Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New cover!

My editor sent this to me today and I am absolutely delighted with it. Hope you are too!

JUST DESSERTS (formerly titled IT'S IN HIS KISS) comes out in February 2008.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about our adventures in home repairs . . .

Monday, August 27, 2007

Questions to be answered

I've been asking myself why I read the things I read but so far I haven't answered myself satisfactorily.

Case in point: CONSIDERING DORIS DAY by Tom Santopietro. I finished it a week ago and I'm still asking myself why I not only read it, but bought it in the first place. Not that there was anything at all wrong with Mr. Santopietro's writing. Far from it. He did a great job of painstakingly analyzing Doris Day's career from childhood through retirement. He broke down each of her movies, critiqued the components, reached cogent conclusions. He dissected her singing career with surgical precision. He even detailed her complicated private life with compassion and honesty.

But here's the thing: I'm not a Doris Day fan. Sure I like some of her movies. TEACHER'S PET and PILLOW TALK in particular. I recognize the fact that she had one of the best voices of the incredible group of World War II Big Band singers. But, like I said, I'm not a fan. I can pretty much take or leave Doris Day.

You'd think that would keep a sane person from reading a 400 page treatise on Doris Day, wouldn't you?

I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Progress: Halting, but progress just the same

I am a true five-words-forward-six-words-backward kind of writer. I seem to remember that way back in the mists of time (i.e., when I was newly published) words flowed from my fingers like -- well, like something fast and easy. (I'll let you supply the simile. "Water" has been overused.)

Those days are gone. I agonize over every word, sentence, paragraph. I cut more than I keep. I make plotting mistakes that will probably still make me blush after I'm dead and buried. It takes me 3/4 of a book to fully understand my characters, what they want and what they need and what they're actually going to end up with, and the last 1/4 is all about realigning everything that came before in order to be true to them.

It should be easier. Other jobs grow easier with time. The more you do something, the more proficient you should become, right? I mean, that's what they tell you. So far it hasn't worked that way for me.

I decided I was going to try a new method this time around. I was going to flip through magazines and clip photos and build my fictional world with real world components. Faces, landscapes, news photos, whatever caught my fancy. One day it was Reese Witherspoon. The next it was Catherine Zeta-Jones. They were quickly followed by Liam Neeson, Jeff Goldblum, and an aerial shot of Vermont that was beautiful enough to make you cry. Individually each of those components is terrific but together? Not so much.

I finally realized that this new method (a great method and very popular) isn't for me. How can I put this and still make sense? It's too external for me. Too grounded in the real world and not grounded enough in the even-more-real world of my imagination. These fictional people have to begin deep inside my imagination, not on the pages of People or In Style. They have to spring from some place I've never seen or heard but have trusted to steer me right for a very long time now. Ultimately it doesn't much matter what our heroine looks like. It's more important that you know what she thinks, how she feels, what she wants from her life. When you read one of my books, I don't want you to just be an observer. I want you to become my characters, to feel what they feel, see the world through their eyes.

So it's back to the old way for me. It might take me longer, I might still stumble around in the dark, but somehow I'll find my way to the finish line.

How? My characters will lead the way. So far they've never let me down.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
--Douglas Adams

Friday, August 17, 2007


Today would have been my parents' 59th wedding anniversary.
They were married 52 years when my mother died in May 2001. My father followed her five months later.
Six years have passed and it seems like both yesterday and forever.
We miss them: their love, their humor, their comfort, their idiosyncrasies, their frailties, their strengths, their presence in our lives and always will.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I'm sorry. I really am. Life got in the way in the guise of power outages, a wonky computer, and more unexpected spam than any human being should ever have to deal with.

But I'm back with winners:

1. Stacy S
2. Mia V
3. Crystal B
4. Ellen H
5. Danyella G
6. paulisplace
7. Barbara W
8. swimswamswum@***.com
9. whaddyaknow@*****.com
10. gr8d8@*******.net

Tomorrow I'll be back with actual content. Promise.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Rainy Friday in August

Call me crazy but I caught the scent of fall in the air today. I walked down the driveway to get the mail and somewhere behind the smell of rain and wet grass, I smelled autumn. Yeah, I know I'm jumping the gun but I can't help it. Two more weeks of August and then it will be September and my sluggish summer brain will finally kick into gear.

That, at least, is the plan.

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being, hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
--Erma Bombeck

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tornadoes and Lightning and Rain . . . oh my!

Visitors to my website know and love Kali the Food Goddess, my brilliant writer/cook friend who provides the monthly recipe and food chat. What you might not know is that she lives in Brooklyn . . . or that she just avoided being swept away in a tornado Tuesday night!

Yes, a tornado in Brooklyn. Bay Ridge, to be precise. (Bay Ridge was the setting for Saturday Night Fever. Not exactly Kansas.) The tornado hit one block to the right of Kali's house and one block to the left. But for some wonderful, inexplicable, blessed reason the tornado danced right over Kali's house and she and her mom Marie are both safe and sound and possessed of one hell of a great story to tell!

Did you hear that sound? That's me, breathing one huge sigh of relief.

If you can't be a good example -- then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
--Catherine ??

Sunday, August 5, 2007


In my ongoing effort to declutter this house once and for all, I stumbled upon a big fat box of the hardcover version of Tomorrow & Always.

Tomorrow & Always was the second book in my time travel trilogy, the one where Andrew McVie comes forward in time and meets a nice, uncomplicated Jersey Girl . . .

Ten copies for ten winners! Send me an email with T&A (that's okay; you can laugh) in the subject header and I'll do the rest. Winners will be announced Saturday evening August 11th.

Good luck!

I'm not going to vacuum 'til Sears makes one you can ride on.
--Roseanne Barr

Saturday, August 4, 2007

More about journals

Women like silent men. They think they're listening.
--Marcel Achard

When I'm between books I invariably embark on a clean-up-the-office frenzy that usually ends with me sitting on the floor by the window, looking at old photos and reading old letters. That pretty much sums up what I've been doing since dinnertime except tonight I found myself drawn to my old journals.

They take up two bookshelves. Some are fancy artist's notebooks with silk covers. Some are plain old college-ruled spiral notebooks. A few are scientist's lab notebooks with numbered pages. The last ten years don't exist in paper form; they're carried over from computer disaster to computer disaster in electronic form. I've come to regret making the transition from paper to pixels. There's something so deeply satisfying about having more than words to analyze. Handwriting, choice of pen, sketches in the margin, grocery lists interspersed with to-do lists on top of the playback of the day's events. You miss much of that when you do your journaling at the keyboard.

Although there's one software that manages to bring a surprising amount of heart to the electronic journaling process -- Life Journal. I discovered it a few years ago and fell in love with its capabilities. I'm not quite sure how software can express both warmth and welcome but Life Journal does. Ruth Folit did a great job designing it. (And, no I'm not affiliated with them in anyway except as a very satisfied customer.)

I'm not sure if blogging will take the place of journaling. While blogging can be very personal there's a more theatrical aspect to it that is the antithesis of keeping a diary. Blogging is meant to be read. Journals are meant to be written.

Am I on the right track?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Blame It On The Ghost

If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.

Things disappear in this house at an alarming rate. Two of my favorite knitting books up and vanished last week. This week is was a favorite pair of scissors and a binder filled with research information I need for the book I'm working on. I used to joke and blame it on The Ghost when something went missing but now I'm not so sure I was joking after all.

I used to blame all of the electronic mishaps on my imaginary ghost too until I finally realized that I was at the center of every bizarre electronic disaster that befell us. Last year all I did was aim the remote control at the television and it flared brightly then faded away forever. That was quite a week: I did in the television, two laptops, and an answering machine without even trying. Imagine what I could do if I could harness this power and use it for good . . .

Thursday, August 2, 2007


I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.
--Chinese Proverb

Do you keep a journal? I started my first one when I was about seven years old. I still have it somewhere. One of those little navy blue books with a lock and key and a lined and dated page for every day of the year. For some reason I liked to write in it with a magenta ballpoint pen that left big blobs of ink on the pages. O the deathless prose! O the boundless excitement of growing up in Queens!

"Sister Grace Winifred let me erase the blackboard! Lucky day!"

"Ginger put her coat on for the first time this year!" Ginger, of course, was our Irish Terrier.

The funny thing is how many memories those simple sentences bring back to life, memories that would have been lost without that well-worn, ink-stained book.

I dropped journaling for a few years then picked it up again when I was fifteen and continued pretty steadily with it until my parents died in 2001. I had chronicled the course of their illnesses in great detail, both medical and emotional. The journal became my safety valve, the one place where I could say all of the things I couldn't say in the real world, the scary unimaginable stuff that would wake me up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding crazily inside my chest.

After they died, however, the need for the journal left me. Some people say that journaling fulfills a purpose when you're unhappy that it can't fulfill when life is good. Which is probably an oblique way of saying that happy people lead boring lives. Boring, at least, when it comes to writing about them.

I wish I hadn't let the habit slip away from me. Life slips away from us quickly enough. Why not hang onto the details for as long as we can.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I blinked and the day was gone

We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified.

This was another one of those blink-and-the-day-is-gone days. I feel like I've been up since dawn and for the life of me I can't tell you what I've accomplished. I worked on the book in progress. I made spanakopita for dinner. I devoured some knitting magazines. We watched the news coverage of the horrendous bridge collapse in Minneapolis and wished there was something we could do besides sit here wishing there was something we could do to help.

Days like this can unsettle me. When you're basically very happy with your life, where you're living it, the person and pets who share it with you, it's easy to settle back in your cocoon and let the hours and days slip through your fingers. Reading, napping, cooking, knitting, watching DVDs on the sofa with the man you love, writing a book that excites you--not a bad way to spend your time even if at the end of the day it's hard to point to any major accomplishment. More pages written. More pages read. A good meal. Good company. Nothing wrong with any of it, is there?

I have to remind myself sometimes that life doesn't have to be filled with tension and stress to be real. It's summertime and for once the living really is easy. Enjoy it while you can, Bretton, because another deadline is right around the corner!

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