Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's A Wrap!

Looking back at my month-long Blog-everyday experiment, I tallied successes and failures.

On the positive side, I proved I could do it everyday. As soon as I got up, my mind was on the blog; what am I going to post today? What pics/media do I need?  Another good thing, it's practice for maintaining the Sirenz and my own website. I learned to stretch my mind for interesting subjects, not always focusing on writing. Plus, I can now download clipart, pics, and videos.

On the negative side, it took a lot of time. The early morning time I spent on the blog was usually spent clearing out email and doing promo. Doing the blog put me behind my daily schedule. That affects my writing, not being able to write as much. Plus, there was no spike in comments or visits. Even when I did contests or giveaways. (There is no winner for Most Romantic True Story because while sweet, the two stories were not romantic. And there was only one idea for the swag giveaway which was too expensive so nothing for that either.) So I wonder if it was all worth it.

Will I do it again? Not for a while. I have one manuscript that needs serious revisions, one that is in total overhaul, and one that is partly started. Plus, Nat & I have to finish Sirenz 3. (I'd like to plan a 'working research' trip for Sirenz 4 to Greece, it those people ever stop fighting and destroying their beautiful country.) Plus, we'll be doing the college search with the middle son. And summer means two kids are home, my pool is open, Sirenz Back In Fashion launches and cold daiquiris will demand my attention...

So I'm done. Thanks to my followers for being there with me. I will stick to my original once a week postings unless something just has to get out there (TV deal? Movie offer? Another book pubbed? Running away with Ian Somerhalder? Fabulous shoe sale?)

Be talking to you soon.


Char

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Not Cheating...

It's Creative Time Management.  As I wind down my blog-a-day challenge, I'm going to share some tips how I managed to do something for every blog post.

Make a list.
When I decided to do this challenge, I knew that some days would be crazy busy, I might not be home long enough to conceive, create and post a blog. That's where making a list comes in handy. When I woke up, I have a list of subjects to choose from, thus avoiding writer's block.

Pre-write
During commercials of The Vampire Diaries or other shows that I have to watch, I draft blogs. Sometimes just a few sentences so it jiggles the mind when it's time to flesh it out. And it gives me time to think what pics or photos I need/want.

Let everyday situations inspire you.
I don't write solely about the craft of writing because that would be boring to non-writers. And no one wants constant rants. Or peeks into my personal life. But mash them all up, keep the subjects ever changing, and it makes for more cross appeal. When a situation comes up that I feel would engage a reader, I use it- like the most romantic story for Valentine's Day, or the photo of the daffodil sprouts that made me giddy with happiness. Never bore your reader! is one of my live or die by rules. You may not agree, but you won't be bored.

Keep it simple.
I don't have time, inclination, or expertise to do fancy stuff. You'll have to go elsewhere for that. I'd rather be writing than learning how to put sound effects or squiggles or whatever else on my blog. That stuff just consumes too much brain power that I need elsewhere (like those edits on three books that are screaming at me to finish them so they can go visit my agent for a bit.)

And that's my secret.


Char

Monday, February 27, 2012

Countdown!

Wednesday is the final day for my everyday-for-a-month blog. Can't say that I'll be sad when it's over. I've got a lot of things on my plate and having one less thing to do every day will be nice. (My agent is probably tapping her foot, waiting on this last project... I was working on it last night, I swear!) I even skipped the Oscars (like I was going to watch the windbags anyway.)

So, what do you want to talk about? The Oscars? Crazy stuff my cat does? How I love the summer? (Will be opening the pool in 3 1/2 months! Squee!) I'm kind of talked out (especially since there are some subjects I won't discuss, some I can't discuss and some it's better I don't discuss. It's the PC tightrope. Writers aren't always allowed to use their freedom of speech because of how it may impact them.)

Here's my list of THINGS TO DO:
-Put together swag for Sirenz Back In Fashion (This includes going to candy store, making chocolate swag, going to craft store, making stuff. Sorry, it's a surprise, no can tell).
-Reschedule son's missed dentist appointment (and hope she'll forgive me- was sick and forgot it).
-Take son to driver's test (he'd better pass, my life is too complicated)
-Do guest blog (geez, another one? I'm running out of ideas.)
-Shoe sale! (I DO need new flats, wore other ones out. And, well, spring shoe sales! Any girl will understand.)
-Vacuum- because after a weekend of company, the place is a wreck.
-Dessert for Robotics Team party (make vs. bought... hmmm, dilemma. Ok, buy. I'm too busy)
-Fencing practice, bell practice, SAT tutoring, Math tutoring,

That's just the stuff I can remember off the top of my head. NOT listed is writing at least 10 more chaps in the book. (Might be nice to finish it so it can go to the beta readers, but I don't think that's likely this week....)

And that's my glance-at-a-week.

I have to get busy, so till tomorrow- get out and enjoy some fresh air, some daffodil buds, and blue skies.


Char

Sunday, February 26, 2012

You Have GOT To Be Kidding!

video


TAKE  DOWN.  THE. *(&^%!.  CHRISTMAS.  WREATH.


Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Ash Wednesday have passed, St. Patrick's is coming.

Enough said.


(Took this on my iPhone, so bear with me- blurry & battery dying. Martin Scorcese I am not!)

Char

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sad Face



It's not like I was expecting a deluge of responses, but I would have thought that a 'tell me your most romantic true story' contest with a gift card giveaway would have garnered more than two responses. (Thank you Sarah and Love Between Pages for responding!).  And while their stories were sweet, I didn't think they were romantic enough. We have several pairs of friends who were high school sweethearts. Nice, but nothing to get choked up about. If the husband convinced some members of the high school orchestra to play a love song like Theme From Romeo and Juliet in front of her house on Valentine's Day, or for her birthday, that would have been romantic.

So I have no winners. (My idea of romantic- see previous posts- A Priceless Gift Of Love and What Two Oceans Cannot Divide). It makes me fearful that true romance is dying. Find something romantic and redeem my faith. I might be inspired to send you that gift card.



Sometimes, you get a second chance at love...and gift cards!


Char

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Two Oceans Cannot Divide

She was born on a family farm in a remote town in Calabria, Italy.

He lived on the farm next door.

From childhood into adulthood, they saw only each other, promises unspoken by word, but made by love.

Then war came, and with it, roving bands of soldiers, looking to impress young men.

And they found him. Took him away to fight a war he didn't want, didn't believe in. Whatever food the soldiers could steal, they did, leaving the families hungry. Only unharvested potatoes, still in the ground that the soldiers refused to unearth, were left.

Away they took him, but he promised to come back to her. And she promised to wait for him.

So she worked the farm, struggling with her family through those desperate times, wondering where he was, if he was still alive.

He fought in Africa until the Allies caught him. And made him a prisoner.

The war ended. Seeking a better life than the desolate farm, he journeyed to Canada, finding work in Chrysler  Automotive plant.

He didn't forget her, but there wasn't enough money to send for her. But he could marry her--by shortwave radio. While she stood in her white wedding dress on the arm of her brother in Italy, she spoke her vow of love till death. From Canada, he promised his love.

She waited. Two years. Then came the day there was enough money for a one way journey to her new world. Leaving behind the wedding gifts, and all she knew, knowing there was little chance she'd see her family again, she traversed the ocean, not in First Class, but freighter.

Soon there was a baby girl. Eighteen months later, a baby boy, their family complete. Five years of happiness.

She ran to the hospital. His last words spoke of his children.

Alone, she emigrated to the States where she cleaned houses, worked in hotel laundries, babysat other people's children to feed her own.

For 51 years she mourned her Tomasso, keeping her vow of no one but him till death.

On a quiet day, she rejoined him and renewed their vows of love forever.


This is the story of Gilda and Tomasso, my in-laws. And I will write their love story.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wishful Thinking...

If Sirenz ever made it to the movie/TV screen, and became only a quarter as big as Twilight, or The Hunger Games, this is what I'm going to get:



http://www.chevrolet.com/camaro-special-edition/

But make it a convertible, electric blue, black interior, only-I-have-the-keys edition.


Char

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Do I Have To Finish It?

Am I talking about my mom making me eat yucky vegetables?



(As if she could in my own home. And yes, I hate artichokes, kale, collard greens, broccoli-rabe, eggplant and okra.)

No, it's a book. I hate starting books and not finishing them because I want the story resolved, even if poorly. But, now I'm in the middle of a book, and it's gotten good reviews... and I hate it. I'm 3/4 through and I'm still waiting for the major conflict. It's all building, albeit snail-a-bly (my word) s    l    o    w.  When it takes me two months to finish a book, on the 'hate' heap it goes, to be given away.

I'm not going to reveal the book because maybe it's just me. We've gotten one 'awful', a few 'not my type' and several 'meh' reviews. Understandable because Sirenz is humorous and humor is subjective, some people have no sense of humor, and some people prefer angst/zombies/vamps/despair/whatever. Not every book is for everyone. But if a book is bad enough where I don't finish it, then I'm sorry, but the editors missed this. And the cover is 'everyone's doing it' girl with flowing hair in a long dress (because we women all go around in flowing dresses and hair). There is nothing about this book, from the characters, to the cover, to the plot (is one going to reveal itself, I wonder?) to whatever ending there may be, to compel me to finish it.



And you can't make me.


Char

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Love To Hate-

Now that we got Valentine's Day/week out of the way, let's talk about Hate.

It's okay to hate. Don't gasp and look horrified and hide your face. Here's a list of things it's okay to hate:

1- Cruelty- in any form, disguised or overt, it's never cool.

2- Eggplant- I mean really, it's a purple, nutrient and vitamin free, tasteless vegetable.

3- Those ugly shoes that look like skeleton feet- They are uglier than almost any fashion accessory I have ever seen. Even zombies think they're ugly (I asked one.).

4- Cold feet. Mine are always cold. And my hands and nose. I HATE being cold! Where's summer?

5- Mini-Coopers- can you just get out of the clown car and into a real one? For that much money to buy that dumb-looking, not as good on gas as it should be death-trap, you can almost buy 2 American cars.

I'm going to stop at five- I'd hate to go overboard.

Char

Monday, February 20, 2012

497, 498, 499...

Shoes? No.
Cats? Never.
Diamonds? I can dream.

But no. Those numbers represent the overly repetitive use of the word 'just.' Natalie was editing her latest manuscript and found the word used over 500 times.  Yikes! So I did a check on the word 'had' in Sirenz Back In Fashion, which I'm editing now. It was used 297 times.

Did we need all of them? No.

Some of them? Yes.

Over the course of 60,000+ words, that's barely a bump. But where I deleted it, it made the sentence stronger because had is a helping verb. I like to think of it as 'helping ' water down the action (I jumped vs. I had jumped.  Both are past tense, do you really need the 'had'? No.)

I'll get back to you and let you know how many I took out. Maybe you'll want to look at your manuscripts and see which words you overuse and get rid of them. Keep a few, but dump the rest. If you're looking to reduce your word count, this is a great place to start.

Char

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Little Self Indugence

When we renovated our house, it was toward 'What do we need?' More space. 'What will give us the best return on our money?' Not doing anything crazy or trendy or overpriced.

But in all the practicality (that master ensuite will lure buyers in when we're ready to sell. really), I wanted something unique, just for me, that didn't have to be practical.

So I begged, pleaded, cajoled, whined and demanded my library. The old dining room became my book sanctuary:



Why yes, that's Sirenz in the middle, waiting for her sister, Sirenz Back In Fashion. I hope to add many more siblings.

Char

Friday, February 17, 2012

Looky!


I took this just moments ago- in my front walkway gardens.. Daffodil sprouts!

It makes me....


So......



Char

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Is It...

That smoke alarm batteries die at 2:47 a.m.? The heat is low, it's cold, don't want to wake anyone up (as if! No one wakes up for anything around here unless it's a hot breakfast!), so I'm tiptoeing in the dark. This is my brain/body at 2:47 a.m.:

 And if you crazies are on the road AGAIN today, like you were yesterday, cutting me off THREE times so I had to slam on the brakes, well, I'd give me a WIDE BERTH today.

Not even a Chai latte may improve my mood. Just sayin.

Char

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yeah, One Thing I Got Down Perfectly

It's taken me 15 years to perfect. The ONLY way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Anyone who sends kids to school with that staple (provided it's allowed), needs to learn this. It will save you money because your kids won't throw away soggy sandwiches then come home and eat you into homelessness. It will save you from untold hours of lamenting, fighting, whining that they hate their lunch. And it will make you the Goddess of the Brown Bag.  (You do know that lunch boxes, pouches and grocery bags are uncool, right?)

Here's the secret:

Thin coat of peanut butter on one slice of bread.

Thin coat on the OTHER slice.



NOW put the jelly (I'd recommend jam because it's thicker and more consistent to spread) IN BETWEEN.

The peanut butter protects the bread from getting soggy.

I know, brilliant, right? And I'll even let you take the credit with your kids for being the smartest mom ever. :)


Char

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Priceless Gift of Love

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm going to tell you a true story.

The house was decked out for Christmas; stockings hung in the window, three Christmas trees shone brightly through the windows, lots of lights twinkled on bushes and off the house trim, candles lit every window, a wreath graced the front door, and a Christmas flag welcomed all.

But all she wanted for Christmas was snow.

It was too warm, we hadn't had snow that early for almost decades. Oh, it was just about cold enough, but the snow didn't come around Christmas anymore.

In the early evening of the 23rd, a huge truck, pulling a trailer carrying what looked like a giant fan drove into the driveway.

Four hours later, there was snow; on the house, over the front yard, in the driveway. A line of traffic quietly, slowly, drove by in an almost steady stream until after Christmas night to view the beautiful scene.



When people complained about how much it must have cost for that vista, and how the money could be used on better things, I thought, 'How sad for those people. They see dollars and things.'

I saw the priceless gift of love one man gave a woman.

Because all she wanted for Christmas was snow.





Char

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trust Me On This

I've read a lot of manuscripts; mine, friends', critique groups, and those I'm paid to critique, so some things always come up. We're supposed to be professionals (or aspiring to be) and yet I see so many silly, preventable mistakes. I'm thinking editors and agents out there will vigorously nod their heads in agreement. How much horror on the white page do they witness?



I'm not going to talk about spelling mistakes (shame on you, with spell check?) Even if it's the wrong word, at least if it's spelled right, you get 1/2 a point. The absolute correct format style isn't so absolute with the exception of double-spaced, typed (yeah, I have to put that in), and 12 point New York Times or Courier font. Where new chapters start (ideally halfway down the page) is sometimes moved to the top, 2/3 down, and places in between. And if you're bad at contractions (Really? At this age? Get a book on grammar!), at least you know it and should make an attempt to correct as many mistakes as possible.

My favorite pet peeves are 1) use of the 'helping' verb and 2) sloppy editing.  First, what 'help' is a word that waters down action and drags the story out? You want dynamic action verbs. To wit:

I had started to run down the street when the zombies suddenly appeared, armed with chainsaws.


Is that better than:

I ran down the street when the zombies suddenly appeared, armed with chainsaws.


Did I really need to use 'started' to run (because I did, didn't I?) and if it's past tense, did I need the 'had'? Answer to both is no. And, you saved three words: had, started and to on the infinitive.  Plus, doesn't it sound more exciting? You're cutting right to the action. Go through your manuscript (do a global search, it's easier) for had and have and see how many times you used it. Some you have to keep, (I can use 'must' here and get rid of  'have to') but most you can eliminate.

Sloppy editing is the bane of my writing life. We all slide a manuscript by from time to time, thinking our friends will fix it up. Besides not being fair to your friends asking them to do your work, you won't sharpen your own skills. Your friends won't be available to continually edit your writing. And we all know that sloppy editing will kill your story, even if the editor or agent thinks it has a lot of potential. They don't want to do all that work, and if you can't be bothered, why should they? There are thousands of writers out there with polished manuscripts, so it's easier, quicker, and cheaper to select someone who puts every effort into polishing their text.

A few mistakes are no biggie. We've all seen mistakes in the final book (although I have to say I haven't found any in Sirenz because Sandy Sullivan, our Flux copyeditor, is a goddess of editing. But if you find any, let me know and not only will I reward you, but I'll have it fixed for the next printing.).

The way to perfect your editing--numerous read throughs. You can't get all the mistakes the first pass through, because you'll make changes and that will lead to new mistakes. After you've read it no less than twice (stop groaning, this is the real world), pass it to a friend. Make changes, read through. My secret? When Natalie and I were writing/revising/editing Sirenz, we read it aloud, and we read the other's chapters. If I stumbled on a sentence, or had to reread it to understand it, we knew she had to fix that sentence. Reading aloud helps you to actually hear how your work sounds. It works even better with someone who doesn't know the story because they have fresh eyes, and won't unconsciously skim over parts because they're too familiar with the text. Time consuming? Yes. But when our editor Brian Farrey read Sirenz, besides telling us we were funny :) he said it was a polished work. I have no doubt that this helped in his decision to sign us even though we had to trash 15 out of 20 chapters. The writing would be there, but in a modified version.

Now go write, and write well!



Char

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Slacker Sunday

Yep, Sunday is my rest day. Well, there is no rest for writers, moms, and homemakers. I have to do laundry, change sheets, make dinner, do dishes, put away groceries, nag about homework, get things ready for Monday back-to-school-and-work.

AND I HAVE TO DO THIS BLOG.

I know, I know, I took the challenge.

So today's blog features the schedule I'll be signing for Sirenz or Sirenz Back In Fashion (so far):


March 5th, William Patterson University


March 15th- Public Librarians Association Conference, Philly Convention Center, PA. In booth signing, #1244. Both Natalie & I will be handing out swag and signing ARCs. Authors Alissa Grosso and Margie Gelbwasser will also be there from Flux, as well as authors from other houses.


April- NYC Teen Author Fest, Books of Wonder, 18 West 18th Street, NYC, 3:15-4 p.m.  I'll be signing along with Jeri Smith-Ready, KM Walton, Victoria Schwab, and Jennifer Smith, among others. 

April 11th-15th- Romantic Times Convention, Chicago. Both Natalie and I will be signing on Saturday at the Book Fair (exact time to be announced when available). There will be too many wonderful authors for me to list here!


June- Sirenz Back In Fashion debuts! We don't have a specific date or place but will let you know as soon as we work out a schedule and place. Of course we will be happy to sign copies of Sirenz for you folk who have (ahem) overlooked getting it...

June 8th-10th- NJ Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Annual Conference, Princeton. We will both be presenting workshops and signing Sirenz/Sirenz Back In Fashion.

August 4th- YA Fest 2012, Easton Area Public Library, Palmer Branch, PA. 11-3 pm. I will be appearing with Jennifer Murgia and Cyn Balog, among others. Both books will be available.

NOTE* 1- For those signings where it's just me, Natalie will pre-sign bookplates so both signatures are            available.
              2- More signing dates and information will be added so you'll have to check in to find out the current schedule.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This Is Not Your Average Library!

I have library envy. The good part is that this is MY library. And yours. It belongs to the American People. It is the Library of Congress. Look at this fabulousness! I will stack it up against ANY library in the world!

(All photos courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, photographs by Carol M. Highsmith. Above Photo reproduction number: LC-DIG-highsm-01908)

Is that not breathtaking? Psst, wait until you see this!

                                                                                           (LC-DIG-highsm-01925)
Yes, there is a fountain! (Makes me want to jump in on a sunny day! I'm sure some Washingtonians felt the same way!)

Let's go inside. Did you know that the Library of Congress has sculptured bronze doors, marble columns and bas reliefs, stained glass windows, painted cantilevered ceilings, grand staircases,, murals depicting myriad subjects like printing, zoology, etc, Pompeiian panels of the virtues like courage and fortitude, renderings of Greek mythology like the Muses (a favorite!) and bronze statues?

                                                                                                                          (LC-DIG-highsm-01785)

A marbled staircase...

 
                                                                                           (LC-DIG-highsm-01961)

Imagine the grand entrance you could make here! Note all the carvings and sculptures. Then, there's this:

                                                                                                                         (LC-DIG-highsm-03187)

This is an aerial view of the Main Reading Room. You are surrounded by priceless art, history, knowledge. How could anyone NOT be inspired?! Let's go see more books! 

                                                                                                                          (LC-DIG-highsm-02098)

Wonder where they have Sirenz? 

                                                                                                                          (LC-DIG-highsm-03194)

This is the African-Middle Eastern Reading Room. One of just so many...

But it's more than just a beautiful place- these librarians are masters at their craft- all forms of knowledge and its safekeeping. Need to find an obscure article? Have to find a photo? Question about a book? These are the people to go to:


If the world's population perished, except me of course, this is where I'd head too. (First raiding every Starbucks on the way for Chai Latte supplies.) It would be a writer/reader's dream. 

So check it out! Visit! Surf its site! Ask a question! Get the best research help in the world! This is the People's Library.

Char





Friday, February 10, 2012

Homegrown


Friday is Wear Red to support a Vet.

I support the Wounded Warriors Project and the Disabled American Veterans causes.

My American flag will fly at full staff, day and night, until all our soldiers come home from Afghanistan.

So Buy American. Give, keep, create jobs at home so vets returning home, and other Americans, will have jobs.



God Bless America!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How Stupid Do You Think I Am?

So I'm trolling my email spam folder because sometimes there's something important in there, and I come across an email traffic ticket. (Wish I'd saved a copy, I was getting them often, but that was before I started doing this everyday blog thing.)

From New York.

My first reaction was to check my calendar to see if I'd been in NY at the time.

Uh, no. If anything, I was in Connecticut at the time.

My second reaction was "How did the police get my email?"

And then it dawned on me that "Duh, this is a scam."




So beware, the scum are out in force.

(Clipart courtesy of Microsoft Office- because I can't draw and I don't have time to find a friendly police officer who will allow me to take his picture while he gives someone a traffic ticket.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Appreciate The Sentiment

Going through the mail- junk, ads, bills, real estate listings.

And a hand written letter.

The script was old-school; elegant, neat, small. Definitely written by a woman. The return address wasn't anyone I knew. Maybe it was that ploy where a charity calls up your neighbor, asking them to send fifteen letters to friends, family and neighbors to solicit for them (By the way, don't ask me to do that, it's YOUR job; I have to live with my neighbors). As soon as I pulled out the letter, I realized it was a personal missive which included a religious newsletter.

I'm not going to prosletise. And I'm not going to be converted. What struck me is that this woman took the time to write a thoughtful, sincere letter. There was no condemnation of any beliefs, or lack, that I may have. There were no criticisms of any other religions, saying they were misguided or evil. I couldn't find a single reference to moral decay.

All I read was a message of comfort if I'd ever lost a loved one. On a personal note, I lost my grandmother, Estelle, days later. While I found this woman's words kind, I didn't feel any less grieved.

But that's not the point. While most people would have been annoyed, even angry, I felt... I don't know the exact word. This woman took so much of her time to write a personal letter to a stranger, wanting only to share her belief of how to live a better life. While I may not agree with everything or even most of what she wrote, I commend her for living her beliefs without being antagonistic, arrogant or degrading.

We should all take a lesson from Katherine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Tantrums

Yes, I'm going to have a tantrum today.

When your mouse moves over the word 'Rants' a stupid ad, THAT I DID NOT AUTHORIZE and THAT I HATE pops up.



Maybe you've seen it, been annoyed by it, and were tempted to leave me a nasty note about spam? I don't blame you, but you can't blame me. Who the Hell is Living Play and htf did they just pop up on my blog? I must track down these peeps, use some toe curling language and GET THEM OFF MY BLOG.

Help a girl out. If you can, send them a nasty email, telling them to get off the random words they show up on, on FB, PERSONAL BLOGS, even on Yahoo. Really, they are just as invasive, useless, annoying, and parasitic as spammers, hackers and telemarketers. And complain to all those who take advantage of our space- blogs, FB pages, Twitter accounts, emails, etc. to piggyback for their own selfish interests.

*I've emailed their customer service. Will let you know how it turns out.

Okay! I'm done for the day with my tantrum! Time for some tea and some writing!  :)


Char

Monday, February 6, 2012

Response, Sil Vous Plait

If you didn't grow up with computers, you might not know what RSVP means. (Hint: check out the title) It's French. And it means "Respond, if you please." Alas, it belongs to the lost art of replying to an invitation. A written one. One that requires you to write (or call) with an answer.

Although I dreaded having to write them but was forced to by my mother, my grandmother got written Thank You cards or letters. In later years, it became permissable to call (generally because we needed to confirm the gift arrived safely via UPS).

When relatives or friends passed away, scores of sympathy cards were sent to the family.

Now responses, thank yous, sympathies are all texted, tweeted, Facebooked, emailed.

I predict the current generation of elementary school students will not know how to handwrite much more than their names. What do you think? Do you use cursive beyond signing? Do you use print?


Char

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Riddle Me This...

It's the NY Giants, but they practice & play in NJ.

They practice & play in NJ, but are called the NY Giants.

NY should pony up for a Giants Stadium.

NJ should pony up for their own team.

That being said....

                                                           (Photo courtesy of New England Patriots)
                         
                        GO PATRIOTS!!!!
That is all. Enjoy the Bowl.


Char

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Romantically Yours

Are we past the Age of Romance? I'm a sucker for a good romance, real or imagined. I like it in my Sc-Fi novels, in horror movies, in stories passed down from relatives. The romance between my mother-in-law Gilda and her Tomasso is the basis for a short story I wrote, and maybe a novel someday. Set against World War II, there is first love, the conscription of young men, invasion by the Nazis, separation, and reunion.

                                                                              (Photo courtesy of Microsoft)

What's your most romantic story? Does someone you know have a romantic history? Doesn't have to be family. On Valentine's Day I'll share one of the most romantic true stories I know--and I'll pick a winner for the most romantic story you readers share. You'll win a $15 gift certificate; it can be for iTunes, B&N, whatever you wish. (Maybe for a little romantic gift for someone?)

So be brief, only a few sentences, just the gist, please. I will ask several people who they think had the most romantic story, so schmoozing up to me, while I enjoy it, won't get you extra points.

Winner will be announced Valentine's Day.  Hearts & kisses,



Char

Friday, February 3, 2012

One of My Favorite Things....

Is the Raritan Public Library. It's old world elegance, harkening back to a time when reading was looked upon by almost everyone as a precious gift.


The library is  lodged in the former General John Freylinghuysen House. Originally built by an early Dutch settler in the 1700's, it has been a tavern, public meeting hall, jail, home and finally the library. Several additions have been added and the Federal style architecture appeared around 1810. Peter Freylinghuysen bought the property in 1970 and shortly thereafter donated it to the Borough of Raritan. In 1971 the building was placed on the National and New Jersey Register of Historic Places

See the light of wisdom shining on it? Wait, it gets better....

Here's a reading room:


Handmade reproduction period furniture makes it all cozy and inspirational. Somehow I imagine the Founding Fathers arguing over the grammar in the Declaration of Independence with a pint of ale (although the house in this form wasn't built until the 1780's).

Here's the children's room:


Now what kid wouldn't want to pick out a book and read it in the carriage, or at the tables, or near the fireplace?

And for the serious readers, look at these glorious stacks, packed with tomes of delight:


Need a break from reading? Meander upstairs to John Basilone room where you can see artifacts, documents, and photos of the decorated hero, and a even a small scale model of the USS John Basilone Destroyer.


If that's not enough to tempt you, the front reading room (there are bookshelves in every room!) is a cozy place to curl up with a book.


Director MaryJane Paese is one of the many helpful, friendly and knowledgeable people. This library offers a newsletter of events, staff picks, program descriptions and other information. There are crafting, knitting, yoga, family film and 1-on-1 computer classes, in addition to many special programs for children like a Lego party, storytime, and crafts. MaryJane and staff are working on expanding their Teen and Pre-Teen programs; they even have a teen blog: http://rpl.blogspot.com which will list new acquisitions, book discussion groups and other events. I will be there in mid-late May talking about Sirenz and Sirenz Back In Fashion, and answering writing/publishing questions. (Natalie is may be there as well, dependent upon schedule constraints).

Interested? Visit them at 54 East Somerset Street, Raritan, NJ, or hop over via www.raritanlibrary.org


Char

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No Death Threats For The Rat

Normally I'd be thinking what a nice coat collar Punxsuatawney Phil, the 'weather predicting groundhog' in Pennsylvania  would make for even suggesting that we're going to have six more weeks of winter.



(Photo by Gene J. Puskar, AP, from USA Today)

But with the winter we've been having (60 degrees yesterday! I'm rocking an open sunroof on the car!) I'm eyeing my shorts and seriously considering taking that offer to open the pool prior to April 15th and saving a few bucks.

If the winter is like this, Rock on, Phil, rock on.


(Image by Microsoft Office)


Char

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Are You Freaking NUTS?!!!

To start my one-a-day blogging challenge, I'm going with the 'there are a lot of idiots' in the world theme. (I know, New Year's resolution to say something positive about EVERYTHING- that'll come at the end of the post.)

To that MBA in Marketing nitwit, and all the sycophantic lemmings who followed, approving this ad campaign:



Really? You couldn't come up with a better slogan than "Tastes Evil, But Isn't"? There is NO REASON ON EARTH THAT ANYONE SHOULD BE TEMPTED TO BUY THIS. Unless of course, you're a demon, devil, or zombie. Even vampires, trolls, werewolves and rabid dogs have better taste.

This proves to me two things:

1- Even with an MBA, there's no guarantee that you have a clue.
2-There are some really bad writers out there.

Now for the positive spin:
Neither my family nor I will ever have to eat this 'evil-tasting' stuff.

Hopefully you won't either!


Char