Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cleaning Out The Old Year

The old year is like a manuscript that I've been working on. There are some bright spots, some frustrating ones, a number of disappointments, a lot of work left undone, moments of sheer wonder, and potential for so much more.

Unlike the manuscript, the old year can't be changed, but I can take lessons learned from both:

1. Nothing is all bad, there is always some good. Even if it's only a moment or a sentence, I will find something awe inspiring.

2. Likewise, nothing is perfect; there is always room for improvement. I just have to be open to making changes.

3. There will always be a gem in the rock pile and I will find it if I search hard enough.

4. Sometimes I have to let go of something--whether it's words, pages, the whole manuscript--or people, ideas, goals--that can't be saved. Moving on, even if a project held promise, a relationship was long, or goal was almost reached, can be the right, if painful, path.

5. I need to stop: wasting time on regrets, being unwilling to adapt, refusing to accept when something isn't working, and allowing others to steer the course of my life.

I wish you all the best of health, the most happiness, and as much success as you can handle.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Very Hades Christmas!

As I was putting the last ornament on the tree, I suddenly knew you-know-who was there. I didn't turn around but fussed over the ornaments, making sure they were perfectly spaced.

"Hades, why are you here at my house?" Luckily my parents were out Christmas shopping. It would be hard to explain Hades' presence.

"Sharisse, mon cherie," came that voice that suggested the whisper of silk sliding off skin (he wished!). "I merely wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and give you a gift of my esteem."

Even though I knew I shouldn't, I turned around to face him. While I was desperately in love with Caz, Hades' nephew, something about this dark god gave me an illicit thrill. His wavy dark hair, his mysterious brown eyes--and that sleek, taut body that invited Bon Apetite! if I listened--were always a temptation. He was kind of like an exquisite, custom-made-to-order pair of shoes from Stuart Weitzman; the fit would be perfect, there would be none exactly like it--and I couldn't ever afford to give into the desire.

But that still didn't stop me from sneaking a peek.

He lounged in the doorway in his favorite pose, one shoulder against the frame, arms and legs crossed, his eyes glittering--and his luscious mouth quirked in a slightly sexy, mostly arrogant grin. Irresistible.

The Beast.

Pull yourself together and focus...

"Huh. Your gifts are too expensive to accept, Hades. Last one almost cost me body and soul. The Trojan Horse was a better deal." I started gathering the empty ornament boxes. He snapped his fingers and everything was tidy--he'd even cleaned the spot on the rug from who knew what spilled--and I think he did the windows, too.

It was hard not to love a man like that.

But I didn't.

And he was no man. He was Hades, Lord of the Underworld, Greek god.

And not to be trusted.

"Thank you," I said politely even if a bit cool.

He frowned. "I don't like your attention elsewhere when you're in my presence."

That's my Hades: it's all about him.

He waved a careless hand and two cups of frothy hot chocolate appeared, with extra marshmallows, the square-cut, homemade kind I looooove so  much.

He knew how to seduce a girl, and sometimes, you just can't refuse no matter how hard you try. I took the cup and lifted it in wary thanks. He held up his left hand.

"I swear there's nothing devious in the drink or my motives."

Were oaths sworn with left hands binding?

"Want to sit?" I asked gesturing toward our couch.

He graciously inclined his head, said "Thank you," and then practically sat in my lap. I had to scooch over a bit. "Unless..." and his eyes sparkled, "You'd like to have lunch in Gstaad? The slopes are perfection. I checked before popping in here."

"How thoughtful," I murmured before sipping my confectionery addiction. Mmmm. Dark, not milk chocolate. Hades knew me well.

And yet, he didn't give up trying to seduce me even though I always refused. I'd think it was just a game he wanted to win (the girl who plays hard to get) but he was so intense--and relentless.

"Thanks, but no,"I said. "What would Caz think? He's already rescued me once from your clutches. Throwing myself into your company might make him think I was playing one against the other." I put the cup down, licking the marshmallow off my top lip.

His eyes followed.

It was time to find out what he really wanted, refuse, and send him on his merry way to torment someone else.  Last thing I needed was for Caz or Persephone to drop in too. That could be awkward.

"Let's be honest for a change, Hades. Just tell me what you want. No games." His cup, along with mine, disintegrated into thin air and he leaned closer. I could barely breathe. Even so, I wasn't going to back away.Once you gave in to him, he owned you: figuratively, literally, physically--and eternally.

"Fine." His gaze held that intensity I so feared. "I want you."

Yeah, I know that. NOT happening.

I started to open my mouth to give the sweetest kiss my gluteous that I could when he stopped me.

"I'll give you ANYTHING. You want the Hope diamond? It becomes the Sharisse Johnson diamond. You want immortality? You won't age even a second. Name it."

Now most people might be tempted. Even considering I was a shopoholic (with limited funds), and yes, I liked pretty, pretty things, I didn't want anything. I had my parents, I had Caz, I had friends, and I was in the school of my choice, the Fashion Institute of Technology. No, there was nothing more I needed.



He slapped his hand over his heart and his fervent look told me he truly wanted the, er, pleasure of my company. "ANYTHING." His voice was almost hoarse.

If there was no limit... should I refuse? What would Caz think? Would Persephone find out? Even if she did, I knew that I'd be under Hades' protection; he was a gentleman that way at least.

I deliberated. One special gift. Only I could ask for it and get it.

I was going to do it. Sometimes, sacrifices had to be made.

Straightening my shoulders and taking a deep breath, I said "Okay."

His eyes widened and I swear I heard his indrawn breath. "Tell me what you want."

"No more war. Ever. Eternal peace on Earth."

He flushed and jumped up, scowling fiercely at me.  "You can't ask that! It has to be for you!"

Standing abruptly with fists on my hips, I glared right back at him. "You said 'anything.' And it's what I want. I have friends and a cousin who are serving in the military. I know people who have lost family due to wars. Children die when nations go to war. No more war. Ever. That's what I want."

Hades ran his fingers through his beautiful mane, more agitated than I have ever seen him. "Can't you ask for something material? Or to be forever youthful? That's what most people ask for."

I eyed him coldly. "I'm not most people. That's why you're so obsessed with me. And besides, it's Christmas. Time to think about and help others." I know some people considered me shallow because I liked to have my nails done, look perfect, and be popular, but I had a conscience and wanted to do good.

He shook his head sadly. "I can't do that. There's a thing called free will. I can't interfere with it. I believe it's the basis of your own faith. Humanity has to decide for itself, like you had to agree to our initial contract."

I felt deflated. Here I was going to put myself on the altar of Hades' lust for a noble cause, and I was turned away.

At least I tried.

"There's nothing else I want, Hades," I said softly, knowing that if he couldn't give me world peace, then he couldn't abolish disease, pain, suffering, and other ills that plagued us insignificant mortals.

With sad, soulful eyes, he whispered, "Not even a new kitty?"

I laughed. True to form, Hades didn't give up. "Tell you what," and I grabbed his hand so we stood under the mistletoe. "Just one, promise?"

Back came his arrogant smile. "Just one."

I narrowed my eyes. "And no whisking me off anywhere, no three hundred year kiss, no telling Caz, no trouble for me, got it? Or I'll tell Persephone." With a resigned sigh, he nodded. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I pulled him in for a very seductive, memorable kiss. When I moved back, he was breathing hard. He nodded, actually speechless.

I heard the key in the door--my parents were home!

But he was gone.

My cat, Chanel, came running into the room, a new pretty silver bell on her collar and a note. I pulled the note off. It read:

          My Darling Sharisse,
          I'm sorry I couldn't give you the gift you wanted, although I'm not surprised you asked for it. And           I know you won't accept anything from me, even if I promise 'no strings' but I can give you this-
          Look out your window.

          Yours eternally,


I moved over to the window; snow fell softly, already a thin sheeting on the grass, trees, street and rooftops. He was giving me a white Christmas.

"Thank you," I whispered.

"The pleasure was all mine," he whispered back.

And so I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a healthy and happy 2014, and a dream come true.  To one lucky random person, I'm giving away an audio copy of Sirenz. Just put your name in the comments, tell your friends, family, etc. I will notify the winner before the New Year (you have plenty of time, but why wait? You might forget...) One entry per person.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do You Know This Crazy Woman?

This is what I felt like in November. I was doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month- 1 novel, 1,667 words a day for 30 days), driving to book signings for Sirenz and doing other PR stuff for Blonde Ops, getting a bathroom renovation done, doing Thanksgiving prep & day, handling kids & school stuff, family issues, and trying to stick to my swimming exercise routine. You get the picture.

It's now December and my house and tree are decorated, most of my shopping/wrapping is done, no more signings, the galleys for Blonde Ops have gotten (I hope) the last proofing, and while still busy, life isn't frantic. I'm going to take some time to enjoy the snow, the holiday season, and some personal time.

(And yes, I did finish NaNo with 50,103 words!)

So, I'm off to a well deserved rest and relax- that only the craziness of Christmas brings.

Bring it on.  :)

Free Christmas Clip Art - Image  7


Monday, December 2, 2013

Here's That "In" You Need to Get Published...

So don't just sit there!

My good friend, Tanya Contois, is an editor at Hallowed Ink Press. And she's looking for writers, manuscripts, graphics...

This is your sign to send your work out (we can't come to your house to motivate you, sorry).

Here's the info you need: (READ IT- don't send silly questions to me or Tanya when the info is below. And if you're truly serious about submitting, you'll be professional and observe the rules of polite society. If I have to tell you what they are, you're not ready.)

Hallowed Ink Press is accepting queries for all YA and New Adult fiction.

We are currently open to all solicited and unsolicited submissions.

What we accept: All Young Adult and New Adult categories.
This includes; series fiction, stand-alone novels, novellas, poetry, short stories and graphic novels.
*We do take on the occasional pet project outside of these genres, but only if the writing is truly exceptional.
Currently Hallowed Ink Press is most interested in:
- Unique concepts that break through the current stereotypes in the market.
- Quality writing with strong character arcs and ‘fresh’ voices.
Be assured we will check all submissions, yet we are very selective. We try our very best to respond to every individual query; however, if you have not heard back from us within four weeks of your original submission, please understand that although we thank you for the chance to read your ideas, we have decided against your material.

Our goal is to build long-standing relationships with our readers and authors, and we are open to e-mails with any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have. Submissions@HallowedInkPress.com

Manuscript guidelines:

Please read guidelines below before submitting your work. (All information will be kept confidential)

YA & New Adult Fiction: 
Your query should include the working title, word count, your name, mailing address and phone number. (If pen name is being used, please include that information). We would like to see 1-3 paragraphs regarding your story and a one paragraph biography. Please do not attach a document with your initial query.

If chapters are requested (attachments allowed):
Preferred File Type: .doc, .docx or .rtf
Font Options: Times New Roman or Arial 12pt.
Formatting: .5 indents to first lines, no tab replacements.
Synopsis: 1 page
Subject Line: “Query: Title/Author Name”

Anthology Guidelines 
(attachments allowed): Anthology open calls will be posted here.
Font Options: Times New Roman 12pt.
Formatting: .5 indents to first lines, no tab replacements.
Subject Line: “____ Anthology: Author Name”
Length: We ask that no short stories exceed 15k words.

Novella Guidelines: 
We ask that all novellas either be stand-alone or connected to a series signed with us. Please note, we MAY choose to convert novellas to interactive iBooks as well as normal digital releases. We ask that all novellas be between 5k-35k words.
Font Options: Times New Roman or Arial 12pt.
Formatting: .5 indents to first lines, no tab replacements.
Subject Line: “Novella Query: Title/Author Name”  and queries can be sent to  submissions@hallowedinkpress.com.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I'm Signing Her Death Warrant

If you know me well enough, you know Mariah.

We've come to a parting of the ways, and I think it's going to kill her. And her 10W40 oil will be on my hands.

Mariah is my gal pal--my 2002 Chevrolet Impala. She's darkly alluring in her midnight blue coat. She's feisty with her V-6 engine. She's sexy with her aluminum rims and rear spoiler. She's got a good handle in any situation with her traction control, power steering and ABS brakes.

We've been together from the beginning; she was made especially for me, delivered at the local dealer. When I had to fly to Florida for my father's funeral, I took her keys so no one (read: husband) could drive her while I was away.

And I've sold her.

(*eyes moisten, throat closes a little bit.)

She's a long car; it's a tight squeeze to fit her into her spot in the garage (especially with that shelf of everyone's junk taking up precious space). But on the highway, her length made the road smoother and she could glide beautifully even with her weight. Only that was part of the problem--parallel parking her when I went to book signings was a nightmare. In a parking lot, no problem, but on the street (especially since I suck at parallel parking to begin with), I'd have to drive farther down the street for an easier spot and lug my swag and stuff to the bookstore.

She's pretty good on gas for her size, but when you're doing two, three, events in a week, and half of them are out of state, she gets thirsty a lot sooner.

She's roomy--but two out of three children are grown and away at school. They rarely drive anywhere with me.

Sure, we've been in some scraps; a rude b*tch in the grocery store parking lot who was busy yakking on her cell just pushed her empty cart and it headed right for Mariah's back end.

I gave that lady what for. And then parked the cart behind her pretentious SUV.

I was chased down route 287 by two whackos. But with her V-6 (and the lack of helpful police anywhere) she had no problems doing 110 mph. Dusted those creeps.

So it's killing me to sell her. She won't understand, especially when her new owner is supposed to be an 86-year-old man. Can he see well enough? Are his reflexes quicker than the jerks on the road? Will he garage her and regularly maintain her like she's used to?  I fear that she will end up in the scrap or wrecking yard. But maybe his much younger wife will drive Mariah until it's time for some young man to buy her on the cheap and fixes her up again, as a labor of love.

Have you ever been this attached to an inanimate object? I think most characters--in real life or in novels (YA, NA, or adult) don't have these kinds of attachments anymore. Maybe it's because I grew up in a racing family (both parents raced at the local speedway), my grandmother would accompany my dad and my Uncle Ed when they raced, my brother owned a race car and worked for NASCAR, and to channel my Marisa Tomei from "My Cousin Vinny", my grandfather was a mechanic, my father was a mechanic...and now my son will be a mechanic... it's just in the family bloodline to love our cars. It's the great dream of the '50s--to own a cool car. Characters today don't seem to have  these sentiments.

Now you can argue that it's too materialistic, it's shallow. I'm thinking that we are a throw-away-and-buy-new society, where the value of ownership lasts only until the next shiny thing, and no one takes care of their property anymore.

You can say I'm anal; I take care of my house the same way; if the kids don't clean their rooms, I do (and sometimes with a big black garbage bag). I like to repaint rooms every five years, even if it's the same color. My windows get washed a minimum of twice a year, inside and out.  I take care of everything so that it will last, and always look good. That could all stem from growing up in tough times; after my father no longer worked in the space program, it was hard for him to find another long term career and he worked numerous jobs to support the family. I know what it's like to have second hand toys and clothes (and they looked it).

So it's hard for me to let her go. Although he said it was a done deal, the buyer hasn't called to make the arrangements for me to drop her off and get paid. Maybe he won't show. Then I could find her the home she deserves.

And why is her name Mariah? Not after a popstar; because like the old song goes, "They call the wind Mariah."  And she rides like the wind.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What am I, crazy?

I must be.

First, I'm in the middle of editing two manuscripts.

And I'm doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which means 50,000 words in 30 days. It does not include time off for Thanksgiving, my anniversary or my birthday.

After all my prep work--character sketches, outline--I've decided to go with something else. So that means tonight, while son fences for 2 hours, and whatever time I can grab tomorrow with all the Trick-or-Treaters, I'll be doing another outline, more character sketches.

I hope my family still loves me by December 1st.

Check back in; I don't know how much I'll be posting with NaNo, but I'll make an attempt to keep up.

For anyone else doing this insanity, (like Shannon Delany and a few other YA writers I know), good luck! May the word count always be higher than you hoped!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We Need A Break

My author friends and colleagues and I need a break.

We're the struggling authors; the un-famous, ignored by press, public, and Hollywood, and we're tired. We write our novels, revise them, send them off to be picked down to bare bones by critique groups, agents, and editors. We organize and attend events to meet eager readers, share our stories, sell a few books--and then no one shows. Or they show and don't buy. Large chain bookstores shoo us away, holding out for the few superstars. Bravely, we appeal to independent bookstores only to find they are ignored by most of their neighbors in favor of a deal on the internet. We spend more money than we make on promotion, traveling, cases of paper. and toner.

Yet, we continue to write, submit, revise, promote, and show up to sign our books against the stacked odds not in our favor.

Exhausted, sometimes demoralized, we continue to dream--and do.

So be kind--post a tweet, write a letter, send an email telling us not-so-well-known authors how much you enjoyed our books and that you look forward to our next work, and that you'll tell your friends to read it.

You just might save a writing life.


Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm Waiting....

You know who I am.

But in case you're slow-witted and forgot, live in a dank hole and don't know, or had your brains eaten by a zombie, I am Hades. Ruler of the Underworld. Eldest brother to Zeus and Poseidon. Greek god. And besides being the best looking, best dressed, and best everything, I am also The Boss.

For certain individuals anyway.

Tomorrow is International Bosses Day.

That means I will expect accolades, gifts, adoration, and whatever else I can get from my minions and those whose contract is still enforceable. (You really didn't think the Sirenz got off after only two assignments, did you? No.)

So look for celebrations and praises for ME from my Sirenz Margaret and Sharisse, and my biographers Nat and Char.

I would encourage you to emulate them.

You never know when I could show up, offering you a deal. And it always helps to be on the boss'es good side....


I'm not in a position to argue with the 'Boss' man...


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's International Name Your Car Day

Really.  I got this off a list of (obscure/fun/strange) holidays from http://buildbookbuzz.com/blog/

So, in honor of my new car, a 2013 Honda Accord, I had to come up with a good name. My previous car (shhh, keep this on the Q-T because Mariah [They Call the Wind Mariah, not Mariah Carey]) doesn't know she's up for sale... I'm getting choked up, I love that car.

Middle son suggested "Car-lee." (You can tell he's not a writer type- even though I love bad puns, I passed.) Hubs rolled his eyes. Youngest son walked away. Oldest son laughed and continued texting.

Being that the car is Japanese, it has to have a Japanese name. So I searched Japanese names (I'm not particular if it's male/female gender name--it just has to 'strike' me.  Mariah and I were gal pals, and she's not replaceable in my car love, so I'd prefer a male name. It would be especially fitting because this car has all kinds of buttons, knobs, electronics- very confusing, hard to understand, time sucking to learn, and frustrating, like the males in my house.

The winner: Takara! It sounds punny enough and it means 'treasure.' While it's not a Porsche or Lambo, I'll treasure this car as long as it's dependable, gas efficient, and I can avoid all the rest of the whack jobs on the road (already had to deal with one, but that's another story).

Here he is:

(You can see Mariah on Craig's List- 2002 Impala.)

The whole idea Build Book Buzz was getting at was ways to increase attention to your book by taking advantage of these 'holidays.' (Hey, I didn't create them.)  It's kind of fun (really, I name all my cars). But linking it to my book?

I just finished writing and several revisions- I haven't even seriously submitted it to my agent, so I can't really use this holiday to promote Lethal Dose. It's a sci fi book and the main character, Dalen Steele, has a space ship that's small, sleek, slick, and super fast. He loves that ship. Not as creative as moi, he calls the ship his 'Baby,' much to the confusion and chagrin of Myca, his Lexian mentor (they have no sense of humor anyway). I'm hoping next year I can use this holiday for promo purposes, but in the mean time, Dalen & I will continue to name our modes of transportation. It seems only right when they are sometimes all that stands between you and certain death.

Goodbye for now from Takara and me,


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What My Son Didn't Tell Me...

Computer genius that my son is (2 sons are my IT people), he neglected to tell me that Google will not allow me to post my blog without allowing the gazillion ads. In other words, you can't activate the AdBlock.

So my posts have sat in the draft pile.

I have enabled the annoying, irrelevant, and tedious ads so that I can blog again. Sometimes, the corporations win, what can I tell you? I'm powerless.

So.... catch up and I'll be with you regularly again.

*shakes head, grumbles about stupid restrictions on technology.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Matter of Perspective

Ahh, autumn. Nature's palette of fiery reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, and almost every color in between, create a storm of astounding color. The poking, prying fingers of chill winds seek to insert themselves under skirts, over cheeks, and into eyes. We snuggle into thick woolen sweaters, waterproof boots, and down laden jackets.

We seek comfort in hot chocolate, spiced coffees, and flavored brandies. Frost on our car inspires us to bake breads and pies, roast turkeys, mix up a batch of cookies.

We look forward to cuddling up with loved ones in front of a campfire or fireplace, beloved pet at our feet, feeling safe and warm and blessed.

Don't you have a cozy feeling? Aren't you feeling good?

I'm not.

My pool is closed.

There are blankets on my bed. The flannel jammies are under the pillow. Sweatshirt goes where I go. My hands and nose are cold. The cat has stopped shedding (okay, that's a good thing). My garden is dead.

Anyone who knows me, knows THIS is me:

But I can write about autumn and make you think I like it because I try to think from the perspective of people who love it.

Just because I write something doesn't mean that it's me. I can write about villains and bad things people do and that doesn't mean it's what I want to do. I'm just looking out from a different perspective.

Can you stand away enough from something to see the opposite perspective?


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Culture Shock

This past weekend, I was here:

the festival of San Gennaro in New York City. My husband's family is Italian and this is a bit of their cultural heritage. To me, it's a little strange that people tack money onto a statue (some said the Madonna, but the sign said the saint of San Gennaro). But we get to stuff our faces on zeppole (fried dough with powdered sugar, a staple at almost every fair), and sausage & pepper heroes, and many flavors of gelato. I'd have to walk to Italy to work off all the calories I consumed. You hear Italian spoken and sung, see people laughing and enjoying familiar aspects of the culture even if they weren't Italian.

I don't always see cultural aspects in novels. Sometimes a story feels too 'melting pot' -ish; there is no discernible ethnic background. Names are not indicative of ancestry (I'm German/Swedish, my husband Italian, and one son is named Alec, one Collin- neither traditional names in our heritage.)

Are we trying to be too PC (politically correct)? Sanitize and homogenize so that we don't offend or leave someone out? Make the story able to 'fit' any ethnicity?

I like having cultural bits as part of the story because my husband doesn't wear a kilt, or my mother read tea leaves, or have family in The Family. I believe cultural tidbits give us a glimpse into different societies and what they hold onto.

With that in mind, I'm trying to incorporate pieces of alien cultures in my Sci Fi novel.

We all need more culture.


Monday, September 9, 2013

That's A Wrap.

Anyone who really knows me knows that I am a summer gal. I live for my pool and 85+ degree days. Humidity doesn't bother me, and I could get by on 2 weeks of cold (1 for Christmas to feel in the holiday spirit, and one to spend the week skiing, playing in the snow.) That's it. Fall is... depressing. It's the end of my favorite season, end of vacations, end of long days and short warm nights.

I fight it as much as I can, but the day I wake up and have to wear pants because it's too cold for shorts (even if it gets warmer during the day) is the day I throw up my hands and give in to the darkness.

Like losing a pet, moving away, changing your life in some major way, autumn is a time I have to force myself to move forward, not give in to melancholy. Oh yes, there are thick soft sweaters, hot cocoa, burnished leaves, book snuggles by the fireplace.

But I hate the cold and the long dark.

It means jumping out of the shower as fast as I can, wearing socks because my feet are always numb, blowing on my fingers while I wait for the car to heat up. And stumbling around in the dark at 5 p.m.

Yes, this is all very depressing.

I can't live like that.

So what do I do?

I surround myself with beauty.  Here's my house: my kitchen table.

That's my dining room table.

The mantle over my corner fireplace.

A table in my living room.

I have more pumpkins and fall-sy things scattered around the house, but you get the idea. Vibrant color helps cheer me.

So if you have to move on from a rough spot- poor health, loss of a friend, change in lifestyle, rejection of a novel, etc., surround yourself with reminders of what makes you happy.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Crazy Days of Summer...

are done.

On this rainy Labor Day holiday, I'm doing this:

When I'd rather be doing this:

Hope you're enjoying the last day before we get back into the yearly routine.

Because tomorrow it's back to working your a*$ off...


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Love, Defined

So there I was, chilling at Duke Island Park, listening to The B Street Band (a Bruce Springsteen tribute band). They were very good and I was enjoying myself. The Bruce doppelganger announced that the 'dance floor is officially open.' I saw kids throwing frisbees and footballs, families enjoying ice cream and other treats, and dogs relaxing in the cool night air--but no one dancing.

Then he guided her through the crowd of chairs and blankets and running kids. She was unsteady, unsure, as she walked. I wondered what had happened.

When he came to an open spot of grass, he took her in his arms and lead her in the dance. They were alone, in front of everyone to see her initial faltering steps, but his was sure and smooth, his arms strong around her.

And they danced.

While everyone heard the music, they felt it, moved to it, looking lovingly at each other.

Love defined.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Sharp Edges of Time

It was our 'stay-cation' week. Our kids had crazy work/school orientation/camp schedules, and with two of the three going away to school in August, the finances are crying. Our plan was to do day trips: Great Adventure (we are soooo done with that place and the interminable waiting lines), the Jersey Shore (one day because the weather was crappy, but we squeezed in jet skiing and dinner), a movie & dinner day (re: see note about weather being crappy above), a day getting housing for son (hubs went, I worked on edits, so no vacation that day for anyone), and then a day in NYC.

Here's where we went first:

It's the Freedom Tower. It still astonishes me how quiet people are at this site. Even though there are jackhammers and car horns and construction crews yelling, most visitors were hushed. We stood there, admiring the beauty of the building, so different from its predecessors, yet just as majestic.

The best way to view the memorial waterfalls is on an angle; it shows the depth (30 feet) of the first waterfall. The bronze edging, with all the names of the people humanity lost that day, are cooled in summer, heated in winter. The information pamphlet said it was to make it comfortable for loved ones to visit and touch the names.

This is the Survivor Tree. It was the only tree to survive the fall of the towers. It was cut to an 8' stump, then moved where it could be attended by specialists. It was then uprooted in a storm. Again it was moved and specialists tended it and kept it alive. It is tethered while its root systems re-establish themselves. When it blooms in the spring, it is spectacular. The 9/11 memorial is hauntingly, devastatingly beautiful and gut wrenching. The sharp edges of time have not dulled the horrific pain of this inhumanity. We left in silence, to wander away, touched again.

What better refuge from heat and sorrow than the loving embrace of a sea wind? We took a cruise on the Pioneer, a late 1880's sailing ship. We were allowed (read: encouraged) to help hoist the sail. It was relaxing to sail around NYC harbor in a smaller boat piloted by staff and volunteers, rather than sit in a large boat the felt like a bus on water.

What a view! A little to the left is the spire of the Freedom Tower.

The Lady greets us, reminding us that all yearn to breathe free...

Now that vacation is over, I'm back to editing, promoting, writing, blogging, trying to get ready for school, thinking about fall cleaning, painting the dining/kitchen/guest/bath- rooms once the kids are all settled.

Oh, and yes, tormenting my cat.

Hope the rest of your summer brings good, thoughtful, peaceful, and enlightening things.


(All info about the 9/11 Memorial were taken from the free information pamphlets available to visitors)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Improbable- yes, impossible- NO!

A distant relative on my husband's side of the family was this little grandmother. Being Italian, of course she was called Nonni (pronounced naw-ni). Nonni was a petite little woman, maybe just a bit over 5 feet tall, lucky to break 100 pounds.  And being in her early 80's, she was frail.

Now there was an old stove in the basement of the house where she lived with her daughter, the grandchildren grown with families of their own. This stove was in Nonni's way. She wanted it across the room, against a wall. But what could she do? She was too small, too weak to move it herself.

But everyday, when she went down to the basement to do laundry or whatever else, she'd sidle up to the stove and lean against it, using all of her 100 pounds to push. Maybe it would move an inch, maybe not.

Fraction by fraction, that stove shifted.

It took Nonni months to move it--but she did.

And so it goes with writing or whatever endeavor we face that looks too daunting to attempt. Don't set impossible goals--for Nonni that would be immediately moving the stove across the room; for you that might be finishing a novel in a month, or losing weight, or overcoming an injury. But take a little time every day, or whenever the opportunity arises, like Nonni passing that stove, to do just a bit. At first it doesn't look like you've really accomplished anything, but eventually you will see you're achieving your goal. Nonni was determined to move that stove, and I'm betting she was smiling with satisfaction when she saw it halfway there, or even just a quarter of the way across the floor because even though every day brought only an incremental change, she was moving that stove by herself. Improbable as it was, she refused to accept it was impossible.

Now go accomplish your goals.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Miffy Subject...

Toward or towards.

Afterward, afterwards.

Which one to use?

Someone recently had a post on Facebook that said using 'towards' is incorrect.

Is it?

According to Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, printed by Grammercy Books, New York, 1983 and a whopping 1,854 pages, both forms of both words are acceptable, even if the latter is not the preferred use.

You can use towards and afterwards if it tickles your fancy.

Personally, I don't like the 's' tacked on; it feels, well, tacked on. (Like the way people not-in-the-know use 'irregardless' instead of 'regardless.')

But as I consider Webster's an authoritative cite, I give you the green light to use the form you like.

Here's something else you didn't know: miffy: adj. Touchy, inclined to take offense. Also, miffed, miffier, miffiest. (You know that's going to appear in my writing somewhere!)

So the next time an editor/copyeditor circles that word and tells me 'no such word,' I'm going to send her the cite from Webster's.


Monday, July 8, 2013

No Judgment Here....

This is my meditation garden:

I don't really meditate; I usually go there to weed and clip when I'm so mad at everyone/someone/something that I need, for safety reasons, to be alone. It's a good thing because I have this:

And this:

(That's a statue of a boy reading, it represents my oldest who loves books. The other two are in there also).

Then there's this:

Hanging baskets of greenery!

And my gazing ball (unfortunately it doesn't tell me anything other than whether it's sunny or raining or snowing). But see this? This picture is kind of different.

Why? It's green, about to bloom, and is kept nicely fed and is almost center stage when you enter my garden.

It's a weed. Technically. People who spend most of the year and tons of money gardening rip this sucker out.

Yet it's here in my garden, in a visible spot of honor.

My son loves it. It produces purple flowers and when he saw it blooming, he squealed with happiness. Yank it out? Relegate it to the compost pile? Prevent butterflies and bumblebees from collecting and spreading pollen? Just because someone, somewhere, sometime labeled it a weed?

It is just as colorful as my store bought, expensive, coddled flowers. It provides something essential to a variety of beneficial insects, and does not attract the non-beneficial ones which move on to destroy the expensive, temperamental flowers.

My son loves it. I do not care who mis-labeled this plant because in their narrow world view it was a pest, but in my garden, I don't hold with that judgment. I've stopped by the side of the road and taken samples of plants for my garden that people spray to keep away. The beautiful hanging baskets? Filled with begonias AND an intrusive vine that grows everywhere. It's the only plant that can withstand the shade and forgotten waterings. Doesn't it look beautiful? How can you hate something cascading down like a leafy green waterfall?

I like diversity- in my plants, my friends, my books, my food (although I won't eat anything soggy).  So spare me your judgments. As my college social science teacher said, "Weeds are only mis-placed plants in Man's mind."

And they have a place in my garden.


Monday, June 24, 2013

What I Like About You...

I love to read--romance, humor, fantasy, sci fi, thriller, mystery, non-fic on occasion. In every book there is one element that I just LOVE. (Not "love" but "LOVE") In some books, it's the wit, like in Mary Janice Davidson's Undead series. I was laughing out loud in B&N and got some serious "You need help" looks. JRR Tolkien's sweeping saga, The Lord of The Rings has it all--love, death, good vs. evil, romance, adventure, poetry, magic, dragons; how can you not swoon? I learned to write dialogue from Julie Garwood's snappy romances like Ransom. Almost every book has that one special "What I like LOVE" about you.

The one element that I LOVED in Weather Witch (St. Martin's, June 25th, 2014) by Shannon Delany was... the weather. Seriously. I'm sure there are other books that deal with weather and possibly magic, but weather, magic, and steampunk?

I was graciously allowed to read the ARC of Weather Witch and for some reason the whole premise of a few select people being able to control the weather magically--in a society heading toward serious industrialization--and being ostracized and held prisoner for it--was just way cool. While I love any good fantasy story, I need a break from traditional dragons, elves, witches, and the like. (I know, the title says 'witch' but it's not like the main character knows she's a witch, or practices it, or lives in a family surrounded by witches.) There are no herbs, chants, wands, or eyes of newt associated with this witch, making it fresh. How cool would it be to call down lightning on someone who's done you wrong? (At least enough to scorch their backside...) This fan obsession might be connected to my love of watching storms (I've witnessed a small tornado, several hurricanes, and our house has been hit by lightning 3 times, with me and one of each of my boys in the house. I might have weather issues.).

Weather Witch debuts...tomorrow! So grab a copy--don't wait until the next storm. Check out her website http://www.shannondelany.com/joomla/ for signings, tour info, and such.

(All images, unless my own or otherwise credited, are courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art.)


Monday, June 3, 2013

On No You Didn't!

I'm a firm believer in "Paying It Forward" and "Random Act of Kindness." I did one yesterday, where I wrote thank yous to people who reach out to others. They won't expect it, which makes my little act even better--it'll be a surprise.  Today, I stopped and waved a woman to pass around my car (even though I was mid-turn and she stopped to wave me on) because it was safer for her not to be in the flow of traffic. Little acts don't have to be big, but they should be every day, in some way.

I don't do this every day (we all should) but I'm trying to make more of an effort to spread some courtesy, kindness, and compassion.

God knows humanity needs it; we are grumpy, rude, self-serving, impatient, discourteous, and cold. (And that doesn't even take into account NJ drivers.)

I was at the Y this morning to swim laps. All the deep water lanes were occupied and the only one left was at the shallower end, near where there's stair and access for people in wheel chairs. I had the lane to myself, but don't mind sharing. However, when three old timers came in to STAND AND TALK, getting in my way (I was there first, remember, I am not retired, I have a full schedule that doesn't include hanging out at the Y for lack of anything better to do) I was annoyed. One particular woman got bumped because she came into MY HALF OF THE LANE, then had the audacity to cheer when I'd gotten disgusted and left earlier than finishing my routine. (See above, and how she fits in.)

Why she can't meet her fellow slackers at the diner for coffee and kibbitzing instead of insisting on doing it at the Y I attribute to her selfishness. (Can you think of a valid reason for her actions? If so, let me know and I will acknowledge it next post.)

To combat my annoyance, anger, and rapid-fire bad thoughts which put me in a foul mood, I decided I would do something nice, even if it was a small gesture. Later, the woman in the parking lot gave me a nice smile, and I felt happier.

So, lady at the Y, you're not going to ruin my day, or make me like you--I choose to be kind, and to share that kindness.

P.S. Lay off the chitchat and the donuts, and actually SWIM--you'll be healthier.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Try to remember...

...those who served, who died in service, whose lives were never the same for our freedom and defense.

For my father, William Perry Johnson (US Navy, deceased), my uncle, Edward Johnson (US Navy), my uncle, Russell Hurst (US Army): we honor your dedication, service, sacrifice, and love of country.

And for all those I don't know, I remember you with my heart and this dedication.

Be at peace.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Financial Fantasy

Did you see the winner of that big lottery? I think it was $570 million. I had to stop and ponder two things:

1- Why does one person need this much money? I think once the lottery hits $10 million, they should keep it there until there's a winner. You can't live long enough to spend $570, even with the government taking almost half (unless of course you want to buy out Donald Trump). Wouldn't it be better for 57 people to win $10 mill each rather than one with $570 mill?

2- If a person wins the lottery, they should be required to put aside $1 million, because they usually act like morons, outspending their winnings. It's a sad fact that most lottery winners end up bankrupt- and on welfare. It seems like counting all that money kills common sense brain cells.

What would I do if I won the lottery? Let's say it's $10 million:

1- Donate $1 mill to charity- half to my church because they do a lot of good works even while they pay their mortgage, utility bills, give to other charities, and half to the Wounded Warrior Project because vets are grossly underserved and ignored by our government and our society, especially wounded vets.

2- Pay off all my bills (mortgage, credit cards, etc.) A safe, legal way to deprive corrupt banks and greedy corporations of as much interest as I can.

3- Put aside $1 mill IN TRUST for each of my three boys. They can't touch it until they are 30 or they use it for school, setting up a business, etc. I chose the age of 30 because as they near 21 years old, I'm not convinced that they could handle that much responsibility. And because if they couldn't, I wouldn't want all the money to go to creditors, begging friends, crooks, strangers with a sad tale, and stupid stuff.

4- Pay the mortgage on my siblings' homes. Another legal opportunity to deprive banks of interest.

5- Buy a new car. Hey, mine is 12 years old, I don't think that buying a new car is that much of an extravagance. I wouldn't buy a Porsche or a Lambourghini because that's just impractical and invites disaster. I'm thinking more along the lines of a Cadillac CTS. I like them and hey, they're more comfy than a low to the ground sports car, easier to park than an oversized SUV, and roomier than a hybrid. And I'm supporting American jobs.

6- Pay someone to clean my house. I'm busy doing a lot of editing and writing and my house is suffering lately. Nothing like on Hoarders, but enough to perturb me. I'll be spreading the wealth around.

7- Pay a PR person to help me with my books. It's such a drain and takes time away from writing and fun stuff. And it's spreading the wealth around.

8- Go on a nice vacation. With the boys going to college, vacations (other than those in the back yard) are few and far between. I think after caring for 3 boys, a house, and all the other things I do, I deserve at least a week. I'm thinking Australia. And, I'm spreading the wealth around.

9- Get a makeover. Three boys, one husband, two cats, one house. More birthdays than I want to admit to. Again, spreading the wealth.

10- Put some away for a rainy day. And instead of the banks, I'll make the interest.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gal Pal Time!

This is where I was last week:

I love doing book signings, and this one was great because:

*We had a great organizer, Cathy Genna, from the East Brunswick Barnes & Noble who put this signing/educator event together. (Cathy won 'Bookseller of the Year' from the Romance Writers of America!)

*There was a good turnout from teachers and they asked questions.

*It was with fellow authors (we're all members of Kidlit Authors Club, but we do signings with non-members at events) that I like.

We talked to some teens, sold some books. We had fun!

I'll update my schedule so you can say hi!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Some Things Just Can't Be Stopped...

Some things, once set in motion, are unstoppable. Nothing you do or say will deter either the person or the action.

It's like that with the hubs and his weedwhacker. The man is a menace to all things green. Take my clematis vine, which is supposed to wrap around my mailbox post. It should look something like this:

But it doesn't; it's been chopped down. Whacked. Annihilated.

Yes, I've put netting, a metal stake, and mulch around the plant so it's OBVIOUS something's there.

No matter, he still mutilates it. (Don't ask me how many butterfly bushes he's murdered.) In revenge, I wrote a scene about a character's dad who tortures his landscape--yeah, that's the hubs. Now his cruelty to my clematis is immortalized.

It's come down to me issuing an ultimatum: STAY AWAY FROM THE MAILBOX. If my clematis gets whacked one more time, I fear I will have to visit the nursery and buy the biggest, most expensive replacement so that if he goes near it, he will get sick at the thought of harming one little bud, a single leaf, or even disturbing a piece of mulch because of the $.

Wishing safety for all your plants,


Monday, April 22, 2013

To Inifinity- If You Can Get Beyond...

Infinity: Without end. Endless. Never ending. Get the pic?

Right now I'm stuck in an infinity loop (actually two, but we'll get to that in a bit).

I'm queasy. I think it's from the headache; not quite a migraine (yet) but I had it when I went to bed and I think I had it all through sleep. I can't take any medication because I feel queasy. Where do I break into/out of the loop? I could take the chance and swallow a pain reliever, hoping it won't upset my stomach further, or I could try to wait out the headache.

It's like that with writing (my second loop), but it could be anything that poses a conundrum. You have a tough situation, but the cure/solution seems just as bad.

Sometimes we have to make tough decisions, take a chance. In my writing, I faced a block. I could start the project/chapter over which seemed so drastic, even painful.

I decided to wait it out. I raked my yard, cleaned out gardens, cleaned up the pool area, did laundry, etc; everything but face the problem. Somewhere between hauling a garbage can full of leaves to the compost pile and fixing the rosebush trellis which had broken and fallen over, the answer to my plot problem came to me. Now I knew how to make a good guy into a villain without being obvious. (I hate the obvious.) So after I post this, I need to revise that scene. Waiting brought the answer to my puzzle.

Waiting will not bring the cure to my headache/nausea. I fear my headache will only get worse, becoming a full blown migraine leaving me incapacitated. and then I really may puke my guts out. For this, it's better to put something in my stomach, swallow some medication, and take my chances.

If we all knew when to wait and when to jump in a tough situation, we could always make the right decisions and take the right actions. Most of the times, we just have to go with our gut.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Can We Just Be Friends?

Oh, those dreaded words--especially when directed at you by someone you're interested in. In other scenarios, this is the best thing that could happen.

A blogger friend who has a critique group is in the midst of a war of words with a former prospective member that was asked to leave the group. I won't get in the middle of the conflict, but will offer general words of 'Do This, Don't Do That' guidelines for critique or any other groups.

1. Not everyone's going to like you--and you're not going to like everyone. As long as you're polite, brush off any comments or critiques that don't sit well. You're not all going to be best buds (or even buds), so don't make a big deal of it. This is not elementary school where you cry, wondering why someone doesn't like you. New member or group lifer, personalities will clash.

2. For the newcomer: you're coming into an established group. The other members know each other and it may be a little hard trying to fit in, but you've been invited into the circle so your foot is in the door. Coming off like a know-it-all is not going to endear you. Remember, you're the person changing the status quo. Be polite, listen, and learn the group dynamics before you stir things up.

3. For the group, the new person is like a kitten, trying to mark a bit of territory for him/herself. Everyone needs stake a bit of 'space' in the group. You invited this new person in, so give him/her a chance to step into the waters. They may be in defense mode because you're all strangers, and he/she is unfamiliar with hierarchy, procedures, etc. in the group. Chill, lean back, and let them get their feet wet as you all familiarize yourself with the new dynamics.

4. Politeness matters--for everyone. What will you accomplish by insulting the group? You will get asked to leave. What benefits are there to disparaging a newbie? There's going to be a blog post ranting about your cold welcome. Professionalism counts! If you must vent, do so at home, with a non-writing pal, family members, or your partner--in private.

5. If the worst happens and the invite needs to be rescinded, when the newbie (or even an established member because circumstances change) walks out the door, end of discussion. For those getting 'uninvited,' swallow your anger and hurt. After all, if the group isn't a comfortable fit, do you really want to stay and be miserable? Of course not, so just move on. There is a group that works for you out there, keep looking. Neither side should run to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or websites heaving their guts about what went down. It doesn't look good or bode well for the person spewing the vitriol.

What makes me sound like a know-it-all (and I don't, I'm just a 'know-some-of-it')? I've had a critique group for a number of years and people have come and gone. Some I was sad to see leave, but they had their reasons. Others, I couldn't wait to shut the door behind them (and lock it so they couldn't get back in). That's the human condition--agendas, personalities, expectations, needs, perspectives, and experiences lead to conflict (as if the world situation/history weren't proof of that!).

Group not working out? Say thank you for the invite, but you need to go elsewhere for what you need/want. Individual not working out? Apologize for the situation that leads you to ask them to find another group that is better suited for them. Then, everybody HUSH! See, easy!

The publishing world is tough enough without us turning on each other like cannibalistic piranhas.

Be good to each other!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Big Things Happening Here!

I've done this before, but I'm doing it again- with a different set of writing buddies: The Next Big Thing.

I have to thank my friend and fellow writer (who's also an illustrator magnifique!) Leeza Hernandez. Leeza is also our regional advisor for the New Jersey Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Here's her link, so check out her work and show her some author/illustrator love:

 My 'Next Big Thing:'
1) What is the working title of your next book? Hopefully Sirenz 3, Myth Appropriated will be out in ebook in the fall, and Blonde Ops (Thomas Dunne) will be out in winter, 2014. As for solo stuff, I'm working on a sci fi titled Lethal Dose.
 2) Where did the idea come from for the book? Sirenz is a collaboration of Natalie Zaman's and my ideas, the basic premise of Blonde Ops was our editors' (yes, 2 editors! Peter Joseph's and Kat Brzozowski's idea. Lethal Dose was my 2012 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project.
 3) What genre does your book fall under? Everyone knows Sirenz is Greek mythology in a contemporary setting. Blonde Ops is a spy thriller adventure set in Rome. Lethal Dose is an NA (New Adult) sci fi.
 4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? For Sirenz, Nat & I agreed that Ian Somerhalder IS Hades. (sigh). I would have liked Candice Accola (Caroline) for Sharisse but by the time Hollywood calls, she'll be too old (no offense, Candice!). As for Meg, Nat like Selena Gomez. For Blonde Ops, we haven't decided yet (maybe we should do that asap!). For Lethal Dose, I would so love Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, Jack the Giant Slayer) to play Dalen Steele.

For Adara, I want  Ksenia Solo (Lost Girl, Black Swan).

 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Sirenz 3: When the girls need him, this time Hades appears--but there's always a price to pay and Sharisse and Margaret will have to commit the perfect burglary--quickly--or they miss the prom and die. Blonde Ops: Thrown out of yet another school for hacking, Bec Jackson's skills come in handy when in Rome--because someone's after the First Lady. Lethal Dose: Little more than a nomad, Earthling Dalen Steele helps support his family as a poisoner--but someone's targeted him and the prime minister of the Planetary Council.
 6) Who is publishing your book? Sirenz: it'll go to ebook and we'll get back to you when it's finalized. Blonde Ops: Thomas Dunne (St. Martins). Lethal Dose: stayed tuned! 
 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? Sirenz: still working on it! Blonde Ops: six months. Lethal Dose: one month! (That's the joy and terror of NaNoWriMo!)
 8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Sirenz: the Goddess series by Aimee Carter. Blonde Ops: the Heist Society series by Ally Carter (maybe I should change my name to Carter...) Lethal Dose: hmmm. I don't know at this point, this is my first sci fi. I'll let you know when I broaden my reading pile. 
 9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? Sirenz: it's just so much fun; Hades is deliciously bad, and my character is so snarky; I wish I was that cool. Blonde Ops: our agent was approached by Peter and Kat about this project and she suggested us! For Lethal Dose, I'd been wanting to write a sci fi because one of my fave authors, Sherrilyn Kenyon, has a badass sci fi series called The League and it gave me the courage to try since she started in fantasy/mythology.
 10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? Sirenz: more Hades, of course! Blonde Ops:  think teenaged 'Jane' Bond, computer hacker, Rome, sexy Dante, mysterious Taj, and a First Lady in danger. For Lethal Dose, Dalen Steele is a guy no one can touch- he's literally poison to everyone, but Adara's  not lettting him go, he's got to answer for attempted murder...

So now I tag Zoraido Cordova: I met her at the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago, but she lives in New York. Her first book, Vicious Deep, was just coming out.

And Ami Joan Pacquette: author and agent, Ami and I know each other through the SCBWI and she's got lots of stuff coming out.

Monday, April 1, 2013

And Now It Begins...

So I got the revision email from my agent for my Sci Fi manuscript. Let's just say that while the word "badass" was involved in some way, so were words like "long," "POV switches," "needs more world building," etc.

So this is what I'll be doing this month:

Feel free to send care packages!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Beautiful Redemption

I was sick (again) Monday. (There are a lot of diseased people and I wonder why I always come across them.)  So instead of having fun playing laser tag and racing go-carts, I was home in my jammies, on the couch, loaded with tissues.

And watching zombie movies.

I noticed a recurrent theme: virus outbreak, a few characters band together for survival, some good people die and the end is always indeterminate. While I'm sure this would truly be the case if a zombie event broke out, it got tedious with the same story line.

Maybe that's why I liked the movie Warm Bodies so much; it offered the zombies who still had a smidgen of their humanity left a chance to redeem themselves. I'm a firm believer in redemption. Humanity, while capable of such horrors as enslavement, genocide, and heartlessness, is also capable of selfless love, generosity, and sacrifice. I've seen it: Superstorm Sandy relief, a person donating a kidney to a co-worker, all those people who check off  'Organ Donor' on their license.

But you have to want redemption, like R in Warm Bodies; it doesn't just come free. Some people have to come a long way for it, but they do it. Others, like serial killer Eileen Wuournos, blamed their victims for their murderous acts, never once taking responsibility, the first step toward redemption.

I think I've seen enough zombie movies for the rest of my life, although I will watch Warm Bodies again. I think we all have something for which we need a little redemption.

So I think I will go do some redeeming things today, including working on my manuscript (it has to have some redeeming qualities...). How about you?


Monday, March 18, 2013

Obstacles--Not Cliffs

I hurt my toe. The one next to the pinky, on my left foot. I wasn't kicking the car tire (this was the only kicking picture I could get without a soccer ball or a karate outfit). I was doing the dishes--around midnight--and stubbed my toe on the stool. The heavy, oak one.

It might be a hairline fracture. I know this because I've broken a number of toes (and other bones, sad stories, don't ask). I KNOW that feeling. I've fractured a toe while wearing ski boots. A little too much pressure and snip! The toes don't even make that snap sound anymore.

So my swimming and walking had to be put on hold. I wear tight sneakers up until bedtime. Previous numerous wasted visits to the doctor's office taught me that they can't cast it, wrap it, or pin it. All they do is maybe x-ray it, but usually it's just a 'tape it to the other toe and stay off as much as possible' routine. I'm pro enough now to do it myself (and better if I may be so bold).

It's an annoying obstacle. End of swimming? No. End of walking? Never. That's the difference between an obstacle and a cliff. There's no coming back for another chance once you're over that cliff, but the thing is to know the difference. (I'm sure if you're up on the mountain, you know the difference between an obstacle and a cliff.) In writing, a rejection is an obstacle. A scathing critique is an obstacle. Giving up is a cliff. Helen Keller was both blind and mute, yet she wrote. Steven Hawking is practically immobile, yet uses his eyes to work a special computer to write and formulate new theories. Beethoven went deaf young, but still went on to compose his, and the world's, best music. There was no 'cliff,' no 'end' for them.

Know the difference.