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 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 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?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

National Poetry Month, Daffodils, and Mrs. Welstead

April is National Poetry Month. I have many favorite poems and William Wordsworth’s classic about daffodils is perfect for this time of year. When I was in Mrs. Welstead’s fifth grade class, she had us memorize that poem. While I can no longer can recite all of  “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” I still remember parts of it and whenever I see daffodils in the spring I think of the poem and I think of Mrs. Welstead, too. She taught fifth grade in Cliffwood Elementary School. My brother had been in her class the year before me. She seemed tall and formidable to me and since I was a shy child I rarely said anything in her class. When she praised another pupil’s long, neat fingernails, I looked at my nails and cringed. I had bitten them down to the nub. I vowed not to bite them anymore.

Mrs. Welstead had us practice our cursive handwriting on a regular basis, which was a good thing because until I landed in her class my handwriting was horrible.  However, the best part of being in the classroom with Mrs. Welstead was the fact that she always took time to read to her pupils. In addition to William Wordsworth’s poem, she read many classic short stories. I enjoyed every minute of listening as she opened up new worlds of literature for me. While I had many other wonderful teachers, Mrs. Welstead will always retain a special place in my heart.

Do you have a favorite poem or a favorite teacher?

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Maintain a Balance When Writing

In writing my stories, I am aware I must restrain my impulses to throw everything into the mix. Writing a book is a lot like cooking up a new recipe. It helps to know the specific amounts required for each addition. Otherwise, the plot may become unbelievable. Though fiction is not real, it must appear authentic to the reader. Maintaining a balance of ingredients creates a satisfying tale.

The best analogy I have to illustrate this point is one of my early forays into cooking with garlic.

Despite owning only one cookbook, my mother excelled in baking. She whipped up pies, cakes, cream puffs. and cookies with ease. Her mouth-watering treats were a delight. However, her standard fare for supper tended to be simple, comfort food: spaghetti with meat sauce, meatloaf, cottage ham with potatoes and cabbage, baked chicken, and, occasionally, stuffed cabbage.

When I was a child, she never used garlic. I grew up knowing nothing about garlic. After I was married and had purchased several cookbooks, I began to experiment in the kitchen and at one point I decided to try a recipe for chicken which involved adding one clove of garlic. (This incident occurred eons before the Internet was invented.)

I didn't know the difference between a clove of garlic and a bulb of garlic. I hadn't read the entire cookbook, which might have enlightened me. I thought the entire bulb was what was supposed to be added. So I chopped up all that garlic and added it to my chicken. It was an great deal of work to chop up all those little sections. After all that effort, I decided adding garlic to any dish was far too much work

The chicken dish I made was very, very garlicky. I couldn't eat much of it. It was very disappointing after all the effort I put into it. Afterward, I skipped all the recipes with garlic for a while.

Sometime later while reading another cookbook, I realized my blunder. I was embarrassed, but also relieved to know that I didn't have to go through an excessive amount of effort to put together a very tasty dish. It only took a little garlic, a clove or two, to add a wonderful flavor to a meal.

I think of this when I am plotting my stories and struggling to balance the all the parts of the story. It takes a little of this and a little of that, sifted in carefully, to pull readers in and keep them turning the pages.

Know the difference between a clove and a bulb. Make it tasty but not overwhelming. 😋

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Save Your Reviews On Paper

I believed that everything on the internet remained there forever. I have discovered this is not true--at least for some things like the reviews I received for the first edition of SEA OF HOPE. Most of the reviews on that book have vanished. Only a few are left. However, since it was my first published book, I printed out many of the reviews and saved them. Unfortunately, I cannot put them on Amazon. I am reduced to begging for new reviews on the second edition. 

Still, I had a wonderful time reading through the old reviews I saved. I even discovered the book had won another award which I had completely forgotten about--The Clara Award.  Sadly, that award no longer exists, but I do have a wonderful document proclaiming my achievement

Some of the websites where reviews for my book first appeared are still there, but the reviews for Sea of Hope have long since disappeared from their archives. 

Here's a snippet of a review written by Robin Peek at Romance Reviews Today, "Ms. Marzec has created a poignant and inspirational story of faith and trust. Her characters are in-depth, emotional people who hide their true feelings, but through faith, learn to forgive and trust. SEA OF HOPE is a truly inspiring romantic tale for readers of all ages." 

Clara Durfee, also of Romance Reviews Today said, "SEA OF HOPE is a well-written journey into two peoples' hearts."

Cindy Penn wrote, "Author Penelope Marzec appropriately chooses a modern day fishing village for this gentle inspirational romance that allows these strong-willed characters to rediscover faith. Like the disciples in the Bible, these characters struggle with painful circumstances to build love for God."

I found the Blue Iris Journal online, but not the review written for Sea of Hope. Here's a little of what Elizabeth K. Burton thought of the book, "This is a solid inspirational romance where the romance and the inspiration are superbly well-balanced. Faith here is not ethereal moralizing, but a pragmatic element of the characters' daily living. Even those who under ordinary circumstances don't care for having a religious thread in their romance will find Sea of Hope first-class entertainment."

I spent a lovely evening reading through these and other accolades for the book. My advice to other writers is to save your reviews on paper and file them safely away. Some things on the internet do not stay there forever. 

Available at AMAZON, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iBooks. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Forgive! It's Good For You.

If you want to get to heaven, you need to forgive just as you have been forgiven. That's Biblical truth. However, even the Mayo Clinic says it's good for you. ( Holding onto a grudge is likely to raise your blood pressure, make you depressed, and ruin your enjoyment of the good things in life.

I know a bit about forgiveness. I've been married for forty-one years. I have forgiven hubby many times for various infractions of perfection and hubby has forgiven me, too. I've forgiven parents, children, and plenty of other people for things they did or said. Fortunately, for the most part, they've forgiven me as well, because sometimes I've said or done some really stupid stuff.

For instance, when we first moved into our present home, there was a really ugly, shag rug in the family room. It had a geometric pattern of orange, brown, and off-white. I didn't like the colors. I didn't like the pattern. Most of all, I hated the shaggy surface. It was difficult to keep clean with three young children running around.

However, hubby thought it was fine. In addition, he was worried about finances and didn't want to spend any money on a new rug. I figured there was tile underneath the rug. There had to be. The kitchen had an off-white tile and the family room was right off the kitchen. I could live with tile. It's easy to clean. Still, hubby did not want to rip up the old rug.

Around that time, hubby's parents came to visit with us and get to know their grandchildren. They didn't know about our rug argument. That same week, hubby had to go on a business trip. While he was gone, I asked his parents to help me rip up the rug, which they did. Underneath the rug was an ugly black and white asphalt tile floor, not the simple off-white I expected. It was hideous, but I shrugged and figured I could at least keep it clean.

The garbage collectors carted the old rug away. Hubby's parents left to return home.

Hubby came back from his business trip. He was really, really angry when he realized the rug wasn't there anymore. He didn't talk to me for about a week. One of our good friends laughed and said he probably wouldn't have talked to me for a month if I had ordered a new rug.

But eventually, hubby let it go. While I was not fond of black and white tile, I didn't ask for a replacement. A long time afterward, we bought beige ceramic tile. Hubby and I replaced the black and white tile on our own. It was a lot of work, but that floor is still there and blessedly easy to clean.

Should I have ripped up the rug? Should hubby have been a little more willing to compromise? Probably, but we are both stubborn. Nevertheless, we managed to get over it. And that's the way it has to be. Forgiveness is healthy, it keeps marriages together, and it's what the Lord expects from all of us because He forgave us first.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Great Blue Heron or great blue heron?

Last week, Daughter #2 and I went for a walk along a bridge over a marsh. Daughter #2 spotted a Great Blue Heron. It was a cold, blustery day but that didn't seem to bother the heron. I was lucky enough to get this photo before he flew away to the safety of a tall tree. 

Later, in looking up the habits, diet, and other particulars about bird, I noticed that most references did not use capital letters for the name of the species though some did. Hmmm. 

The Great Blue Heron is a magnificent bird. Shouldn't his name be capitalized? I found a blog post,, which went into great detail concerning this topic. The truth is some folks do not capitalize bird names, but the International Ornithologist's Union is of the firm opinion that bird names should be capitalized. 

So I'm with the International Ornithologist's Union. Give this amazing bird capital letters for his name.