Monday, December 28, 2009

Excerpt from HEAVEN'S BLUE

Published by Awe-Struck Publishing
ISBN-10: 1587494469
ISBN-13: 978-1587494468

Samantha's tour of the house turned out to be rather brief. David hadn't realized how small the cottage really was. A kitchen, a pantry/utility room, a living room, one bedroom, one bathroom, and a screened-in porch. No basement, no attic, no den.

A cooling breath of air fanned David's face as they stepped back out onto the porch, the best feature of the tiny house. Four wicker chairs and a low table formed a cozy seating arrangement.

Samantha sank down onto one of the chairs and David did the same. James crawled into his lap.

"So how am I supposed to catch the mosquitoes?" he asked.

"You stand outside and naturally, some mosquitoes land on you."

She gave him a tremulous smile and he blinked to prevent himself from being mesmerized.

"I have a straw-type device and you sort of suck up the mosquito--"

"What if I swallow it?" David interrupted.

"It won't hurt you."

He watched her long, thin fingers smooth out her gauzy skirt. Everything about her seemed so soft and feminine that he almost felt he could relax. He wrapped his arms more closely about James. No. He couldn't let down his guard. Not with her. Not with anyone.

He glanced outside at the endless miles of salt hay and at the blue water beyond that. It would be safe enough, he guessed. "Anyhow, then you put the live mosquito--because, of course, it must be live to test the pesticide--into a small cardboard trap--with a screen on it, so it can't get out. I'll do all the rest. It isn't difficult."

"So I'm a sitting duck. I stand outside, get eaten alive by bugs, maybe catch a few--"

"You have to catch a lot," she broke in. "This part of the study is very important. I have been breeding mosquitoes in the lab and testing the pesticide on them, but I need a control group, a totally unrelated batch of mosquitoes."

"Can't you just take your vacuum cleaner outside and draw in a million of them?"

Her archaic method sounded ridiculous to David.

"You would hurt them!" She frowned.

"Heaven forbid," he stated in a mocking tone.

Her eyes sparked flint at him. He leaned back in the chair, feeling the heat from her searing gaze. James sighed as his eyes began to close.

"It's extremely important research," she reminded him.

David didn't doubt that the earnestness in her face could convince Congress to appropriate trillions of dollars in funding for her cause. Then he reminded himself that right now, he and James needed a safe haven, and this could be an ideal situation.

"Okay, okay." He tried to sound apologetic. "There are nasty viruses and we must do something about it. So when do I start my human pincushion routine?"

"Tomorrow. Today is Sunday..." Her voice trailed off and she glanced into the distance.

Simply the thought of anything religious made him defensive and he stiffened. He had seen nothing but hypocrisy in his dealings with supposed "Christians".

"It doesn't matter to me what day this is," he said. "I don't believe there is a God."

She whipped her head around and stared at him with such surprise in her expression that he had an urge to touch the top of his head to make sure he hadn't sprouted horns.

"Not at all?"

With a voice that sounded hard and bitter, even to his own ears, he gave her his version of the world. "Everything that happens here on this earth is random. Good people meet up with terrible tragedies and very evil people do remarkably well during their lifetimes. Why would a god, who supposedly loved his creations, treat them so cruelly? Why would he make them suffer? The good guys don't win. Honesty is not the best policy. The clever liar will always have a better life."

He didn't add that women who are monsters get custody of their children. He couldn't say it because he knew he was guilty of not spending enough time with his own son. He should have known, but he had been too busy.

"I can understand how you might feel that way."

Her voice had such a tender quality to it that for a fleeting second he actually believed her and thought she might be capable of understanding his predicament. Then his better judgment returned and he glared at her, fully expecting her to clobber him with sermon number one, a compassionate plea aimed at getting him to come back to the fold.

However, she surprised him by not saying another word. The silence hung between them like the heavy atmosphere on the muggy afternoon. She turned her head to stare off into the distant, hazy horizon. He hesitated. She seemed so vulnerable for a moment. He noticed her hands tremble slightly and she bit her lip.

He shook himself mentally. She was probably feeling tainted by sitting in close proximity with a heathen. She might be regretting the fact that she had hired him.

He glanced down at James. His son had fallen fast asleep in his arms.

"I guess I better show you to your room," Samantha whispered.

Though he tried not to move suddenly, the moment he got out of the chair, James woke up again.

"Put me down, Daddy!" James insisted.

David sighed. From this point on, he knew James would be completely wired and impossible to deal with unless he got a nap.

Samantha led them across the yard to the lab building, a low concrete structure. She ushered them into a small hallway and then unlocked the door on the left. When she swung it open, David sucked in his breath as an overwhelming sensation hit him. The small, austere room reminded him of a cell--maybe it was the color of the walls, a sickly, institutional green, or maybe it was the cheap metal furniture. Or maybe it was a premonition. He struggled to recover his regular breathing rate and force down his fear.

Samantha crossed over to the small window and opened it. "I'm sorry it's so stuffy in here. I have a fan in the lab you can use."

Meanwhile, of course, James bounced into the room and opened the wardrobe along with every drawer. He lifted a black book out of one.

"What's this?"

"A Bible." Samantha answered.

James opened it. "There aren't any pictures."

"No. But there are lots of stories."

James frowned at the dull-looking book and dropped it back into the drawer. "Bunkbeds!" he squealed as he clambered up the ladder. "Can I sleep on the top?"

"Sure," David replied hoarsely.

"Look, I can touch the ceiling." James reached up with just his index finger.

"You're taller than your father, now." Samantha smiled.

"I am!" James looked ready to burst with delight.

David felt a painful squeeze around his heart at the unbridled joy in his son's face.

When Samantha showed them the tiny bathroom, James grabbed the faucet and turned it on full force. Water splashed out over the sides of the small bowl. "James! Stop it!" David roared. He slapped at James' hand and switched the faucet off. James' tiny shoulders shook and his face crumpled. David clamped his jaw together. He knew that James' tears would be next. Would Samantha decide that she had made a mistake in bringing him and his son here? However, Samantha simply turned to a small closet and got out a bucket and a sponge.

"This is Mr. Spongy, James, he can wipe up any mess." "Hello, James." Samantha, using a silly voice, folded the sponge in her hand and made it open and close like a mouth. One tear rolled down James' cheek, but he immediately started to smile. "Hi Mr. Spongy."

"I am so thirsty, James, can you help me drink up this water?" Samantha handed the sponge to James who eagerly tried to make it talk, too. Then David watched in amazement as she patiently showed James how to wipe up the mess.

Once that was finished, Samantha left them to settle into their new surroundings. James went back to the drawer with the Bible. He took it up to the top bunk with him and started turning the pages.

"The big lion ran after the little boy to eat him up." James made up a story for himself.

David went to the window and looked out over the desolate marshland. He could see nothing but miles and miles of short grass interspersed with narrow waterways stretching to the blue sea beyond. Would he be safer in a forest, or at the top of a mountain? He shrugged. For two weeks, this would probably be okay.

When he turned back to check on his son, he found the child fast asleep with the Bible beside him. David eased the book away and put it back into the drawer. Just the sight of the book irritated him. Based on it, he was destined to a fiery eternity. Well, better that than watch his young son suffer. He stood beside the bunk bed and listened to the child's even, light breathing. Suddenly, he felt wearier than he had in weeks.

To read more about the book go to Awe-Struck Publishing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Contest Winner!

Bernadine is the winner of a print copy of Sea Of Hope! She commented on the excerpt from that book which I posted on this blog. Anyone who commented was automatically entered into the contest.

Now I have to decide which book will be the prize in my next contest. Which book would you like to win?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Karma

We had a huge snowstorm on Saturday night. It looked lovely as it fell and coated the trees and bushes. However, by Sunday morning we had about twenty inches of snow on the ground--and the snow had drifted so that in some spots it was much higher.

We used shovels and brooms around the cars. Hubby got out his gasoline powered snowblower, but it was not working properly. We have a small electric snowblower, too. I plugged that in but we had to shave off layers of snow with it as we went along--and we did not have enough extension cords to get the snowblower to the sidewalk.

Then a truck plow went by and pushed up a mound of snow nearly four feet high at the end of our driveway. The situation appeared rather hopeless. Each shovelful of snow was as effective as using a thimble to empty out the ocean.

Fortunately, our neighbor, George, who has a massive snowblower came to the rescue.

My father's neighbors shoveled him out, which was a good thing because we did not get to Dad's house until yesterday. Daughter #2's godparents were surprised when a young couple came along to dig them out. The couple would not accept any money for the job. They told her it was karma. Daughter #2's godmother had no idea what they were talking about so she asked me what that meant. I told her it means that the good you do comes back to you. While that's a rather simplistic definition, I figured it was good enough for a eighty year old.

To all the wonderful people who helped dig out their neighbors after the snowstorm I offer my thanks. God bless you. :^)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Frito Pie

I went to the New Jersey Romance Writers' Christmas party today and I brought along my Frito Pie. I never make this recipe at home because it is loaded with sodium. However, it is easy to make and very tasty--the perfect dish for a party because at a holiday gathering nobody is being mindful of their diet anyway. :^)

I originally clipped the recipe from an issue of Woman's World magazine, but I adapted it slightly by making it nearly twice the size.

Enjoy!

FRITO PIE

2 small (9 1/4 ounce) bags of Frito Corn Chips
2 large (27 ounce) cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 large (25 ounce) cans of Hormel, No Beans, Chili
4 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 cups of shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 bag of corn chips on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Lightly, crush the corn chips. In a large bowl, combine the chili, beans, and onion. Spread that mixture over the corn chips. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.

Top with the remaining bag of corn chips--except for a few which you are allowed to eat because you are burning calories putting this wonderful food together.

Bake until hot and bubbly--about 30 minutes.

Serves a lot of people!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Watching Cataract Surgery

I watched a miracle occur. My father had a cataract removed and I was allowed to view the procedure. My father's left eye had 20/100 vision. With the cataract gone and the new lens implanted, he now has 20/30 vision in that eye.

I've been nearsighted since I was eleven years old--so I think it is really quite amazing that my father now has such terrific vision without glasses.

At first, the idea of viewing the procedure made me a bit queasy. However, the nurse reassured me that I wouldn't see any blood.

I thought about it for a minute. The knowledge about what happens during cataract surgery might be useful in a novel at some point. I enjoy amassing all kinds of extraneous knowledge just because I might need it someday. You can never tell where my muse will lead me.

Though I had already heard the doctor explain the procedure to my father, there's a big difference between hearing about something and actually seeing it occur.

I decided to be brave and watch. The ophthalmologist had a small observation room for family members. I was led in by the nurse and seated. From a glass window I could see into the room where the surgery took place. I could barely see doctor's back due to some large machines. My father lay covered in blue cloth on a gurney. The doctor's assistant waved to me. He was the one who handed the doctor the necessary tools.

What I could see very well was a monitor with the giant image of my father's eye--due to the lighting it appeared as a large reddish iris surrounded by white. Everything happened just as the doctor said it would. It did not take long.

Afterward, Dad was fine. He felt no pain and found the most annoying result of the surgery to be the eye drops. He had a tough time learning to plop the drops in by himself, but he was insistent on accomplishing the task without help. :^)

I went home and discovered that you can view the entire procedure on YouTube as well.

Some of my friends were amazed that I watched my father's cataract surgery. I guess they didn't think I had it in me. After all, I'm usually the one who hides her eyes during the scary parts of a movie.

But obviously, the doctor had confidence in the procedure. Because it was offered, I felt it must be a sure thing and many people I know who had undergone the procedure proclaimed it to be a piece of cake.

But I still think it's a miracle. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all our ills were so easy to fix?

Monday, November 16, 2009

How I Wrote Ten Books

The Fiend of White Buck Hall will be published book #10 for me. After getting the contract last week, I took a moment to wonder how I have managed to write ten books. There are writers who produce a lot more and I'm slow in comparison to them, but I really don't think they sleep. :^)

Like the majority of women with families, I am forever juggling the various tasks of living--tossing up one ball and catching another before it falls. Yes, my children are grown, but for those of you who have small children and think life is difficult--just wait. It never gets any easier.

Hubby is retired, but I still have a real part time job that gets me up and out of the house for several hours five days a week, but when I return I have to throw a load of laundry into the washing machine and transfer another load into the dryer.

On my lucky days, I don't have to go on an errand, but more often than not, I do. I have to help out my Dad, or shop for more food, or buy parts for a broken appliance. Once I'm back at the house, I put some form of protein in a pan to brown on the stove.

I turn on the computer, check my email, and fix one paragraph of my manuscript before I check on that browning protein and add some sauce to it.

I talk to Dad on the phone while I'm emptying the dishwasher. I finish talking to Dad and put away the clean dishes before I go back to the manuscript at the computer, but by now my powers of concentration are completely scattered, so I check my email again instead of fixing the manuscript.

I have my computer programmed to announce the hour every fifteen minutes, so I know I have to complete the rest of our supper. I put the computer to sleep, rip open a bag of frozen vegetables and set the table.

Daughters #1 and #3 arrive home from work--late as usual. I ask one of them to locate their father tell him it's time to eat. Lately, he's been busy redoing an upstairs room so he's easy to find.

Daughter #1 cleans up after supper, but now it's time for me to take the dried clothing, fold it, and put it away.

Meanwhile, Daughter #3 is cleaning the bathroom.

Hubby has to check his email on the computer which he and I share. I let him go ahead because after all, I still have plenty to do. I can exercise, sweep, vacuum, or dust. I can organize the photos in the album. (Ha!) Sometimes I have to go out during the evening, but not often.

I never watch television, except for the news. If I'm really exhausted, I will make a cup of tea and read a book. If I have a bit of energy left, I might spend a half hour on the elliptical machine AND read a book.

But most evenings, I will write--even if it's only for an hour. Sometimes, it's more than an hour. That's how I finished ten books. Slowly, but methodically.

If I can do it, anyone can. You just have to plod ahead. Of course, it helps if you have a great story to tell and the characters are annoying you constantly to finish their tale. So you absolutely must help them out. :^)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Contract!

On Monday I got a contract from New Concepts Publishing for The Fiend of White Buck Hall. It is always thrilling to get a contract, but Monday also happened to be my mother's birthday. So it was nice to have something very special happen that day.

Now I have to work on the art questionnaire for the cover of the book. One of the questions is about the celebrities that the characters resemble. I have a complete image of my characters in my head, but for an artist it is easier to have a visual reference. So I spent a lot of time online searching for just the right faces for my hero and heroine.

I decided that Paul Walker resembles my hero.

I think my heroine resembles Emma Roberts.

It will be fun to see what the cover artist does with my idea.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Resurrect An Old Word Today

One day as I was exercising at Curves, the manager was having problems with the new "Smart" machine. I chuckled and referred to the machine as being persnickety. Granted, I was using personification and giving the machine human attributes, but it surprised me that the manager had never heard that word. She had no clue what it meant. She thought I had made it up.

Hmmmm.

per⋅snick⋅et⋅y:
–adjective Informal.
1. overparticular; fussy.
2. snobbish or having the aloof attitude of a snob.
3. requiring painstaking care.
Also, pernickety.

Origin:
1885–90; orig. Scots, var. of pernickety
Related forms:
per⋅snick⋅et⋅i⋅ness, noun
Synonyms:
1. nitpicking, finicky.


Daughter #1 thought this was a hilarious state of affairs and promptly "borrowed" my word to use at her Toastmasters meeting as the word of the day.

There were lots of people at the Toastmasters meeting that had never heard of that word either.

Yipes!

English is a wonderful language. We have more words than any other language. Check out About English. I know we've stolen plenty of our words, but our language is richer for it. As a writer, I appreciate the variety.

Of course, new words are always coming into being. Language is a living thing. But I hate to see so many wonderful older words fall into disuse.

Please, find an old word and use it. Better yet, find an old word every week and make it part of your vocabulary. Send it out in your text messages. Use it on your Facebook page.

Don't let the old words die.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference

Kathy Kulig and I sat next to each other at the Literacy Book Fair and Author Signing at the NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. Kathy told me all about the experience that sparked the idea for her book, Wild Jade!

The conference was wonderful--as always. The PAN Retreat had plenty of chocolate and wine. :^) I listened to Angela Knight's special presentation, Putting Spice in Your Love Scenes. I attended Kathryn Smith's talk about Sex, Language, and Historical Accuracy. Jennifer Crusie was excellent and so was Robin Perini. I took notes and wrote all over the handouts. Karen Rose was the Keynote Speaker and Allison Brennan spoke at lunch. There were lots of other speakers--including Kathy Kulig--and it was difficult to make a choice as to which workshop to attend.

Free books were available. Free pens, sticky notes, and chocolate were on the promotion table. NJRW gave everyone a flash drive!!!! (The perfect gift!)

I can't wait for next year. :^)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blogging at Romance Junkies

I am now a contributor to the Romance Junkies Blog! You can see my post at:

http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/?p=593

Check it out. You'll see my newest book cover, too. It's awesome. :^)

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Apple Cake

Everyone keeps asking for this recipe! So I decided to post it here. This is a terrific cake--rich and moist. Everyone loves it and it disappears quickly. :^)

First, peel and cut into medium chunks 4 large cooking apples (winesaps are great for this). Put the chunks into a bowl and mix them with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of sugar.

Next, in a large bowl mix and beat until smooth:
3 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup of cooking oil (canola is good)
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Using a large bundt pan, pour in one layer of batter, then a layer of apples. Add another layer of batter and finish with a layer of apples on the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 3/4 hours or 105 minutes.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Basket Collection

My mother started accumulating Depression glass after my brother died at the age of twenty-five. She assuaged her grief by going to garage sales and buying the lovely colored glass for a dime—or less. It reminded her of youth, I suppose, and it was pretty.

She bought books about Depression glass to memorize the patterns and assess the value of the pieces. She progressed in her collection skills and added Roseville china, and even antique furniture—often refinishing the pieces herself.

When she went into the antique business, people often came to her store and sold her more antiques. When she closed the shop, her basement became a storage facility.

Last year, an auctioneer sold the valuable pieces in my mother’s collection. But there were odds and ends left over—tucked away in boxes or hidden beneath a table.

This past week, I found out that my mother had amassed a considerable quantity of baskets. When my father said he would gather the baskets together, I had no idea there would be so many of them, but I promised to transport them to the Goodwill store.

When I arrived at the house on Wednesday, baskets of every kind and size filed the kitchen and the dining room. I could hardly believe it. Dad and I proceeded to stuff the baskets into my Jeep. There were baskets of every conceivable size and shape: bushel baskets, covered baskets, Easter baskets, picnic baskets, and a massive wicker laundry basket.

Dad apologized though there was no need to do so. I headed to the Goodwill store on Route 18 in East Brunswick feeling conspicuous on the road. Everyone could see the baskets piled high inside my Jeep.

The people at the Goodwill store merely smiled and helped me unload the baskets—bless them.

I kept one blue basket. I don’t know why. I don’t need a basket. I have too many things as it is. Nothing in my house will actually go with a blue basket. Maybe I should spray paint it.

But for now, I’ll just look at it, put flowers in it, and think about Mom.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Teeny Tiny Wedding Dress


My mother's parents were married in 1919. My grandmother met my grandfather when she was sixteen, but her mother refused to allow her to marry him at that point. He joined the service and came back three years later. Their wedding lasted three days. My grandmother always insisted that she had the most beautiful wedding dress. The large photograph of her in her wedding gown with my grandfather seated beside her always hung on the wall in her bedroom.

As each of her granddaughters grew up, she would tell them at a certain point when they were too big for the wedding dress. Eventually, even my skinny little twelve-year old cousin was too big for the dress.

My sisters and I begged my grandmother to show us the dress--even though we could not wear it. When my grandmother brought it out, we were all horrified. It was crumpled and brown and certainly did not look a thing like the one in the photograph.

When my grandmother died, my mother kept the wedding dress. The other day, my father handed the box with the gown in it to me. I took the dress out of the box and gently placed it on the dining room table. It is so incredibly small. It looks like a six-year old child might be able to squeeze into it.

I knew my grandmother as a short, but plump woman. How delicate she must have been when she was younger. Yet, she bore seven children and lived to the age of ninety. So she was actually rather sturdy.

But you would never guess it looking at the dress.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Our Staycation

This summer we spent the entire month of July at the hospital with Mom. And then we went to Florida to help out hubby's parents. We did not have a vacation.

But we salvaged a few days last week and this week as our staycation. Fortunately, since we live in New Jersey, there are plenty of things to do nearby. We went to Snug Harbor in Staten Island one day. They have beautiful gardens but they also have a fabulous collection of John A. Noble's work. You must go there and see it!

We also visited Morven, the home of Richard Stockton and five NJ governors. It is no longer the governor's mansion--but that's because the dining room is too small. :^)

That same day we checked out Rockingham. George Washington slept there.

We went on the paddle boats at Turkey Swamp park one day for some Vitamin D and exercise. I highly recommend a paddle boat ride to everyone.

We went to Burlington as well to see the birthplace of James Fenimore Cooper. Afterwards I downloaded Red Rover and The Pilot from www.gutenberg.org. I never read those two books.


We also visited the Edison Memorial in Menlo Park. That's a giant lightbulb at the top of the very art deco tower. Beside the memorial is a small, but very nice museum. It is worth a visit.

Hubby and I enjoyed our staycation. I'm glad there are so many things to do and see in New Jersey.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Love Letters

My father is emptying the house--slowly. Every time I stop in, he hands me a bunch of stuff. One of the bags he gave me this week was full of my brother's love letters. What a treasure!

My brother was one year older than me. He was tall and handsome--and there were plenty of young ladies in love with him. Some of them he met while driving an ice cream truck around the county during the summer. Some he met in college. The letters are from his high school and college days--long before he met the woman who became his wife. Married in 1970, he died in 1973 at the age of twenty-five.

Mixed in with the love letters from an assortment of young ladies are a few letters that my brother wrote. Perhaps he decided not to mail them, but to me they are the most precious.

In one letter he wrote, "I can still see your face surrounded by a mist floating above the air, larger than life. Your sparkling, beautiful blue eyes half-closed in a dreamy sort of look. Lips are sparkling in a cream smile of pleasure ad passion. I can't stand it anymore. I'm getting weak. No matter how much I try I can't forget you. Please come back."

In another he wrote, "Venus, my Greek goddess, I do not want to tie you down, or in our slang, pin you. I merely want to see you just to be near your perfection. For how can a mere mortal with his feet anchored to the ground, hold, much less catch, a beautiful goddess such as you who lives among the clouds?"

Yes, I suppose some would consider these letters corny. However, my daughters have gotten emails from young men that say, "U r hot."

It is a shame that letter writing has become a lost art. I am so glad I have my brother's letters.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Will Get Old

Retiring 1100 miles away from your children is not a rational decision in my opinion. At some point, everyone gets old and debilitated.

My in-laws are 92 and 88. They moved to Florida more than twenty years ago when they could dance the polka all afternoon and then go home and still have enough energy to keep the inside and the outside of their two bedroom ranch spotless. My father-in-law is now legally blind, deaf, has some dementia and a hard time putting one foot in front of the other.

My mother-in-law, saddled with the care of her husband as well as the cooking, cleaning, laundering, shopping, and bill paying is overwhelmed. A call from New Jersey to the Adult Protective Services resulted in getting my in-laws some help. The Cares organization has people who will shop for Mom, help with cleaning, cooking and finances.

Getting my in-laws some assistance has been a blessing, but when Mom is at her wit’s end and doesn’t know what to do we feel helpless.

Our latest visit to Florida was distressing. We wound up taking Dad to the ER.

Yet, my mother-in-law insists she can handle things—she’s a small woman, my father-in-law weighs more than 170 pounds and towers over her. They refuse to move back north. They’ve paid for their funeral and have a mausoleum space reserved.

Hubby asked the APS caseworker for the names of some nearby assisted living places. We checked out several and found one we liked. A few days later, we took Mom and Dad there for lunch.

Dad ate every last crumb of the lunch. Mom ran into an old friend from the Polish club who now lives there. They chatted away in Polish and I breathed a great sigh of relief. So far, so good.

While the visit to the assisted living facility was favorable, there are still plenty of details to iron out.

We had to get back to life in NJ and will try to manage things by phone from 1100 miles away—which we know doesn’t always work.

I felt terrible when we left. Dad solemnly bid me to pass on his regards to our daughters and my father. I got choked up when I gave Mom a hug.

I wish they didn’t live so far away.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Trying

Made a huge effort to get back on track with my writing. Having rainy weather this week helped. I find gloomy days conducive to writing and did actually accomplish quite a bit. I had hopes of finishing the manuscript, but on further consideration there are some plot points that need more thought and there's always tightening to do. The synopsis needs work, too. (I hate working on the synopsis.)

Took Dad to the Surrogate's Office yesterday. The lawyer had sent in all the papers and Dad simply had to sign them and then pay the fee. But Dad still wants to get rid of everything and move into an apartment, so there will be tons of work to do to accomplish that goal. Dad is trying to keep busy but he does look so lost without Mom.

Hubby and I celebrated our thirty-third anniversary yesterday. Hubby bought a new pair of lopping shears--really good ones with gears and long handles--like the ones my sister has. :^) He also bought a 24" hedge clipper. I love it. I asked for these tools because they will make our lives easier. Practical gifts are the best, in my opinion.

I treated hubby to an evening at Allaire State Park. Under the stars, we sat on our lawn chairs and listened to Doo Wop music. The singing group was the Sounds of the Street--and they did quite a few songs a capella with gorgeous harmonies. It was dark so the video did not come out very good, but you can hear the group and they were great! Made us feel younger. :^)

The old songs are the best songs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Loose Ends

This is a photo Daughter #2 took as two Marines began to fold the flag draped over my mother's casket. Another Marine played "Taps" on a bugle in the distance.

My mother's suffering is over and she is--at last--at peace. But there are plenty of tasks for the rest of us to do.

Yesterday, I helped my father by taking my mother's clothing out of the closet, putting it into bags, and donating it. I did not get rid of all the clothes. There were a few blouses and sweaters my mother never wore--the price tags were still attached.

My father intends to move out of his house as soon as possible. He says it's too big and empty for him. Everyone has advised him not to do anything for at least a year, but Dad is set on getting an apartment.

I know he is getting too old to take care of the house, but I grew up in it. It holds a lot of fond memories for me. I will hate to let it go.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Some of My Mom's Paintings


My mother passed away yesterday. The pneumonia exacerbated her Congestive Heart Failure. She spent her last few days in hospice care. This is a very sad time for my family. My mother was a very special woman. We will all miss her.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Negative Ions

We did not go to see the fireworks this year. My mother has pneumonia and has been in the hospital, so we’ve spent a lot of time going back and forth to the hospital. We watched some of the fireworks on television.

However, the day after the Fourth of July we took a brief walk at Keansburg Amusement Park. That’s me as the face of the Statue of Liberty. I’ve been going to Keansburg since I was a kid—and many of the rides have not changed in the passing years. We put our daughters on all the rides, too, as they were growing up. Hubby and I still like to watch the bumper cars go around. We always laugh and said that’s where our daughters learned to drive. :^)

We walked on Keansburg’s beach after we had seen all the sights on the boardwalk. From the beach there’s a magnificent view of Raritan Bay—a wide sweep that encompasses everything from the Outerbridge Crossing, to the Verranzo Narrows, to Coney Island as well as Sandy Hook.

On a clear day, of course.

But I like the view in the fog, too. Or in the dark.

My mother always said she was getting her negative ions when she went to the beach. Scientists are finding out more and more about negative ions. They are good for us!

For me, a walk on the beach is calming. I love the Jersey Shore.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Power of a Parable

Last night, hubby and I attended a Tent Revival at St. Veronica's in Howell. St. Veronica's has run this event for 13 years, but it was the first time hubby and I had a chance to be there.

We had a great time! There was good music and the speakers were excellent. The first speaker was Catholic evangelist lay preacher Jim (Butch) Murphy, a master storyteller. He captured everyone's attention and held them spellbound with his story of the Polish pianist, Paderewski, and a little boy. Murphy used the story to illustrate a point, and I know that I will never forget that story--or the meaning behind it. Jim Murphy used a modern-day parable and succeeded in seizing everyone's imagination.

There were tables with Catholic books nearby--the usual devotional stuff, which is good. I have many of those books and have enjoyed them. But there was not one single book of Catholic fiction.

We need more Catholic storytellers like Jim Murphy. We need more parables for contemporary life.

I consider myself a Catholic storyteller. I've written four inspirational novels. My books were published by a small press. Right now there is only one Catholic publisher, that I know of, delving into fiction, Sophia Institute Press. There are plenty of publishers who put out Christian novels, but the Catholics have been lagging way behind for decades. It's very sad.

After Jim Murphy's inspiring talk, there was more music and then Father Halbing, pastor of St. Antoninus in Newark, stepped up to the podium. He is a comedian--a spiritual, verse-quoting, very funny speaker. He had everyone laughing and shouting "Amen."

The entire evening was a delight! I am so glad that hubby and I were able to be a part of it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Excerpt from SEA OF HOPE

Sea Of Hope, published by Awe-Struck E-Books, is one of my EPPIE Award winning books! If you get hooked and want to read more, there's a link at the bottom of the page.

Anyone adding a comment will be entered into a drawing to be held at Christmas 2009. The winner will receive a copy of the book.


Doria hummed an old sea chantey as she stirred the sauce on the stove. For the first time in years, she felt free, as if she had left all her problems on the dock in Port Harbor.

"So tell us about Ted," George asked as he and Chad played rummy at the table.

The question didn't bother her. Not at all. Ted could never reach her here.

"Ted is a cad," Doria replied. "He has this veneer that makes him appear to be a gentleman, but once you get to know him better, you find out he is nothing more than an ordinary, verbally abusive control freak."

"Gee, now I feel bad about leaving Port Harbor," Chad complained.

"Yeah, we could have dumped a load of nice, cold dead fish on him." George smiled as he laid down a row of aces.

In her mind, Doria pictured the suave, debonair Ted surrounded by a mountain of fish. Ted, who could be obsessive about cleanliness, would go nuts. Doria smiled.

"Now you know it wouldn't be right to do that," Chad added soberly.

"Why not?" George asked.

Chad pulled a card from the top of the deck.

"They wouldn't be just cold and dead. They would also be smelly -- a few days old, perhaps," Chad mused. "Maybe a week old."

Doria laughed. The men joined her. The simple camaraderie warmed her.

Chad stopped laughing and laid down a king, queen, and jack. "Rummy," he called with delight.

"I hate it when you do that," George grumbled.

"Sorry." Chad grinned. "But you know, this is my favorite part of the trip. Playing cards with you and winning."

George shuffled the cards with a certain amount of vengeance and dealt them out. "I'll get you this time," he promised.

Doria turned back to her humming and stirring. She had forgotten how cozy and comfortable the Merrichase was. Brightly lit and clean, it had always been the best ship out of Port Harbor. Then a heavy feeling of regret started to seep into her, crowding out the wonderful sense of freedom that had given her a brief respite of peace.

She would never go out on the Merrichase again. This would be her last trip.

The timer on the stove startled her from her reflections. She had made a tangy orange cake that would taste like sunshine. As she removed the pans from the oven and set them on a rack on the counter top to cool, she sniffed the fragrant layers. Her mother had taught her this recipe a long, long time ago. A tear eked out of the corner of her eye.

"That smells great," Chad commented.

"It isn't anybody's birthday," George said. "Is it?"

"I thought we'd celebrate Murray's first trip out as full-fledged captain of the Merrichase." Doria hastily dashed away the tear before anyone could see.

"Let's just eat the cake," George muttered. "And skip the celebration part."

"Why?" Doria asked. She intended to draw a ship's wheel on the cake with mocha frosting.

Chad put his cards down on the table and rubbed his eyes. "George is right. It wouldn't go over well with Murray."

Doria frowned. "Because Dad died?"

"Murray's been acting captain for about three months," Chad answered.

"Nope. Three and a half months," George corrected as he laid down a row of tens. "Your father spent a couple weeks in the hospital. From that point on, he stayed in his cabin a lot. Unless it was nice outside. Then we'd set him up on deck in a chair. He liked that."

Chad picked up his cards again. "He ate better those days."

Doria held on to the counter top. She suddenly felt sick. Worse than sick. Guilt pressed down on her. Her father had needed her and she hadn't been there for him. The memory of her father's last few hours haunted her. That day, she had driven into Port Harbor unannounced. She had found her father in bed in his cabin with Murray standing guard. She had called an ambulance. Murray had yelled at her. Her father had begged her to let him die on his boat. He had died in the hospital.

She shoved the nightmare away and took a deep breath.

"Well, all right. We could celebrate the fact that Murray owns the Merrichase now." Her tone took on a hard edge but neither Chad nor George seemed to notice the rancor in her voice. They didn't look up from their game.

George shrugged. "He'll probably put it up for sale in a few weeks."

"He doesn't have much time before the trial," Chad said.

"What trial?" Doria wrinkled up her nose.

The two men lifted their heads and gave her puzzled frowns.

"Don't you know?" George asked.

A cold shiver ran up Doria's spine. "What?"

"Murray's been accused of murder," Chad explained. "His trial is on January 6th."

Doria stared at them as her mouth went dry. She was out in the middle of the ocean with a murderer. "W-who did he kill?"

"He didn't do it," Chad informed her.

"Who?" Doria's voice rose.

"He was set up," George stated.

"Who died?" Doria pounded the counter top for emphasis.

"A former fiancée of Murray, Kelly Morris," Chad said quietly. "Didn't you read about it?"

Doria shook her head.

"It was in all the papers," George said. "On the television news, too."

Doria drew her arms around her body. "Somebody broke into my apartment and stole the TV."

"It happened at the hospital," Chad stated softly. "Murray is accused of injecting Kelly Morris with the wrong medication. After breaking her engagement to Murray, Kelly became engaged to a man named Alex Kuhlman. She wound up in the ER after a supposed fall in her home."

Doria could barely breathe. "A murderer? And he took care of my father?" Her lips started to tremble as she remembered how Murray had yelled at her when she called the ambulance for her father. Then she looked down at the bandage covering her burn and her body started to shake.

"He didn't do it." Chad got up from the table.

Doria ran to her cabin, slammed the door, and locked it.

Chad knocked.

"You can't possibly believe Murray would commit murder," his voice sounded muffled over the constant rumble of the engine. "His only mistake was leaving Kelly alone for a few minutes. He suspected that she had not fallen down the steps but had been pushed instead after Kuhlman battered her first."

"Hey, what do I do with this sauce stuff?" George pounded on the door. "It's boiling over."

Doria reached for the doorknob but stopped herself before she opened it. "Turn the heat down," she called.

"Doria, please," Chad begged. "Have some faith in the man. He was so kind and gentle in caring for your father. If only you had been here. You would understand."

Doria let out a sob and crumpled to the floor. Chad kept calling to her for a few more minutes but she didn't listen to the words. She wallowed in her misery, wondering how much it would cost to have a helicopter pluck her from the deck and get her back to dry land. Or maybe they would pass by another fishing vessel and she could make her escape with the lifeboat.

Murder. The word caught in her throat. She had nearly been killed on a New York City street by a deranged madman. He had held a gun to her head while other pedestrians gawked at the spectacle as if the event had been staged for their entertainment. Only one man had the presence of mind to throw his attaché case at the criminal and shout for the police.

But Murray had committed his crime silently, with a thin, slender needle and deadly poison. The thought chilled Doria to the bone. What kinds of medicine had Murray given to her father? Could her father have bestowed the Merrichase to Murray under the influence of some mind-altering drug?

If he did, would there be some kind of evidence?

Doria dried her eyes on her sleeve and got up from the floor. This cabin had been the one her father used. Modern and utilitarian, it didn't offer many hiding places. There were three bunk beds and six small cabinets to stow personal gear.

Doria sniffed and headed for the cabinets. After a quick inspection, she found one cabinet that had been locked. Logically, it must contain her father's personal effects but the possibility existed that some significant clue resided in there as well. A scrap of paper, a prescription bottle, a needle. She fought against the queasy feeling in her stomach.

She needed a key. She tore through her backpack and found a pair of cuticle scissors. Jamming them into the keyhole, she concentrated on trying to spring the lock. She didn't even hear the cabin door open. So when Murray spoke she jumped.

"You were the one who wanted to come on this trip and cook for us," his deep voice rumbled. "So get out in the kitchen and finish the meal."

Doria's heart hammered in her chest but she drew herself up to face him with her scissors clutched firmly at her side, just in case. He stood casually, leaning up against one of the bunks with his gaze fixed on the floor.

Doria wavered in her defensive stance. He didn't look like a murderer. She stiffened her spine. Hah. What was a murderer supposed to look like? They committed their inhuman acts in moments of rage, like the man who had held a gun to her head. He wasn't sane at the time. Murray could not have been sane at the time he slipped the deadly needle into his ex-fiancée's arm. He went off the deep end. But couldn't he do it again?

"W-what medications did you give to my father?" she stuttered.

He lifted his head and sighed. Doria realized his eyes were the same shade of green as the ocean on a bright day. She blinked and stared in wonder at them for a moment.

"I can give you a list," he stated. "But perhaps you should talk to the pharmacist since you won't believe me anyway."

Doria shivered as she noticed the scar above his right eyebrow. It lent him the air of a pirate. Greedy and ruthless, he had taken everything from her.

"I want the key to this cabinet," she demanded.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his keys. Slowly, he worked one off the ring. He held it out to her. Doria picked it out of his hand. His skin felt warm as she touched it. The key held the same warmth.

"We aren't going back until we have our limit of porgies in the hold," he said. He turned and left her in the cabin.

To find out more go to:
Awe-Struck E-Books

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Curse or Fiend?

I've been working on book #10, the one I originally titled The Fiend of White Buck Hall. However, now I'm thinking of changing the name. How does The Curse of White Buck Hall sound to you? The Lord of White Buck Hall is out because the book is set in New Jersey in 1897 and at this point in the story I do not want to work up an entirely new biography for the hero. I thought The Master of White Buck Hall might work, but Daughter #1 said people might think it was a book about BSDM, which is most definitely is not.

Any comments or thoughts on the title will be appreciated. :^)

Thanks!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mom and the Peonies


Years ago, my mother gave me a clump of the peonies from her mother's property. I don't have much of a green thumb and hubby doesn't know the difference between a flower and a weed, so it's a miracle that the peonies have survived. Last week, Mom wanted to see how the peonies were doing. I took this photo while she was admiring the flowers.

Mom and Dad are now getting Meals-on-Wheels, which helps a lot. They resisted the idea for a long time, but cooking was never one of my Dad's skills. Now he realizes that he has one less thing to worry about.

Mom is also getting physical therapy again. She really doesn't move unless she has someone encouraging her to do so. She complains that she worked hard all her life.

Sigh.

Friday, May 15, 2009

BQE Tour


We made another trip to Brooklyn this week. Daughter #2 had to water the plants in her apartment, pick up her mail, and pay her bills. As we traveled along the BQE, she pointed out some of Brooklyn's high points. Above is a photo I took of Manhattan from the BQE as we were moving very slowly in rush hour traffic beneath the Brooklyn Promenade. One of these days, I'd like to walk along the Promenade and view the skyline from there. But it seems I'm always underneath the Promenade in a moving vehicle.


At last we reached the Garden State Parkway. The photo above is Matawan Creek--taken from our car. I know it is not as impressive as a cluster of skyscrapers, but I like it.

Daughter #2 is doing well. She started to work from home this week by commandeering the living room as her office away from the office. :^)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rules of Dating

Daughter #2 is still recuperating at home. She's improving everyday. :^) It's been nice to chat with her everyday. Daughter #1 went along with us to Connecticut this past weekend to attend our grandniece's First Holy Communion. It took over three hours to get to Connecticut and it took three hours to return, which was plenty of time to talk. One topic that keeps coming up is dating. My daughters are lovely and intelligent, but they are very discouraged by the dating scene. Yes, they've met plenty of men, but the dating rules have changed--and not for the better.

When I was young, men paid for the date. That was the accepted protocol. If a man wanted to enjoy a woman's company, it was understood that he forked out the cash.

Today, women often pay their share. While going "Dutch" is fair, it does nothing to prove whether or not a man is serious. Where's the commitment when a man never offers to pay for dinner, or the movies? If he wants a woman, he should make an investment.

Furthermore, there is a problem with what constitutes a date. One of my daughters met up with a guy who treated her to the Dollar Menu at the local fast food restaurant and then mentioned that he had a mattress under the cover of his pickup truck.

That is not a date.

My mother, who is now 87, always told me that men only want one thing. She has always been right on that score. Men will take what they can get. However, in the past, at least there were some very definitive rules for courtship. If a man was serious, he knew he had to pull out all the stops and woo the woman in the proper fashion.

I was lucky. I was courted by my hubby. He took me out and paid for the dates. He was old-fashioned and that was fine. He was really serious and looking for commitment. He made falling in love a wonderful experience.

But I'm sure there are plenty of women who have had terrible dates--worse than those my daughters have gone through.

What was your worst date?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Print with a New Cover

The print edition of The Beast of Blackbirch Manor is now on sale at New Concepts Publishing. The retail price is $10.99, but if you order it at NCP, you pay a mere $8.79.

This Gothic tale has been my bestselling book at NCP. You can read an excerpt online by clicking here. You can also watch a video on my site at YouTube.

The book is a historical fantasy set in 1895. It's the first historical I've written and I spent many enjoyable hours researching that era. You can read a review here.

You've got to meet Victoria and Tadeusz! Buy a copy now. :^)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stitches Out

Daughter #2 got her stitches out on Thursday. The doctor thought she was healing well. He gave her some exercises to do which should help eliminate the dizziness. She has another checkup in two months and another MRI in six months.

She stopped at her office to pick up her work computer in the hope that she can do some work from home. However, the trip to Manhattan wore her out. She spent much of yesterday napping.

But now she can scrub her own hair. I've been helping her to wash to hair since the operation because she wasn't supposed to get the stitches wet. Now that the stitches are gone it makes my life a bit easier.

Yesterday, we finally had high speed internet installed at our house. It is wonderful except for the fact that since I have a Mac, I cannot automatically transfer all my old email addresses.

It is going to take a long, long time for me to add each email address. :^(

Friday, April 17, 2009

Superwriter


I wore my New Jersey Romance Writers shirt today with the Put Your Heart in a Book logo on it. When I put on my NJRW T-shirt, I feel like Superwriter. I haven’t been able to go to a writers’ meeting in a few months, but I am going to go tomorrow. And then I am going to finish my work-in-progress!

I went back to work this week—after three weeks away. Two weeks were for spring break, and I did get some writing done that first week as well as put together the book video for The Beast of Blackbirch Manor—but during the second week Daughter #2 had her surgery and much of the third was spent going back and forth to the hospital.

So despite the time away from work, I really didn’t feel rested. However, I got back into the routine right away and was happy to see the kiddies again—though only one said she missed me. :^(

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Surgery for Acoustic Neuroma


Please see the follow-up for this post at: http://www.ameliamarzec.com/rewired/
On Thursday, April 2nd, Daughter #2 had surgery for an acoustic neuroma, which is a non-malignant, slow-growing tumor in the ear canal. Due to the tumor, she lost hearing in her left ear and often suffered bouts of dizziness. The tumor was not small and it seemed the best option was to have it removed. :^(

Daughter #2 lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and works in Manhattan. The surgery was done at St. Vincent’s hospital in lower Manhattan. Hubby and I decided to camp out on the futon at Daughter #2’s apartment while she was in the hospital. We drove up the afternoon before the surgery and took Daughter #2 to a Thai restaurant for supper.

She worried about us using the subways—and getting lost. She worried we would break the toilet in her apartment—so she put a sign on the wall. She worried that we would not be able to get up at 4 a.m. to accompany her to the hospital.

I think she believes we are already senile. :^)

I did not sleep well that night fearing that I would not hear the alarm on my cellphone. But I did hear it—so did Daughter #2 even though she had her bedroom door closed.

It is very, very quiet in Greenpoint at 4 a.m. Hubby and I dressed quickly and ate raisin bran. Daughter #2, of course, had nothing.

Usually, it takes 45 minutes by subway to reach lower Manhattan. We had no idea how long it would take by car because it depends on the traffic, but we thought it would be easier on our daughter to ride in a car.

The limo arrived and by 5 a.m. we were whizzing through Brooklyn. There was no traffic. It took 15 minutes to get from Greenpoint, Brooklyn to St. Vincent’s hospital—a very smooth ride that cost $16 plus a tip.

At 5:30 a.m. Daughter #2 was ushered into the admitting room where she signed a bunch of papers. Then we all went upstairs to the fourth floor. By 6:30 she was ensconced in a big chair in a small curtained alcove. She had donned a hospital gown, had blood taken, had signed more papers, and met the anesthesiologists who explained their part in the surgery.

There were plenty of other people being processed at the same time—all very efficiently.

We talked with Amy’s surgeon and the ear doctor who explained what would be happening. The tumor would be taken out, bit by bit in order not to disturb the surrounding nerves. It would be long and delicate surgery.

Daughter #2 signed more papers. The surgeon wrote “Yes” behind her left ear and reminded her that a piece of fat would be taken from her abdomen when closing up the wound on her head.

She looked at her flat stomach and said, “Good luck in finding that fat.”

Finally, one of the anesthesiologists led her down the hall. She gave me her glasses at that point—reluctant to part with them since she is very nearsighted.

Hubby and I walked into the Spellman waiting room and started reading. Hubby had finally begun to read Sea Of Hope, which was published in 2001. He laughed out loud when he read the scene about the meatloaf. I think he knows where that idea came from. :^)

By nine, I was starving and in desperate need of caffeine. We went downstairs to the cafeteria to load up on eggs, sausage, hash browns, and coffee.

Afterwards, we took a walk outside toward Washington Square Park. Hubby was looking for his favorite sandwich restaurant—Subway. We didn’t find one—though we did see a McDonald’s and a Domino’s pizza restaurant. There were plenty of other restaurants but hubby insisted on his favorite.

At ten o’clock, we were back in the Spellman waiting room (named after Cardinal Spellman). Hubby proceeded to nap.

While he dozed, I read a book, talked to Daughter #3 on the cellphone, and typed up some of this blog.

At 1 p.m. the doctor called the waiting room to let us know that all was going well with the surgery—but it wasn’t finished yet.

I finished the book I was reading. Hubby finished Sea Of Hope. I started reading another book. Hubby read his latest issue of Smithsonian. I talked to my northern sister on the cellphone.

Around 4:30 we got word from a nurse that the tumor was out—all of it. We would be allowed to see Daughter #2 in two hours. We took another walk outside, found a Subway one block north of the hospital and ate.

Hurrying back to the hospital, we talked to the surgeon who said Daughter #2 had been given blood. He said her facial nerves looked good—they had been checked out electrically. However, due to the long surgery and resulting pain, he was going to keep her sedated overnight and wake her up tomorrow.

We were allowed to see her, but we couldn’t touch her. She had a breathing tube in her mouth, and IV drip, and lots of other tubes and wires monitoring her condition. It was difficult to see her like that. She was scheduled to have another CT scan and would be in ICU afterward.

We left to return to Greenpoint. The G train had signal problems so once we got off the L train we had to walk. It was a nice evening but it was a long walk considering the fact that we had gotten up at 4 a.m.

Once we reached the apartment, we called Babci, Mom and Dad, as well as Daughter #1 and Daughter #3.

It was a very, very long day.

Despite that, I spent the night tossing and turning. I finally gave up trying to sleep and called ICU to ask how Daughter #2 was doing. According to the nurse, all was well and the doctors were beginning to make their rounds. The breathing tube would be taken out and Daughter #2 would be able to wake up.

Meanwhile, hubby had to move the car to another spot due to the alternate side of the street parking rules. Twice a week the street sweeper comes by and everyone has to move their cars. Once the sweeper passes, everyone runs out and moves their car back. It is crazy. There are cars in Brooklyn that never go anywhere except from one side of the street to the other.

Hubby found a parking space several blocks away.

Afterwards, we had to do a little shopping for more coffee and milk. It was raining, so we didn’t go far—simply around the block to the little fruit store.

When we returned to the apartment, I saw the street sweeper go by. Hubby rushed out and managed to get the last parking space on the block.

Afterwards we got on the G train again to go to the hospital. It was raining hard. Daughter #2 was still in ICU, but she was awake, though drowsy. She claimed she didn’t sleep all night. I told her she was sedated all night—but she insisted that she was awake. She said she was writing notes to the nurses and crying. Her lip hurt where the tube pressed against it.

So maybe she wasn’t completely sedated.

At any rate, now that she was completely awake, her head hurt. Her throat felt raw. Her tummy hurt where a chunk of fat had been removed to patch the hole in her head. She said her derriere hurt as well. She hated the uncomfortable bandage on her head. It covered her left ear and she could not put on her eyeglasses.

She dozed off after a while. Hubby and I went to eat our lunch in the cafeteria. St. Vincent’s has good food—and since this was a Lenten Friday, they had plenty of fish. :^)

Afterwards, we went back upstairs to check on Daughter #2, but she could not keep her eyes open. We went to the waiting room so she could sleep.

After an hour we went back upstairs. The nurse removed the catheter and got Daughter #2 to sit up in a chair. But her head hurt worse and so the nurse gave her pain medicine.

Daughter #2 was supposed to eat some soft food for supper.

The rain ended and hubby and I headed back to Brooklyn. Daughter #2 told us to go to the Associated food store on Manhattan Avenue for our groceries but she warned us that it closes at eight.

The Associated food store is not Walmart, but while their prices aren’t rock bottom they do have a surprising variety in what they offer—and this being Greenpoint, there’s a lot of Polish food.

I called ICU and Daughter #2 was sitting up and eating. That made me happy. Hubby and I had take-out pizza for supper. I slept fairly well for the first time in three days.

Saturday was extremely windy. The wind made a lot of noise on the skylight in Daughter #2’s apartment.

When I called to see how she was doing that morning, the nurse told me she wanted her cellphone. I was ecstatic. I thought that was a sign of progress. However, when we got to the hospital, Daughter #2 did not feel well. She felt nauseous. She did not want any food.

The doctor said the bandage which she hates because it is very uncomfortable would not come off until Tuesday. She said that’s too far away!

The nurse said she would be going into a regular room Sunday. Another plus because while ICU is a good place for serious health situations, it is really depressing. The man in the bed on her left moaned and groaned most of the day. The man in the bed opposite hers was in terrible shape—barely alive.

Daughter #2 thought some Gatorade might be helpful for her tummy, so hubby and I found another Associated food store on 14th Street. There are too many flavors of Gatorade and I had no idea which to choose to tempt our daughter’s palate. As I was standing there, one fellow started loading his cart with the Gatorade because it was on sale.

I asked him which was the best flavor. He swore that the fruit punch was the best. He claimed it was even better with vodka. :^) So I bought it and offered it (minus the vodka)to Daughter #2 but she only took a few sips.

I hated to leave the hospital with her feeling so crummy, but we trudged back to hop on the subway to Brooklyn. Hubby asked if I felt like a real New Yorker yet.

Nope. I felt like a rat in a maze of tunnels. Every now and then the musicians in the subway cheer things up a bit—but only briefly. And sometimes I find even the musicians to be a bit depressing—like the one fellow who bangs out rhythms on plastic buckets. Poor guy needs a set of drums!

Besides, I like grass and trees and space. I feel claustrophobic in the city.

Hubby and I ate at his favorite Polish restaurant. Then we went back to the apartment to call all the relatives—Babci, Mom and Dad, Daughter #! and Daughter #3, Niece, and Nephew—and a few others.

Sunday morning—Palm Sunday—hubby and I went to Holy Family church. It is a small jewel—100 years old. The hymns were very old-fashioned, much like the church itself.

The day turned warm and sunny. We got on the subway again and headed to Manhattan. Daughter #2 looked far better than yesterday. We talked to the surgeon who suggested that we take off the left arm of her eyeglasses so she can use them. He said even after he removes the bandage she won’t be able to use the left arm of the eyeglasses because of the incision.

We dashed to the Duane Reed store and bought an eyeglass screwdriver. Hubby removed the left arm of her eyeglasses. At last, our daughter had a clearer view of things.

She was moved out of the ICU and into a regular hospital room. The move exhausted her and she was dizzy again, but now she had a window with a view and television. Hubby and I bought her a small cup of rainbow sherbet from Baskin Robbins and she ate half of it. She did not eat much else.

That evening when we got back to Brooklyn, we ate at a Mexican restaurant. The nice thing about Greenpoint is that everything is so close.

Finally, we went through the rounds of phone calls as usual. I send text messages to most of the relatives throughout the day informing them of Daughter #2’s progress, but everyone wants more details than they can get in two sentences. Daughter #2’s experience had become the Marzec soap opera.

Monday dawned in downpours. Hubby hoped to get a parking space right in front of the apartment. He succeeded in getting one right in front of the apartment next door.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, Daughter #2 was sitting up and looking alert and strong—relatively speaking. However, she still had the bandage on her head and it wasn’t going to be removed yet.

She complained about the nurse always taking blood. The doctor had given her somebody else’s blood, but the nurses kept taking it away. :^O

One of her high school friends popped in to visit, which was a nice surprise. After he left, hubby and I guided Daughter #2 around the corridors. She was still having an issue with dizziness. The doctor claims that should eventually go away.

She did not care for the turkey dinner served for lunch but she ate the entire apple pie served for dessert. We bought her some French fries and she ate half of those. One of her coworkers also came to visit later in the evening.

At one point, when she was taking a nap, hubby and I quietly sat and read. He read the first two chapters of Heaven’s Blue—and chuckled when he found the names of the guinea pigs in the story.

Hubby and I returned to the Polish restaurant for supper. Nothing like comfort food when times get tough. Still, we found the ordeal sapping our strength. We went to sleep early.

Next morning, hubby wanted to move the car again. Before he did we went to the food store again.

Daughter #2 sent a text message to tell us that the bandage was removed.


When we got to the hospital, I was surprised to see the incision. It was huge with big stitches. I know the scar will fade and will always be hidden by her hair—but it was a bit of a shock.

Seven of Daughter #2’s coworkers came to visit in the afternoon. They brought grilled cheese sandwiches knowing how much our daughter loves those.

Daughter #2 had more visitors around six. Some friends from high school, some friends from a place she used to work, and a new friend. It was like a party! She held court in the lounge.

Hubby and I left then and took the trek on the subway back to Brooklyn. I tried to read on the train because I wanted to be like a real New Yorker. I had seen people reading while standing in a subway car, holding on with one hand while the train went rocketing through the tunnel, shifting left and right and stopping suddenly—but they never lost their concentration.

However, hubby and I were lucky enough to get a seat before the train became crowded. So I started to read, but a little girl sat next to hubby with a box from PetSmart. She opened the box. Inside was her new hamster, Chelsea.

The girl kept picking Chelsea up while Chelsea kept looking for an avenue of escape. Hubby held out his hands just in case. But fortunately, the little girls’ mother warned her to keep Chelsea in the box.

We ate at the Polish restaurant again.

Hubby and I got up early the next morning. Daughter #2 was to be released from the hospital. I packed up her clothes and we headed to Manhattan again.

It took forever to get the discharge papers. Once our daughter was allowed to leave, I stood outside the hospital and hailed a cab. I felt so cool.

Hubby told the cabbie the quickest route to Brooklyn. The cabbie drove like a demon whenever he had the chance. Quite a thrilling ride—and for only $16.50 plus tip. Better than a roller coaster.

Once we reached our daughter’s apartment, hubby went to the Rite Aid pharmacy with Daughter #2’s prescription. The pharmacist would not fill the prescription—absolutely, positively, no way. He would not speak to the doctor at the hospital—he would not accept a fax.

Hubby went back to the hospital in Manhattan, got another prescription, and had it filled at a Duane Reed pharmacy near the hospital. That took hours. Meanwhile, I fed Daughter #2, packed up the car, and put all the garbage outside for pickup.

At last hubby returned with all the pills. We got into the car and headed back to NJ. Daughter #2 will be recuperating at home where I can feed her until she is nice and plump. :^)

I am so glad to be home.

Monday, March 30, 2009

New Book Video for The Beast of Blackbirch Manor

The Beast of Blackbirch Manor will be released in a print edition in April. (Very soon!) It will be available at New Concepts Publishing. It has been my best selling book so far!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

At the Library


Last night at the Middletown Township Public Library, I joined a panel with two other authors, Amanda Matetsky and Jack Getze. Each of us spoke about our personal path to publishing our books.

Those in the audience were very interested in publishing and asked plenty of good questions. It was an great evening. I always love to talk about writing. :^)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

An Adventure in Greenpoint

We visited Daughter #2 in Brooklyn again, but due to the anticipated snowfall on Sunday, we took the train. Daughter #2 met us in Penn Station because we were confused about the subways. Riding the subway is an adventure. Lots of people read books on the subway--or while waiting for the train. It is encouraging to see so many people reading. However, there seem to be an equal number of people listening to their iPods. Those people are in their own world. Some sing along to their chosen tunes. Some groove to the music. One young woman put on quite a dance show on the platform.

A trio of drummers hopped on the subway car at one stop. They brought along small portable stools and sat in the middle of one subway car with their large drums. I enjoyed the music.

We arrived in Greenpoint just in time for dinner. We ate at the small Polish restaurant we had enjoyed so much on our last visit. The food is inexpensive but good. However, I cannot pronounce the name of the place. It doesn't look like much, but it is a popular. I highly recommend it. Last time I had the breaded veal, this time I had veal meatballs with dill sauce. Hubby had Bigos--the traditional Polish hunter's stew. Daughter #2 had stuffed cabbage.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Walk on the Beach

It was exceptionally warm today. Hubby, Daughter #1, and I decided it was perfect for a walk on the beach. We picked up a few shells, skipped stones, and watched the ferry come in. The sky was a deep shade of blue violet.
















Here's Daughter #1. She's doing well after her gallbladder surgery. She's eating all her favorite foods again and feeling much better.





















Hubby was happy sitting on the pier.
















We might get sleet on Sunday, but today was truly a beautiful day.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chat With Me!

On Sunday, February 22, 2009, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST I will be chatting at the Catholic Writers Guild Come join me! I will be giving away a CD of A Rush of Light!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Daughter #1's Gallbladder Is Out

Daughter #1 had laproscopic surgery to remove her gallbladder. Hubby and I drove south to be with her. The surgery did not take long. I had brought along plenty of books to read, but did not even finish one.

Daughter #1 was out of the surgical center shortly after noon and spent the much of the day being dopey afterwards—due to the pain meds. By suppertime, she was a bit more alert, but she claimed she hadn’t felt quite as bad since the very first time she was seasick, which just happened to be in January during a nor’easter on a boat out in the ocean—an experience that was further enhanced by a crew who played a video of The Perfect Storm. Daughter #1 has read the book a few times and recently purchased a DVD of the movie.

Daughter #1 is a marine scientist and has gone on many long voyages out in the ocean since that first one. She says your body gets used to the motion of the boat after a while.

She has sea bands which are supposed to prevent seasickness. She put on the sea bands when we were driving her home from the hospital because she felt nauseous. Evidently, sea bands use a pressure technique to combat the nausea.

While Daughter #1 was dozing, I went to the supermarket to procure the makings of a simple dinner—chicken, potatoes, fat-free dressing, lemons, an onion, and peas. There wasn't much food in Daughter #1's kitchen.

When the potatoes were nearly done, I searched in my daughter’s kitchen for a potato masher or a hand mixer. I could find neither.

I went into the bedroom and asked my daughter if she had a hand mixer. She said she did not but she thought she had an old-fashioned potato masher that Babci had given her in a box in the closet.

What she had in that box was a pastry blender.

I suspect that my daughter does not do much cooking.

I mashed the potatoes with a fork.

I know what I am going to buy her soon as a gift—just in case I am visiting again sometime.

Dinner was good and Daughter #1 did eat some of it and was feeling well enough to sit at the table and chat for a while.

We’re all hoping that she will soon be thoroughly mended and can join us once again for pizza. :^)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coming Up for Air

Last night I finished the revisions for The Company You Keep, which is going to be reissued by Crescent Moon Press. Even though this book was published previously, there were lots of things to fix. For instance, in one spot I had used the word "say" when the correct word would have been "stay." There was even one spot where I used the wrong character's name! Horrors! These things do happen. The book has 84,000 words in it, and each one needs to be scrutinized. The editor said I had used some words too often--and she was right. (Hint: Everyone needs an editor.) But even editors miss errors. I've read plenty of published books where I found mistakes. But I don't want a single misprint in my own books.

I've spent the past month combing through this book--though the last two weeks were the most intensive. I ignored all my friends. I did not go anywhere--with the exception of trudging off to the real job every morning, going to Curves three times a week, and going to the supermarket. (Such is the glamorous life of an author.)

My house is very dusty. I am more than two years behind in organizing family photos. (I used to be on top of that.)

But today, the sun is shining here in New Jersey. I am going to enjoy it. Maybe I'll clean a bit, or put some photos in the album. Or maybe I'll read someone else's book. :^)

But it's officially my day off. On Monday, I'll go back to writing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One of the Best Things I Ever Bought

This little CLEAN/DIRTY sign is a blessing. I have always known whether the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty. However, hubby and my daughters have never been quite sure, it seems.

Now there is never a question. It is easy to tell at one glance if the dishes in the dishwasher are suitable for use--or ready to remove from the dishwasher and placed back in the cabinet. Hubby has surprised me a few times by doing this chore. Evidently, it makes him feel like a hero. :^)

It is also a snap to know when the dishwasher can be loaded with dirty dishes.

I think all dishwashers should come with a little sign like this one.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Setting Goals

When I I woke up Saturday morning the thermometer on the porch hovered at nine degrees. The sun was so bright as its rays bounced off the thin layer of snow on the ground that I had to squint.

It would have been a great day to huddle in front of the computer and finish the revisions I need to do, but Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick were speaking at the New Jersey Romance Writers meeting so I dressed warmly and drove to Woodbridge.

Jim and Nikoo have written historicals using the pseudonym May McGoldrick and are now writing romantic suspense as Jan Coffey. They are a lovely couple!

They gave a presentation on setting goals and scheduling. Since they’ve written 27 books—while enduring a number of life crisis situations—I knew they probably had some great advice.

And they did. Toward the end of their talk, I divided up the number of pages I still have to revise by the days left before I must hand in the manuscript.

Jim and Nikoo asked me if I had allowed for the inevitable problems that come with life. Well, no I hadn’t. So I upped my daily page count to be sure my progress won’t get derailed in the event of an emergency.

As usual, I came home all fired up and ready to conquer the work I still need to do. Now I’m writing up to-do lists everyday and making great progress. :^)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Young Writers

Catherine Greenfeder, who works in Cranford invited me to speak to the students in the high school there who are interested in publishing. (That's Catherine on the right.)















Today I gave my presentation on ebooks at Cranford High School and talked a bit about writing. The students had some great questions! Several of them are very serious--one is working on sci-fi novels and another on a historical non-fiction book.

I truly enjoyed spending the afternoon with such a dedicated group of young writers. I hope they succeed far beyond their dreams. :^)