Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What's New Pussycat?

My co-worker borrowed one of our cat carriers this past weekend to pick up the young cat she adopted from the Homeless Cat Project. The cat has the biggest eyes I've ever seen on a cat in my life! She's tiger with white. But it's those eyes that make her most striking. Plus the blaze of white alongside one eye.

I told Missy that the cat looks totally Egyptian, like an Egyptian princess with kohl outlined eyes.

Today when I asked if she'd named her new kitty yet she said no, but later she said, "I'm going to name her Egypt! So kitty has a new home, a new family and a new name! Lucky Egypt!

(Our cats adopted from the same shelter were named Cooper, Levi but we changed it to Isador-short for Isadoarable!, Panda who was named Reverse for his penchant to back up your arm when being held, but since shortened to Revere, and Beans, now called Riley Beans but more familiarly known as Bunny.)

Other cats I've had in my lifetime bore such names as the classic Mittens to the manic Hyper (she was a Maine Coon cat and not very hyper at all!, Brody, Sierra, Fuzz, Pedro, Quasimoto, Fantomas, Marty, Jason and Diego.

Among various kittens that passed through the house when I was growing up we had Crackerjack, Moxie, HooberBloop, Tribble, Tupper, Sooty, Coalie the Holy Terror, Ebony Pickers, Tubsy, Rhoda, Benny, New L'il Doodle (also called NoodleDoodle)...we tried not to pick ordinary cat names for them, but a name that suited heir personality.

Revere remains a mini celebrity at the vet- they love his name and think he's named for Paul Revere, or Revere Beach north of Boston...but he's Reverse with the 's' dropped! That's the story of his name.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Just Write

Tonight I was talking to a dear friend who used to aspire to be a writer. Her life has had some rollercoaster ups and downs and a few loops as well. Currently she's down so we were talking on the phone. I could sense raw energy in her, restlessness, the desire to do something, but she didn't know what to do with herself. So I suggested that she sit down and write something tonight- anything. She had a rough day so we talked on awhile longer about this and that, dredging up some happier memories. I got her to laugh. I told her to write something light and happy- just find a happy moment/memory in her life and write about it. It doesn't have to be lengthy- just a from the heart happy moment that when she rereads it her heart will be warmed and lightened anew.

She's feeling rusty. I told her it doesn't matter if she chooses the right word the first time through or not- that's what editing and proofreading is for. The first step is to write. Write from the heart. She has trouble with commas- comma trauma- is what I call it. I said I have a daughter who will fix all the comma issues- she's my punctuation medic.

I'm hopeful that she's sitting at her computer writing a happy memory right now. The first step back into writing is a huge leap of faith- but I have faith in her. Immense faith that she can do this.

My philosophy is to just write. Raw writing can be very powerful.

I can't wait to read what she sends me that she's written tonight.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

What Does an Author's Daughter do on Her Birthday?

She goes book shopping!

Today was Kelly's 25th birthday. Last night she opened gifts with her Uncle Jeffrey whose birthday will be on the 29th. They used to have a joint birthday party when my parents were still alive but that tradition ended when he moved to Nevada. Now he's back so he was here last night with our sister Lynnmarie to celebrate Kelly's and his birthdays.

Kelly received a Barnes&Noble gift card, so of course by this afternoon it was burning a hole in her pocket. We had a few errands to run first, so headed downtown. After leaving the grocery store we saw that the new bookstore in town, Bookclub Bookstore & More, was open, so we pulled in up front and ran in to check it out (the grand opening was yesterday). While I chatted with Jessica about holding a meet & greet the author and book signing event Kelly roamed around and found a book on Worcester, MA history. This is the city where she went to college for four years. So she grabbed that. I found two books I wanted to read. Books in hand we continued on, picking up iced coffees and heading to Holyoke to B&N. She was looking for books in certain series that she's reading. She only managed to find one book, but she was undeterred. As soon as we got home she was online ordering the other books she'd been unable to find.

So, this author's daughter goes book shopping on her birthday!

I wrote Black King Takes White Queen for her. The proof copy should be here early this week.

Meanwhile, my muse has nudged my brain toward a new novel!

Yeah, it never ends in those grey cells upstairs!!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Three Birthday Cakes

Tomorrow is our daughter Kelly's twenty-fifth birthday. Her aunt and uncle texted that they wanted to stop by tonight so I ran out and bought an ice cream cake. I then baked her an angel food cake after dinner (she wasn't home until late from work and then volunteering at the trolley museum. At the museum they let her run the seldom run trolley #303 as a birthday surprise and had ice cream cake for her.) So, when she got home, her aunt and uncle were already here. She ate dinner but didn't want anymore ice cream cake. Her aunt had brought an Orange Crush cake. So now we had three cakes- and no one wanted any! It was almost nine o'clock by the time she was opening her presents, after 9:30 when I offered cake again- too late for everyone to eat sweets.

Now, the ice cream cake is in the freezer, the Orange Crush cake is in the refrigerator 9to be taken to work with her on Monday to share with her co-workers) and the angel cake still needs its butter cream icing because we had no butter in the fridge after her cookie baking last weekend.)

Three cakes for one birthday and no one touched any of them tonight!

There's something wrong in this house!!

(Today was supposed to be the day Kelly was born-although my due date was 7/7/91. I went into the hospital to be induced-my doctor was going south to attend his daughter's wedding during the first week of July- very early on the morning of June 25, 1991. It didn't happen. The OB/GYN was watching the Red Sox, a late west coast game that night, while I was suffering, and struggling to give birth. Turns out I never would have been able to give birth naturally. Kelly was finally born at 2:47AM June 26th. Two years later, on the west coast (San Jose, CA), my best friend gave birth to her first daughter, Katie on June 25th. If Katie had been born on the east coast she'd have shared a birthday with Kelly! Today, June 25th is Revere's adoption day- 5 years ago he chose us as his forever family. He enjoyed extra attention today, and got to burrow in the tissue paper tonight when Kelly was unwrapping gifts.)

Tomorrow we'll all have cake.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cats Out of Treats

I ran out of cat treats the other day. I haven't had a chance to get to the store...oh, dear...the looks I am getting from the boys are almost beyond my ability to bear! Ever see Puss n Boots? Those big soulful eyes? Those big SAD eyes? Both Revere and Riley Beans can make those eyes, Riley especially!

Ooo! The guilt is killing me!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Baying Hound Two Doors Down

Two doors away from us, that neighbor's teenaged son bought himself a hound dog.  The stupid thing is not trained, escapes from their fenced yard frequently, and runs to houses where there are people outside because it's lonely and wants to play. It's left outdoors most of the time where no one pays any attention to it. He's been in our garage, tried scratching his way in through our front door because he could hear us through the open front windows, and even been up on our back deck trying to get into the kitchen. He bays and howls incessantly...it's like always living in a redneck police drama with fugitives wading through the swamps with law enforcement on their heels with baying bloodhounds. This dog howls and bays from seven in the morning until midnight. To make matters worse, the abusive father who's longstanding belief in fixing his errant sons has been screaming at them like a fish wife to make them behave (right, like that really worked) screams at the dog to shut up his colorful, all shades of blue, language that I'm sure the parents of the two-year old next door appreciate having their little boy hear.

The man is a vindictive bully. His son once broke into the neighbor across the street's house. I'm sick of listening to this dog, but there's nothing illegal about owning a barking dog (no matter how LOUD the poor, stupid thing is). There's no talking to the father or the son (who has grown up to be just like his dear ol' Dad)...so we're all a bunch of bullied adults forced to listen to this poor animal howl, bay and get yelled at on a daily basis. (They were out there at midnight on Sunday-baying dog and screaming man...until he finally got the bright idea to put the dog in the house at three minutes past midnight.)

It's sad when people who don't want the responsibility of owning and training a dog can adopt one and then neglect it and let it become a neighborhood nuisance. I have nothing against the dog- he is what he is, and he's basically lonely because he's a young dog who wants to play and have fun and no one pays ay attention to him. However, the whole sad state of affairs is even worse when they're a family of jerks who might slash your tires, break into your house or burn it down while you sleep if you complain...so,what do you do?

There's probably a book in this situation somewhere, but I'm too tired to think about writing it since that damn dog keeps me awake every night! (And, no, ear plugs wouldn't work for me.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Remembering Dad Today

Growing up there were a number of influential men in my life. My mother was from a alrge French/Italian family. My father had one older brother and no other family except his cousin Charlie who wasn't a big part of his life until after Mom passed away.

My father was a Polish farmer when he was young, his parents having come to this country in the late 1800's. My paternal grandparents met on a farm as field hands in Suffield CT, married and moved to Hatfield, MA where they helped onion and potato farmers harvest their crops. My grandfather died in 1942 of a bowel obstruction. My grandmother passed away when I was very young, but I have some vague memories of her in the old homestead. The picture of my grandfather that hung on the good parlor wall behind the French doors now hangs on my dining room wall with her picture and my Uncle Pete's Army picture. He served in WWII. In my Grandma's bottom dresser drawer she kept some toys and interesting objects for us kids to play with when we visited. I absolutely loved the kaleidoscope that was in that drawer. I could sit on the floor in the informal parlor and look at the ever changing patterns all day. I think I was four when she died.

My maternal Grandfather was pure Italian (he married a French Canadian woman). He was one of eleven surviving siblings. Growing up, my sister, brother and I spent a lot of time at Grandpa's house when Mom was frequently in the hospital. He had remarried (my grandmother, Betty, died when my Mom was 13-years old, so Gramp remarried to give her and my Uncle Bob a new mother, and to start a second family.) He was a truck driver for Kendall Mills, driving trucks up and down the road between the two huge mill complexes. He was an amazing oral story teller. He always had stories to tell us when we visited. I think it was from him that I inherited my ability to write. I'm quiet by nature so my way of telling a story has always been to write it down. He was riotously funny, knew everyone in town and the surrounding villages and towns and knew everybody's business to boot! He lived on a mountainside (which is probably why I live on a mountainside) and took us berry picking when he'd get home from work (the factory let out at 2PM. He'd get up at 4:30AM, make Gram a cup of coffee, have his breakfast, and walk to work. At noon Gram would load us into their station wagon and deliver his lunch and thermos of Postum to the loading dock. Sometimes he was sitting on the lowered tailgate of his truck. Sometimes we had to wait for him to come out through the screen door. He always had a huge smile for us, and a story about something that had happened that morning. This was the 1960's. Everything at the factory was regulated by the whistle- starting time, lunchtime, quitting time. The village post office was in a building at the front of the mill, so we'd run over there to get the mail out of the little box with the window and the brass faceplate. I was fortunate enough to introduce our daughter to Grampa (she called him Big Grampa and my Dad Grampa). He loved kids and adored his little blonde-haired great-granddaughter, taking her for a walk to the mailbox (now at the top of the steep hill up to his house but down a long driveway, teaching her to chant, "All checks, no bills!" as she carried the mail back to the house. He really got a kick out of that! She still has the bright yellow "moon" ball they played with- I asked for it after he'd passed away and my Aunt Anita gave it to her (she was Kelly's godmother) to remember him by.

My father always worked long hours. He held a number of jobs but was hired at Hamilton Standard the year I was born and worked there for over 35 years in various departments. he retired as an FAA inspector when Kelly was around three years old. My Dad was a friendly, happy-go-lucky guy with a big heart. He was always willing to lend a hand. He worked second shift so would pick us up from school and then "mosey along" to work, about an hour drive from home, getting there for 4PM. He got out of work at midnight, but often worked four hours overtime. When my family was down to one car Dad carpooled with other guys from town to work, and Mom roused us from our beds at 3AM to go pick up Dad in Windsor Locks, CT. It was always exciting to get woken up and take a drive at the witching hour in our pajamas through backroads. Hamilton is located across from Bradley Field, now Bradley International Airport, so we always got to watch planes coming and going  while waiting for Dad to come out of the factory. On the way home Mom would stop at Dunkin Donuts, Dad would go in and buy a dozen donuts and we'd eat them when we got home at five o'clock. Often, Mom would tell us to go back to bed on those mornings and then call us out sick. We'd all sleep in.

When he had his car back on the road he'd get home at 5AM, sleep a couple hours, get up, have breakfast with us, drive us to school (this was after Mom went back to work), then come home, grab some more sleep, have his lunch, pick us up at school and go back to work. Reflecting back he must have never gotten adequate sleep but he was never grouchy or irritable. He was always smiling and doing goofy stuff, like putting on a hat, running a yardstick up the back of his shirt into the back of the hat and then "flipping his lid" with a big grin on his face! When we were kids and he was painting he always gave us a soup can of water and a paint brush so we could "help him paint."

He was a wonderful grandfather. He and Kelly had so much fun together. My Mom passed away when Kelly was 9. Dad survived 11 more years and often came to our house for dinner and holidays.

I wish he was still with us. He would have gotten such a kick out of the fact that his granddaughter is now working at the same place (Hamilton Standard is now United Technologies) he worked for so long. He would be so proud of her! He was alive for her high school graduation when she graduated third in her class, but did not make it to see her graduate with both her Bachelors and Masters in four years from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

I miss him on Father's Day, holidays, his birthday and when there is something new and exciting to tell him. He knew I wrote stories, and he read them in manuscript form on copy paper, but he did not live long enough to see my books in print. I think he would have cried about that knowing how long I've been writing and how often I put off trying to get published because raising Kelly was top priority in my life because her Dad was working 65-70 hour weeks.

I'm fortunate to have had some wonderful male figures in my life- and grateful for the qualities and traits I inherited from these amazing men.

Happy Father's Day Grandpa and Dad! Miss you both so much!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Prep Work for Book Signing

This coming Monday, June 20th, from 6:30PM to 8:30PM I will be signing copies of My Magical Life at the Agawam Public Library, Agawam, MA as one of the authors being featured this year in their READLocal event.

Today I made the poster that will be on an easel behind my table. It features the face of a black cat with golden eyes and a lit votive candle- this will represent Evangeline's wisecracking, whisky sipping, human female admiring familiar, Jazz. Jazz is one of my all time favorite characters. He's rough and tumble but has a heart of gold.

The book is an urban fantasy/romance featuring a witch and a vampire whose eternal love has never quite reached the happily ever after part. Maybe this time around?

Read the book and find out!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Shooting the Moon

The full moon will be on the 20th. After dinner tonight I went out on the deck to shoot some pictures of the bright, white, nearly full moon in the blue sky surrounded by fleecy white clouds. Kelly grabbed her camera which takes much better pictures than mine does and she got some amazing shots. As the sun began to set the clouds turned pink but the moon stayed white.

Later, Kelly went out after dark and took some additional pictures of the moon and the planet visible in close proximity to it. She tried to get a shot of the Big Dipper but the stars weren't bright enough to be captured by her camera.

On her camera as she was downloading the pictures she found some pictures of the moon that I had taken in January or February when the trees were bare. It was another full moon night, or near full moon. The twisted, gnarly branches of the oak formed a framework around the bright orb of the moon.

I'm known for my cloud pictures, and sometimes Kelly will grab her camera and run out to shoot storm clouds and other interesting cloud formations, but she prefers to shoot the moon while I look for pictures in the clouds. Tonight, after dinner, the clouds were fleecy. Over the roof there was this cloud that was human-like shaped. It appeared to be flying from left to right in semi-profile. There was a face visible, and it seemed to have two hands thrust forward as if pushing something. Along one back leg it had a wing-like appendage, like one would expect the god Mercury to have. It had curly hair and looked somewhat cherubic. I'll add that one to the keeper collection!

Meanwhile- she has a number of new moon shots for her collection.

The House Across the Street

The house across the street from our house is for sale.

This evening as I was walking down the driveway to fetch the newspaper these three white SUVs came around the corner, flew by my house, stopped and turned around in my two neighbors' to the left of our house driveways, and pulled up in front of the house that is for sale. A couple and two individuals went into the house.

They weren't in there for long by my estimate. It's a nice enough house. Maybe they just didn't like it?

That realtor though, her nasally voice was like a hatchet to the skull! So, I'm thinking maybe they just couldn't take listening to her anymore? I know that if she said, "Ye-ah," one more time I might have been tempted to run outside in my underwear shrieking about the mother ship docking in my backyard and my not being ready to go back to the home planet yet!

Really, her voice was that bad!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chasing Fireflies

Tonight Kelly was sitting in the den in the dark looking out the window. It had been a very warm day, night had fallen. I was in the kitchen editing the new novel when she came into the room and said, "The fireflies are really bright! I thought they were airplanes!" (We live near a small airport so see plane lights in the sky all the time.)

We went out onto the back deck and stood there waiting. There was a bright flash in the arbor vitaes. Then a brighter flash amid the oak leaves of the big oak just off the deck. Then twinkling lights out along the woods followed by more very big bright flashes near the shed and hedges.

I love watching fireflies. It's like seeing fairy lights.

Sadly, this is the first year that we have not heard the whip-poor-will. He and his kin have been a part of our lives up here since we moved here in 1973. This is the first year he has not been out there in the back yard. Although his non-stop calling could become annoying at times, I used to take Kelly out on the deck when she was young with a Maglite because he would be sitting on the treehouse roof next door, or perched on the chain link fence between our yard and the neighbors.

The woods are eerily silent so far as summer quickly approaches.

But the fireflies are spectacular this year!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Untitled Novel Written

Well, last night I finished writing this current novel- 276 type-written pages, 151,874 words in it's raw, rough draft form. I've been rereading what I've written as I've been going along, making notes, corrections, additions, and marking where to insert, change or delete things. This is going to be a massive project as this book is 21,000 words longer than Life Skills was but I managed to get that edited in just over a month. I need to stay focused.

I'm clueless about a title for this one. Kelly and I were discussing that while driving to the store this afternoon. She hasn't finished reading the rough draft yet. So, after she finishes reading it we'll sit down and kick around some ideas.

This is the second untitled novel I've finished this year...I don't think she's quite finished reading the first one yet either! (And I really need to get back to fine tuning that one!)

Now that I'm done there are three more novels vying for attention in my head wanting to get written...sometimes I think my muse is triplets!!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Congratulations to....

Congratulations to PJ Evans, Joyce Gavioli and Patrice Mason whose evil objects were chosen for inclusion in my new novel (as yet untitled).

Kelly also gave me a good idea so I will be putting them all to good use, and the three official winners will be getting a signed copy when published with their names in the acknowledgements. Kelly always gets a copy of Mom's books for her personal library!

Thank you for your terrific ideas!


I'm really rather clueless when it comes to genres and sub genres. I don't have any idea where my books fall- I just write them and don't think too much about where they would be shelved in a bookstore or a library. I guess I figure that's someone else's job, but realize that it's just mental laziness on my part.

The other night I was poking around looking at literary agents and came across one who looks at urban fantasy. Kelly was sitting across from me and I asked her, "What in the world is urban fantasy?" and she replied, "It's what you write sometimes."

My Magical Life is urban fantasy. The Talon series can be classified as urban fantasy also.

Well...that's good to know. I am now classified by genre (after puzzling it all out):

I write contemporary romance- The Subtlety of Light & Shadow and the three books in the Sweet Hearts Collection- Love Me Knots, Auspicious Beginnings and Cupid's Darts.

I write contemporary literary fiction- Life Skills.

I write supernatural/suspense/romance- the three volumes of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales.

I write Action/Adventure with Sci-Fi elements- The Archetypes series.

And I write Holiday fiction- Yuletide Stories, Always Christmas in My Heart and Together for the Holidays.

Currently working on two new urban fantasy novels and one contemporary literary novel.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Colored Pencil on Bristol Board

I wear so many hats in my life I sometimes forget that besides the author/writer cap I also once wore an artists's beret.

Last night Kelly asked me if I would draw her a trolley car for her 25th birthday. Volunteering at the Connecticut Trolley Museum ahs been her hobby for the past four years. Her personal project there is restoring their 1894 Brooklyn Rapid Transit trolley car, the oldest car there. She's been working on it off an on for a year now. I asked her for a picture of it and she provided me one.

Today was the Art Walk featuring local artists downtown. My friend was unable to make it, so I waited to go while John finished painting the house. I worked on editing the current novel-in-progress and decided while reading it and editing that I needed to trash it and rewrite it so that it was darker. I was also suffering self-doubt about drawing. It had been a long time since I did art.

In the 1970's I worked in pen and ink. I also painted a mural on a child's bedroom wall in acrylics. Pen and ink was my preferred medium and I drew a lot, decorating my bedroom, and later my dorm room at college. I continued writing and doing some drawing into the 1990's-early 2000's. The last thing of any consequence I drew was a nautilus shell for Kelly in pencil that I hand colored. It's still hanging on her wall. After that I concentrated more on writing and didn't think I'd pick up a pencil or pen again because of the rheumatoid and osteoarthritis I have.

So, John and I went downtown and walked around admiring all the art on display. I saw some people I'd met at Articulture back at the end of April. I bought a different rooster print from the same artist I got my beautiful blue and green rooster print from (Steven Jones- Warrior's Art Room). On the drive home I psyched myself up.

From the art supply drawer I grabbed a piece of Bristol board. From the coloring container I grabbed all our colored pencils and then I sat down at the kitchen table and sketched the trolley car. It was pretty crude, but it looked like a trolley car. I used the black colored pencil to fine tune the somewhat wavering lines, straightening them out, giving them definition. Then I drew in windows and other details. What I couldn't figure out was the trolley truck under the car. It's not something I'm familiar with.

By the time Kelly came home from the museum I had the majority of the car colored in but not yet completely shaded and detailed. I let her see her present because I needed a better idea of what it is that is underneath the trolley. She found me a better picture and I was able to finish the truck.

After a break for dinner I decided to just go ahead and finish the picture, so out came the pencils again and I did all the shading and finer detailing, plus worked in the background of trees and sky, a telephone pole and a partial building (signal house). Overall, I spent less than four hours on the drawing and if the smile on her face when she saw the finished product is any indication- she loves her birthday picture!

I'm a medical secretary, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend...but I'm also an author and still an artists, too, apparently! I wear a lot of hats in my life...but it's the smiles I get from doing the things I love best that make my heart the happiest.

Friday, June 3, 2016


Brain-flexing is what I now call what others might call brainstorming. It sounds trendier.

Patty and I will be brain-flexing tomorrow and laying down some ideas and maybe writing an outline for a book or two (something I very seldom, if ever do- write an outline!!) I think to collaborate and write with another author there probably should be at least a sketchy outline, although brain-flexing allows for writing outside the box and taking one's story and characters into unknown dimensions.

She is an aficionado of ancient Egypt. I am firmly rooted in the Victorian era, although none of my books have ever been set in that time. She and I have led entirely different lifestyles. So blending and merging our two distinct personalities ought to be an adventure! I'm really looking forward to this...can't wait to see what we come up with!

Brain-flex, baby!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Art Walk Downtown

This Saturday in Westfield, MA there will be a first Art Walk event featuring all sorts of artists and musicians spread out all along the length of Elm Street from a concert stage near the clock tower and twin bridges to the green in the center of town. There will be satellite sites along the way, plus all the restaurants will have food available all along the route.

I'm so excited about seeing some of the artists I met during the Articulture event at the end of April. I'm looking t add a couple new prints to my collection. I'm taking along my friend Patrice whose son is a metal sculpture artists in St. Petersburg Florida. Patty has always wanted to be a writer and shared some things she's written with me years ago. Now we're brain flexing a collaboration, and maybe also co-authoring a mystery/horror type novel. We'll be brainstorming after taking the artwalk.
Promises to be a terrific Saturday!