Thursday, February 2, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day!

I know I'm not alone when I say this day of the year always reminds me of the movie classic starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell.

And I also know I'm about to get pelted with cyber rotten tomatoes when I say, while I do like the movie, the writer in me hates the major flaw that ruins it for me every single time.

That flaw? The lack of growth in Andie's character, Rita.

Before you hurl that piece of fruit, take a sec to think about it. People have spent years figuring out how long that one day actually was for Bill's character, Phil Connors. Creator Harold Ramis intended it to last about ten years, but the current consensus is thirty-four years.

But for Rita, it's just one day. She starts out at the beginning of the movie, barely able to tolerate him, convinced he's an egotistical jerk because...well, let's face it...he is! One day later (in her world), he's bought her coffee, she sees him at a town dance where he quotes a bit of French poetry (remember, she's not with him when he saves the homeless man or stops the mayor from choking, or helps the ladies with their flat tire--though those ladies do regale her about what a great man he is), he plays the piano, gives a newlywed couple tickets to Wrestlemania, and all of a sudden she's paying all the money in her checkbook for a date with him (where he creates a nice ice sculpture of her). Fast forward, they've spent the night together, and she's madly in love. Huh? What happened?

What's worse is that many of his changes in regards to her are about manipulation. He doesn't always say a prayer and drink to world peace; he says that because it will get her to stick around. There's no evidence he suddenly loves French poetry; he uses it to seduce her. 

Yes, the movie's a fantasy and yes, I know I have to suspend some credibility to make it work, but dang! That's a whole lotta character credibility to suspend. So, in this age of remakes, if anyone ever decides to redo Groundhog Day, could we include some kind of growth arc for Rita?

What are your thoughts? Or tell me what movie most people love you don't get and why?

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Happy Ten Years Published Anniversary to Me!

Well, lookie there! It's February 2017, and ten years ago this month, my very first published manuscript, THE BONDS OF MATRI-MONEY, was released by Avalon Books.

So much has changed in the book world since those long-ago days.

The e-reader burst on the scene, and readers around the world could carry hundreds of books on a device that fit in a purse.

The internet exploded, allowing us to do much of our research online through articles, photographs, and videos.

The owner of Avalon Books retired and sold our backlist to Amazon. Our hardcover books were converted to paperback and digital formats, opening up a whole new audience for most of us.

Many publishers merged or folded, leaving fewer houses for all the authors.

Many bookstores went out of business, leaving a lot less shelf space.

Self-publishing, long scorned and belittled, became a viable option, allowing great stories (and some not-so great stories) to find an audience without a gatekeeper.

Social media transformed the way readers and writers interacted.

For the next month, to celebrate my "tin" anniversary, I'll be giving away free books, gift cards, and little surprises. So post comments here on my blog over the next 28 days to be in the running.

Today, tell me what other changes occurred in the last ten years in publishing, or which one you believe has had the greatest impact on the industry.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome to 2017

I think.

It's been a bumpy ride getting here. Last year was not a great year, writing-wise, for me. I found myself starting and stopping projects and I really worried I've lost my writing mojo. It's a crippling fear that only intensifies when your normal inspiration exercises don't seem to work. You spend a lot of time questioning if you ever wrote anything decent at all or if everyone who read your work was just being kind for all those years. 

But writing wasn't the only thing to fall by the wayside. Normally, I read anywhere between 80-100 books a year. In 2016, I read ten. 

Nor did I blog nearly as often as I should have. My social media presence was sporadic, at best. 

I'd love to say I did something amazing with all that lost time, I frittered it away on self-doubt and self-pity.

Now, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you know I don't make resolutions. I do, however, make plans and set goals. So, this year, I want to write more, publish more, read more, blog more, and regain that spark of me. 

Who's with me? Come on. Let's do this. 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday: Paws of War

It's Giving Tuesday, a day to provide generously to those less fortunate during the holiday season. As part of my list of charities for the coming year, here's one for animal lovers and patriots alike.

Paws of War rescues dogs from shelters around the country and trains them to become service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury.

They're an all-volunteer organization and all donations go directly to the dogs and the vets.

They also offer low cost vaccinations (free for veterans!) to the public's pets.

Be a hero for someone who's already proved him/herself a hero to us. Please give.



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Friday, November 18, 2016

Giving: The Second Half of Thanksgiving

Many years ago, when I was a young teen, my dad lost his job right before the holiday season. We were a big family, living on my father's meager income and supplementing that income with our own homegrown fruits and vegetables and fish from the local waters. But to lose that income in the middle of autumn didn't make it easy for us to subsist, and then, of course, there were the upcoming holidays.

I remember sitting in my family dining room with my mom one night, planning the homemade gifts we could make (I had just learned how to sew in Home Ec at school) when there was a knock on our back door. When Dad opened it, the first thing I saw was a ginormous basket wrapped in plastic and tied with a huge golden bow. Friends and neighbors had taken up a collection for us and presented us with everything we needed for a Thanksgiving dinner: a turkey, stuffing, nuts and fruit, two pre-baked pies, and even a bottle of wine. I'll never forget the expressions on my parents' faces: an enormous weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Even as a cynical teenager, I was moved by the sheer generosity and kindness shown to us that night. It's why I always strive to give as much as I can during the holiday season.  

There's a food drive going on in my area of the state today for Island Harvest, a local foodbank. If you're a Long Island resident, please visit their website and make a contribution to help ease the holiday stress for a family or two. If you're not on Long Island and want to help someone near you, find a local foodbank or pantry in your area.

I just want you to remind you: kids are poor, too. They can't do much to help, but your help can ease their parents' burdens a little bit and maybe, put a smile on an otherwise stressed face. Give generously. Choose love.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When It's Time to Change

Notice anything different? 

Yep. I've updated my blog...again. Over the years, I found the red and gold a little too heavy, through new updates I've discovered difficulty in getting the fonts at a good size, photos weren't popping up on social media the way I liked, and my social media share buttons had disappeared. So, for my benefit and yours, I spent some time cleaning and streamlining this haven for book news, recipes, and my outlook on the world.

This kind of minor upheaval is not that unusual for me. Every half-dozen years or so, I feel the need to declutter, to update, to make a few changes. It's not just online. I'll change my hairstyle (and color--more to come on that!), I'll clean out my closet and update my wardrobe, and I'll renovate a room in my house. 

Sometimes, like now, it coincides with my husband being out of the country. I think it has to do with a sudden switch in my priorities. If I'm not worried about cooking dinner or running errands, I can focus my energies elsewhere. Don't get me wrong. I'm not chained into the Happy Housewife role when he's around. It just seems to be easier to get things done when he's not underfoot or voicing opinions. 


Maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm closing in on The End on another book and I'm dragging my feet?

Yeah, that could be it, too.

Either way, look at my new blog! Ain't it pretty? What's next? Probably my website. Stay tuned.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Charity Spotlight: Trinity Place Shelter

Each month, I'll focus on one of the many charities out there doing good work, in the hope it will inspire you to give something back to those in need.

This month, meet Trinity Place Shelter. From their website: 

"...our mission is to help homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ*) youth and young adults in New York City to safely transition out of the shelter system and grow into independent, positive, and productive adults."

Over the last ten years, this shelter based in New York, has sought to provide a safe haven for LGBTQ youth through education, counseling, career guidance, and other benefits. Those with nowhere else to go can find a loving home and safe environment within their walls. Most of all, they receive *acceptance.* Residents learn they are worthy of respect and love and find the strength and support they need to become thriving adults.

Please take a moment to visit their website, learn about what they do, and how you can help!

Thank you. Remember, we're stronger together.

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