Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Updated Book Covers


The two books of my PATRIOT series have been updated by the publisher and they look terrific! I am thrilled. Both of the books have already received wonderful reviews, but I believe a great book cover truly helps to sell books.

I admit book covers have often tempted me to buy books. I do read the blurb on the back, and I often read at least the first page or two, but the cover is the biggest factor in drawing me to the book in the first place. If it catches my eye, I'm likely to pick it up and take a closer look.

How about you? Can you answer these questions?

1. Does a book cover influence your decision to buy a book or not?

2. If the book cover is not a major factor in your book buying decision, what is?

3. Do you make a decision based upon the reviews of the book?

4. Do you only read books that are posted on the New York Times Best Seller list.

5. Do you only read books your friends have recommended to you?

6. Do you only read books you get for free?

PATRIOT'S HEART and PATRIOT'S PRIDE are not free, but the digital versions are very inexpensive. Only $4.99 on Amazon. Check them out. πŸ’•

And follow me on Amazon! That way you won't miss out on any new reviews, new releases, or updated covers. πŸ“š

Just visit my author page at https://www.amazon.com/Penelope-Marzec/e/B002BLQGA4 and hit the FOLLOW button. So easy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Guest Author: Gay N. Lewis

Gay N. Lewis has been a guest at this blog twice but I'm very delighted she's posting again today! I've enjoyed reading several of her stories about Sarah, the klutzy little angel, and Clue Into Kindness was a real keeper. Please welcome Gay as she tells us about her latest release, Mattie's Choice.

Thanks for having me, Penny. I hope after our visit today your hubby will play the accordion for us. I’ll sing!

Gay: Hubby will play for you anytime. πŸŽΌ 🎹


With my newest book, Mattie’s Choice, I’ve departed from my sweet, whimsical, fantasy genre about a dyslexic angel. Oh, Sarah is still up to her bumbles and antics, but I’ve put her in time out for a while.

I’ve been writing a Woman's Christian historical about two women married to abusive brothers. Mattie’s Choice was inspired by my mother-in-law and an aunt by marriage. The book is not biographical, but many of the events in this book actually happened to these women.

My father-in-law wasn’t physically abusive, but he was emotionally cruel. My husband's mother wasn’t allowed to visit her twin brother or any family members. She couldn’t go to her dad’s funeral. Hard to believe, right? Most of us ladies today would say, “No way, buster. Out of my way.” But even today too many women today live with a controlling man. Choices are not easy in these circumstances. My mom-in-law was a strong woman who managed to live within her claustrophobic existence while rearing eleven children. All of those children are now emotionally healthy adults—none took after their dad’s controlling ways. They are successful and respectable citizens. 

Everyone has a choice.


Here's more about Mattie’s Choice.

In 1925, against her father’s wishes, a romantic and naΓ―ve seventeen-year-old Mattie elopes with Jesse Colby in rural Oklahoma. Dreams shatter when Jesse slaps her. Jesse believes women are to obey husbands and forbids Mattie to have a relationship with her “infernal” family. Mattie can’t imagine life without her twin brother, Maury. Her self-confidence ebbs away as Jesse degrades her.

Joe, Jesse’s brother in Galveston, marries a nurse and returns home to Oklahoma. His wife, Ella, becomes Mattie’s best friend. Ella feels one’s safety is more essential than marriage vows. Mattie believes a vow made before God takes priority over abuse.

To bring relief from responsibilities and dreariness of life, Jesse and Joe embark on an illicit entertainment with two sisters who live near-by. In the meantime, Jesse refuses to allow Mattie to visit their eleven-year-old son, Adam, in the hospital. Adam is diagnosed with Polio.

One woman discovered the strength to stay in an abusive relationship.  The other found strength to leave.  Neither choice was easy, and both women believed they did what God wanted them to do.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

There are study questions which follow the book: 
What would your choice have been? 
Women are abused today. How can you help them?

Assistance was unavailable in 1925, but shelters and aid exist today. In 1925 the vogue of the day indicted the woman and exonerated the man.

In my research for this story, I discovered that America has only 1,500 shelters for abused women, but 3,800 shelters for animals. Statistics show that one out of four women will face abuse in their lifetime. On a personal note, I can verify this statistic. I have three daughters, so counting me, there are four women in my household. One daughter was married to an abusive man. Fortunately, that was a short marriage.

Here’s another statistic. Police will respond quicker if an intruder is a stranger rather than a member of the household.


A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear, a small town west of Houston.  As a pastor’s wife, Gay writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country.  As a published author for Pelican Book Group, she writes in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles.

Her latest books, Mattie’s Choice, and Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. They are Christian women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to unhealthy relationships.

The books are available in print, eBook, and audio.
For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/
Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.
www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2.
Sarah, the angel, has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Once Upon an Egg Cup

My mother tried every sort of craft there was. At one point, she tried ceramics. She made egg cups. This is the last one left, which was made for my brother. It's missing part of the base on the other side, but it's a cute piece. There was one for me, I'm sure, but I probably broke it. I learned about the fragility of china early on. 
My mother had a fascination with china and glassware. Eventually, in her later life she amassed a considerable collection of Depression Glass as well as unusual china pieces and sets. 
So I wound up with a decent amount of knowledge concerning dinnerware and other serving pieces, none of which has been particularly of use in my writing. But one never knows. I may need it someday when I'm writing about a woman cracking open the egg in her egg cup and eating her breakfast. 
At any rate, I found an informative article online about soft boiled eggs, how to cook them, eat them, and their history. (http://www.factsfacts.com/EggCups/EggCups.htm)
Perhaps tomorrow I will have a soft boiled egg for breakfast. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Do Something Useful

I was inspired by Garrison Keillor's column in the newspaper today. He spoke of "cheerful stoicism" and said, "If you moped around, Mother gave you two options: Go outdoors or do something useful. Or both: Go mow the lawn."

It struck a chord with me because as a child, I had plenty of chores. In the photo on the left, I am probably nine years old and minding my little sisters. That was my basic job for many years in addition to hanging the laundry out on the line and bringing it in. I swept and mopped floors, cleaned the toilet, scrubbed the tub. I was my mother's apprentice cook as well--so was my brother. As my little sisters grew up, they too became Mom's apprentice cooks. 

We still had time to play, but chores came first. We never watched television in the summertime. The television inevitably needed repair every summer and my parents wouldn't have it fixed until September because during the summer there were nothing but reruns on the tube. It was fine with us. We didn't miss it. 

None of us had to go off to karate or dance classes. My parents couldn't afford anything extra. My brother was a scout and so was I. Plus we went to CCD classes as required by our church. That was the extent of our extracurricular activities. 

I didn't mind having chores. It was part of life. I was a valuable member of my family--and I knew it. I didn't get paid for doing chores either. There weren't any options. I did it because I was told to do it and it needed to be done. All that prepared me to be an adult. I was "adulting" at the age of nine. 

That was also the time I started to write in my "free" time. 

Some things haven't changed in all these years. I still write in my "free" time, but right now I have a load of laundry to do. Chores never end.

Friday, August 25, 2017

When Writing Is Eclipsed By Other Events

The sun on Monday, August 21, 2017, was only about 75% obscured by the moon in our area of New Jersey. That didn't matter much. Most people wanted to see the eclipse.

I wanted to see it, but I didn't have the special glasses and I hadn't made a pinhole camera. Instead of writing, I watched the event online at NASA's site. But then we went to visit my mother-in-law at the assisted living facility where she now lives. When I stepped outside to get in the car, I was surprised to see the sunlight coming down through the trees had cast crescent-shaped images on the driveway. That was quite a surprise. I was impressed.

When we arrived at the assisted living facility, we noticed that all the residents had been provided with eclipse glasses. They sat quietly enjoying the phenomena on the patio. Hubby and I were handed glasses as well and so we did get to view some of the eclipse. It was a special day and I am happy we were able to enjoy it with my mother-in-law.

But I didn't get any writing done. That's the way it is. There are many times when my writing is eclipsed by other events such as trips to the ER, plumbing catastrophes, and car troubles.

A writer should have a schedule. A writer should write everyday. But even someone with a regular nine-to-five job takes days off now and then for doctor visits, dental work, or even--on occasion--what some like to call a mental health day.

My saving grace is my capacity to juggle tasks. If I know I won't be able to write at my usual time, I write before or after that time. Or I spend the next day doing little else but writing. A writer must write, even though there's a guarantee in life that when something can go wrong, it will. But a writer gets back to work as soon as possible.

There will always be other events that take priority over writing. I'm glad I was able to view the eclipse and though it eclipsed my writing that one day, I more than made up for the time I lost the next day.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

In Peaceful Times


My mother and my father posed for this photo in 1961. They were rowing on Treasure Lake, which was behind our house. The little dinghy, which we had christened "Scout" with a bottle of 7Up, provided endless hours of summertime enjoyment for all of us. 1961 wasn't a particularly peaceful year for the world. There was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The Berlin Wall was completed. President Kennedy urged everyone to build fallout shelters. My father shrugged at that. We lived across the bay from New York City. He figured NYC would be bombed and we would perish instantly--so there was no point in building a fallout shelter.

But all the trouble in the world didn't seem as close back then. My father was a journalist so I knew what was happening but I wasn't bombarded with it constantly. I was happy. We rowed around the lake in our little dinghy. We caught fish and turtles. We played with the neighborhood children. My mother baked cookies, cakes, and pies. We swam at the beach. In the evening, we'd build a fire and toast marshmallows.

Life seemed simpler, or maybe it was because I was a child with loving parents. I was lucky.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wisdom


I posted this a few weeks ago on my Facebook page. It had been part of one of the readings at Mass that day. I used Canva as usual to make a nice frame for the quote with an especially lovely photo I had taken of sunset on the Navesink River.

Afterwards, one of my Facebook friends discovered she couldn't find the quote in her Bible. That's because it's from a Catholic Bible, which has more books. You can read a short explanation here https://www.quora.com/Why-are-there-more-books-in-the-Catholic-bible-than-the-Protestant-bible
There are longer explanations if you care to Google them.

At any rate, I've read the entire book of Wisdom. It's good. Take a look at it sometime.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Writing It Down


I bought a new journal this week. I have kept a journal for a long time. I was inspired as a child after I read Anne Frank's story. While I do not write in it everyday, for the most part I faithfully record all the major events in my life as well as feelings, disappointments, and dreams. Every year of my life has presented me with stress or one kind or another. (Just like everyone else on the planet.) πŸ˜‰ On occasion, I reread some of my journal entries and it makes me a bit depressed, but I remind myself I have survived the crises I've been handed so far. I pray for the strength to handle the next crisis, whatever it might be.

After talking with a friend, it occurred to me that maybe the journaling actually has been helpful for me. My friend does not keep a journal. She has suffered through some extremely stressful events, but she tends to dwell on them. She doesn’t write them down. She continually goes over and over the incidents. She never lets them go.

I realized for the most part, I do not dwell on past traumas--not always anyway. True, the problems don’t go away, but I move on—or my pen does at the very least, usually to the next problem. Still, the actual writing seems to be cathartic. It’s not that I don’t remember the difficulties after I record them—it’s just that somehow I forget the sequence—even if the events pile up one on top of another as they usually do.

Journaling is a very good thing according to the article below:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/

So if you’re feeling stressed, write it down--with a pen on paper--you know, the old-fashioned way. Even if you don’t become a romance author--which might be a good thing--you could be doing yourself a big favor.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Toning Up


I have bingo arms. Some folks call them bingo wings--the flabby, wiggly fat under the upper arms. I have resolved to tone up my arms. I am working out with a video online, using weights and hoping this really works. I've been doing this for three weeks now. The video is very encouraging--it almost feels like I'm really working out with someone. However, I don't have to leave the house and I can be dressed in my pajamas--so it's all good. Nevertheless, I haven't noticed any improvement so far. I think I may have to do this for a year or more. Maybe forever. πŸ˜²

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fear and the Writer


In 2016, I had three books released. Then my father died, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I went through radiation therapy, my mother-in-law got pneumonia, and had to be moved into an assisted living facility. In addition, my oldest daughter got married and my husband had cataract surgery. I had diverticulitis. I had a posterior vitreous detachment in my eye. In short, I was wrung out.

With all that, my writing routine took a downturn. I've been working on another book, but the writing has crept along at a snail's pace. I began to question myself. "Who is going to read this book anyway? Is it worth it? Am I wasting my time?"

Like most creative people, I've doubted my own ability many times over in whatever project I've undertaken at the time. But I pressed onward and always settled into a happy groove, remembering how much fun it is to write. It made me feel good and as my father used to say, "It's cheaper than therapy."

This time the nagging suspicions persisted. I won't call it writer's block, because it isn't that. It is fear.

I stumbled upon this blog post by Jen Morris. I think you should read it.  For me, it was totally relevant. Fear takes on other disguises--like procrastination or perfectionism.

http://www.jenmorriscreative.com/overcoming-fear-in-the-creative-process/

With some of Jen Morris's suggestions, I've made considerable progress on my manuscript this week. Writing is my happy place. I can't let fear take that away.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Lowly, But Velvety Moss


This is a closeup of the moss in my yard. It covers the concrete borders of the patio and the driveway. It has gotten into my flower garden as well. I continually try to eradicate it. Daughter #2 thinks it is nice. I think it makes the old homestead look like Rip Van Wickle lives here.

Still, moss is rather amazing stuff. It doesn't have roots and grows where nothing else will grow. During World War I, sphagnum moss was used as a wound dressing--after it was cleaned, of course. Moss is very absorbent and has antibiotic properties as well.

Moss has become a popular addition to fairy gardens and terrariums. Entrepreneurs actually sell it. People spend their hard-earned cash and buy it. It does have a wonderful velvety texture to it and it's a luscious green.

But I keep trying to get rid of it. Sigh.

Monday, June 26, 2017

FREE at Smashwords in July

SMASHWORDS is having a spectacular SALE. For the entire month of July, readers may download three of my books for FREE. (Look for the coupon on the page!) Two of my longer novels will be at the fabulously reduced price of $1.50. (50% off!) Don't hesitate!  Load up your ebook reader, take a long trip, and read all five books before summer is over. 

Below are the books I'm offering along with a few of the reviews for each one. 


PRINCE OF THE MIST is a contemporary paranormal romance which weaves in ancient Irish myths and legends. It has received many wonderful reviews over the years.

Julie Bonello at ECataRomance Reviews gave PRINCE OF THE MIST 4 Stars and said, “Penelope Marzec’s novella Prince of the Mist is an enchanting paranormal romance which will keep you enthralled from the first page to the last sentence!.....Prince of the Mist is a page-turning story which you will find very hard to put down. Penelope Marzec is a very talented author who keeps her readers hooked with this fabulous story which is full of fun, passion and intrigue.”

Brenda Thatcher, Reviewer at Mystique Books gave it Four and One Half Moons. She said, “PRINCE OF THE MIST is a wonderful book, a tender tale of love set against a politically hot topic….PRINCE OF THE MIST is highly recommended. It is a beautiful story of love that shows how two people from vastly different cultures can find unity.”

Wendi at Road to Romance said, “PRINCE OF THE MIST is so well written and spellbinding, my attention was grabbed from the beginning. I read the story all at once.”



KISS OF BLARNEY is another contemporary paranormal romance employing Irish myths and legends. It was well-received by readers who posted these reviews on Goodreads. 

"What happens when an Irish fairy princess sets out to rescue her mentor and friend, a druid priestess, by visiting the mortal world makes for magic, mayhem, and passionate romance with a handsome Irishman who misses his ancestral roots. Fast paced and charming! A must read!"

"Kiss of Blarney is a great read! I read it in one sitting. Shay and Ula make the perfect couple. I really enjoyed Ula's innocence toward the world around her since she grew up very sheltered. I think she's a great balance to Shay's skepticism. The end surprised me and swept me away. I literally couldn't put down the last 30 pages. Definitely a recommended read for paranormal lovers who love tales about the Irish."


FALLING IN LOVE is a collection of short, sweet romance stories.

One reader on Goodreads said, "It is exactly as advertised - short, sweet romances that make you go "ahhh". The stories run approximately 5 pages on average. A few left me wanting more and others gave me the idea that the scenes needed to be used in the movies."

An Amazon reader said, "This is a great little book to keep in your purse in case you're stuck waiting somewhere! The stories are short but deliver big entertainment value. They're uplifting with a twist to each one that surprised me."









IRONS IN THE FIRE is a contemporary paranormal romance.

This book has a special place in my heart. I love all my books, in the same way I love all my children--but each one is unique. Irons in the Fire was the first book I finished. It received the most rejections, but it gained some especially nice recognition when it was finally published.

Originally published by New Concepts Publishing, it was later reissued by Crescent Moon Press. The rights now belong to me once more and the book  is available in both print and digital editions. 


It was a nominee for Best Small Press Paranormal in Romantic TimesReviewers' Choice Award and has received excellent reviews.


Long and Short Reviews gave it 4 1/2 Stars and said, "The twists in this one were totally unexpected. There are surprises all along the way to the final revelation of who was behind all of the evil in the town. I did not expect some of this at all. I like that in a mystery--not knowing is the best kind of plot. The romance builds slowly, and for each step these two take toward each other, they take two steps back. I loved it when they finally acknowledged their feeling were real, and the passion they finally let loose was wonderful." 






THE COMPANY YOU KEEP is also a contemporary paranormal romance.

A reader on Goodreads said, "This book surprised me. I though it was just a romantic novel, but I was wrong. Besides romance, includes other genres like suspense , paranormal and crime. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. I really enjoyed the story!"

Diane Tugman of The Romance Studio said, "With each chapter you'll be drawn into a tangled web of the supernatural."

Anastasia Castella-Young of Mind Fog Reviews said, "I highly recommend this paranormal romance to those interested in demons, spirits, adventure and love. Penelope Marzec hits the mark dead on!"


Make this summer a summer of romance! Visit SMASHWORDS!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Married!

The Groom (my new son-in-law!) and the Bride, aka Daughter #1
Daughter #1 and her true love were married this past weekend at our parish church. The priest officiating at the Mass was not our parish priest. He was a man who had gone to Stockton College at the same time Daughter #1 was there. While she got her degree in marine science, he got his in philosophy. Afterward, he became a priest. When Daughter #1 asked him if he would serve as the celebrant at her wedding, he accepted. He impressed all the wedding guests--not only with his homily, but also because they all thought he looked like Jesus. And he made everyone laugh.
πŸ˜†
The reception was held on the River Queen, a boat on the Manasquan River. The food, the playlist, and the company were wonderful. Daughter #1 and her groom had done most of the planning well ahead of time, but it takes many hands to make a party great.

Before the wedding, the groom's sister applied Daughter #1's makeup. Daughter #3 whipped up a throwaway bouquet in nothing flat and gave hubby a bell to ring whenever he wanted the bride and groom to kiss. (Glassware is not used on the boat.)

My southern sister and her family took care of the decorations on the boat. Babci's oldest granddaughter picked up our aging ninety-six year old, got her to the ceremony, to the boat, and then returned her to her facility. My aunt and uncle kept Babci company for much of the cruise. Daughter #2 gave a wonderful impromptu toast. The groom's aunt got some of the best videos of the dances and shared them.

The crew on the River Queen did an excellent job and I highly commend them, but I am grateful and thankful to all the other family members who pitched in where they were needed. That is love in action. The best kind of love there is.
πŸ’–


Thursday, June 01, 2017

I Was Bullied


A long, long time ago my Uncle Bob, Aunt Grace, who was my mother's sister, and their two sons took a trip on the Queen Elizabeth. My uncle worked for Firestone and had been transferred to their plant in South Africa. My family went to New York City to see them off. I am in the photo above on the right and my sister is on the left.

We had dressed in our fanciest dresses for the occasion. However, beneath my dress I did not wear a bra. I was rather young. Puberty had not begun for me, but there were girls in my class at school who had already begun to develop. In the girls' lavatory, they would snap each other's bra straps. One day, one of the girls grabbed me and discovered there wasn't a strap along my back. The girls in my class all laughed at me.

That day, when I went home I cried to my mother and told her I needed a bra. Back in those days, there weren't any "training" bras or preteen bras. Still, my mother bought the smallest bra available. I put it on. There was a lot of empty space, but that didn't matter to me. I wouldn't be laughed at anymore--at least for not wearing a bra.

Some children can be terribly cruel. I was fortunate because I had loving parents who were always there for me to soften the blows of other childrens' taunts and to talk through the situation. I was also lucky because I was never harmed physically. And while there were no training bras for young girls in those days, the internet hadn't been invented  either. As much as I enjoy social media, I can understand what a problem it can be for youngsters.

But bullies are still with us, causing many youngsters long term, emotional harm. There are many sites online with helpful tips. Go to http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/10/child-bullied/ for some expert advice.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We Are All Disabled

This was my cousin, Bill. He operated those huge hydraulic excavators, crawler cranes, crawler tractors and crawler loaders. He took flying lessons, earned his pilot's license and bought a plane. He rode motorcycles and jet skis  One day, he dove into his pool and broke his neck. Afterwards, he was still Bill. Still a man who could make people laugh. Still a man everyone loved despite his limitations. He died too young from pneumonia. 

There are other disabled people in my family.  Some have a profound hearing loss. Some have mobility issues. Some are greatly restricted by their disease.

Everyone is damaged in some way. There are no perfect specimens. Romance writers do dream up some mighty, incredible heroes, but in truth no one is immune from limitations. Even though Achilles was a hero he had that thing with his heel, and that's what defeated him.

From the day we're born we come with all kinds of built in boundaries such as congenital "defects" and genetic tendencies handed down to us by our predecessors. Over the years we endure traumatic events in childhood, which leave a mark forever in our psyches. Then there are illnesses, accidents, and finally the inevitable slide into the decay of old age which brings further limitations. Not a single human on this planet will not be disabled in some way sooner or later. 

I believe the majority of people attempt to distance themselves from the disabled because they are afraid. They turn away--as if not seeing the victim will prevent them from enduring such a fate. Some folks are deliberately cruel and make fun of those who are noticeably different in their physical appearance or those who must use adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs.

Once, when my cousin was in the hospital for an infection, he told me one of the psychiatrists had asked him about depression. "As if I could jump out the window." Bill shook his head.

Some progress in accommodating the disabled has been made over the years. Buildings are now planned to allow wheelchair access. Sidewalks have ramps. Still, there is a lot more to do in making accommodations for those who are restricted in their movements. 

Education is a key factor. It wasn't that long ago when children with Down's Syndrome were institutionalized, but now they work everywhere. Some have become movie stars and models. 

There's hope, but we do need to keep an eye on our representatives and vote out those who ignore the marginalized. Vote out those who intend to cut Medicaid and programs that feed children and provide them with health care. Vote out those who would cut disability programs for people like my cousin. 

We must not allow those in power to ignore the less fortunate.

Join the Facebook group No Longer Faceless or Voiceless for further discussion on this topic. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AMAZON GIVEAWAY!

OUTSIDE BLESSINGS is a paranormal historical young adult story set in 1896, in New Jersey. The hero is a member of the U.S. Lifesaving Service. The heroine is seeking to clear her sister's name. Town officials believe her sister committed suicide and in those days, a suicide was not allowed to be buried in the hallowed ground of a graveyard. 

Here's the blurb:

Welcome to Blessings, N.J. .... a seaside town with dark and dangerous secrets. Neema wants to prove her sister was murdered, that she didn't commit suicide, but the murderer is still out there, still dangerous, and Neema could be the next victim if she asks too many questions. She has a secret, one she dare not divulge, even to Emmett, the young lifeguard she falls in love with. But Emmett has a secret of his own.

Until May 25, 2017, you have a chance to enter a sweepstakes for a free digital edition of OUTSIDE BLESSINGS!

All you have to do is go to:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/bdca43e0d30a9390

And sign up! It's super simple. Amazon picks the winners. If you win, you claim your prize, download the book, and enjoy!


Monday, May 08, 2017

The Bridal Shower


Daughter #1's bridal shower went well. I had planned an afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, but several guests brought extra food so we had more than enough for everyone to eat and plenty of leftovers. Everyone seemed to enjoy each other's company and conversations went on after all the gifts were opened. Best of all, Daughter #1 now has a wealth of household items to begin her married life.  

I could feel myself getting emotional about the event as I watched her open gifts. The women oohhed and ahhhed when the contents of each box were revealed. Some made funny remarks and some noted which gifts were the most useful. 

I recalled the bridal showers I hosted for both of my sisters years many, many years ago. I thought of the bridal showers given for me. I was lucky enough to have several--one hosted by my coworkers, one in Brooklyn with hubby's family, and then one hosted at my parents' house for friends. Back in those ancient times, bridal registries hadn't been invented yet. I wound up with three Crock-Pots. I kept two and gave one to my mother. I used my Crock-Pots quite a bit and a few years ago, Daughter #1 bought me a new, larger one, which I love. 

One of the guests at Daughter #1's shower had gotten married around the same time as I did. She also got a Crock-Pot, but she claims she never used it. I was surprised because to me it's been one of the best appliances, but I do like to cook. I also like to try new recipes. However, I very much love to have to wash out only one pot when dinner is done. 
πŸ€—
Pushing the old memories to the back of my mind, I kept returning to check on things in the kitchen or busied myself by getting something for this guest or water for that guest. The time went quickly and soon the guests departed. I changed into my old jeans, put my feet up on a chair, and shared a bottle of beer with Daughter #2 who had the job of recording which guest brought what gift. It's a long list, and I am very grateful to all those who were so generous. 

Life is made up of changes. This will be a big change, but a happy one. I can tell Daughter #1 that after forty years of marriage, I have few items left from my bridal showers. Still, while the sheets, towels, and appliances didn't last that long, love did--and that is the most important part of any marriage. 

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Fingernails


I decided I might try and grow my fingernails. I usually cut them down because if my nails are more than 1/16th of an inch long, they annoy me. I grew my fingernails once before when I was going to get married. I stopped playing the guitar a month beforehand. My fingernails looked lovely for the wedding and the photographer took a few photos of them. However, when it came time to select photos I opted for pictures that included more than just my fingernails.

Now Daughter #1 is getting married so I am the Mother-of-the-Bride. Impressive title--right? When I was shopping for my MOTB shoes, hubby saw fingernail polish that appeared to be nearly the same color of my dress. I bought it. When I got home I found out it was not the same color, but I put it on my fingernails anyway. Two coats. It annoyed me. I felt like I had weights on the tips of my fingers.

Today I decided to take it off. But my non-acetone polish remover was not very effective in removing the polish. I asked hubby if I could borrow his lacquer thinner. That worked much better than the polish remover. (Though you can still see bits of light blue in the photo.)

I searched online for methods of growing stronger nails, but I don't want to spend all my time obsessing over my fingernails. My fingers are always busy. I write, crochet, paint, cook, pull weeds, and do all sorts of chores.

Daughter #3 glues on fancy nails for special occasions. Maybe I should try that, too.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Eternal Optimist


Several years ago, I took the photo above of my flourishing chives. I love chives. When they are fresh, they are delightful sprinkled on just about everything. Maybe not on ice cream, but they're good on eggs, pasta, fish, and a whole bunch of other foods.

Suddenly, this spring, I'm left with one miserable-looking chive plant. To remedy this situation, I bought seeds. I prepared a nice, sunny area. I sprinkled the seeds on the ground and added water. Now I have to wait for the magic to happen--or not. I'll have to remember to water the seeds and if the seedlings are too close to each other, I'll have to spread them out and hope I don't kill them when I lift them from their bed and move them.

In the earliest stages, plants are delicate. It doesn't take much to do them in.

Since I'm a writer, I couldn't help comparing the process of growing plants from seeds to writing. After all, in a writer's early years, it doesn't take much to crush talent. Especially if someone is an introvert, which the majority of writers seem to be. Negative comments can completely end a writing career before it's even begun. Continuing to write requires bravery and eternal optimism.

Not that writing isn't fun. It can be a blast. I entertain myself for endless hours moving my characters around in my plot. I don't worry about the next book idea because the seeds for stories are constantly being planted in my mind by the experiences I have, by the people I meet, and the history I often delve into. I can't use all those story ideas at once, but each seed will stay nearly forever if they're stored away in a safe place.

When I need to use one of my story seeds, I plant it, start typing, and wind up with a book. It's rather miraculous.

Of course, story seeds are one thing and real seeds are another. I'm looking forward to more chives to sprinkle on my eggs. But it will happen because I'm a writer and an eternal optimist. Grow seeds, grow.

Friday, April 14, 2017

African Bean and Peanut Soup



A long time ago, when our daughters were young, our church handed out pamphlets to guide parents in making Lent meaningful for children. One of the recipes in the pamphlet was African Bean and Peanut Soup. It turned out to be an enduring favorite which is now served regularly at our house on Good Friday.

The following recipe is intended for preparation on a stovetop. However, this can be easily adapted for a slow cooker. In that case, add only two quarts of water AND add all the ingredients at once. Then cook on high for four hours.

Enjoy.

African Bean and Peanut Soup

Serves 8

3 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
3 quarts boiling water (Remember, only TWO quarts if you're preparing this in a slow cooker.)
1 cup dry black-eyed peas
1 cup dry navy beans
1 cup diced green peppers
3 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon basil leaves, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander


    1. Melt butter in large stockpot. Add carrots; cook 5 minutes.
    2. Add water, black-eyed peas, navy beans, green pepper, salt and crushed
    red pepper. (Add more water if necessary, to cover ingredients.)
    3. Cook, covered, until ingredients are tender (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
    4. Add peanuts, onion powder, basil and coriander during last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking.
    5. Taste to correct seasonings. Soup should be thick.