Monday, December 29, 2014

Oh, To Be Brave...

I took my car to the shop last week and the guy treated me like I was a helpless female who couldn’t find my lug nut key with a map, and proceeded to announce to the entire establishment that of course I wouldn’t know where it is.

I’m not. I can. And seriously?

Since I’m a lot braver in my own mind than I am in real life, here is how I wish I had responded (with a nod to Amy Sherman-Palladino and Lorelai Gilmore):

Excuse me, Sir, but I went to college and my degree did not come out of a Cracker Jack box.

My dad, who personally recommended you and this establishment to me, insisted that before I learn how to drive, I learn how a car works. Thanks to him, I know how to check my own oil, jumpstart my car, change a tire and pump my own gas, even if I do live in a state where pumping my own gas is illegal.

The only reason I don’t change my own tire is because I’m not convinced the car won’t fall on my head, and since you are far cheaper than a neurosurgeon, I’m here so that you can remove the bolt from my tire. Yes, the bolt that is not causing my tire to lose air pressure but is making a thumping sound—and no, I won’t imitate the noise for you.

As for the location of the lug nut key, I don’t actually know where it is right at this very moment. And do you want to know why? Because the last time it was used was by your own service people, who gave me four brand new tires only six weeks ago. So perhaps you should ask them, rather than me.

Now, do you think you can manage this on your own, or do you need my assistance?

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, we’re almost done with Chanukah and we’re approaching the holiday break and we haven’t killed each other yet. That is the definition of a good thing.

I’ve learned I’m much better choosing Chanukah gifts than I am at choosing camp care packages. We haven’t given anything that someone doesn’t like. Even my niece and nephew liked their things (at least, they appeared to).

I packed up Banana Girl for Costa Rica and only forgot two of her meds (luckily, we were able to run out and pick them up). While both teens are looking forward to getting a break from each other, neither one was ready to kill the other and we got some cute pictures of them saying goodbye.

The husband has been home a few days and it hasn’t set my world completely off kilter by interrupting my typical daily schedule. We’re getting stuff done and spending time together, which is one of my favorite things.

Since Banana Girl is in Costa Rica for the break, it will just be The Princess at home, and not the whole time either. We were talking last night and if we’re correct, she hasn’t gotten to be the “only child” since Banana Girl was born. All of us are looking forward to spending the time together.

So, whatever you’re celebrating, wherever you’re going and whomever you’re with, enjoy the holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Welcome Joanne C. Berroa

Joanne is a fellow Rebel Ink Press author. Her latest book, Rapture on the High Seas, is a pirate romance that just came out. She was kind enough to answer my questions, so read on to get to know her. 

What inspires you to write?

I love to tell stories. I began telling ghost stories as a child of about 7 to the neighbor kids. We all used to sit out on one or another’s porch till late at night telling ghost stories and everyone loved mine the best.

How do you develop your characters? 

I start out with a basic outline of what each character is like and how they will interact with the other characters. Then I give them each free reign and let them do what they want as long as they remain true to the general outline.

How long have you been writing?

I began writing down those ghost stories and evolved into science fiction and then finally romance novels. It all began at the tender age of 8.

Do you outline ahead of time or do you write from your head (are you a plotter or a pantser)?  

Oh, I’m definitely a plotter. I always write a detailed, lengthy outline that consists of more than just plot, and includes feelings, perspectives, and even dialogue. I keep to this as much as possible, and if I vary from it, I go back to the outline and readjust it to fit and/or write alternate endings and such.

What is your writing routine? 

The creative juices flow better at night. I like that time because everything I needed to do during the day is usually done by then, like housework, cooking, shopping, errands, etc. It’s a quiet time all to myself and the juices flow like crazy. Sometimes I’m up till 2 a.m.  I quit when I get bleary eyed, but even as I lay in bed, my brain is still writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 

I guess you could say I’m a regular wife and mother in that I do pretty much normal things. Up until just recently I taught piano, but I’m retired now. I still write articles and do profiles for a local newspaper, however.

What are you currently working on?    

I’m currently working on a sequel to my popular The Diamond Cross romance/saga. It takes place in 1907 and picks up where the Diamond Cross left off. It’s entitled The Diamond Legacy.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure? 

Iced coffee with lots of creamers, and Milky Ways.

            Back in 1983, Dell Publishing published my novel, “The Barbary Coasters.”  It was set during the 1860’s in the Barbary Coast of San Francisco and was part of a series of books written by different authors called, “The Making of America.” My pseudonym was Lee Davis Willoughby.
            I’ve written articles for several computer magazines over the last thirty years doing software and hardware reviews and ads.  I was also a photographer for cover art for two magazines back in the 80’s, and currently write profiles for businesses and professionals for Micromedia Publications, a local newspaper publisher who puts out the Southern Ocean Times.
            Rebel Ink Press has released five of my romances with a sixth coming out in Dec. 2014.
             I live in southern New Jersey with my husband and have two grown sons. I love to hear from my fans!

Joanne C. Berroa

Title: Rapture on the High Seas

Genre: Contemporary pirate romance novella

Rebel Ink Press: Dec. 10, 2014


Laurel Vanderman Delacroix is the daughter of billionaire Victor Vanderman, owner and CEO of multi-national World One Bank. Although Laurel has a high level job within the family business, her life is unfulfilled, and she takes an extended African vacation with friends aboard her multi-million dollar yacht. She never expects to be hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, some three hundred miles out in International waters off the coast of Tanzania. She has no way of knowing that this is no random act of piracy. Someone who wants to bankrupt her father set the hijacking in motion, and the perpetrator doesn’t care what happens to Laurel and her friends in the process.

The Somali pirate leader who captures Laurel and her friends aboard Bubbles is extremely competent and dangerous, which makes him a force to be reckoned with. He’s also an astute businessman with millions in his Swiss bank account. Will this Somali pirate carry out his mission and put Laurel’s and her friends’ lives on the line, or does he subscribe to another agenda? Will he capture Laurel’s heart along with his ransom demands, or completely destroy it?

Rapture on the High Seas is a contemporary story of intrigue and betrayal. Above all else, it’s a sensual tale of love that’ll leave you feeling warm all over and believing that nothing is ever as it seems


His scowl made her heart hammer, and he crossed the distance between them with panther-like grace. Before she could blink, a six-inch blade materialized in his right hand. He yanked the sheet away and slashed the scanty material at the center of her bra, severing it. With precision and skill, the knife drew no blood, and she felt no pain. The bra fell open, exposing Laurel’s upturned breasts to his lascivious gaze. She gasped. The haughty pirate touched the tip of the knife to his lips and licked it. His face harbored a smug smile. “That could’ve been your throat, Mrs. Delacroix. Luckily, I was aiming a bit lower.”

She squinted and said, “You don’t scare me. Just who are you, anyway?”

“My name’s Rayn Ammar. Speak my name with caution.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Importance of Chanukah

Tomorrow is Chanukah. Actually, tomorrow night is. And we are, once again, planning our family celebrations.

From a religious perspective, Chanukah is a minor holiday. There are no commandments governing what we have to do or must not do, other than lighting a menorah.

But just because it’s a minor holiday, doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Each year, I get into arguments with people over how much weight to give to the holiday. You see, living in a Christian world, Chanukah has taken on significance as a way to give Jewish children something to celebrate as their Christian friends are celebrating Christmas.

Christmas has become commercialized and I think people are concerned that if we put too much significance on Chanukah, it will become commercialized too. They are concerned that by turning Chanukah into a major holiday, we are essentially assimilating and turning it into a “Jewish Christmas.”. Either way, the standard answer I get whenever the subject comes up is that Chanukah is not a big deal.

Here’s my problem. I don’t think it’s necessary to compare the two holidays and I don’t need to turn it into a big deal. I don’t think things have to be fair—just because one religion celebrates something at a certain time of year, I don’t believe it’s necessary for another religion to have something to celebrate at the same time. For the record, I don’t think things between my two kids have to be equal all the time either and I certainly don’t compare my kids to each other and force them to do the same as their sibling.

But I do believe that each holiday should be celebrated and I don’t believe that we should be teaching that a holiday is not important. When holidays become unimportant, they stop being celebrated. Once one holiday is not celebrated, other holidays stop being celebrated as well. That can lead down a slippery slope of not celebrating one’s religion, of not recognizing the importance in one’s religion, of not taking pride in who you are. And that would be a shame.

Sure, Chanukah is a holiday that emphasizes and celebrates our children. We give children presents, we play dreidel games with them and we sing mostly children’s Chanukah songs. But it can be more than that without inflating the holiday unnecessarily or turning it into a materialistic free for all. It can be a time to share with one’s family. My husband and I can pull out the menorah we received as a wedding gift and think about how wonderful our life has been as we light the candles on that particular menorah. We can find ways to rededicate ourselves to each other and to our family, just as the Jews rededicated the temple. It offers us a chance to talk about why we celebrate our holidays the way we do and provides the opportunity to show our children the beauty that can be found during Chanukah.

When I refuse to attend a meeting during Chanukah, or insist on decorating my house, it’s not because I want to make Chanukah more than it is. It’s because my religion is important to me and I want to celebrate it and Chanukah is just one more way of being able to do that.

And people who prevent me from celebrating the holiday make it that much harder for me to celebrate my religion, regardless of the religious importance of the holiday.

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Fan Girl Moment

If you could make a list of people you’d like to get to know, who would be on it? Famous people? Religious people? Movie stars?  Historical figures?

Okay, now let’s take that list and make it a little more realistic. Most people’s lists have famous dead people on it. Cross them off—it’s not happening. Most people’s lists also have people so high in the stratosphere they don’t breathe the same air as we do. Cross them off too—no fainting while reading my blog.

Now, let’s take the list and put people on it who we truly admire, who we’d love to meet, who are our “favorites” in a particular field. So, if you’re a doctor, maybe it’s a medical professional who is your hero. Or it’s the person who donated blood and saved your life. Or it’s your favorite musical group or singer.

Or maybe it’s your favorite author.

I’m having a fan girl moment right now. Because I’m going to “meet” my favorite author.

I was recently asked to join Script Chics, a group blog and Facebook group where the three of us talk about all things writing-related. We talk about craft, we talk about books we’ve read or are writing and we talk about coffee (or in my case, chocolate). We have “Guest chics” who we help promote and who join in the fun. We also have guest authors whose books we read and review and discuss with the author. It’s kind of like The View or The Talk, but online and, well, less famous at this point.

I was asked to make a wish list of authors I’d love to have as a guest. They told me to aim high, think big and dream a little. So I did. And I thought immediately of my favorite romance author.

Although I write contemporary romance, I love to read historical and time travel romance, and this author writes some of the best I’ve ever read. She hates “Fabio covers” and unlike my books, her sex is behind closed doors (you know it’s happening but you don’t “see it”). Her stories take place in Scotland in the fourteen hundreds and they are the perfect escape when things around here get ridiculous. Although we are very different writers, reading her books inspired me to write my own.

So I decided to invite her. Now, keep in mind she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She doesn’t need to build an audience, she has an audience. She makes a living from her books. She puts out two books a year and raises a family, so her time is pretty valuable.

She said yes!

I cannot begin to describe how excited I am to be able to have a conversation with her, as well as to introduce the other Script Chics to her books. We haven’t announced her officially yet, but when we do, I’ll be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, I’m squealing!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Finding My Muse

I’m back in the writing groove and it feels great! I’d had to take a lot of time off to deal with some other things, like a huge auction fundraiser that sapped every ounce of strength and creativity that I had. I’m still recovering, but it’s better. For a week or so afterwards, I was completely numb. I knew I wanted to write, and that I had to write (deadlines don’t exactly just disappear), but I couldn’t.

Now I’m back, and the possibilities are awesome!

Last week I actually sat down and wrote for stretches at a time. Writing is like a exercising a muscle. When I’m gone for a long period of time, I have to start out slowly. So I did, and I wrote about 500 words a day. It was just enough to pique my interest and make me want to write more.

It was also enough to make me realize all the writing opportunities I have coming up that I can actually enjoy. So, want to know what I’ll be doing (of course you do!)?

  • I’m finally getting to edits from my critique partners for my “lawnmower book.” Okay, it’s not actually a lawnmower book. It’s a romance that I’ve been working on for a while, completely separate from my Jewish series. But my daughter was reading over my shoulder one day and I happened to be working on a scene where the hero is mowing the lawn (thank goodness it was THAT scene and not some other choice ones). She has now decided that I’m writing a book about a lawnmower in love.  Sure babe, whatever you think.
  • I’m actually making progress on book 3 of my Jewish series. The hero and heroine meet during a speed-dating event. I got to witness one in NYC last weekend and it’s a lot of fun putting it into the book. That’s the manuscript I wrote the 500 words a day on—I need to step up my word count, but it’s coming along nicely, and I’m starting to like the characters.
  • I’m a Script Chic! My online friends started a blog and Facebook page and invited me to join them. I’m the one with the hair bow in their graphic and I’m the designated chocolate lover of the group. Anyway, this month I have all kinds of fun things planned, as does the rest of the group, so be sure to stop by—it’s a great way to meet lots of fun people (we don’t only talk about writing—see my chocolate comment above).
  • I’m all over Twitter. There are all kinds of blog sharing opportunities on Twitter and I’m participating in a bunch of them. Follow me if you’d like.
  • Oh, and Rebel Ink Press is rereleasing Skin Deep in March, so I’m looking forward to getting to work on a new cover. I’ll be updating my Facebook page, so check it out.

I think that’s all. It’s so nice to have so many things to work on. I’ll keep you updated!