Monday, December 18, 2006

The First Sneak Preview

With just about eight weeks now 'til the release of The Bonds of Matri-money, I figured it was time to post the first of a few sneak peeks. (Okay, so I'm still trying to catch up for the holidays and figured this was as good a time as any to fall back a bit on my writing--but hey! Everybody benefits, right?) So, without further ado, I introduce you to Renata Moon, the heroine, and her wacky next door neighbor, Lillian:

A new game show entitled, "The Bonds of Matri-money" is seeking newlyweds in the tri-state area willing to spend a month in the South Pacific for the chance to win one million dollars...

Seated at her kitchen table, Renata looked up from the newspaper article and into her neighbor's heavily made-up face. "I can't do this."

"Of course you can," Lillian told her. "As a matter of fact, I'd say this game show is just what you need."

"Don't start that again. Please?" She wanted to push away from the table, but the old lady's cardinal talons dug into her wrist, pinning her in place.

"Start what?"

"That 'you should take a risk now and then' speech."

"Well, it's true. You've spent your whole life living by the rules, and what's it ever got you? Your closest friends are your Nana, Buttons, and me--three useless senile broads with more miles on them than Route Sixty-six."

Buttons apparently took offense and screeched her outrage in near glass-breaking tones.

"Be quiet, old girl." Lillian passed the cockatiel a piece of corn muffin. "You and I may be ancient but we've still got our sex appeal. Rennie, honey, you need to shake up your life. Otherwise, you'll wind up an old lady all alone, wondering when your life passed you by."

"And you're the voice of experience?" she retorted. "You live all alone, except for Buttons."

"Yes, but I had a glorious time in my youth. Years ago, I had men clamoring to smell the perfume on my gloves."

"You did not."

Lillian nodded, tipping the gold turban forward over her forehead. "Indeed I did. Have I ever told you about the night I spent with Henry Kissinger?"


"Back in 1969, Henry was giving a speech at the U.N. and took in our Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. Did you ever see one of those? With the live animals on stage during the Nativity scene? Do you have any idea how hard it is to maintain a straight kick line with two dozen other girls while you're all hopping up and down in camel dung?"

"But you digress..." she prompted, rolling her hands to speed up Lillian's memory.

"Yes, of course. How silly of me. Anyway, after the show, Henry sent a note backstage requesting my company for a late supper at the Russian Tea Room. Naturally, I went."


"One doesn't say 'no' to a Secretary of State."

"Yes, Miss Manners."

"We were sitting in a booth at the Tea Room, enjoying baklava of squab and making our way through a bottle of Cristal when all of a sudden, one of his people interrupted us. The CIA believed a major crisis would develop in Cambodia in the next week. Do you know what Henry said to his aide?"


"Never taking his eyes off me, he said, 'There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.'"

"You're making that up."

Lillian's grin widened. "No, I'm not. But regardless, you're missing my point. Your life is full of crises because you make time for them."

"That's a pretty simplistic view, don't you think?"

Lillian shrugged, causing Buttons to bounce up and down for a brief second. The cockatiel gave her owner a pertrubed look, then settled down to nibble at her corn muffin again. "Simplistic or not, there's some truth to it. You need to do something proactive about this situation. Sitting here writing a list on a legal pad isn't going to get you the money you need."

Want more? Buy the book! Or stay tuned. Next time around, I'll introduce you to Connell.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


With the holidays drawing ever nearer, members of the LIRW gathered together yesterday to hoist a glass or two of wine and hold our annual elections for Board members. This, of course, means that I come to the end of my tenure as Chapter President. It's been an exciting, eventful, eye-opening experience. (How's that for alliteration?) I survived hosting my very first LIRW meeting with a Newsday reporter in the room. I bounced back from the abdication of one or two board members who found their positions too overwhelming to continue. I never once made it to a Presidents' Retreat at RWA National, despite attempts both in Reno and Atlanta. I learned to love public speaking, thanks to my monthly gigs and time at the podium during the LIRW's June Luncheon. At yesterday's affair, my chaptermates presented me with a beautiful basket of wine from Long Island's own East End (complete with two lovely hand-painted wine glasses) and a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Wine and books...who could ask for anything more? Well, maybe a tub full of hot, scented water to enjoy both in style. Come January, I'll take over as Newsletter Editor for the chapter. Out with the old with the new.

Speaking of old and new, on my critique site, Romantic CritWits, I was forced to say goodbye to several long-time members. It wasn't an easy decision, but I stick by it. I think in each case the members weren't really interested in being members any more; they just didn't know how to leave the group or didn't have the motivation to move on without a nudge. I wish each of these ladies well and hope they don't harbor ill will. Their release may have come as a surprise, but I believe if they really think about it, they'll see that this action was for the best. When disinterest leads to apathy, it's only a short step to hard feelings. Luckily, the rest of the group has moved forward, anxious to welcome several new members now and celebrate the return of one or two former members after the holidays. In the last week, we've seen more activity than we did in the entire month of November! So much happening there and I'm glad to see the sparks flying again.

Timing for this flurry is ideal since I've decided to take a break from writing until January. With my revisions for my second book completed on Thanksgiving morning, I'm concentrating on family and friends, reconnecting with those I love and those who make my life a joy. I'm also squeezing in a bit of "reading for pleasure," something I don't get to enjoy as much as I used to. It's often difficult for me to remove my "critiquer's hat" and simply read without worrying about Point of View shifts or Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Luckily, a few favorite authors (J.D. Robb and Jane Heller to name two I recently read) write such fabulous works, I manage to lose myself in their magic.

Wishing all of you a magical holiday season filled with love and laughter. What else is there in life?

Sunday, December 3, 2006

How Dedicated Are You?

Writing is a funny thing. It seems that everyone I meet has "been planning to write a book" when they have time. The trick is, you have to MAKE the time.

Personally, I'm thoroughly immersed in the writing world and have been since I first decided to take up this life. I volunteer my time to RWA and the LIRW, I belong to two very active critique groups, and I love to talk about writing with anyone who'll ask. When I'm not writing my own stories, I'm reading something off my constantly-growing collection of books written by friends and associates, or critiquing a work for one of my groups. I love discovering a new turn of phrase or plot point. For me (and most writers), it's all about the next line of dialogue, the next scene, the next story. Yes, there have been times where real life has called me away, but all too soon, Gertrude starts whispering in my ear again, and I find myself drawn back to the desktop to tell another couple's great tale of love and happily ever after. True success in writing only comes through dedication. Just ask Nora Roberts.

During a recent chat, another writer (hi, Deb!) confessed that she thought of a great story idea while in church and wrote it on the church bulletin so she wouldn't forget it. Now, that's dedication! Most writers admit to having written something on a cocktail napkin, a receipt, the back of an envelope or a steamy shower door at one time or another.

Yet, there are those writers who start out gung-ho, maybe finish a manuscript or two, but for whatever reason, they lose the passion. Maybe they received one too many rejections, maybe something serious took them away from the craft and they find it difficult to dive in again, or maybe the business end just depresses them too much. These are the writers who, after a time, find themselves with "too much to do to write" or hanging on to a writing group for "sentimental reasons." Guess what, gang? Writing is a business, not a club you join for the occasional chat or sentimental stroll down Memory Lane (i.e., "Remember when I thought I was going to be a published writer...?").

Real writers show up at that keyboard every single day. They write, they read, they critique their partners' works in order to strengthen their own prose. They live, eat, sleep and breathe the writing process. Anyone who tells you differently is selling snake oil in a magic elixir bottle. So plan to show up every day. Or don't show up at all.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanks, But No Thanks

This week, in my local Sunday paper, a magazine insert featured an article about "re-gifting," that is, the dubious tradition of giving a gift to someone that you received from someone else, but didn't like or couldn't use.

Ick. Sadly, women were more likely than men to re-gift (that statistic surprised me considering the preconceived notions regarding women and shopping.) Northern United States residents reigned supreme in the geographic demographics, if you will.

With the utmost gift-giving season upon us, may I say a few words to those who are considering a "re-gift"? Please, don't. Yes, we're all busy. Time and money may be tight, and maybe I'm the only person left on Planet Earth that finds this tradition tacky. But I'd much rather receive something small, cheap or homemade, that says the giver thought about me when choosing it, and didn't just decide to do a little sprucing up in the attic or basement. Yes, I'm a sentimental softie. (Does that surprise you, dear reader?)

Speaking of sentimental softies, the first round of revisions on A Little Slice of Heaven is completed. This second story for Avalon Books will be winging its way back to my editor before the end of the week, and then it's time to start revising Hayley's story--on the off-chance my editor decides to take a return trip to the fictional Long Island town of Setquott Beach and go for the "hat trick."

Oh...and because the week wouldn't be complete unless I got a chance to boast about one of my kids, here's a photo of Tori taken before a Sweet 16 party this weekend. Note: her baby photo in the background.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Another season ends...

Today was the last football game of the season. And the Wildcats showed top form to come out on top: 13-6!! That makes their record: 6 Wins, 3 Losses, 1 Tie. Yay, Wildcats!!! Nick, who'd spent the entire week home sick after playing in the teeming rain last week was one of the best players out there, tackling players at key moments to keep the offense from scoring. At the end of the game, his coach stepped up to me and joked, "Thanks for keeping him home from school all week so he could light the field on fire today! We really appreciate it."

Of course, with football done for this year, our thoughts turn to the holidays just before lacrosse starts at the beginning of December. Last night I began my shopping list for Thanksgiving and asked the family what they expected to see on the table this year. Dh requested stuffing (as usual) and apple pie for dessert, dd wants my famous green bean casserole (not the Campbell's one--check the recipe section; if I get a chance I'll try to post it here. Trust me, it's out of this world!) and cranberry sauce, ds wants sweet potatoes and baby peas. Both kids want pumpkin pie (naturally.) "What about the turkey?" I innocently asked. Their reply? "Who cares? Just make sure you have the side dishes."

Yeah, that's kinda what I figured. Anyone for turkey soup?

In any event, I'm wishing you and yours a bountiful Thanksgiving and many sales as you start your holiday shopping!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My newest addiction

Hi, I'm Gina. And I've become hooked on an MTV reality show called Parental Control. It speaks to me on so many levels. As a parent, I can definitely understand the desperation of two people trying to find a better significant other for their teenaged darling. As the child of parents who never really liked my choice of significant other, I can relate to the teens involved wanting to keep Mom and Dad out of affairs of the heart. And the writer in me just loves the humor, the surprise, and the...dare I say?...voyeurism of watching new people getting to know one another, hitting it off, and sparking a new romance.

For those who've never seen it, allow me to 'splain. Two parents who are fed up with their child's boy/girlfriend choose two dates for their child to go out with. While said child is on these dates, Mom, Dad and the Vile Significant Other watch them on television. At the end of the dates, child chooses whether to stay with VSO or ditch VSO for one of the parents' choices. I've seen episodes where child chose VSO (much to Mom and Dad's disgust), where child chooses a new partner (followed by much hoopla from Mom and Dad but some pretty raw language from VSO), where child chooses no one (again, hoopla!) and in one memorable episode where child chose New Person, who then turned him down to leave with VSO! Can you see why I'm hooked? It's an endless supply of teen angst, parental disapproval, and love in the 21st century.

When I'm not plugged in to this show, I'm working on revisions for A Little Slice of Heaven, the second of my manuscripts slated for publication with Avalon Books. Stay tuned for details as they develop.

Oh!...and football's still going strong. We were rained out three weeks ago, lost a heartbreaker to East Islip 13-0 last week, and came back strong with a victory over the North Shore Colts today in the driving rain: 20-6. Record now with one game left in the season: W 5 L 3 T 1.

Go Wildcats!!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Homage to a Hero(ine)

Yesterday was the LIRW's annual East End outing hosted by our very own, very loved Bertrice Small. Let me try to put into words what this day entails and why it thrills me to be a part of it every single year. Each October, Bertrice hosts our authors (and guests) to a fabulous historical tour and lunch somewhere on the East End of Long Island, near her home. In the past, we've visited historical homesites, lighthouses, and yesterday, the Wickham Fruit Farm in Cutchogue followed by a delicious lunch at the Cooperage Inn in Baiting Hollow.

I picked up my first Bertrice Small book while I was still in high school. The magic of her stories, the mix of history and passion, the idea of a strong, kick-ass heroine and the intrigue and humor Bertrice can weave into her prose left me breathless. After that one story (Love, Wild and Fair for those keeping score...), I found myself scanning bookstores for every word Bertrice had ever written. When I exhausted the list of already published, I joined the ranks of those clamoring for the next book, waiting for the day she'd finish the latest in her O'Malley Saga with Christmas-like anticipation. With each story I read, I dreamed of one day being lucky enough to meet Bertrice, or barring that, following in her exalted footsteps and writing my own stories of history and passion, etc., etc. For the longest time, that's all it was: a lovely dream.

Until I found RWA and the LIRW and actually turned a fantasy into reality. I met Bertrice on a brisk December day at the LIRW's annual holiday get-together about six years ago. For me, it was like meeting a rock idol or a movie star: one of those knee-knocking, you just know you're gonna screw up and faint or say something stupid moments. But Bertrice was, as she always is, gracious, polite and deep down wonderful to me. We talked for a while--don't ask me about what, I couldn't begin to tell you. And in the grand scheme of things, our topics of conversation probably wouldn't matter to the rest of the world anyway. What mattered was that, after that initial meeting, Bertrice left me even more determined than ever to follow in her footsteps.

Now, six years later, I'm proud to call Bertrice friend. And yes, it still tickles me everytime her name pops up on my Caller ID or in my Email address book. It's a testament of sorts to the power of determination and the magic of daring to dream.

So for those of you out there indulging your own fantasies about writing, why not take the steps to turn your dream into reality? Write that book you've got inside your head. Take some courses, join a writing organization, and as Nike says: Just Do It. Who knows where it might lead you?

And speaking of leaders, it's time for this week's football score: Wildcats 19, Connetquot 0. Looks like another pizza party this coming Friday. Current record 4 W, 2 L, 1 T.

Go Wildcats!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Progress Continues

A great big thank you to all those who showed up at the Farmingdale Public Library last night for the LIRW's featured talk on How to Get Your Work Published. I'm sure I wasn't the only one surprised to leave the meeting room and discover we'd closed the place. We were originally scheduled to talk until 8:30 pm, but somehow, time slipped by and we didn't leave the library until nearly 10! I hope that all of you who stuck around for so long did so because you gained a new knowledge and you're looking forward to pursuing your dream of publication as a serious possibility.
Now, at last, I'm hoping life will slow down for me so I can finally finish Hayley's story before my revisions pop up for my second book for Avalon. Yes, my dears, it's official: I spoke to my editor yesterday morning and, barring any unforeseen hiccups, A Little Slice of Heaven will be my second release!!!!!
Slice is the story of former nursery school teacher Gianna Randazzo, now relegated to working in her family's pizzeria, and the mysterious stranger who may or may not need her help to discover what's truly important in life. The inspiration for this story came from Nick and a few of the other guys at Via Pizza in East Setauket who wanted to know why no one every writes romances that take place in a pizzeria. least not since Lady and the Tramp's famous spaghetti scene.
I took up the challenge with vigor. Of course, now Philip thinks we should be getting free pizza for the rest of our lives.
In any event, I'm really excited to begin revisions; my editor, the fabulous Erin Cartwright Niumata, helps challenge me to make my stories the best they can be. At the same time, she doesn't try to mess with my "voice" or the message I'm trying to convey.
And speaking of pizza, blog posts these days wouldn't be the same without this week's football score: Wildcats 28, Sachem 6! Looks like we'll be having a pizza party Friday night to celebrate our victory. Wildcats' record now: W 3 L 2 T1.
Go Wildcats!!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Progress On All Fronts

October swept into my life wrapped in a To-Do list ten miles long. So I've been working toward crossing items off that To-Do list, one at a time. This morning, I looked up and lo and behold! The list has been cut in half. There are still far too many tasks to complete--all with looming deadlines, naturally. But I'll get there (probably just in time for the holidays.)

The biggest task on the horizon at the moment is that library talk scheduled for this coming Monday: October 16 at 7 pm at the Farmingdale Public Library. Don't forget, if you're near Farmingdale that night, you're welcome to meet me, Pam Burford and Michele Lang as we discuss the ins and outs of How to Get Your Work Published. I'm sure several other LIRW members will be in attendance--in fact, I'm counting on it! So stop by, say hello. Maybe we can help make your secret dream a reality, too.

Tonight is football practice where, if Gertrude, my Muse, is willing to cooperate, I'll spend some time digging back into Hayley and Dante's story--still titled, Straight From the Heart, which still doesn't fit because somewhere I went off the track with the original story idea. Though, technically, it was Hayley and Dante who deviated from form, at Gertrude's prodding I'm sure. In any event, I've set myself a goal of Halloween to have the first draft of this manuscript completed and with half the To-Do list erased, I just might have a shot of making it.

For those keeping track, the Wildcats tied Riverhead last week: 6-6.

We'll take it. That brings our record to W 2 L 2 T 1. This week's game is against Sachem at home.

Go Wildcats!

Sunday, October 1, 2006


I finally got the opportunity to present my workshop: Laugh and the World Laughs With You--Adding Humor to Any Manuscript at the LIRW meeting yesterday. Since the villagers didn't chase me out of town with pitchforks and lit torches, I'll assume I did okay. The next step is to complete the paperwork for submission to RWA. If they like the idea, I might get the opportunity to present the workshop in Dallas at the National Conference in 2007. Nervous? Well...yeah. But excited and eager to share also.

With the workshop done, my focus turns to my next event: an author's presentation at the Farmingdale Public Library. If you haven't already done so, write the date on your calendar! Monday, October 16 at 7 p.m. Join me, Michele Lang, and Pamela Burford for a fun and informative talk on How to Get Your Work Published. I'd love to see a lot of people there.

And if one of you happens to have a large coffee, milk/no sugar for me, I'd love it even more!

Wildcats Update: Riverhead Raiders 19, Wildcats 0.
(Someday we're gonna beat those guys!)
Wildcats Record for the Year: Wins 2 L 2 T 0
Go Wildcats!!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

In the Pink

First my daughter did it to herself. Then I let her do it to her brother. Now, after some thought and consideration, I let her do it to me: I let her streak color thru my hair. Fuchsia.

Why? Because it's fun, it does no great harm to anyone, and it rockets me right to the top of the Cool Mom list among Tori and her friends.

When I say that, I don't mean that I want to be a teenager again (I wouldn't live thru those years again for all Bill Gates and Donald Trump's money combined!) Nor do I plan to be one of those moms who hangs out with the kids and pretends to be a friend instead of a parent. It's more about not making judgments and reinforcing trust between my daughter and me and, by extension, between me and Kriszii, Amanda, Mike and the rest of Tori's crew.

Most of the comments and reactions I've received have been predictable. A few got the idea that it was for fun and smiled or complimented me on having the guts to do it. Some were taken aback and didn't know what to say, so they said nothing. One or two actually commented that I was trying to look more like my son. (Well, let's face it: the kid looks so much like his Dad, it might be nice to have some sort of resemblance, even if it is artificially enhanced.)

My favorite reaction so far came from the football field yesterday. I was heading to my car to get something and as I entered the parking lot, a mom was walking in with a little girl of about 4 or 5 years old. The child pointed to my head and shouted, "Mommy, that lady has--" Immediately, Mom shushed the poor kid. I turned around, laughing, and said, "It's okay. She can say it." I mean, after all, it's not like I didn't know my hair was striped bright pink. Tori didn't exactly wait 'til I was asleep then sneak up on me with a comb full of fuchsia dye. Ah, well. This too shall fade...

Oh, and for the record: Wildcats 7 Lions 0 Wildcats record so far this year: W 2, L 1, T 0

Go Wildcats!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Filippo!

20 years. I'm kinda stunned by the idea. I've been married to Phil for 20 years now. According to tradition, 20 years is the China Anniversary or, modernized, the Platinum Anniversary. For me, it's another day to remind my husband how much I love him, how much we've accomplished together, what we still have to look forward to.

20 years. Odd, it feels like just a few years have gone by, and yet at the same time, I feel like we've been together a lifetime. (Maybe because we have.)

20 years. How do we do it? Beats me. Maybe it's simply that we love each other and we try to never let anything else get in the way of that love. Or maybe it's more like how Phil put it to me first thing this morning: "We're demented and pathetic." Or maybe it's a little of both.

Whatever caused it, thanks to my dear hubby who makes each day perfect just by being beside me. He makes me laugh, makes me crazy, and loves me...regardless. He's the best thing that ever happened to me and I sure am glad he's mine!

Friday, September 8, 2006

Childrearing 101

So I'm sitting in a restaurant the other night with my kids, enjoying a leisurely dinner before football practice. Halfway through our meal, two women walk in with four children between them. The oldest is probably twelve, the youngest...maybe two years old. Naturally, the moment he's strapped into the restaurant's high chair, the toddler begins to throw a tantrum. He screams, he whines, he throws his toys.

I can tell the mom's just not handling his behavior well at all. Perhaps he's been like this all day (in which case, why would anyone take him out to a restaurant?) or perhaps he's normally an angel and she's never had to deal with a meltdown before (which I seriously doubt). She tries giving the child some crayons. Thunk, thunk, thunk! They wind up soaring point-first into the wall. She offers him a bottle, he throws it on the floor. No matter what distraction she dreams up, this kid is having none of it.

Now I don't know about the rest of you, but when my kids were that age and pulled that sort of nonsense, I would pick them up and leave the restaurant (leaving the "good" kids with the second adult). We'd go outside or to the car and I would try to get the child to calm down. If (s)he decided to behave, we would return inside and enjoy our meal together. If not, there was no way I'd subject other people to my child's tantrum. But what did this mom do?

She waited until the waiter arrived to take their orders and then told the child, "If you don't stop that right now, the waiter's going to yell at you."

Nice. Make some innocent stranger out to be the Bogeyman. And I'll bet the poor guy didn't even get a decent tip.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

This year, the family and I headed to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. What can I say except we plan to go back next year? A gorgeous beach, lots to do outside of the beach (good for pale-skinned, light-eyed redheads like me who burn under a 60 watt bulb!) with all the comforts of home in the gorgeous condo we rented.

Now here in NY, we live in a ranch style house--no stairs. So naturally, Nick had to spend time playing on the stairs in the unit.

One of the highlights was a cruise to see Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. I took my regular film camera and let Phil use the digital. Naturally, he'd never bothered to read the directions so didn't know how to use the digital camera. That means you'll have to wait until I get my film developed to see the dolphins. But once Tori took the digital away from dear ol' Dad (with only a minimum of eye-rolling) she got some great shots of us on the ship.

You can actually see the wind whipping my hair.

And in case you're wondering, my tank says,
"You interrupted my love scene for this?"

And yes, the photo album wouldn't be complete without a shot of Tori and I doing something goofy.

What can I say? Like mother, like daughter.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Month Late But...

I did want to share some of my experiences at RWA National with everyone. I flew to Atlanta so high with excitement I didn't think I'd need a plane, and while the experience was bittersweet, it was also one of the greatest times of my life.

The workshops this year were top notch. My favorite of all was one called: Theme--Taking an Old Fashioned Concept and Turning It into an Effective Way to Market Your Voice. If you plan on ordering any of the tapes from this year's event, I highly recommend this particular workshop. (And no, I have no ulterior motive to say that; no kickback, no secret pact with the workshop's hosts.) This particular workshop was one of many where I left saying, "Okay, that makes sense." But with Theme, I also walked out with a choir of angels singing. The ideas expressed clicked so well for me that I fully intend to listen to that tape over and over again while I write.

The Booksale for Literacy broke a record for sales this year. And I managed to make Irene Peterson's day by being her first customer for her book, Glory Days, at the Literacy Signing. Irene and I know each other through the LIRW June Luncheon. Irene, as a member of the New Jersey Romance Writers Chapter is a frequent guest as well as a fun and lively lady!

I managed to take in the Georgia Dome and the Georgia Aquarium on a sightseeing tour and found myself surrounded by people who wanted my business card at both places. It's funny: inside the hotel five blocks away, handing out business cards is as common as shaking hands. We're all writers, published and non-published, and we all want to extend our network. But on the streets (if you will), getting a business card from an author is a brush with celebrity! And I want to thank all the wonderful people who showed so much interest in what I do, how I do it, and when they could buy my book (February, 2007!)

Socializing was a blast! I arrived in Atlanta about twenty minutes ahead of my roommate, Amber Green, and when we went down to Registration, found ourselves in the company of two other dear friends: Shelby Reed and Cate Rowan. The four of us spent oodles of time together over the next several days, each time laughing, hugging, or just plain reveling in our friendship. At the Welcome Reception, we met two members of the Wet Noodle Posse, one who'd traveled from South Korea to attend this year's event. They fit right into our group and we shared even more laughs. There were meals with people we'd never met before, and yet by the time dessert was served, we all felt like we'd spent the time with trusted friends. Truly, that's one of my favorite aspects of National. The ability to click with someone you've never previously met. And it happens over and over again.

By Friday night, I was above the clouds. You see, I had talked to my editor and learned fantastic news regarding my second manuscript. Early Saturday morning, I couldn't wait to call home to share it. That's when the world tilted on its axis. While I was laughing, socializing, and soaking up the warmth of the people of Atlanta, a dear family member was fighting for his life. His prognosis was grim and suddenly, my good news left ashes in my mouth.

I am very fortunate, however, in some of my friends, particularly Amber Green and Shelby Reed. These two ladies, knowing how deeply I hurt, spent time with me on Saturday night to lift my spirits and keep me whole. I'm grateful to them for being my shelter in the storm. I love you, girls--never forget how much!

It may be eleven months away, but I'm already planning my trip to RWA National 2007 in Dallas, TX. Who's coming along?

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

I'm baaaaack!

Did you miss me? Life is slowly getting back to normal, or at least what will now pass for normal in the coming days. And yes, I do have fantabulous news, but...can't tell you yet. I want to wait 'til it's "official." So stay tuned on that front.

So what can I tell you about in the meantime? Well, let's see. My Romance Junkies excerpt was up while I was at National. Figures, right? The one week I couldn't spend my time checking my stats every two minutes. The good news is that, while I didn't receive a lot of comments, those I did get were rave reviews. Here are a few of the comments I received:

"I liked this one. I'm a VERY fussy reader by nature and this is a story that I would keep reading to see what happens next. :)"

"This reminds me of Shirley Jump's books :)"

"Absolutely love this!!"

Don't forget: the contest is still going on, so keep popping over there and voting!

What else? Let's see... Oh, yeah. I'm working on finishing that particular manuscript, which for those who were looking was entitled, "Straight From the Heart." I'm also adding some new touches to "Nobody's Darling" because it garnered an agent's interest at National. Yay!

Plus...I moderated a workshop at National for Amber Green. Her 50 Ways to (Nearly) Kill Your Lover was so successful, it inspired me to consider hosting a workshop in Dallas next year. Dress rehearsal will be the LIRW's September meeting. I plan to call it: Show Me the Funny: Adding Humor to Your Manuscript. But first, I have to write the blasted thing.

Luckily, I'll be taking the week of my birthday off. This last month has solidly reminded me that life is short and we have to grab every second and suck it dry. So while I'm reconnecting with Phil, Tori, and Nick (my favorite four letter words), I'll also sneak a little time with Alphie (my Alphasmart) and Larry the Laptop to handle all these tasks I've set for myself. Target goals: "Darling" off to prospective agent before I leave, Workshop ready to be given and applied to National by September 23rd, "Straight" finished before Halloween (hey, it's as good a date as any). After that, well...we'll see.

Another date to keep in mind: Monday, October 16 at 7:00 pm. That's the date for my first library talk, which was originally slated to be my second. This time, it's the Farmingdale Library. I hope I'll see you there! I hope I'll be there! :0)

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Roller Coaster of Life

Life changes on the toss of a coin. Those in the fate biz reminded of that particular point this week while I was in Atlanta. Twelve hours after hearing over-the-moon-good news at National, I called home to share my joy and learned devastating news about a close family member.

The bad news has thrown me off-kilter and I will not be able to appear at my first library talk this week. However, some very good friends and chapter-mates of mine will be there. So if you'd love to learn How to Get Your Work Published and you're in the Long Island area, come to the Great Neck Library on Wednesday, August 2nd at 2:00 pm. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm Stormin' Atlanta!

"The time has come, the walrus said..."

Well, no walrus, but RWA's National Conference is this week! I'm flying to Atlanta Wednesday morning for five fun-filled days of workshops, meetings, greetings, booksignings, and general merriment. This year I'm stunned by my overly filled dance card. The President's Retreat is all day Wednesday with a training seminar on Wednesday night after the Literacy Booksigning. I've volunteered to serve at the Book Fair on Thursday and moderate a friend's workshop Friday night. In between those two events I'll do some sightseeing, spend time with friends, attend workshops of interest, meet with an agent, and even attend the Avalon Authors' private party! Then, Saturday is a dinner party hosted by a very dear writer friend from the area. (Hi, Chris! See you soon!)

Yes, it promises to be an event-packed trip. I plan to bring the old laptop so I'm hoping to check in with details (and maybe photos) during a rare moment of downtime.

In the meantime, if you're in the Long Island area, circle the date: August 2. That's the date of my very first library talk. Details later, so stay tuned...

And don't forget the contest over at Romance Junkies. My excerpt hasn't shown up yet, so it's not too late to check in and figure out which mystery submission is mine!

If you'll be in Atlanta, look for me. I'll be EVERYWHERE! If not, I'll see ya when I get home again!

'Til then, friends. Happy Reading!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Looking For Fresh Reading Material?

At long last, Romance Junkies posted the first excerpts for their writing contest. Normally, I'm not a contest person: I've routinely found my contest scores to range from truly pitiful to raves. My most memorable contest scored me a 47 (?) and a 150 out of a possible 150. Not so coincidentally, that was my very last contest. I'm told this kind of span in scores means I have a strong voice; it connects with some readers, yet turns others off. However, it also means I'll never win, so I don't spend money entering the many chapter contests available.

But that's me. My fellow LIRWer, Dawn Thompson, won several contests, including the one that launched her publishing career. So lightning can strike. Just not in my household.

With that in mind, I decided to enter the Romance Junkies contest for the fun of it. It cost nothing and the prize is a new AlphaSmart (mine has seen way too many days at the beach and the keys are starting to stick.) Plus, readers get to judge the entries. I can't tell you when my entry will pop up or give you any information about my entry that will disqualify me. Still, I've read this week's entries and saw one or two that I really liked. Why not pop over once a week, read a few, and vote for your favorite? And while you're at it, see if you can figure out which one is mine.

Once the contest is over, I'll 'fess up, win or lose. And we'll see if my voice connected with you or turned you off.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

My Own Top Thirty

Miss Snark linked to a list provided by British librarians on the Top Thirty Books to Read Before You Die. I won't post the list here; you'll have to click over to Miss Snark's site to find it. Suffice it to say, I disagree with many of those on the list and thought I'd list my own. Sit back, this could be a while.

I'll be listing these in the order they pop into my head, not necessarily by my ultra-ultra favorite first, my mere ultra-favorite second, etc. My criteria for these choices is simple. These are books that I consider memorable: stories that have stuck with me over the years. I may not have read the story since high school, but for whatever reason, give me the title and a key scene will pop into my head. I also limited myself to one book per author. So that, while I love a lot of Dickens's works, I only listed my favorite: A Tale of Two Cities.

I guess that's as good a place as any to start so:

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. The Bastard by John Jakes
4. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
5. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
6. Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte
7. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
9. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
10. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
11. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
12. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
13. Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small
14. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
15. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
16. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
17. The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith
18. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
19. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
20. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
21. The "In Death" series by J.D. Robb (can't pick just one!)
22. The Vendetta Defense by Lisa Scottoline
23. The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss
24. Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen
25. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
26. Remembrance by Jude Deveraux
27. Harvest by Tess Gerritsen
28. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
29. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
30. Along Came a Spider by James Patterson

So there you have it. Remember, this was what I came up with in a two hour time span, based on books I loved to read and re-read.

Which ones have you read? Which books would you add to your own list?

Saturday, July 1, 2006

A "Friendly" Story

I took the kids to our local Friendly's yesterday and saw something I'd never seen before. There was a woman at the "Claw" machine. You know, those games with all the stuffed toys in the bottom of the cage and you have to position a steel claw to drop down and grab one? Well, this lady, easily in her early 70's had a fistful of dollar bills and just kept playing the game. We were there for over an hour and watched her the entire time. At one point she ran out of singles, so she went to the register, broke a fifty dollar bill and kept playing the machine. By the time she finished, she had a large shopping bag (one of those Friendly's bags customers use to carry the sheet cakes out) filled with stuffed animals.

We finally asked our waitress who told us she comes in EVERY DAY, spends a hundred dollars at a clip at the machine, then donates all the toys she wins to the local hospital pediatric ward.

The writer in me isn't satisfied with this information. I need more. Why does she do this? My latest theory is that she's independently wealthy, but lonely. Her family ignores her, so she's spending their inheritance in the most wasteful way she can without heading to Atlantic City in the hopes there will be nothing left when she dies. Mind you, that's a theory. (And I did use it to threaten my kids into promising to take care of me in my old age, so it worked temporarily.) But I need to know the real story here. Why does she do it? Where does she get the money? Wouldn't it be easier to go to Toys R Us (two blocks away) and just buy a bunch of stuffed animals for the hospital?

I have a feeling I'll be taking a ride to Friendly's one afternoon in the near future. Just me and an old lady at the Claw machine, drinking coffee and talking.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Oops! I did it again...

It's an eternal joke among my family that I murder household appliances at an alarming rate. In twenty years of marriage, I've owned (and subsequently killed) six vacuum cleaners, ten coffeemakers, and too many blenders to count. In fact, the joke continues, with my penchant for frozen drinks poolside, I average one senseless-blender-killing by the end of summer every year.

Last year, I managed to get thru Labor Day with my handy Osterizer still intact and felt pretty smug about it. That is, until yesterday. See, the in-laws, Mom and Dad, (you can read more about them here) were over for Father's Day and with 90+ degree temps, it was a perfect occasion for a few Pina Coladas. The first pitcher was so successful, the kids began to ask for their own frozen drinks. So I decided to whip up a few non-alcoholic banana daiquiris for the under-21 crowd.

That's when I heard it: the unmistakable grinding of a blender motor gasping its last. I managed to churn out their daiquiris and even pushed through another pitcher of rum-laced Pinas, but by then, smoke was wafting from the motor and the entire apparatus shook as if it had the DT's.

Well accustomed to the sound and smell, my husband simply shook his head and said, "Killed another one, huh?"

But that's not where the story ends. This morning, I went into the kitchen to set up Mr. Coffee and watched in horror as that elixir of life poured not into the glass carafe, but onto my counter and floor. Oh, the humanity!

Guess I'll be heading to my local store for newer, more exciting models of my late companions. Life goes on...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cheers, m'dears!

Here's to another fantabulous LIRW Luncheon! I have to admit to feeling a great deal of pride at being involved in such a wonderful event. The guests were genial and filled with compliments for our hospitality, our laughter, and our camaraderie. The LIRW, while a small chapter, is a great one and filled with people I consider more than friends: they're my sisters! This year, we hosted agents and editors from a lot of varied houses. Many were return guests, several were new to our event. All promised to return next year. Mimosas flowed, business cards were exchanged, lots of new contacts were made. We even raffled off several gift baskets, filled with various goodies donated by some of our published authors.

This year's luncheon was a little bittersweet for me. Since I close out my second term as LIRW President and I already served as Luncheon Chairperson a few years ago, yesterday was my last time at the podium. Although--co-committee member Michele Lang mentioned the LIRW should consider making me the official Mistress of Ceremonies for the event. "You put everyone at ease immediately," she said. "And the editors and agents realize that when we say this is a 'relaxed' event, we mean it." Hmmm...I will admit the idea does hold some appeal to me. I actually have fun with the public speaking part. Go know. The shy girl from Copiague High School has an inner love of the spotlight and speaking to crowds.

But the saner side of me realizes that such an idea, while fun to consider, is unfair to those LIRW members who will come after me as President and/or Luncheon Chairperson. It is their turn in the spotlight and, as nervous as the idea might make them, they will benefit from the experience when they're asked to speak at other functions.

Which reminds me that I have my first "library talk" coming up soon. But more about that at a later date. If you saw me at the luncheon, thanks so much for coming! I hope you had as much fun as I did. If not, why not consider attending next year's? You won't be sorry.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Been Out of Touch Lately

With the LIRW's Annual Agent/Editor Luncheon just 5 days away now, I'm busier than a sorority chaperone on "Meet Brad Pitt night." My speech has been written (and rewritten and rewritten...), gift baskets for our raffle are filling up the shelves in my garage, I finally found shoes to go with my dress last night, and my mother in law has graciously agreed to come with me to man the fundraising table. (Thanks, Mom!)

Left to do: pick up favors, set up seating chart for the agents and editors in attendance, choose linen colors and make final installment payment to the Hilton.

I'm grateful that the Luncheon Committee works so well together year after year. Even with the speed bumps that pop up routinely (no matter how hard we try to avoid them) these ladies manage to make this event a success year after year. This year will be our most successful ever, with a bevy of editors and agents in attendance. If you're going to be with us, stop by and say hello.

On that very same day, my daughter will graduate junior high. So Mom and I will be running from her ceremony to the luncheon with nary a minute to spare. I'd better have my Wheaties for breakfast that day. Once June 9 is over, life may settle down to semi-normal until mid-July when I start getting ready for National.

Writing wise, I've been working on a new rom-com. It's fun and sassy, with characters I love discovering as I get deeper into the manuscript. Tentatively titled, "Straight From the Heart," this story features Hayley Jeffords, the secondary character in "A Little Slice of Heaven." Stay tuned: I might give you a sneak peek at Hayley's adventures in a later post.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Out of the Minds of Babes

Yesterday was Mother's Day. And my creative children came up with their own handmade cards for me. Indulge me while I share their accolades.

Tori's card was entitled "A Book About Moms" and included the following (complete with illustrations, naturally!):

"There are moms that teenagers hate,
Moms that are trying to be 'hip or cool...'
Then there are the moms that question and disapprove everything you do...
The moms that swear they are your best friend,
The moms that are never there.
But then there is you...
The coolest, raddest, awesomest, bitchingest, amazing-est MOM around!"

Nick wrote his in school and had to fill in the blanks (his answers appear in italics):

"My favorite time together is when we...go shopping together.
I know my mother loves me because...she takes good care of me.
My mother looks prettiest when...she wears her handcuff earrings.
If I could give my mother something special just from me, it would be...a nice light blue sweater.
I want to thank you, Mom, for...taking care of me, not getting mad a lot, and everything else."

Sometimes, as a mom, you wonder if you're doing right by your kids. There's no instruction book for parents and all you can do is fly by the seat of your pants. Every day, my two give me reason to thank whatever lucky star brought them into my life.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

On The Mend...At Last

Finally got a diagnosis and the proper meds to correct what I've been suffering from over the last four weeks. Now, life can slowly get back to normal--or at least, what passes for normal around here. Good timing, too. Lots of events coming up in the next few months. Mother's Day, Memorial Day weekend, junior-high graduation for my daughter, the annual LIRW luncheon on the same day as graduation (naturally!), Father's Day, the onset of summer, and finally, in the last week of July...RWA National! I can't wait to see all my writing pals in Atlanta. Look me up and we'll do a margarita or two.

Of course, in the meantime, I'm balancing the day job with family life and writing life. I sent Kismet's Angel on its way and now must play the waiting game. To keep from going bananas, I've started revisions on Kismet's Revenge and also, thanks to a special RWU challenge, began the sequel to A Little Slice of Heaven.

Busy, busy, busy...

Wednesday, May 3, 2006


"I've got sunshine
On a cloudy day.
When it's cold outside,
I've got the month of May.
I guess you'll say,
What can make me feel this way?
My girl..."

My baby girl is FIFTEEN today! Happy birthday, Torikat!

SCHMALTZ ALERT: I'm going to get sappy now. She arrived at 8:30 pm on May 3, 1991--8 lbs, 8 oz and 21-1/2 inches. While we waited for her arrival, Philip and I had tossed around two possible names for a girl. Brianna Lauren, or Victoria Katherine (aka Tori). We had decided that if she was born with dark hair, we'd go with Brianna, blond hair would be Tori. Right from the start, my girl was a rebel. She slid out of me sporting jet black hair with blond highlights. Philip and I took one look at her and said, "Oh, yeah. This is a Tori."

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As you can see, she's still that rebel (only now her hair is brown with red highlights--until she dyes it purple or pink or whatever color strikes her fancy next...)

But she's also the best daughter a mom could ask for.

Every day she gives me a reason to smile, to laugh, or to just plain be proud she's mine!


Monday, April 24, 2006

Observations from the Home Front

I've been home sick for about a week now. Can't get much writing done, or really spend a lot of time on the computer because I'm in too much pain. But...the mind is still fairly sharp and I've noticed a few things in the last coupla days.

1. It's official. I now know my husband half his life. Yesterday was dh's birthday. The day didn't go the way I would have liked thanks to my current condition, and I know he was disappointed. Still, I vow here and now to make it up to him as soon as whatever I've got eases. I'm not sure he realizes how much he means to me. Philip is my best friend, the person who can usually make me laugh when I'm feeling so low I can't look down, and the inspiration for every word I write. I can't picture my life without him in it. It would be like living without my heart, like moving thru life as a spectator, existing but not really living. So, yeah, hon, I owe you one. (And don't tell me it doesn't matter, 'cuz it does!)

2. My cat, Miss Savannah (a new addition to the family) has a foot fetish. Not shoes or socks. Feet. Walk around barefoot and Miss Savannah rubs her head against your heels, your toes, what-have-you. She won't let you pet her head, but you can dig your toes into her scalp and she's in heaven. I'm not sure what it means except, as my husband puts it, "She's one twisted cat."

3. My son doesn't know what an ashtray is. I think that says a lot about the shift in attitudes regarding smoking. When I was growing up, every house had an ashtray on every table. Twenty years ago, when a good friend of mine would visit my apartment (Hi, Ro!), she'd constantly complain that I had no ashtrays. I still don't have any--only now, it's not so much of a rarity and is more the norm for households. Thank God.

4. An 84 year-old woman won ten million dollars in Atlantic City last week. See the link here. What I find so amazing about this plucky grandma is that, as of the writing of the article, she hadn't decided whether to take a lump sum payout or monthly annuities over 25 years. Hello? She's 84. In 25 years, she'll be 109! Gotta love that kind of optimism.

5. I am very lucky in my friends and family. Yes, I always believed that, but being sick and in a period of things-that-can-go-wrong-will, I'm more aware than ever of the wonderful support staff surrounding me. Some have offered me an organ if needed (thanks, Missy!), some have stepped in to help (thanks, Deb!) and others have called or emailed to track my progress, offer cyberhugs, and let me know how much I'm loved (too many to mention here, but you know who you are, so thank you all!)

I have to call a specialist today to see if they can come up with a clearcut diagnosis for what I've got. Am I nervous? A little, but I know with all the wonderful people around me, I'll get thru.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Everyday I Write the Book...

Or revise the book. Kismet's Angel is entirely revised, and oh, my God, it made me cry when I read it. I am so very excited about this version, I can't wait to submit it to my target publisher. Right now, I need a blurb and an updated query and synopsis, so by Monday afternoon, I plan to have this sucker on its way (if not sooner).

Once I've sent my baby out into the world, it'll be time to start the process all over again with Book II: Kismet's Revenge. Buckle up, kiddies. This ride could get a little wild! But only the best ones give you that thrill, right?

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Holy...I almost had a Cow!

So, I'm flipping around the Internet this evening and found the following headline on a newspaper site: "Bonds Reality Show Set to Air." Can you say, "panic attack," boys and girls? Luckily, the headline had absolutely nothing to do with anyone stealing my book title or some weird form of synchronicity with the plot of a reality show entitled, "The Bonds of Matri-money."

No, we're talking about recently disgraced baseball player, Barry Bonds.

Whew! Thank goodness! I'd hate to spend the rest of my life having to explain I had the idea for the book before a television show appeared.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Still Fixing That Blank Page

Okay, I admit it's been a while since I've written here, but be consoled: my revising via the blank page method is still working beautifully. The first 50 pages of "Kismet's Angel" are better, tighter, and ready for publication, thanks to this odd new behavior of mine.

I would probably have twice as much done if it weren't for real life getting in the way. Behind the scenes, there's a lot going on right now, most of it serious, some of it downright petty and ridiculous. But each of us occasionally takes our turn in the barrel. This month, it seems to be my family's turn and by extension, mine.

There really is no glorious ride into the sunset in real life. The best we can hope for are moments of sheer joy. Those moments carry us through the not-so-pleasant ones. Luckily, I am surrounded by love and have many moments of sheer joy to stave against the events in motion right now. By this time next year, I hope this will just be another example of how we triumphed over adversity.

Getting back to my revisions, I've been catching up with a few writer friends' blogs and am amazed at how much time some writers spend reading about the craft of writing. They'll go to a conference and hear a writer present a new way to draft a character arc, or they'll read an article (or blog entry) about story structure or characterization and wham! They're attempting to work this new method into their latest wip. Sometimes, it works. But most of the time, what I've discovered, is that it's just another distraction, like email and online poker. The only way to finish a story is to WRITE.

Save the formulas and the new programs for the revision process (where you can take advantage of my Fixing The Blank Page Method...)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"I can fix a blank page" (well, sort of...)

Many writers quote Nora Roberts: "I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank one." The quote is meant as an impetus--permission, if you will, to write anything even when you know it's garbage because, in the end, you'll be able to fix it. I've never been able to do that. (Anybody surprised?) In fact, I can't usually move on to the next chapter of a wip until I've made the previous chapter as perfect as I can at that time.

Until today. I recently pulled my very first manuscript out of the laundry room, with the insane idea that, maybe, just maybe, it wasn't so bad and I could finally get it published now with a little tweaking.

O, ye of little sense!

Let me preface my next comments with a few facts: 1. The story is pretty good. I love the characters and the way Kismet plays with them. 2. A reader would love it--as is.

But, the writer in me cringes as I continue to turn the pages. Mechanically, the book needs some major rewriting. Yes, it was as perfect as I could have made it eight years ago: before I found RWA and the LIRW. before I knew about such initials as POV (Point of View) and GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict) and the dreaded TSTL (Too Stupid to Live). Still, I really love the story, and the two sequels it inspired! So I am determined to see if I can fix this puppy.

The problem is, I wind up reading entire scenes and thinking to myself, "What can I keep?" "What do I ditch?" and I become hopelessly lost in the possibilities.

Today, however, I changed all that. Rather than opening the full manuscript on my computer and playing with scenes, I opened to a (ta da!) blank page. Then I printed Chapter One and rewrote the opening scene in a new POV on the blank page. I didn't worry about Chapter Two (or Chapter Twenty-two, for that matter), I didn't attempt to determine what I could keep vs. what I should ditch. I simply rewrote the scene in a different character's head. And it was...magic! I wonder if I can write the whole book via my blank page method. Who knows? Maybe it'll inspire a workshop for National in 2007. Gina Ardito presents: Fixing the Blank Page.

To quote Willy Wonka: "The suspense is terrible. I hope it'll last."

Thursday, March 9, 2006


With thanks to Childhood Site for the memories.

As a child of the 70's I could relate to the following statements:

1. All skaters, change directions" means something to you. Yup. Roll 'n Ice.
2. "Members Only" jackets...say no more.
3. A predominant color in your childhood photos is "plaid". God, yes! In my school photos: 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. How scary is that?
4. It was a major accomplishment to get to the "Chase" scene in Ms. Pacman. (And I remember the first time I heard the phrase, "Wow, you must be really good. You got commercials.
5. You can remember the words to the theme song of "The Greatest American Hero." ("BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I'M WALKIN' ON AIR... I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD FEEL SO FREE-EE-EE...") Yet I never watched the show--the kids I babysat did.
6. There was nothing strange about Bert and Ernie living together.
7. This rings a bell: "My name is Charlie, and they work for me."!
8. You actually believed that Mikey, famed kid on the Life cereal commercials, died after eating Pop Rocks and drinking a Coke. Well, I didn't really believe it, but I remember the rumor.
9. You actually remember Benetton.
10. You actually remember Mr. Bill. Oh, nooooooooooo!
11. You can recite the Preamble to the Constitution, but only to the tune of Schoolhouse Rock. My husband and I often sing "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" much to the embarrassment of our kids.
12. You ever had a Dorothy Hamill haircut or used Short and Sassy shampoo.
13. You know, by heart, the words to Weird Al Yankovic's songs.
14. You learned to swim at about the same time "Jaws" came out... and still carry the emotional scars to prove it. And I still hear the theme music in my head every time I wade into the ocean.
15. You owned a Jordache anything, or you remember when Jordache jeans were cool. I used to have them dry cleaned to keep the deep blue color.
16. You recall when Love's Baby Soft was in every girl's Christmas stocking. And Heaven Sent, too!
17. You remember having a rotary phone.
18. You remember having to get off the couch to change the TV channel. (which was changed with a pair of pliers because the knob had broken in another century!)
19. You were not allowed to see The Exorcist, The Omen, or The Blue Lagoon when they came out.
20. Your first musical purchase was an 8-track tape. Well, my first album purchase was on 8-track. My first musical purchases were singles that required that little yellow plastic thingie I always lost within a day.

There's also a quiz if you're a child of the 80's, so why not stroll over to the site and relive your own childhood memories?

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Do you take this woman (and an apple pie)?

For the second time in a month, I'm reading about a couple getting married at McDonalds. The first was on Valentine's Day. That happy couple had about 50 guests at a local McDonalds where they dined on Big Macs and fries. How romantic...not! At least the second couple worked and met at the McDonalds where they tied the knot. Still, the idea sends bad taste shivers down my spine.
Maybe it's me, but I don't find this trend romantic, or even cute. Promising "'til death do us part...'" under the Golden Arches is a little too much tempting fate for me. Whatever happened to the backyard wedding? The quickie elopement? In this day and age it's smart not to blow your entire bank account on an affair for 500 of your closest friends and their closest friends and so on. But there has to be a happy medium somewhere. McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's...they just ain't it. Yo quiero my new wife...and Taco Bell. Hmm. Loses something in the translation, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Endings and Beginnings

I did it--finished "Nobody's Darling." Gave it to my first reader: my niece, Missy, who liked it a lot. Now it makes the rounds with a few other personal readers (most notably, my mother-in-law who happens to be my other biggest fan, naturally!) and then we'll see if we can pique a certain editor's interest.

Normally, I like to take a few weeks off between manuscripts to rejuvenate the old brain cells, but Gertrude (my Muse for those who haven't checked the other blog entries on this site) is really antsy to start the next story, Book II of the Raine Sisters Trilogy. Originally, I had assumed Book II would be "Nobody's Angel," but Gertrude kept me up last night debating the idea that, really, this story is much more suited to be "Nobody's Fool." She's got the heroine's GMC all mapped out already, so who am I to argue? Especially if I plan to get any sleep over the next few months. Score one point for Gertrude.

So...with "Nobody's Darling" ready for review, we'll begin crafting Book II: "Nobody's Fool." Stay tuned. Something tells me the ride isn't always going to run as smoothly as it is right now.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Happy Birthday, Nicholas B!

My son, Nick, turns 9 today. Almost a decade. Yikes! When I think back on all the milestones--first steps, first word (cat!), first tooth, first day of school, first bike, first team sport, etc., etc., etc.---I can see where the time flew. And there are still so many firsts to look forward to.

Yet part of me wants to go back to the times when he was an infant--particularly, the late-night feedings. Call me crazy, but I never minded getting up in the middle of the night with either of my kids. It was our "special time." The house was quiet, the neighborhood was dark, and I would snuggle on the couch with my little one. In those private moments, I could pour out my dreams for his future, sing softly, or even run a plot for my next book by my hungry baby. Not that I ever received any replies (except for a burp or two) but still...I knew he heard me and at the time, that was enough for me.

We still snuggle on the couch, still sing (not-so-softly though) and I still run plots for another book by the kids every once in a while. So maybe, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Nick's nine. Wow. Happy birthday, Nicholas B. Just remember: no matter how old or how big you get, you'll always be my baby boy!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Talk about inspiration!

This afternoon I was fortunate enough to attend a book signing for Harlequin NEXT author, Stevi Mittman. Stevi was a long time member of the LIRW until moving away, but she never forgot her Long Island roots or her LIRW pals. Her latest novel, "Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway?" involves something she calls The Secret Handbook of Long Island Rules.
But that's not the inspiration. No, what inspired me was listening to Stevi talk about the many incarnations of this particular book. She wrote it, her agent shopped it around, and Stevi revised based on editor's requests and comments for six long years. Then lo and behold, she not only sold this manuscript but four more in one fell swoop with several more books based on the main character already in the works! How's that for amazing? It took her six years to become an overnight sensation!
Makes you think that anything is possible with time, patience and hard work, doesn't it?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some writing to do...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Do "smart glasses" make you smarter?

Anyone who's read the RWU blog knows, after years of 20/20 vision, I recently discovered my eyesight ain't what it used to be. So off to the optometrist I went, where I picked out a pair of pretty purple reading glasses--smart glasses some call 'em. (My son says they make me look like a "real writer." I don't have the nerve to ask him what I looked like before...)
Well, I've only been wearing my new glasses for three days, but all of a sudden, I'm down to my last 30 pages on Nobody's Darling and...I know how it ends! Yowza!

Could there be a link? Doubtful, but it makes me think of an idea for a new story...

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Georgia On My Mind

Not the Ray Charles song, or the theme from Designing Women either! I'm talking about the 26th annual RWA National Conference (July 26-29) in Atlanta this year. After some scary moments when I panicked because my new computer wasn't yet hooked up and a friend emailed me that the hotel rooms were almost sold out, I managed to hook up my old computer on the living room floor and get registered for the big event. And yes, I'm extremely excited about it.

I went to my first National Conference a few years ago when it was in NYC. Unfortunately, my son got sick and I had to leave early, having only attended one workshop. Last year in Reno was my first full experience and I admit to being hooked. Now, unless someone's bleeding out their eyeballs, I intend to be there every year-- from the President's Retreat on Wednesday afternoon to the cleanup on Sunday morning.

What do I love most about National? Is it the ability to share elevators with some of my favorite authors? Is it the chance to break away from Gina The Wife and Mother, to be Gina The Writer for a few days? Is it the opportunity to spend time with online friends I wouldn't otherwise see in person? Yes, yes, and yes! And this year, there are a coupla more perks: (1) I get to display my very own "First Sale" ribbon while there! Hoo-ha! and (2) I'll be attending a dinner party at the home of a very dear writer friend who lives in the area. (Keep the wine chilled, Chris!)

Want to be in Atlanta with me? Go to the RWA site and sign up! You won't be able to miss me in the crowd. I'll be the redhead with a First Sale ribbon and an infectious excitement brewing around me.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Seven Deadlies

True. I've been tagged for the Seven List going around the blogs (Thanks, Deb!), so without further ado, here's what I came up with:

Seven Things To Do Before I Die

1. Watch my children grow up to become the amazing adults I know they can be.
2. Learn to tango.
3. Reach the NY Times Bestseller List.
4. Take an exotic trip (i.e., an African safari, a tour of the Egyptian pyramids, a beach vacation in Tahiti...)
5. Surprise my family with something wild and expensive.
6. Conquer my fears and weaknesses.
7. Grow old.

Seven Things That Attracted Me to My Husband

1. His sense of humor
2. His eyes
3. His broad shoulders
4. His intelligence
5. His passion for everything in life--including me!
6. The way he makes me feel
7. His smile

Seven Books I Love Most

1. Skye O'Malley or The Kadin by Bertrice Small (I love them both too much to choose between them!)
2. The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith
3. Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen
4. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
5. The Mummy by Anne Rice
6. Any In Death book by J.D. Robb
7. The Anatomy of Motive by John Douglas (All the John Douglas non-fiction books are fascinating reading. If you want to know the inner workings of a serial killer's mind, check out this original FBI profiler's works!)

Seven Movies I Love Most

1. Arthur
2. Airplane!
3. Terms of Endearment
4. The Silence of the Lambs
5. Scent of a Woman
6. Philadelphia
7. As Good As it Gets

Seven Things I Can't Do

1. Write romantic suspense (though I love reading it!)
2. Eat a tomato
3. Turn a blind eye to injustice of any kind
4. Run a marathon
5. Draw
6. Go for too long without checking my email
7. Stop writing

Seven Words or Phrases I Say Most Often

1. "Large coffee, please--milk, no sugar."
2. "I love you."
3. "Is your room clean?"
4. "Unbe-****ing-lievable."
5. "I know how it ends!"
6. "Thanks, sweetie."
7. "It's in the cabinet..." or "...on the dresser..." or any number of places. (Always in reply to "Where's the insert item here?")

Now, I'm supposed to tag someone else with this, but since it's been going around for a while and I'm not sure who's seen it and who hasn't, I'll make a deal with you. If you're reading this, haven't done the list yet, and think it might be fun to try, I tag you! Let me know what you come up with.