Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Saving Your Life


This is a familiar site in NJ in the spring. This pair of horseshoe crabs are involved in important work.  They could be saving your life.

Horseshoe crab blood is worth about $15,000 a quart. The pharmaceutical industry uses the blood to test for impurities in drugs and medical devices--everything from injectable medication to stents. So far, there is NOTHING else as reliable as the blue blood of these prehistoric creatures. No one has invented anything to replace it either. It's highly accurate.

It was when I was writing The Keeper's Promise that I went off on a tangent and discovered the worth of horseshoe crabs. The book is set in the Delaware Bay area, which has the highest population of horseshoe crabs. One of the characters in the story is a scientist conducting horseshoe crab research. I knew a bit about horseshoe crabs because I saw plenty of them in Raritan Bay when I was growing up there. But I did not have a clue about their amazing blood.

Naturally, there's really nothing in my book about the value of horseshoe crabs. I got sidetracked while I was writing. That sort of thing happens to me all the time. It isn't always easy to stay focused on the story at hand. It's a problem. Especially when I discover something truly incredible--and this thing about horseshoe crab blood is rather awe-inspiring.

So although I wasted some of my writing time in unnecessary research, I gained a new respect for the lowly horseshoe crabs.  I was reminded of it when I saw an article in the Asbury Park Press, "Rutgers lab churning out baby horseshoe crabs."

I suggest you read it, too. You can find it here:


http://www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2014/09/27/rutgers-lab-churning-baby-horseshoe-crabs/16329981/

Those crabs may look grotesque, but they have been invaluable to advances in medicine. However, science keeps marching on and it brings wonderful news for horseshoe crabs. Pharmaceutical companies are now ready to commit to an alternative that doesn't harm the animals. You can read about this impressive discovery here:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/blood-in-the-water/559229/?utm_source=twb

Maybe all the horseshoe crabs will have a party. 😊

Monday, May 21, 2018

Excerpt from DADDY WANTED


"...a constant flow of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and misadventures. Result: a cute, fun read."

CHAPTER ONE
Grace held her breath until Ulysses moved. He blinked at her and scrambled into his small pool. She sprinkled a few grains of his food into the water and he went after them with the precision of a heat-seeking missile. The turtle belonged to her roommate, Elyse, but she neglected him. Grace feared one day she would wake up and find he had passed away. 
Assured of the red-eared slider’s vitality, she stumbled into the bathroom, groggy from lack of sleep. She should never have turned off the snooze alarm. Her boss had scheduled a morning meeting and she might have to run all the way to work to arrive in time. 
Despite her blurry vision, a vivid pink color in the wastebasket caught her attention. Her heart sank when she read the words on the box, Pregnancy Test Kit. She supposed she should not be surprised. Every man in New York City adored Elyse. Her slightly exotic, almond-shaped eyes, curly, coal-black hair, and perfect hourglass figure drew men to her.

Grace’s throat tightened. Her roommate might be in major trouble. A lot of young women went through pregnancy scares, but Elyse never had any trouble until now, which was a miracle considering her physique.  
A cold chill went down Grace’s spine. How could Elyse take care of a baby if she could not take care of Ulysses?  
Grace fought to tame her short, mousy brown bed-head hair and lost the battle. She put down the brush and opted to wear a hat. Her current favorite resembled a designer hat she saw at Saks. She purchased the knock-off from a vendor on the street, since the genuine article would have reduced her to poverty. She tilted the chapeau to one side and imagined herself a movie star from one of the ancient black and white films Gram favored. She pursed her lips and batted her eyelashes. The vision in the mirror did not resemble Lillian Gish. Disappointed, she told herself the bitter cold of February would give her frostbitten ears if she did not wear the hat.  
Her gaze rested on the pink box again and a cold knot settled in her chest. Should she ask Elyse about the test? Would Elyse volunteer the information? 
She had been sharing the apartment on Lorimer Street in Brooklyn with Elyse for the past year and a half. Men regularly appeared on the doorstep hungering after Elyse. She had more boyfriends than Ben & Jerry had ice cream flavors, but most of the swains did not last long until Aidan came along. Elyse’s infatuation with Aidan proved the most intense, up until one week ago when they had a fight. 
Elyse called him a slacker because he did not have a job, nor did he appear to have any hope of landing one soon. “Do you think you can sponge off me for the rest of your life?” 
Aidan did not respond. Instead, he walked out.  
After the altercation, Aidan went from being an unemployed actor to imitating a rather good magician. He vanished, which might not be too hard to accomplish in a city with eight million people, but the speed of his departure made it impressive, at least to Grace. He had been crashing at an apartment with two other young men, and they vowed he had left no forwarding address after he’d packed up and moved out in less than an hour.

Grace needed more time than that to pack up her books.  
After Aidan’s departure, Elyse dissolved into long bouts of crying. Her grief would undoubtedly worsen if the pregnancy test came out positive.  
Grace glanced at the mirror again. Dark smudges under her eyes attested to all her sympathetic listening. What else could she do? Elyse had helped her through the worst tragedy in her life. She had to be there for her friend. 
Over and over, Elyse had blurted out between sobs, “He was such a poser!” 
Grace bit her lip to prevent herself from saying, “Well, yeah. He’s an actor.” 
The dull throb of a headache pulsed in her temples. She had the chore of taking out the garbage this week, which made her solely responsible for stuffing the pregnancy test kit box into the building’s trashcan. She did not want anyone else in the apartment building to view the evidence. Especially, the new guy in apartment 2L who always seemed to be hanging around the garbage cans whenever she stepped outside. The mailbox in the vestibule listed him as Russell Thorpe.  
She frowned as she recalled how often he hung around the stairway when she came downstairs. When she picked up her mail, he stood in the vestibule and glanced over her shoulder, as she flipped through her bills. 
Was he a stalker? 
If so, he didn’t instill any fear or panic in her. She did not break out in a cold sweat. On the contrary, instant warmth slid through her and her heart flip-flopped at his nearness though they never spoke to each other. Sometimes, he nodded at her.  
Her brief musing ended, when Elyse banged on the bathroom door.  
“Let me in!”  
Grace hurried out. Elyse stood before her with wide eyes and a hand over her mouth. Then she ran into the bathroom and slammed the door. 
Grace sank onto one of the kitchen chairs and covered her eyes. Elyse has morning sickness! 
Grace squelched a groan, when she glanced at her watch. The boss scheduled the meeting at work for nine-thirty—in Manhattan. She hated rush hour in the subway,—strangers pressed together as closely as oranges in the display case at the fruit stand on Nassau Avenue. 
She heard the sound of the toilet flushing, as she grabbed her backpack and coat.  
“Are you going to be okay?” she called out. 
“Get moving. You’re late.” 
“I M me at work!” She ran down the stairs. The guy in 2L came out of his door, but she kept her eyes focused on the steps. She did not want to look at him. If she cast a glance at him she would be left with the sensation of losing her balance and toppling off her surfboard. She had never met a man as tall, as handsome, or so...intense.  
“Are you practicing for the marathon?” A hint of humor touched his voice. 
She caught a whiff of his aftershave, as she passed. The woodsy undertones had her remembering the scent of the tall pines which grew in Gram’s backyard in Long Branch, New Jersey. 
“I’m late.” She clipped her words, as she gripped the railing of the last flight of stairs. 
“That’s unusual for you.” 
Her heart thundered, as she hurried into the vestibule and escaped onto the street. What was she going to do? The guy watched her every move. 
For more information go to Prism Book Group/Daddy Wanted

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meandering on Route 71

The other day, hubby thought it would be nice to visit the antique store in Point Pleasant, one of his favorite haunts. It was a lovely spring day and though the pollen count was way up, we headed down the Parkway and were soon wandering around aisles full of bric-a-brac and memorabilia from days gone by.

We didn't buy anything, which is good, but the variety of stuff was amazing. I saw a veritable bucket of knitting needles. Has everyone given up knitting? Just seeing those lonely knitting needles saddened me.

After we left the store, we intended to go home but it was still rather early in the day. Since I was driving, I decided to take a detour and once we passed into Brielle I veered off onto Route 71. The old road passes through all the lovely main streets of all the little seaside towns.

We meandered north along all sixteen miles of Route 71, through Manasquan, Sea Girt, Wall Township, Spring Lake, Belmar, and onward past Vic's in Bradley Beach and the Beach Plum Ice Cream Parlor. Past the grand estates in Deal. Past Monmouth University's stately campus.

Along Route 71, each town passes by quickly. Many of the houses along the main streets are old and it was fun to think about what it must have been like along the shore in the old days with horse drawn carriages.

We had a wonderful time. It was far better than zipping home along the Parkway. Of course, that day we had time--time to appreciate spring--the blossoming trees (despite the pollen) and bushes. It was calming not to rush. It's easier to see details when you're going at a grand speed of twenty-miles miles an hour.

I like detours. I consider them small adventures--and since I've lived in New Jersey all my life, I've never been afraid of getting lost. (Hint: there will always be a Parkway sign or a Turnpike sign somewhere along the way.) As a writer, detours often lead me into new plots.

Where will my next story take place? Hmmm. Maybe somewhere along Route 71.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Guest Post by CHRISTINE LINDSAY!

Today I am honored to have Christine Lindsay on my blog. She has a fantastic historical, SOFI'S BRIDGE now on sale for a limited time. Don't miss out on this offer. (I just bought it!) 

Irish-born Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award- winning Christian fiction and non-fiction. Readers describe her writing as gritty yet tender, realistic yet larger than life, with historical detail that collides into the heart of psychological and relationship drama. Christine’s books have garnered the ACFW Genesis Award, The Grace Award, Canada’s The Word Guild Award (Twice), the READERS’ CHOICE AWARD, and was a finalist twice for Readers’ Favorite and the Selah Award.




SOFI'S BRIDGE was RWA Readers Choice Award 2017 for Historical Romance. This terrific book is on a rare discount of only 99 cents May 10, 11, and 12. 

Grab your copy here:

Watch the book trailer at:  https://youtu.be/Y_istdNP8_Q

Read Chapter One of Sofi’s Bridge HERE

Read the book blurb and short excerpt below and enjoy!

Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener, continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

Excerpt:  

“Sometimes I think it would be easier,” Sofi said, “if I didn’t feel the urge to use these natural abilities—I think God-given abilities—but to do the more expected tasks of a woman in my social position. Strangely, my father considered it more socially acceptable for my sister to enter yacht races than for me to consider a career.”
Sofi raised her gaze. “But what about you, Neil? With all this talk about life’s purposes and the toil of one’s brow, what are you doing with your life?” The sun nestled between two peaks as she tensed her weight against the sun-warmed granite. 
Her natural perfume intoxicated him—not the overpowering colognes of society, but the scent of soap, apples she been paring earlier—stirring the desire to touch her cheek, her hands, her arms. What if he closed the gap between them? How would the softness of her cheek feel against the roughness of his? What would her lips taste like? 
His breath quickened.
Sofi’s eyes widened. 
He couldn’t tear his gaze from her softly parting mouth. A muscle tapped at the base of her throat. 
Had one of them moved closer?
He pulled in a breath. When a man and a woman cared for each other, they should speak the truth. He wanted to tell her about the thrift clinic he’d partnered in for the poor back home. Tell her of the work he’d done in the hospital. If he shared his pride in those accomplishments, he knew her eyes would shine in understanding.
Aye, right, ye fool. Then tell her you left the clinic and your position in Belfast City Hospital, as well as all your patients, to run to Washington State to be a gardener.How could he possibly tell her about the night that stole his life from him, and all with one slash of a knife? He rubbed the pressure between his brows. “Time we were getting back to the cabin.”
“Right. Of course.” In a fluster, she smoothed her shirtwaist. Her eyes that moments ago were shining turned a dull slate. She set her profile to him. “Foolish for the two of us to stand here any longer.”

Find it at AMAZON!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Talent or Persistence?


One of my paintings received a blue ribbon in the Ruth Crown Show of the Art Society of Monmouth County. Many have admired my paintings and praised my talent, which is nice but talent is nothing without practice, patience, and persistence.

My ability to paint a picture isn’t magic. I didn’t pick up a paintbrush one day and instantly create a masterpiece. In fact, so far I haven’t created any masterpieces—only some nice decorations I like to look at on the wall.

I give credit to God who undoubtedly graced me with a love of figuring out puzzles—and not the standard jigsaw puzzle. Nope. My puzzles are more difficult than simply the kind that contain one thousand pieces. Yet, the challenge forever intrigues me and I enjoy it.

Another source of my skill comes from my upbringing. My earliest memories are those in which my mother valiantly picked up a pencil or a brush and focused intently on an idea she felt needed to be brought to the attention of others. She practiced her craft constantly. She had a sketch pad with her at all times. The easel remained standing. It was never put away. Sometimes she was happy with her finished product--and sometimes she wasn't. If she wasn't satisfied, she would repeat the process.

From her example, I learned not to be afraid of failure and not to quit.

In addition, I have also been fortunate to study in Grace Graupe-Pillard's painting workshop, which has kept me on track over the years.

I am glad my painting was appreciated by the judge of the contest. I'm happy with my blue ribbon, and with the cash prize as well. But I often sigh when my talent is praised. Talent isn't magic. To create art takes lot of time. It also takes a ton of persistence.

I found an interesting article on talent in which Scott Barry Kaufman says, “Unfortunately, many people have an overly simplistic understanding of talent. They view talent as innate, ready to spring forth given the right conditions. But this is not how talent operates...Talents aren't prepackaged at birth, but take time to develop.” You can read the entire article at:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/jul/07/can-science-spot-talent-kaufman

I believe anyone can paint a lovely picture if they are willing to spend a lifetime at it.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Old Romance Authors Never Die...

I found an alphabetical list of phrases for people of assorted professions who never die. I am sure you've seen these on bumper stickers:

OLD TEACHERS never die, they just lose their class.

OLD MUSICIANS never die, they just decompose.

OLD BOWLERS never die, they just end up in the gutter.


Click on the http://www.heroandvillain.com/pdf/NeverDie.pdf to see the entire list. Some of these make me laugh. However, I did not see authors or writers on the list--although I did see journalists.

In searching, I found another list http://www.jimpoz.com/jokes/oldNeverDie.html which is delightful as well, but again there are no writers or authors.

So I propose a special category for romance authors.

Old Romance Authors never die, they just live happily ever after.

What do you think? Can you suggest a better one for old romance authors. We are a special breed. :^)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Audio or Print?


I’ve tried audio books very few times. Once on a long trip to Florida there was a non-fiction book both my husband and I agreed might be interesting to both of us. It did keep us entertained, but it wasn’t long enough for the entire trip. Subsequently, I borrowed a few audio books from the library and found listening to them gave me a better feel for the author’s style. Some authors tend to use more dialogue, while some are more inclined to go heavier on the narrative. Most of all, listening to a book rather than reading it, helped to get chores finished in a pleasant manner.

And yet I missed seeing the words. For me, sitting down and reading a book is a most delightful activity. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ebook or a paper book. I devour every single word with my eyes, lingering over clever phrases, and joyfully smiling when I see an old word word now rarely used.

Pelican Book Group who publishes my sweet and Christian romances under the Prism Book Group imprint, has published many books as audio books. I decided to try a trial subscription one night and listened to Clare Revell’s Carnations in January, an intriguing romance set in England. I got out my yarn winder, tied together my many scraps of yarn, and made several yarn cakes. I’m making another Magic Cake shawl with all those leftover pieces of yarn.

It took me a while to get used to the narrator’s voice with her British accent, but after a while I felt as if I was there—in England—as the author related the tale of the two protagonists. I had an enjoyable evening and accomplished far more than if I had simply sat down and read the book.

But I still missed seeing the words. I like to go back sometimes and reread the good parts. I like to savor the brilliant descriptions. Of course, I can listen to the audiobook again, but it's more difficult to find the parts I like best.

Now, Smashwords is offering authors an audiobook service. I'm thinking of signing up and having some of my older books in audio versions.

What do you think of audio books? Do you listen to them? Which would you be more inclined to buy--an audio book or a print book?