Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's Beginning To Look Like...

I'm going to enjoy Christmas!

I did NaNoWriMo! I'm a winner! (For those not of the writerly persuasion, it means National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write a book of at least 50,000 words in one month's time. I did.) Now I'll have a project to polish, edit, revise, keep me sharp over the cold winter months and when I'm in between Blonde Ops and Sirenz 3 work, and edits for another book my agent is chewing up.

So thrilled that I've succeeded at that--it was hard--Thanksgiving really threw me for a loop since I entertained 9 people for dinner. All that cooking, cleaning, organizing, then cleaning after company left, then decorating for Christmas I got behind by THOUSANDS of words. But I turned off the TV and glued myself (figuratively) to the desk. I am victorious!

So, here's what my house looks like: First, my tree. It's a little plain (you can't see all the decorations with the low light). I like a little more glitz and I'm one of those annoying people that have a THEME, but this year I'm over at my brother's house.But the cats like it and the plastic balls keep them amused and me sane. I put jingle bells on the lower branches. When they ring, I go running with the water gun. Good target practice. >:)

This is part of my nutcracker collection. I have over 75. (No thank you, I don't want any more. I'm the one who has to unpack/pack them every year. I have one that is over 3 feet tall.) I've found out that people react strangely to them; either they're freaked out by them (one of our friends), they like to do unspeakable things with/to them (another friend) or they look relieved that they don't live in my house (most people). But, I really would like little nutcrackers for the main characters in my books. I wonder if I can find someone to make a little Shar, Meg, Hades.... (If you know of anyone who does this, call me but don't tell the hubs.)

The piano from my Great Uncle Wilbur is under there. This is my hubster's domain- the Christmas Village. We have tons more, but this year a number of factors (like not doing the pre-planning) limited the size. We have a bookstore (of COURSE!), cathedral, church (hubby's family Catholic, mine Protestant), toy and general stores, hotel, Christmas tree farm, school, train station, clock tower, baker, butcher,trees, skating pond, bridge, and yes, a WalMart (my mother thought she was being funny.). That's another collection we have enough of (, never mind.)

The final stop: my unique bookcase. Each cubby has books and a poinsettia flower,and a few extra nutcracker soldiers stand guard. Like every book fanatic, I need more space. (It would just be easier to live in a library. So if the Apocalypse occurs, I'll be there. Zombies don't read, I'll be safe.) I'm sure you can see the blue Sirenz cover...

Next week, my office tree and the outside of my house. I like to spread the glee out.

If you don't celebrate Christmas, I wish you peace and all good things. And don't be scared, it all goes back in the box on New Year's Day.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


This week there will be many posts about being thankful. Yes, I'm jumping on the wagon. I'll try not to be sappy.

I'm thankful for people. (Not all, because some aren't worth it.) My family and friends top the list, but I'm also thankful for Dr. Gianacopoulis, the surgeon at Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, who rebuilt the disc in my jaw, relieving me of years of pain when others wouldn't touch me. I'm grateful for all the wonderful 'writerly' people I've met, my editors, agent, people from the SCBWI, aspiring young writers at schools and signings who talked and bought books. Not least among people I'm happy to have in my life are those who give the most--in return for nothing: police officers, firefighters, first responders, our troops and the National Guard. And finally, people I can't name--because I haven't met them; strangers who do some small kindness for me and future friends in the making. I look forward to learning their names.

The world is a wonderful place, full of mystery and adventure and culture. I'm thankful for Mattituck, the small town where I lived from age 12 to 21, where my high school graduating class was the first to break 100, where there was room to lay in farm fields, daydreaming, to see the ocean's waves smashing the shoreline after a hurricane, to walk for miles through woods without No Trespassing signs. And St. Thomas, where I've vacationed and hope to run away to after the hubs retires and the kids are out of the house. I'm in awe of its aqua waters, 85 degree days, brightly colored tropical fish, and it being a part of the US. My dream is to set up an umbrella, plop my tush into a comfy beach chair and read or write for hours, then swim till I die. In Florence, Italy, I walked where DaVinci and Donatello and the DeMedicis strolled. I saw DaVinci's La Pieta, I sat in cozy sidewalk cafes, the smell of espresso wafting on an autumn day. I crossed over the Ponte Vecchio, that famous bridge with its shops. It may sound funny, but I'm thankful for--New Jersey. Originally I was an unwilling transferee, but NJ has given me Rutgers, my first home, doctors who helped me conceive my sons, good neighbors and friends, George Street Playhouse, and the Bridgewater United Methodist Church.There are so many places I want to see in this world. I won't get to see them all, but I'll find something wonderful in each place.

It may sound silly, but being grateful for working in McDonalds? As a dishwasher? A house painter? All my jobs--paralegal, secretary, hotel maid, office manager, store clerk, professor's assistant, newspaper reporter, mom, author--have enriched my human experience. I know what it's like to work for under minimum wage, bepaid less than a man for the same work, and to be fired. No one can accuse me of feeling 'entitled' or not understanding reality as I worked to buy my own cars and the insurance, managed a budget, lived within my means, and paid for my own college. Experiences like this made me appreciate life, broadened my mind, and kept me motivated.Yes I'm thankful for them--and glad not to have to do most of them ever again!

Being thankful for things sounds a little shallow, but wait. I'm not going to list my Coach bag (previous year's model, bought on sale) or other such thing. (Not even my pool.) I will mention- that hot cup of chai latte tea in the morning or when I'm stressed. Then there's the hubster's BBQ ribs, rich in dripping spices on a summer's eve. I love my chattering squirrel who sits in our backyard oak tree, who pilfered the bird seed and savored the apple cores I threw out. Okay, I have to mention my pool; I love to swim and it's given me days and summers of pleasure, exercise and fun. One last thing; my grandmother's topaz ring. She got it from Tiffany's for her 16th birthday (1923!). She left it to me. We shareda love of English grammar, indulged in arguments, and enjoyed glasses of wine.It reminds me of her and how much I miss her.

My thankful list is long, but it's diverse, strange, complicated and it's me. Wishing you all people, places and things to be thankful for--


Monday, November 12, 2012

One Grain of Sand...

I missed last posting my blog the last two Mondays with Hurricane Sandy then the Nor'easter. After living like a pioneer woman for several days, and my hubby running off to work where it was warm, I threw the kids into the car and went to my mommy's. She had heat, power, and internet.

But I'm back- doing NaNoWriMo, laundry and mom things. I've caught up on almost everything (except the time on my Bowflex).

Overall, losing power was a nuisance; I still had all my stuff, my house. Some people weren't so lucky. And it's time to pitch in. Even if times are tight financially, we can all do something- even if it's just a little. One grain of sand, by itself, is nothing, but it you throw it on the beach, it becomes part of something bigger.

Besides giving through my church, Nat and I are donating a special prize pack of Sirenz and Sirenz Back In Fashion with swag, the diamond ring bookmark, gift cards and more. We're joining over 160 other YA authors like Holly Black, Josh Berk, James Patterson, Sarah Dessen, Lauren Oliver, Wendy Mass, Jon Skovron, Jerry Spinelli, Simone Elkeles, Libba Bray, and too many more wonderful ones for me to list, for YA For NJ. We're all donating books for an auction that will bring much needed food to depleted food banks. A lot of people are suffering, and we're pitching in.

You can help two ways: first, by spreading the word. Tell everyone their favorite authors are doing this. We'll be on Facebook and on Twitter at @yafornj. Second, bid on a book. (It should start around Nov. 30th.) Even if you may not be interested in a book, give it as a gift to a family member for the holidays or birthday, donate it to the library or a school.

Because everybody, and every bit, makes a difference to someone.