Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

While the Macy's Day Parade might be the biggest Thanksgiving Day parade going, the annual Thanksgiving parade held in Plymouth, Massachusetts bills itself as "America's Biggest Hometown Parade."

There aren't any Broadway performers, but there are floats and marchers representing every stage of American History, from the Plimoth Wampanoag Natives through the Revolutionary War, the turn of the century, and Civil War soldier re-enactors. The State Police Marching Band is there, as well as the Highland bagpipe group from Cape Cod, kilts and all despite the chill wind.

There are marching bands and fife and drum corps from up and down the East Coast, only one of which is a high school band (from Plymouth High.) Restored antique cars of every era are represented, and there are several groups on horseback - including a team of giant Clydesdales pulling their wagon! The parade winds its way through Plymouth's streets and waterfront district for more than 2 hours.

Vendors hawk their wares to the crows lined along the sidewalks... cotton candy, balloons, hats, mittens, scarfs, plastic toys and noisemakers of every description... including knockoffs of the annoying horns that became so infamous at this summer's World Cup matches.
There are even parade balloons! Not quite the size of the ones in New York City, but impressive nonetheless.
And what Thanksgiving Day parade would be complete without Santa riding near the end of it all?

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

PERFECT STRANGERS is sighted on Long Island

Another friend has received her copy of my book in the mail, and posted a photo on her Facebook wall to tell all her friends!

Annie was a girl whom I went to high school with in Northern New Jersey, and we played on the volleyball team together for four years - the team even went off to volleyball camp up in upstate New York together one summer to hone our skills. I saw my first Who concert with her and some other girls at Shea Stadium on the band's (first) farewell tour.

I hadn't seen or heard from her until our 20th high school reunion, which she helped organize. It was great to reconnect, and we've been Facebook friends ever since. FB is a great tool for that kind of thing! And it's such fun to receive the comments and photos from old friends, cheering on my new career.

But I have to admit to a bit of anxiety - what if no one likes my book? Do you think big-name authors still go through this kind of stomach churning worry, when they know friends, family and the New York Times Book Review are sitting down with a glass of wine to read their latest offering? Does Nora Roberts still worry?

I have my fingers crossed that people are enjoying the story - and I hope to hear from them either way to get some input. I'm at that same crossroads where I stood a year ago when my first e-book was released... it's hard to move on and write anything new until I know whether people give my current writing the thumbs up or down.

UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS garnered great reviews from critics and friends, but few sales. So far with this book, sales have been good, but no reviews...

Are you an author? Do you worry about these things, and if so what do you do to get over the anxiety?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Reading

My daughter loves Meg Cabot. She has a rotating list of favorite authors, and Meg Cabot is currently in the number one slot, edging out Gail Carson Levine by a hair.

When my girl scout troop had to write reports on women they admire, who inspire others, the reports ranged from Anne Frank and Helen Keller to Miley Cirus and Kelly Clarkson. My daughter chose Meg Cabot. After reading her biography and doing some research on the internet, she fell in love with her even more.

For 9 and 10 year old girls, Meg Cabot captures their current emotional experiences perfectly on the page, putting into words feelings the girls have trouble expressing even to themselves. Or as my daughter says, "I just like the way she writes."

My girl devoured the first three Allie Finkle books, and wants the next three for Christmas. Or sooner. They're never available in the library, and the waiting list was discouragingly long. At least it's a gift Santa will feel good putting under the tree!

I'm trying to remember feeling that way as a kid, about the authors of the books I read. I remember having to read every book in the Nancy Drew series, and the Louisa May Alcott books (after Little Women, Jo's Boys was my absolute favorite!) I had all of Mark Twain up on my shelf, but got lost half-way through Puddin'head Wilson (although I reread the Connecticut Yankee tale numerous times...) (...and now I think I need to read his autobiography!)

But I don't recall specifically studying authors until high school, when I researched Virginia Woolf for my English Honors class. Even then, I wouldn't say I fell in love with Virginia Woolf - I was inspired by her writing and her tenacity, but love? Worship? Nah, I didn't even enjoy all of her writing.

Is it our culture today that encourages us to idolize those who've achieved success?

Or are my children simply more aware of authors as people? People who work hard to write these books they love, and deserve to be recognized for their efforts. My kids watch me sitting at my computer, banging away... getting alternately happy when something goes well and dejected when rejections flood my inbox. Maybe my daughter sees Meg Cabot as the role model of what I could someday achieve - boy, wouldn't that be wonderful?

Something to ponder - what do you think?

So what are you - and your kids - reading?


In other writing news, my latest book PERFECT STRANGERS is now available for Kindle, as of today! You can click on this Link to buy Kindle version from Amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Strangers-ebook/dp/B004D4Y6BS/ref=kinw_dp_ke?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Friday, November 19, 2010

PERFECT STRANGERS has been sighted in Virginia!

It's really official - my book has been spotted out and about in the real world! My Aunt Kate just received her copy in the mail Thursday night, and sent me photos to prove it!

Don't feel left out! Order your paperback copy today from the publisher at www.MoongypsyPress.com or from Amazon.com and start reading!

(And thanks for sharing the photos, Aunt Kate! It means a lot to me!)

Countdown to the Holidays: The Holiday Issue of CWO is Here!

The Holiday Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine is available online NOW! Check out all the great stories, articles, recipes, and event listings for Holiday Happenings on Cape Cod.

I love this issue for a number of reasons, the first being that it marks the end of my first whole year as Editor. (last year there were 2 issues before I came on board - this year I shepherded the entire 2010 lineup.)

The second reason is that this issue really and truly celebrates the strength, creativity, and sense of purpose of the women who live here on Cape Cod. From the women who started an upscale eco-conscious clothing boutique in the middle of a recession to the radio personality who's living her dream on the outer Cape. These women are living their lives the way they want to and not giving in or giving up, but rather making it work and Living Out Loud.

This year I've put together 2 "gift giving" articles - one on the Gift of Reading, with book suggestions and links to both local authors (including me!) and local independent bookstores on the Cape and Islands.

The other is on the Gift of Nature Conservation, with lots of info and links to worthy organizations who are working to make a difference here on the Cape, conserving and preserving our natural resources. Even if you don't live on Cape Cod full time, these are some great suggestions for making your year-end tax-deductible donations.

There's also two great articles in our Holistic Health section about healthy holiday eating and strategies to survive the holidays guilt-free - - one of them was written by an old college friend of mine that I reconnected with through Facebook! Jenn Kossman Warren and I met during our freshman year at Colgate, and she's now a renowned NH doctor with a practice specializing in weight management. She has great advice for us all - check out her 7 tips to remember here.

Whew! So glad that the issue is put together and out the door, so to speak. Now to kick my feet up on my desk and relax... what do you mean the next deadline is in two weeks? Arghh...

Enjoy the magazine and happy (early) holidays!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Countdown to the Holidays: Craft Time!

I'm taking a break from dusting my dining room chandelier (no, really) and want to talk about crafts for the holidays. I'm a Girl Scout leader. We do crafts. These mermaids pictured were made by my scouts to sell at the annual Holiday Stroll.

Every year we have a table inside the big church on Main Street where we sell little holiday ornaments and whatnot to the visitors. They come to town for the tree lighting and stay for the music and good cheer.

It's a Cape tradition in many of these small towns, kind of like a Friday night block party or evening sidewalk sale where all the local merchants and businesses sponsor music, food, sales, crafts, raffles, etc. all up and down Main Street. Lots of fun, and a nice opportunity for local groups like the Girl Scouts to earn a little extra money (we're hoping to go snowshoeing up north with the proceeds!)

Last week was the Veteran's Day holiday. I should have planned ahead for a blog post that day, but didn't. I was busy with my troop at the annual ceremony held at the local Veteran's Memorial. All the scouts and veterans and soldiers who live here in town participate.

Since it was a Thursday off from school, I invited all of the girls back to our house for pizza and crafts following the ceremony. We spent the rest of the day making fleece dog toys, kitchen spoon carolers, cinnamon cookie ornaments, and clothespin mermaids. I knew the mermaids would be a little hard to make, but the girls rose to the occasion and did an outstanding job of it.

Each girl took one home to hang on her own tree or give as a gift. The rest will be sold at the Stroll. I may have to make a few more with my daughter for holiday gifts for our own family!

What kind of crafts do you make for the holidays? Or is the glue gun your sworn enemy? Share some new ideas - the girl scouts are always up for a new challenge!

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Countdown to the Holidays: Puppy Tries to Help


She means well. I know she does.

No, I'm not wrapping gifts already - I was, however, trying to get the guest room cleared out for the arrival of my parents for a Thanksgiving visit. I'd gotten some Christmas bins out in October so that I could get at the Halloween boxes stuffed even further back in the recesses of my attic.

Now I've successfully (if only temporarily) shoved the whole mess back in there.

Puppy really wanted to help - or at least, not let me out of her sight. And being in the middle of everything is what she does best. She was curious about what was in the boxes... and tipped one or two over just to check out the contents...

Just wait until the Holidays really get into gear...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Countdown to the Holidays: Pudding Wishes

I'd be lying if I said the Pudding Wishes weren't important. Making Plum Pudding is all about the wishes, not only when you light the flame on Christmas, but also as you're stirring it together in the pot. When you add the sweet to the savory, there's a lot of stirring to be done. Everyone gets a turn, and everyone gets a wish for the coming year.

Our family has added the tradition of "photo ops," taking lots of photos during the stirring (and the wishing.) Here are just a few from this year's event...



Family. That's what Plum Pudding weekend is all about. The people in these photos live in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, California and Cape Cod, but for this one weekend, we were all together, drinking wine, catching up and making Pudding.

What's your favorite part of the Holiday Season?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Countdown to the Holidays: Pudding Time!

If you're from an English or Irish family, perhaps you've had traditional Plum Pudding served to you at Christmas or New Years dinner. You know, the rounded one with the holly in flames at the top. But does your family still make Pudding from scratch?

Mine does. Every year.

The recipe came over to New York City from England with the Taylor family in 1900. It was a prized and coveted family recipe - so coveted, in fact, that my Great Grandmother and Great Aunt tore the recipe in half and each kept only one half in her recipe box, so that thieves wouldn't be able to steal the whole recipe.

When my own Grandmother was dying and gave the recipe to my mother, she and her sister and sister-in-law decided to continue the tradition, and each fall get together to make the puddings. It's a pretty involved process, but many hands make light(er) work.

The yuckiest job is "picking the fat." Yes, big chunks of thick, white lard are purchased from the butcher, but then need to be picked lean of hard bits and veins. Aunt Marcie got stuck doing the whole thing by herself this year. (Hey, I was busy taking photos!)

The saying the "proof is in the pudding" refers to the amount of alcohol that goes into it to preserve and kill the germs. Good pudding needs lots of alcohol to keep it moist so it doesn't crack when you turn it out, and to keep the bacteria levels in check. Rye whiskey is used when stirring it together, added by the oldest member present. Either brandy or some other high-proof alcohol is used to light the pudding on Christmas, creating that blue flame we all get to wish upon.
While the last of the ingredients are being mixed together, the boiling bowls need to be prepped. This is one of the jobs that gets pawned off on the youngest helpers - adding that layer of Crisco to the insides of the Pyrex bowls. My Great Aunt Zoe is usually the chief bowl inspector, but couldn't make the trip to Virginia this year. I was a poor substitute as my kids didn't want to listen to me ... well, in their defense, it was close to midnight at this point. They weren't listening to much of anything.
When the bowls are prepped and the secret ingredients are all stirred together, it's time to fill the bowls and finish the process. Squares of new clean muslin are cut and soaked in water. Each bowl is placed in its own square, and then topped off with a thick layer of flour on top, before being tied up tightly with string. Each bowl needs to then be boiled for several hours (depending on the size of the bowl) and then allowed to sit quietly all tied up until Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, we'll get our puddings out of the closet, and boil them again for several more hours. When they're boiled enough, you finally get to cut the string, unwrap the muslin and scoop the remaining crust of hardened flour from the bowl. Then you "turn out the pudding" onto your serving plate. If it turns out without any cracks, it bodes well for the coming year.

The family recipe makes a lot of puddings. Each person takes several home to distribute to friends and colleagues - most of whom are of English or Irish descent. My publisher at CapeWomenOnline loves the pudding I give her each year for Christmas, which is probably the only reason she wasn't annoyed that I was going away the weekend we're trying to launch the Holiday Issue! Not many people eat plum pudding - my own kids prefer Pumpkin Pie!

So why continue the tradition? For one thing, it's a Holiday tradition. It's an opportunity for the extended family to gather with a purpose, but really just an excuse to get together and catch up before the Holiday Madness descends.

What traditions does your family observe? What brings the generations together at your house?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Reading

I haven't cracked a book all week, and barely had time to update my social networks (note the neglected state of my poor blog!)

The new Holiday Issue of CapeWomenOnline.com is going live any day (any minute!) and I've been busy reading and proofing the pages and links... oh, and driving to Virginia and back for the annual Plum Pudding gathering, but more on that tomorrow perhaps.

Tonight there's more proofing to be accomplished...

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Reading

In honor of the release of my book this week, I'm going to use my Sunday Reading time to post an excerpt from the book. Yes, BSP (Blatant Self Promotion) at its finest, but what can I say? I'm really excited about this latest romantic suspense, and would love to see it fly off the publisher's shelves. Have you ordered your copy yet? Not yet? Let's see if I can entice you...


So far, so good. What she’d seen of Cape Cod was beautiful, even in the middle of winter. But this was not where she’d expected to find herself at this point in her life, or her career. Jane reminded herself that everything happens for a reason. The Universe must have some plan for me, she thought. A plan that doesn’t include Dave.

“Earth to Jane,” Brent was saying, snapping his fingers to bring her back from her internal monologue. “I was asking if you had any dinner plans for this evening. I’d love to show you around town some more. That is, if you’re available?”

Jane grimaced. “Oh, I’m available all right,” she said, thinking again about Dave. He still hadn’t called. Then she realized that Brent was asking her out! She quickly back-pedaled. “But I’m not sure that I’m up for a dinner date tonight. I’m afraid I’m too tired to be good company.”

“Hey, I understand. I’m tired, too, after we saw so many properties today. Why don’t I cook something for you back at my place? We could curl up on my leather couch and watch a movie on the flat screen?” He grinned and winked one chocolate brown eye. “I’ll even give you one of my famous Nickerson massages. Guaranteed to relax every muscle in your gorgeous body.”

Hmm, that sounds lovely, Brent, but I am really tired.” To reinforce the point, Jane yawned widely, stretching one arm toward the ceiling. “Can you just drop me back at the B&B, and I’ll take a rain check on the dinner and massage?”

She saw the scowl pass swiftly over Brent’s features, before it was quickly replaced with a smile. “No problem, baby,” Brent said, sounding casual. “The offer’s good any time.” He turned and walked toward the front of the house, holding the door open for Jane and locking it behind them. He turned and handed her a key on a long metal keychain shaped like a…

Jane thought the keychain looked remarkably phallic. “Oh, it’s the lighthouse from your logo,” she said, finally recognizing it for what it was supposed to be. “Kind of… big for a keychain, don’t you think?”

“It’s so you’ll think of Lighthouse Realty every time you unlock the door,” Brent said, meeting her eyes. He smiled, showing his brilliant smile of perfect white teeth. “And think of me, too, of course.”

Jane stifled her laugh, realizing that giggling probably wasn’t the reaction he was aiming for. She also knew she needed to squash this budding romance before he thought she was truly interested in what he had to offer.

“Look, Brent. I need to tell you something.”

“That you’re head over heels for me already?” he joked, continuing toward the SUV parked in the driveway. “But Jane, we just met this morning. Don’t you think we should wait?”

Jane hesitated. Was she reading something into Brent’s behavior that just wasn’t there? Maybe he was just flirty like this with everyone. She sighed, deciding she should still tell him about Dave. She grabbed his arm gently, and pulled him to a stop beside her on the brick walkway.

“No, seriously. I recently got out of a bad relationship. I thought we were in love and he didn’t. And it all ended badly. I’m not ready to start dating right away, no offense.”

He was quiet for a moment, a thoughtful look on his face. After a long moment, he smiled and took her hand. “Jane, I’m glad you told me. I’m sorry you’ve been hurt. But I feel like we have this real deep-down chemistry at work between us, where we can be honest with one another.”

She nodded, thinking just the opposite. What kind of chemistry class did he take in high school? The only chemical reaction Jane was feeling was the rumbling in her stomach telling her it was almost time for supper.

“I understand if you don’t want a serious relationship,” Brent said, “but I’m sure you could use a friend-with-benefits while you’re here in Chatham. I’m willing to be that friend, anytime you need me.”

Jane’s eyes opened wider, her brain trying to process what he’d just told her. “So, you’re saying you’ll sleep with me? No strings attached? What a… generous offer.” Jane knew that other people made arrangements like this, but it had never occurred to her to line up sex partners whom she wasn’t in love with. She could still count on one hand the number of guys she’d ever slept with in her entire life, and she didn’t think Brent was going to be joining that list any time soon. If ever.

Brent smiled. “See? I knew we were on the same page.” He squeezed her hand, still clasped within his own.

“Uh, I think you’ve got the wrong idea about me,” Jane said, pulling her hand away from him. “Call me old fashioned, but I think there has to be some romance before there’s any sex. I’ve never really been the friends-with-benefits kind of girl.”

Brent took a step back, putting both hands up in the air as if to surrender. “Hey, I’m sorry. I figured if you were friends with my cousin Marcie, you were a party girl like she is. I apologize if I’ve offended you with my assumptions.”

Jane smiled, glad that he’d backed right off. “That’s okay. I’m not really friends with Marcie, we worked together at the newspaper office.”

His eyes widened with surprise. “So you’re that Jane Peterson? The one who was dating Sassy Daniels’s fiancĂ©? Oh, man, I had no idea!”

Everything suddenly seemed darker. “FiancĂ©?” Jane asked, her voice sounding small even to her own ears.

How could that be?

How could Dave spend almost a year dating Jane without popping the question, and in just two weeks be engaged to that other bimbo? Was it because she was blonde? Or rich? Or a pop star? Or better in bed? Or was it some combination thereof?

Jane stopped speculating, realizing that the list of pros to marrying Sassy Daniels was probably way longer than the list of cons. He’d be a fool not to marry her, Jane thought. And I’m a fool to care one way or the other.

Intrigued? PERFECT STRANGERS is available now from Moongypsy Press, a quick click of the mouse and you can be reading the whole story. Also coming soon to Amazon.com for Kindle, and B&N for Nook. My first book, UNFOLDING THE SHADOWS, is already available in both spots for Kindle and Nook.


In other reading, I finished my first Laurell K. Hamilton book this week - SKIN TRADE, an Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Novel. Her take on vamps and weres is slightly different from Charlaine Harris's writing. Having jumped into the series somewhere in the middle, I'm not sure I understand all the nuances to the world she's created, but it's a darker, more bloody take on the supernatural world than Harris.

Her main character Anita is some sort of living vampire, who feeds on sexual energy - which I think makes her a succubus as well. Two of her fellow vampire hunters seem to also have been serial killers in their former lives. There was also lots of talk of sex and lots of sexual tension and innuendo, but no actual sex until more than 400 pages into the book. And then it was sex with multiple partners of different supernatural flavors and an orgy that occurred off-screen but included a 16-year-old male weretiger. For lots of reasons, this was really not my type of story, but read it to the end. If you prefer your vampire tales dark and bloody with characters on the razor thin edge of like-ability, this may be up your alley.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PERFECT STRANGERS - Available NOW from Moongypsy Press

My second novel PERFECT STRANGERS is now available for purchase at the publisher's website - www.moongypsypress.com

You can buy it in both paperback and ebook versions! And it will be available shortly from Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle versions!

So for all of my friends who were waiting for a tangible paper book to hold in their hands... It's Here! Let me know when you've purchased your copy and I'll send you a personalized, signed bookplate to stick in the front cover... unless you want to take a trip to Cape Cod with your book and I'll sign it in person for you ;-)

Thanks to all my friends and fellow writers for the encouragement and support! But don't forget to take that last supportive step - buy your copy today!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Puppy Goes Trick-or-Treating

It was a last minute decision to take Puppy with us.

We were headed off-Cape to trick-or-treat with all the cousins, which meant leaving the dogs home alone for several hours. Since Puppy's operation she's been a little stir-crazy, and chewed up more than her usual amount of books... so we decided to spare our paperbacks by taking her along.

Which meant she needed a costume.
A quick trip to the Dollar Store remedied the situation. My Bumble Bee Bernard fit right in with the rest of the cousins...

Puppy had a real blast as we walked around the darkened neighborhoods and ran in all sorts of other dogs and ghouls and whatnot - she was like the Puppy version of extreme ADHD, and couldn't focus on any one thing. She kept pulling us from thing to thing - What's this? What's this? What's next? What's next?

At least today she is sleeping like a log. Or a very satisfied Bumble Bee Bernard.

A successful night of trick-or-treating for all.