will go along forever this way!
 Won't it?
She doesn't know that as she ages, somehow, as if under some warped, wicked spell, time will kick into high gear and careen by on a steroid induced flight. She doesn't know that her very best friends will hurt and disappoint her. That boys will painfully redefine her romantic school-girl notions about love and happily-ever after. That grandma's go to heaven before bazillion has a chance to happen. That vacations must sometimes take a back seat to paying the rent. And as she begins to become aware, of such unpleasant, downright awful things the likes of racism, crime, anxiety, loss and basic human suffering she realizes she'll never be ten again.
I remember it was about that time this little girl thought it best to escape into the pages of a book where she'd surely remain insulated from whatever life had in store for her. Sometimes she'd take pen to page and create an entire world of people who wouldn't let her down, wouldn't leave or do bad things. If reality couldn't be that way, then reading and writing would make it so.
This little girl. She's all grown up now. Tough lessons learned and learning still.
I guess I remember her a lot more than I thought I did.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ch-Ch-Changes

My dear Hooksters - the times they are a'changin'. Is this a good thing? Some folks hate change. They balk, they slink, they shimmy, scamper and slide to avoid it. But guess what? It's gonna find you. Like it or not. As for me, I've grown accustomed to time bringing its changes to my life. I've learned it's best to roll, bend, smile and sway - it's going to happen anyway. Some changes that come along are self-inflicted. For example, our kitchen reno project is finally, FINALLY about to begin. Did I say finally? It's going to be out with the old and drab and in with the everything but. I hope...However, this is not the piece de resistance of the newness. Oh, no - not by a country mile...

 This week I officially joined the agenting team of AKA Literary - the beloved home of the two books I've written since WISHLESS - in the capacity of Associate Agent in Training.  (FYI, these other novels are currently awaiting their turn at bat. If the Muse Gods of Publishing choose to shine on me, then you shall one day find these stories available for purchase in your fave book emporium, as written under the pseudonym Caya Laine. Fingers crossed - oh heck, cross those toes, too, people!)

The amazing TERRIE WOLF, my agent extraordinaire, has seen fit to include me among her office cohorts. I'm honored and deeply moved by her trust and faith in my ability to somehow make a difference. The way I see it, this comes down to passion. It's the unflinching, searing adoration of the craft of writing, the process of taking some 80,00 words - give or take, fashioning them into a cohesive and interesting story and then wrangling that same story into the hands of a few million readers. Cake, right? Day at the beach? Not so much. It takes a village to raise a book baby. In many cases it takes the concerted efforts of an agent and her teammates to bring a writers goals of glory to fruition. Some authors choose to go it alone. Brave lot, they are. But many others will make the choice to put their dreams in an agent's hands. And the thing of it is - she only has two - on her best day.

So here I am, with two additional appendages at the ready. With the very best of intentions. With an eagerness and drive the likes of a fresh batch of dough, just hankering to rise to the occasion. I am blessed by this opportunity. I hope I will not disappoint.

Should you feel so inclined, follow me at my newest Twitter account https://twitter.com/Aka_Louise:  You can also find me at https://twitter.com/CayaLaine (which was formerly @lcwritten.)

And now it's time to stand and face the ch-ch-changes. Not strange. Just one helluva good thing.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dream Elbowroom

Seems we've arrived at another Labor Day - another summer ultimately reclining into fall. I'll resist bemoaning the obvious (where did the time go?) because, well, I've been there done that. It's usually my own anxiety that leads me to belly-achin' over the swift and steady passage of days, anxiety over the sense that the calendar appears to speed up particularly so when you have a goal at hand, as yet to be reached. The ticking grows louder and more ominous. Like one of those bad horror movies. Will the heroine get where she needs to be before time runs out??? (Okay so I moaned a little after all.)

While I 'm busy waiting for my world to change, I often wish for a time capsule or a diner doorway into the past (yep, like in 11/22/63, thank you, Mr. King) so that I could somehow snatch a decade or two back for the express purpose of leeway. A little dream elbowroom. I just know it would serve to allay the feeling I
have of time being like a woolen sweater after a spin in the dryer. Shrunk down, tight and itchy and far too snug. Yet I know the fact is those doorways only exist in bestsellers. So I seek out stories like this one:
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/48803479/#.UEH7BNZmQXc Real-life tales of ordinary folks who by some stroke of God-given fortune, have extended their lives well past the norm. By the way happy 116th birthday, Besse!

If I knew I could cruise beyond my hundredth year, things might not feel so urgent anymore. I might fret less, fiddle more (Not in the actual sense. I don't know a thing about playing an instrument.) I might begin to believe in the worn out, personally frustrating cliche about how all good things come to those who wait. I might actually state with a certain degree of certainty: Slow down! What's your rush?

Alas, I fear I will remain harried and hurried and terribly impatient. I will stalk the last of the sultry summer breezes until they fade into a crisp autumn spice. I will pretend my own time here is endless while secretly hoping there's enough left to fulfill my desires. And I'll think of Besse.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Soldier's Heart & Little Apples

The year was 1957. A 23-year-old young man had just been called to duty, to serve his country as a soldier in the U.S. Army. As fate would have it (or particularly bad-timing) he had also just become engaged to be married to a lovely girl he felt very fortunate to have. Isn't that the way it often goes in life? A body gets torn in more than one direction, rendering a jagged split down the center of a perfectly good heart. This newly-appointed soldier found his sentiments just would not keep still. He needed to find some way to express himself while being away from the girl he loved, a way to start to heal from the inside out. What better plan than to take pen to page? And so he did. Below is a copy of a portion of a letter he wrote and forwarded to the love of his life. So touched was she, that she kept it safe for years and years to come, through a marriage, two children, four grandchildren and a happily-ever after they went on to share.



The author of this letter is my father. (Hope you don't mind my sharing a bit of it, Dad! By the by - you looked quite dashing in your uniform :) When Mom showed me this note she said, "You see? The writing thing - it runs in the family." Yes, as the saying goes, "Apple trees make little apples." The urge to write is a gene, it's part of our creative DNA. I'm so very grateful for that. Perhaps I'll  pass it on, to one of my kids. Perhaps I already have. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Literary Kismet

I've fallen and I can't get up. Okay, not literally. I'm referring to that trance us reader-folks go under when we meet that ONE book that keeps us up salivating way past our bedtime - ultimately leading to a rather groggy, boggy morning. On second thought, perhaps it IS literal after all. There's no secret to the fact that I split my free time between writing and reading. Scribble, scribble, scrawl or more like - type, type,edit,  type, type, edit then page, page, page. Something along those lines. The "Time Spent" pie chart isn't all that evenly divided I'm afraid. Yet, I strive to have my nose in a book at some point every day. Okay now here's where I get really real.

I do not ADORE everything I read.

Shocker, I know.

Yet nine out of ten times I will finish a book that I am less than enthusiastic about out of morbid curiosity. Out of respect for the author. Out of a long-placed, well-ingrained Catholic school  upbringing that taught me to see things through to completion. But there's a difference, isn't there?
There's a uniqueness, a zest, a snap in your step when you are reading something you're positively over the top, off-the-charts excited about as opposed to something that for you is just okay. This is what makes me think that finding your bookmate is a lot like finding that all elusive soulmate. (Do you despise that word or is it me?) We fumble through the likes of B & N, or electronically through the virtual shelves at Amazon until we come across something we think looks interesting, well-dressed, smells nice. After some serious consternation we make a purchase. Perhaps we check the reviews, fully cognizant of the notion that taste is subjective. Maybe we meet our next read at the urgency of a dear friend with the best of intentions. A set-up as it were. A blind date. (Do you despise those things or is it me?) Need I elaborate on the typical end result? A decent meal, a halfway decent conversation, a peck on the cheek, a mock "I'll call you again." A love connection? Not so much.

Although once in that crazy, Azure-colored moon, you strike pay dirt. You discover the story that reaches inside and tips the scales of your soul. And you are helpless, robotic. You  are glued to your chair, sunk in and hunkered down for the long haul. You are reading while simultaneously preparing a four-course meal. Because you absolutely HAVE TO. It's literary kismet.

This is why we bibliophiles exist. This is our nirvana. (Do you love that word or is it me?)
PS _ Congrats to Sheila and Zoe on winning their eCopies of WISHLESS. May it be love at fist sight, ladies.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hopping YA Style



George Bernard Shaw said that youth is wasted on the young. Each year as I creep further and further away from my own teeny-bopper days, I come closer and closer to understanding what he meant by that. It's such a great thing to be young and have so much life ahead of you, so many plans to make, so much energy. So much time.
Of course aging is inevitable. The years have a way of coming at us quickly - like it or not. I suppose that's one of the reasons I like writing in the YA genre. To stay connected to those lazy, hazy, crazy days of way-back-when. Some folks think you have to be a young person to appreciate reading a YA novel. That's simply hogwash. That magical youthful side of ourselves is always there in our hearts, just waiting for us to tap into its giddy glory.
That said, I'm super-excited to participate in Kathy's latest Hop which is all about things YA! http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/2012/07/young-adult-giveaway-hop-sign-ups.html
Y'all know that when I'm happy I want to give stuff away. Just enter at the Rafflecopter below (see more) for your chance to win one of TWO WISHLESS e-books! Thanks for dropping by.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fifteen Minutes - Give or Take

One of my fave authors, Laurie Halse Anderson, has initiated her Fifth Annual Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge (see here -http://madwomanintheforest.com/blog/) I will admit I've never participated in this exercise before. However, I'm intrigued by the notion. For those of you who aren't of the writerly-persuasion, you may be unaware that often times many of us who dare set pen to paper do so in the most disorganized of fashion. An hour here, five minutes there. Three days on, two days off. Unfortunately it's too easy to succumb to life's little distractions. (Oh excuse me, I just got a Words with Friends request.) Now where was I? Right, distractions.
Yes, it's not always easy to remain focused on the blank page. Not with the internet lurking so close by - usually right there at the top of the screen. (Pardon while I see who just DM'd me on Facebook.) Then of course there's the dog needing a walk, the kids needing to be fed, the phone needing to be answered. Just when did everyone become so, well...needy??
Fifteen minutes should not be so hard to spend wisely. According to Yahoo, the average person can accomplish some pretty useful things in that short period of time. Once can empty a bloated inbox, unload the dishwasher, weed your garden, fold the laundry, etc.You get the gist. So it only stands to reason that a writer with a fairly decent supply of creativity should be able to crank out an uninterrupted paragraph or two, in fifteen minutes right?
Or not.
I'm guessing that dear Ms. Anderson hasn't deemed this a "challenge" without good cause. (BRB  - must answer a text.)
Okay, I'm back and I'm ready to rumble. Perhaps this writing challenge is exactly what the doctor ordered to help cure the pitiful writer with a benign case of attention deficit. Thanks, Laurie. I think...;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No Bones About It

It seems, once again, our little Miley is miffed. Ever since we read and enjoyed "The Art of Racing in the Rain" the novel as told from the POV of Enzo the dog, my sweet pup has been awaiting her turn at bat. And now she's learned that the Blog "Text From Dog" has landed a book deal. See here:
http://www.blogherald.com/2012/07/23/tumblr-blog-text-from-dog-inks-book-deal/
She is not amused. I explained to her that it isn't easy to get published. I told her all about how the average writer must possess equal parts talent, luck, patience and incredibly good timing.
Yet, she is still perturbed. Perhaps something in my explanation was lost in the translation.
If I'm being honest, Miley may be cute but she isn't terribly creative. It's not for the lack of trying. I've sat with her for hours on end, just waiting for something amusing to spring from her tiny black lips.
Aside from the occasional yawn and bark...nothing. I've read her all the amusing anecdotes I could find in hopes of igniting her muse. The most I got out of her in return was a rousing game of fetch. Not all that novel-worthy, I'm afraid.
It would appear that Miley is destined to live the average canine life.She pretends to be put-off by this, complaining - "What good is an author-less existence?" But deep down something tells me she's just as content hanging out on the sofa, a new bone resting between her paws, helplessly resigned to leaving the writing thing to her Mama.
                                                             Miley - The Couch Potato Puppy

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Goes Up

It's high time I face it. They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one, right? Well, Blogger is all about tackling the tough stuff today. And I'm not afraid to admit I'm afraid. Of what, you ask? (Queue the theme song from Jaws.) No, not Great Whites, although they rattle my nerves, too.
No, we're talking a more ferocious beast, one who often hides behind a facade of piped-in music and buttons all adorned in pretty bright lights. That's right.
The Elevator.
Terrifying, I know. It's like one of those bad horror flicks. I'll set the scene: Oblivious Woman Character has to get to the 14th floor. She wears a placid grin and aims for The Elevator. She presses the button and strums her fingers on her purse strap as she waits. Along IT comes, inviting her in so innocently, sliding its doors open in a wide-mouthed hello. Oblivious Woman ambles inside, (this is the part when somebody is yelling at the screen, "Don't go in there, lady!") But she doesn't hear. Once inside The Elevator doors roll closed. It's eaten her alive only she doesn't know it because she's being lulled by an instrumental version of Muskrat Love coming at her from the invisible speakers.
 She begins her ascent, checking her wristwatch to be sure she's on time for her appointment with her holistic healer. Little does she know there won't be any good karma in store for her today. All at once the gears begin to grind loudly. Oblivious Woman looks around. The Elevator slows up and then lurches to a screeching halt. OW releases a dainty expletive. After a few minutes without any sign of movement she reaches for the phone attached to the wall. Fool! Of course it doesn't work! She checks her cell. Naturally there's no reception. What did she expect? OW's heart starts racing. She calls out for help.
But nobody can hear her. She is trapped between the 12th and 13th floor. So close and yet hideously so far. Is there enough air in here, she wonders, as a cold sweat breaks out at her brow. The Elevator smirks. It has taken another victim. With any luck she'll panic and pass out before she's rescued. Perhaps she'll even perish for lack of adequate oxygen. The Elevator emits a treacherous laugh - (think Vincent Price in Thriller), claiming another innocent life.


And there you have it. The very valid, totally realistic reason this girl will opt for the stairs whenever possible.
Stay tuned for The Elevator - Part Two - where the cables fail and an unsuspecting rider plummets twenty stories to his tragic demise. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Reads Giveaway Hop



Things are really heating up on the Hook this week! Our latest giveaway has arrived and I'm super excited to make some new friends and welcome back those of you who have been here before. Thanks again to Kathy for this awesome hop. http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/2012/05/summer-reads-giveaway-hop-sign-ups.html.

You guys remember being a kid and the glorious days of summer break? They seemed to last forever, didn't they? My memories are oh-so-sweet. Long days spent at the town pool, chlorine-scented skin, the Ice Cream Man, flashlight tag, scraped knees, sand-lined beach bags and lightning bugs in a jar to name a few...it just doesn't get much better than that, does it? 'Tis my favorite season of all. To help celebrate the calendars hottest months we are giving away a signed copy of WISHLESS, my debut novel. Just follow the Rafflecopter below (read more) to be entered to win. Don't forget to take a moment while you're here to share your fondest summer memory...

Keep cool!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

GPS and the Muse

Sometimes we writers hand pick our main characters, conjuring up exactly whose story we wish to tell. And other times they choose us. For my latest work-in-progress I had every intention of writing about a girl from China. I really wanted to tell her story so I summoned her, plying her with promises of creative freedom and all the fruit flavored candy her heart desires.I waited (somewhat) patiently for her to show up. Then it happened. One morning she arrived.
"Howdy," she said.  
Howdy? What the??
She went on. "I reckon I'm  not who you were expecting."
"Not unless you're from Asia."
"No ma'am. Fraid not."
"Maybe southern Asia?"
"No, ma'am. Not me. I'm southern all right, but not from Asia."
"Look, no offense, but I think you have the wrong writer," I told her.
"Nope. The Muse sent me to you. Said you'd have Skittles."
Those darn Muses. Where would they be without their charming sense of humor and lousy sense of direction?
I threw up my hands. "Well, I suppose since you've come all this way from..."
"Alabama."
"Alabama, then I ought to see what it is you have to say."
"Candy first. Story later." she said.

So that's how it came to be that I met the latest star of my literary show. Let the record reflect that she and I have gone on to become fast friends and despite the drawl, I think I can write her tale with a decent amount of conviction. With any luck one day in the near future, y'all will let me know whether or not I done good. 

(Reckon she's under my skin already...)


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Waiting on the Waves of Change

With the arrival of summer, I've been beach bound once again, book in hand, bottle of lotion and blanket at the ready. It's a quick escape. A working daycation. Many writers find inspiration at the shore, among the sand and sea. It helps me, too. Even as I sit back and read, seemingly in a state of utter relaxation, inside I am plotting and planning and charting my course, wondering what the waves of change have in store for me. And when they might happen to come along. The beach is really a perfect place for reflection and for working on being patient, for as any writer can attest to, waiting is a major part of the game.

So many kind folks have been asking me lately when my next book will be released. The simple reply is I don't know. I've written two more since WISHLESS and the third one is currently in production. My agent is handling these titles and working tirelessly to get us "out there" once again. The plain truth about publishing is it's not a game for the impatient. We wait for editors to read our work. We wait for responses that sometimes don't come for months and months if at all. It's a lot like watching the waves from a distance and waiting for one to get close enough to wet your toes. They roll in. They roll out. They get close. Really close. But often not close enough. So we move our chairs, shift position, try to get as near as we can. Yet we can't control the water. And we can't control the answers. They'll come when they're good and ready. And not a minute before.

Sometimes it gets so hot on that sand. The breeze quiets down and the sun is blazing and you have to get up from where you are and stroll down to the waters edge and wade in. Take matters into your own hands and barge right up to those waves. Meet them head-on. Then you're wet and you cool down a little and you can return to your reading and your planning and your waiting. For those answers.

If only they were more like the waves...





Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Child's Heart


The child and her father sat on the grass, looking up at the sky. "Daddy," she said, "where does the sunlight go when the night comes along?"
"In your hair," her father answered.
"And where do the stars go when it's morning once again?"
"In your eyes," he replied.
She turned her small face toward his. "Where do you go all day when we can't be together?"
"I'm in your heart," he said and then added, "Always."

Happy Father's Day.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Indie & Small Press Hopping



Oh how I love to give props to those wonderful folks who bring us some awesome titles not churned out by huge presses! As WISHLESS was produced by a smaller publishing house, I can relate to the hard work these modest companies do for their authors. I also take my hat off to those brave writers who have forged this turbulent road to publication all on their own. What a monumental undertaking! Many of these authors have gone on to achieve fabulous success. Folks like Deepak Chopra, Mark Twain , Beatrix Potter and John Grisham just to name a few are among those who self-published their work at one point or another. By far my fave crazy-talented Indie author is Crystal Cattabriga, author of SAVING BOBBY and GOD BLESSED THE BROKEN ROAD series. Crystal has graciously agreed to offer a signed copy of SAVING BOBBY to one lucky winner here. Naturally we also have a signed paperback copy of WISHLESS waiting too ;) Just visit the Rafflecopter below!

While you are here today be sure to check out the Review Crew Giveaway below. There could be a $50.00 gift card in your future in return for your humble opinion!

Thanks to Kathy at I'm A Reader Not A Writer for bringing us yet another awesome hop!
http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/2012/03/indie-author-giveaway-hop-sign-ups.html

Check out Crystal here: https://www.facebook.com/crystalcattabriga and here:http://crystalcattabrigabooks.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 11, 2012

Money Honey - The Contests are Coming!


Howdy Hooksters! This August marks one year since the release of WISHLESS! It's hard to believe after all the waiting and waiting for Book Baby to arrive it's already almost 12 months old. In order to celebrate we are holding a special giveaway contest over on our Facebook page! If you've already read the book all you have to do to enter is leave a short review on either Amazon, B & N or Goodreads and provide the link here or on FB. That's it! The prize pack this time includes a $50.00 Amazon e-giftcard and a few surprise goodies too! If your review is currently posted just let me know. And for those of you who haven't read it yet - there's plenty of time. The drawing will be held on August 14th. Thanks again for all of your wonderful support!!


https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wishless/232063146839096

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Writer's Wings

Just this week the wonderful world of writers lost another of its brethren. Ray Bradbury, the famous sci-fi, horror and mystery novelist left us at the ripe age of 91. It made me wonder if there's a special spot in heaven for those folks who spend their allotted time here on earth in search of the elusive Perfect Sentence. I have to  presume there must be. After all, there just has to be some sort of Writers Nirvana, an eternal payoff for those of us who toil and trouble our lives away in the treacherous business of words. If so, then what does Writer's Heaven look like?

I imagine in Writer's Heaven every desk has an inspirational view. If its the ocean that gets your creative juices flowing, then it's the ocean you will have. If it's green, open spaces, you'll have that too. In Writer's Heaven there is no shortage of pens or paper and the laptops never need to be plugged in - the batteries are everlasting. The clouds in Writer's Heaven not only have a silver lining, but they are encased in books, hundreds and hundreds of them, in your genre of choice. There are Quote Rainbows with the very best things ever recorded on paper etched into the colors. You can write for as long as your heart desires in Writer's Heaven without wasting precious time with such mundane mortal things as eating, sleeping and using the bathroom. (You're an Author Angel, remember?...Wings and all that jazz...)

Author Angels don't write for six-figure publishing deals. They write for the joy of it. They write because it's what they were born to do and somehow they always knew it would stay with them even after they traveled to that great typewriter in the sky.

Rest peacefully, Mr. Bradbury. And to all those wordsmiths who have gone before him. Write on. Guess I'll see ya on the flip side.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spellbound

Hope that all of you lovely Hooksters had a peaceful and relaxing holiday weekend. It was a scorcher here where I vacillated between (sweating) enjoying the great and toasty outdoors and the cool, climate controlled indoors. Spent time with the family. There's nothing like an afternoon of fun and games with those you love best to remind you that, in spite of the fact you manipulate words on a daily basis, you pretty much stink at spelling. Our game of choice: Bananagrams. If you aren't familiar with it, it's kind of like Scrabble (which I also stink at) but with your own little board and a time constraint. The catch-phrase of this particular form of recreation in our house is usually one of two well-worn questions. 1) Is this a word? 2) How do you spell _____? (fill in the blank)
While I won't speak for the abilities of the others, I will venture to say I'm not sure when it was that I forgot how to string letters together to form more complicated words than: he, she, cat, dog, love, star, etc. I mean, it makes no sense. When I write I spend hours on end carefully selecting and savoring the most verbose of terms, the most unique coinage, often effortlessly. However, apparently I am struck inept at accomplishing this when faced with 15 or 20 tiny lettered squares.
While the weight of this contradiction seems to escape the other players, deep down I'm baffled. Is it possible I'm not the crafty wordsmith I believe myself to be? Perhaps I'm simply a little spellbound. Yeah, that's probably it.
Whichever the case, I may have to consider adding a new game to our family-time repertoire. Maybe Hangman is more my speed. Or Pictionary. Then again, drawing isn't my strong suit.
Hop Scotch anyone?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Of Decades Down



It's one thing to turn a year older when you're still hovering somewhere in the middle of something - i.e. your teens, twenties, thirties, forties, etc. It's quite another to cling desperately to that last twelve months of 19, 29, 39 and upwards. This my dear friends, is the gruesomest of birthdays. You smile for all the pictures pretending it's just another cake, another set of wishes you may not ever see come true. But deep down you're thinking, "Crap. Another decade down. Crap."

We've all heard the cliches meant to make us feel better about the whole situation- "Age is just a number." "You're only as old as you feel." These aren't nearly as lethal as the dreaded, "You look great for your age." Ugh.
Truth is, the clock is ticking, the sand is cascading through the hourglass and we are helpless to do anything to turn it back or even slow it down. For each decade that rushes by another waits to welcome us, to coax us into believing that this will the THE very best one yet. I still recall the 30's as they wooed me, "Come on over to our side, sweetie. We'll make you smarter than you were in your 20's. We'll teach you how to be a mommy, balance your checkbook the right way and roast the hell out of a chicken." Tempting? Perhaps. But why fight it? There's really no refusing anyway.

Naturally this whole topic comes up because I'm about to celebrate the anniversary of the day my Mama had her first child. I'm being forced to say goodbye to a decade that promised it wouldn't break the sound barrier as it sped past.
Guess what? It lied.

So...how old is this blogger, you may ponder? Well, Robert Frost said it best...


"Time and Tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a woman of thirty."




Monday, May 14, 2012

The Ghostest with The Mostest

She's surely not a ghost. In fact she's as alive as she can be. But something strange happens when she purses her lips -the spirits come calling. And she answers. Big time.If you don't know her by now...well then you might want to peek out from under that rock. TLC's Theresa Caputo, also known as The Long Island Medium, has hit the airwaves with such a splash I'm literally still mopping up the floors around here. She's a home-grown hit. A psychic sensation. And it isn't much of a stretch to say that we're practically neighbors - as she hails from Hicksville, NY and this little ole' blogger lives just two shakes from there.

I recently had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at a local event where Ms. Caputo was appearing. In her lovely, lively manner she filled two hours reuniting families with their dearly departed. I make no bones about the fact that I'm a believer. The nay-sayers can nay all they want to. I've experienced this gift first-hand and I know. It's like air. You can't see it, but you know it exists. It's about faith. About trusting that there's more to this life than just what we can touch and taste, smell and hear. To witness Ms. Caputo in action is really a thing of beauty. She bridges the deep emotional divide left behind when our loved ones are called home. And as if that isn't enough - she's funny as hell. As a writer, I'm always on the lookout for a fresh source of inspiration. Watching these stories of love that has been lost and found again if only for a moment, brings that and more. It's refreshing entertainment with a side order of Kleenex. I'm "hooked."
Uh...pardon the pun ;)


PS - Here is a photo of the handsome and kind, Mr. Larry Caputo, with my mother, who has now decided that tattoos are very sexy...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Making Up is Hard To Do

I ran into an old friend at the dairy-mart the other day. We caught up in that way you do when you try cramming ten years of living into a fifteen minute window - covering the typical mini-topics: marriage, divorce, kids, school, work and the weather. "So you write fiction?" she said, only half a question. I heard her turning it over in her mind. And I knew what she was thinking. Loosely translated, what she meant to say was,
"So you earn a living making things up?"
Well, technically speaking - yes. And no.
Fiction is the land of make believe. This no writer can deny. But it's grounded in reality, in the life experiences of ourselves and others, seasoned with a generous portion of creative license. You have to be well-organized to be a fiction writer. Note cards help. It can be tough to keep the facts straight when they aren't actually facts. The trick is to convince yourself that your story isn't make believe at all. It's as real as pretend can ever be. Even if you're writing fantasy, dystopian, vampires and/or zombies. If your goal is to have your reader become fully engaged... then they're all real. Easy, right? Not so much. My dear old friend went on,
"Aren't all the original ideas already taken?"
Well, technically speaking - yes and no. I mean, sure its been said that there are only seven basic story plots in literature. But every writer worth his salt will take one of those plot lines and twist the beejeezus out of it until it smacks of originality. Easy right?
Not so much. Yet it's this challenge that drives us, that keeps the whole ball of wax stuck together. Like any good modern relationship - it's a love-hate thing. Like breaking up and making up. It's a living.

PS - Congrats to our two latest winners - Michael and Mary who received e-copies of WISHLESS. Please, please stick around. More contests are just around the bend.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop

We're celebrating the joys of springtime this week on the Hook. From longer days, to flower power to short sleeves and a hint of summer in the air. We love all things spring! To help us get in the lighter, brighter mood, Kathy and her cohorts are hosting another hop! http://iamareadernotawriter.blogspot.com/2012/02/spring-fling-giveaway-hop-sign-ups.html
I'm so pleased to participate and to welcome some new faces as well as holler a hearty how-do to some old friends. Not old as in "age." We're ageless here - no counting years allowed ;)
Hope you'll settle in and stay a while. Our giveaways come along every month or so, both here and on our WISHLESS Facebook page. Prizes range from paperbacks to e-gift cards from Amazon and Barnes and Noble to e-books and more! And speaking of WISHLESS, (ya had to figure I would, right?) two lucky winners will receive an e-book copy of my debut novel. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below - (read more.)
Thanks so much for hopping by!




Saturday, April 28, 2012

Crazy Little Thing Called LUVY

She's a writer, too. Quite skilled with words. And she's recently fallen in love. I feel compelled to report she's now morphed into something of a babbling fool. "She" is a dear friend of mine and she knows I'm ratting her out, so to speak. I'll call her Luvy, to protect the innocent. Since coming down with her affliction she is no longer able to express herself in complete sentences. It's more like this:

Me: So Luvy, how's the romance going?
Her: Mmm-mmm good.
Me: Do you think he could be "the one?"
Her: Ohhhh, yeah. Uh-huh. Yup. He's so...ya' know. Well, you know.
Me: Umm, no. Not really.
Her: Like, beyond what I...and that mouth! He's like - Oh! (sigh)
Me: You don't say?
Her: (giggling) Yeah. Just like that.

This is an actual transcript of a conversation. Sad. But true. Love has a tendency to render even the most prolific of us, speechless. At least in the beginning, when we're still in a starry-eyed trance. If experience counts for anything, with the passage of time Luvy will snap out of it. Her words will come back to her. Then she'll be left scratching her head and wondering what in the hell had happened to her. She'd apparently gone a little temporarily insane.

Goes with the territory. You've been there too, right? And you've lived to tell. If only it were easy to explain...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Getting Brainy at Eric's Place


That's right. This blogger has a case of the antsy-pants this week. I just can't seem to stay home ;) Hope you'll pop by author Eric M. Black's blog and take a peek. I'm spillin' it on what REALLY goes on inside the brain of us writer-types. 
http://www.ericmblack.com/blog/writebrained

Perhaps dear Louisa May is correct. See for yourself. And don't worry. I'll be back here in two shakes of something cute and fuzzy.