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The Devastation of Hurricane Sandy – The cleanup is not over.

As many of you know, the lagoon in the backyard of the home that I grew up in rose about twenty feet during Hurricane Sandy.  Our house (where my sister currently lives) was spared  with about $30,000 worth of damage.  Her neighbors where not so lucky.  It’s unbelievable what a few inches of height in a foundation can do.

But we haven’t heard much about it lately, have we?  Yesterdays news, right?  Here are pictures that were taken just a few days ago, after the National Guard started letting people back in.

For many, the memory of Sandy is far from gone.

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Tradition?

Ahhhhhh… Christmas Memories.  Aren’t they the best?  Do you remember the smell of cookies baking in the oven when you came home from school? MMMMMM.

I loved the smell of my grandmother’s home-made apple strudel.  She was a pastry chef before she retired, and My Goodness could she throw together a strudel.  Unfortunately, she literally threw them together.  She tried to write down the recipe… but it read “A handful of flour and enough butter until it looks just right.  Throw in a little cinnamon…”  Sigh.  I miss you, Grandma.  I wish my kids got to meet you, and taste your amazing baking.

Awe darn!  Now I’m all teary-eyed.  What the heck are you guys doing to me?

Ugh!  Anyway… today I am hanging out with Gloria Richards to talk about more of my favorite memories… and I have a slew of fun ones to tell over the next month.  And since I’m feeling Christmassy, I might just be in the giving spirit today [Wink] So hop on over and give me a shout-out at Gloria Richard’s blog.

It will be a hoot!

ChristmasFiligree

Make BelieveFor The Love Of Christmas CoverWhy all the hullabaloo?  Well, it’s to promote my two new releases “Make Believe” and “For the Love of Christmas”

That’s why!

And don’t forget to click on “Enter to Win” for a chance to win your choice of the two titles!  Yay!

Oh, I almost forgot… A few random commentors along the tour path will win their choice of anthologies, too.  So be sure to hop on over and say “Hi”

ChristmasFiligree

Hop on over and send me some love!

Gloria Richard’s blog – Writing a novel is like training your dog.

Still Moments Publishing – Christmas Blog Hop

Kaiden’s Seduction Review of Make Believe! (Is it good?)

JenniFer_EatonF

Do you know the difference between fresh cream and ice cream?

Fresh cream or ice cream?  Seriously?

One thing I am learning on this blog tour is that I can never be sure what someone might want to know.  Seriously … I have been asked some very interesting and confusing questions.

Hop on over to Julie Belfield’s blog to see what Jolly old England has in store for me today.

See Ya there!

http://jabelfield.wordpress.com/

ChristmasFiligree

Make BelieveFor The Love Of Christmas CoverWhy all the hullabaloo? Well, it’s to promote my two new releases “Make Believe” and “For the Love of Christmas”

That’s why!

And don’t forget to click on “Enter to Win” for a chance to win your choice of the two titles! Yay!

Oh, I almost forgot… A few random commentors along the tour path will win their choice of anthologies, too. So be sure to hop on over and say “Hi”

ChristmasFiligree

Hop on over and send me some love!

ChristmasFiligree

Visit my Anthology buddies!  They are celebrating too!

Jenny Keller Ford

J.A. Belfield

Kelly Said

Lynda R. Young

Terri Rochenski

I Am Thankful – We don’t always realize that the bad things are worth praising.

I cannot take credit for this.

This was emailed to me, and the person who sent it was not the original author.

To whoever you are, Unknown Author… these are beautiful words of thanks we should all live by….

I AM THANKFUL …

For the wife who says it’s hot dogs tonight, because she is home with me, not with someone else.
For the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato, because he is home with me, and not out at the bars.
For the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes, because that means she is at home, not on the streets.

For the taxes that I pay, because it means that I am employed.

For the mess to clean after a party, because it means that I have been surrounded by friends.

For the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat.

For my shadow that watches me work, because it means I am out in the sunshine.

For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.

For all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means that we have freedom of speech.

For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking and that I have been blessed with transportation.

For my huge heating bill, because it means I am warm.

For the lady behind me in church that sings off key, because it means that I can hear.

For the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear.

For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, because it means I have been capable of working hard.

For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means that I am alive.

There is a bright side to everything.  It’s all good.

Let’s take a few moments to talk about Fluff

As most of you know, I am going through the beta-read process right now with my WIP Fire in the Woods. Odd things pop up when you read people’s comments. If I see one, and it doesn’t make sense to me, I make a mental note, and move on. If a second person says the same thing, then I take notice. This is what brings me to Fluff.

Fluff. Am I the only person in the world who knows what Fluff is?

Out of curiosity, I did a Google search. Yes. Fluff as I know it is the number one thing to pop up.

So, next I went to Wikipedia. Here is the definition of Fluff:

Fluff : From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fluff is a noun for anything light, soft, or fuzzy and may also be Belly button fluff, also known as navel lint

A brand or product

  • The name of a lifestyle brand created by artist Claudette Barjoud
  • Marshmallow creme, a food product

So yes, Fluff was on Wikipedia too, but oddly listed below belly button lint… which is a bit weird.

Picture property of Wikipedia commons. Thanks!

Okay… so there is a point to this post. Fluff is a food… Well, I guess it’s debatable that it’s a food. I don’t actually think it has any nutritional value. But what it is – is delicious!I grew up with fluff. There is nothing better to take away the dreariness of a bad day than a big dollop of fluff on top of extra crunchy peanut butter hugged between two slices of bread. MMMMMmmmmm. Just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy thinking about it.

But the odd thing to me, is that my main character, Jess, rifles through a cabinet, finds the peanut butter, and is upset that she can’t find the Fluff.

I was shocked that several beta readers had no idea what Fluff was.

What is this world coming to?!

So, like a good little girl, I removed the reference to Fluff, because I do not want to confuse or offend today’s health-conscious society.

But I give everyone homework today. If you have never experienced the joy of Fluff, you can find it in the same aisle as the peanut butter. A Fluffernutter sandwich is bread, a small amount of peanut butter, and as much Fluff as the bread can handle.

Everyone should experience the joy of a Fluffernutter sandwich at least once in your life.

Go ahead. Take a bite. I dare you.

Then come back and share the sugar-shocked joy your body experiences.

Mmmmmm. I think I’ll run to my cupboard now and grab a jar to join you.

What’s your favorite food from when you were a kid that makes you smile every time you think about it?

Six Sentence Sunday – Something by me! – Six from Fire in the Woods

For the while now I’ve been too lazy to put out my own stuff featuring other authors for Six Sentence Sunday.

Today, I thought I’d take a random Six from my current baby, “Fire in the Woods”.

I basically opened up the file, dragged the little doo-hicky down about a quarter into the document, and counted down ten lines. So, Bam, this is the six you get.

In this six, my main character, Jess, is describing her father. (Fire in the Woods is told in first person “I” from Jess’s perspective.)

“Well, he doesn’t really laugh much anymore. We used to play a lot together, and now he’s like, all business.” I closed my eyes, taking in the clear forest air. My mind wandered back to my mother’s funeral—Dad sitting on the bench, staring at Mom’s open coffin. “He never cried. He just sat there.”

Book Review of “Monkey Island”

The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer Discusses Monkey Island

Teachers, listen to this, and explain to him why the education system puts kids through stuff like this.

I know when I was young, I didn’t like to read because everything handed to me in school was uninteresting to me. I’m SO GLAD my dad purchased a Fantasy novel for me on a whim one day!

Okay, any teachers out there?

Care to chime in on what he says?

Anyone else have an opinion?

A Review of Hereafter, from a Writer’s Perspective.

Wow.  It’s been a long time since I started a movie, and my husband and I mutually agreed not to finish it.

“Hereafter” had everything.  It should have been a great movie.  It started off okay.  Was it poor direction?  Poor presentation?  Poor story?  Driving in to work today, I tried to figure it out, to make sure I don’ make the same mistakes in my writing.

“Hereafter” starts with a negative.  Subtitles.  I was okay with it, though.  After a while, however, it got to be too much.  At one point about half way through, my husband started to forward the parts with the subtitles.  Funny thing is, we didn’t miss anything… and I think that’s part of the problem.

Pacing, and false-action beginning.

When I first started writing, I read a blog, and I wish I could remember her name, but she said something that has stuck with me.  “The first chapter is a promise to your reader.”  She went on to say that your first chapter should exemplify what your reader can expect from the rest of it.

“Hereafter” starts with a couple on vacation (speaking French, with subtitles)  They have a beachfront hotel room, and a tsunami hits.  Great heart-pumping beginning. After that, the movie just dies.  Boom.  Dead.  Bury me, please.

We are catapulted away from that scene to Matt Damon’s character, who is a psychic who has stopped using his powers because he wants a normal life.  Okay, that part was fine.

Catapult #2:  We are then slammed to England, where two twin boys are struggling with their mother’s opium dependence.  Huh?  At first we thought it was the same woman from the opening scene, but no… totally different person.

Boomerang:  Now we are in France with the person dealing with the aftermath of surviving a tsunami

Slap:  Back to the USA with Matt Damon, who is getting cooking lessons.  Huh?

***Get on with it!***

After an hour of this, I rolled over, hugged my pillow, and said “wake me up if anything happens”

Now, obviously, I hope, all these people would come together to make a point out of this movie.   However, at that point, I was totally bored out of my mind.

I liked the Matt Damon parts.  They at least had a spark of an interesting plot.  The rest of it seemed like low-budget foreign films (no music in this move at all either, which is really weird.)

Well, I fell asleep.  This morning my husband said, “Do you mind if we just return this and get another movie?”

Normally, I would want to see what happened.  I honestly didn’t care one bit.  “Yeah, send it back.”

***So, What went wrong?***

So what went wrong?  The characters may have been important to the end of the story (I suppose, I didn’t get that far)  But if their stories are boring, do we need to know about them in such detail?

If they all come together, it could have been taken care of better in flashback or dialog right before they all meet.  Tsunami survivor can remember the horrible ordeal, and the person next to them can say “Wow, you sure had a hard time adjusting, didn’t you.”  The kids and their Mom could have been summed up similarly in dialog.

GET ON WITH IT

The point is… GET ON WITH IT.  The story teller lost me.  Completely.  So much so that I didn’t finish.

Look at your novels carefully and decide, honestly, if there is a place where someone might think “Get on with it.”

And watch those false-action beginnings.  I was all ready for a great action flick here.  What I got was a boring melodrama.

Mommy to the Rescue AKA “Please Don’t Eat my Frog!” (A True Story)

Yes, this is a true story.

So, we are hanging out by the pool, and my son says, “Mom, there is a snake in the pond.”

“Yeah, okay, are you coming swimming?”

“Yeah, but there’s a snake in the pond.”  He stays near the pond looking down.  “Hey Mom.  The snake’s playing with Lucky.” (Luck is a frog)  There is a short pause, before my son starts screaming.  “Mom!  Mom!  The snake is eating Lucky!”

I run to the pond to see nothing.

“Mom!  I swear!  He grabbed Lucky and dragged him under!”

I waited, and yes, in another minute the snake came up for air, Lucky firmly in his jaws.  Now, all three of my kids are leaning over the pond.  And who needs to figure it out?  MOMMY.

Under Lucky goes again.  “Go get Daddy,”  I say, hoping they’ll all go running.  Only lost one of them, though.  I climb over the fence, and wait.  Splish, the snake come up for air, and “Mommy The Great” swoops down and grabs this sucker by the back of the neck.

I stand up, and pull about four feet of snake out of the water, with the frog firmly locked in its jaws.  Now what the heck do I do?

I shook the snake a little, figuring it would be more afraid of me than hungry for our little frog.  No dice.  It gripped down further, cutting into poor Lucky’s skin.  I watched with horror as the snake arched, and more of Lucky disappeared inside.

My husband arrives and makes a sound akin to a gerbil screaming.  “What do you want me to do?” he asks.

Well, I knew he wasn’t about to take the snake from my hand, and all of my kids are looking at me, while I’m holding this four-foot snake in the process of ingesting a favorite pet.

“Get a knife, and a bag,” I said.

My husband made a face, and left.  I didn’t tell him I was going to hold the snake, and he was going to kill it.  He might have run for the hills.

So, I’m standing there, holding this dern snake, thinking:  It’s not really his fault.  This is just nature, really.  Lucky was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My youngest son is sobbing.

So … I did what any other good nature-loving mother would do.  I took a deep breath, and

I pried the stinking snake’s jaws open.

(Do you have any idea how long the fangs of a four-foot snake are?)

Lucky fell four feet to the decking with a splat of blood.  Great.  I just almost got bitten, and the frog is already dead.

My husband comes out with a giant Ziploc and a butcher’s knife.  Relief crossed his face when he saw what I’d done.  We slipped the “not too happy” snake in the bag, zipped it up leaving a little air hole, and the boys and daddy drove him a mile or two away to a bigger pond and let him go.

Like I said… It’s not the snake’s fault.  He was just hungry.  But I’d just rather he not eat one of my pets right in front of my kids, thank you.

I go back to the pond to pick up and bury Lucky, and he’s gone.  There’s a trail of blood leading to the pond.

The next day, I went out and saw a little frog on a lily pad, with two HUGE scars on his back.  I walked out slowly, and opened the fence.  By now, all the other frogs have jumped and swam away.  Not Lucky.

I crouched down, and put out my hand.

Do you know… that little frog swam right into it?

I picked him up, and bought him up to my face and he looked at me.  Didn’t jump, didn’t scurry, he just looked into my eyes.

My kids all came running out.  They wanted to hold him, too… but I said no.  Let’s leave him be.  He’s still hurt.

Frogs come and go when you have a pond.  Lucky stayed all season.  Every few days I would walk out, and put my hand in the water, and up he would swim, and I would hold him for a while.

You’re welcome, Lucky.  We love you too.

By Request — Lay versus Lie – Take Two & National Macaroni Day!

It’s National Macaroni Day!

Yay!  I finally have a reason to use my Macaroni font!  Oh, Macaroni, how do I love thee… Let me count the ways… Okay, I will not soliloquize about pasta, but it’s tempting.

Today we are going to bring back a topic near and dear to everyone’s hearts…  The dreaded Lay vs Lie conundrum.

I ran into a lay verses lie problem in my Writing to a Deadline Novelette “Last Winter Red”

I went back and checked my notes to make sure I got it right.  This was a tough one.  I followed the rules, and used the one that fit, even though it sounded wrong.

Everyone said it was wrong!

One person said, “I know you used the right version, but this sounds bad.  I’d use the wrong one.”

Agreeing with her, I changed it.  Then went for another round of betas, and had to change it again!

I am so confused at this point, that I actually considered re-writing the scene so that little girl is not laying in that stinking bed.  Ugh!

I finally landed on one that no one complained about, but I still don’t think it’s grammatically correct.

Oh, well.

If the publisher mentions it, I’ll let you know.

Happy