Monday, November 30, 2015


Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite holiday of all time. I have great (selective) memories of getting together with my cousins for the holiday, going to high school football games (our big homecoming game was Thanksgiving weekend), going with my family to the racetrack and using my great-grandmother’s winning strategy to bet on the horses, and of course the food.

My kids, however, are less than thrilled with the holiday. Probably because we celebrate all our holidays with all of our family, it doesn’t stand out as much. And they aren’t big fans of the food. Banana Girl said it’s just an excuse for people to say they’re thankful for something, and then spend the other 364 days doing whatever they please and not being thankful.

I think she’s a little young to be so cynical, but I’ll admit to sometimes having a hard time stepping out of myself and being thankful for what I have. Too many times it does feel forced, and too many times the stress of life gets in the way. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to pass around our construction-paper feathers this year and ask everyone to write what they’re thankful for, but now, after letting the holiday pass, having a relaxing weekend, and taking some time to breathe, I realize I am thankful for many things:

  • My kids. Eyerolls and all, they’re awesome.
  • My husband. He’s the most supportive person I know, when I let him be.
  • My family. They put up with me and help me find the funny even when I’m sure there’s nothing funny about anything.
  • My friends. They make me laugh, make me talk, let me not talk and force me out of the house when I start to become a hermit.
  • My writer friends. They understand this weird profession we’ve chosen and are truly happy when others succeed. The lack of jealousy and the consistent understanding, not to mention providing rescue out of plot holes, is amazing.
  • My dog. She forces me to get exercise, which automatically makes me feel better, and she makes me laugh when she tries to protect me in all her 29-pound glory.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and may you find what you’re thankful for throughout the entire year.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Power of the Pen

This is going to be a writer-geek post, but a little different from what I usually post on the subject.

I have a lot of writer friends on social media and they are supportive and kind to one another. I think that’s what I love best about romance writers. We build each other up, rather than spend time criticizing each other. In an industry dominated mostly by women, that’s kind of unique (I don’t mean to be stereotypical here, but...).

Readers, on the other hand, are of a slightly different breed. As an author, I depend on them. Without them, I can’t sell books. And I appreciate each and every reader who takes the time to buy or borrow, and read, my book. Good reviews, bad reviews, whatever. They have plenty of things to do with their time, and spending even an iota of their time reading my books is something I am truly thankful for. I’ve never met a reader who has been anything but kind to me, whether in person or on social media.

However, an author friend of mine recently received a review of her book that can only be considered bullying. Forget that the review was bad. Each reader is entitled to his or her own opinion and that opinion is valid, whether or not anyone else agrees with it. What galls me is that the reviewer took the time to include GIFs in the review, belittling the author and her work.

I’m sorry, but that is offensive. That is uncalled for. That makes the reader look like an idiot. If you want to slam a book, go ahead. But use respect and be kind. A book is more than a bunch of words thrown together. It is a product of a person’s soul.

It’s easy to hide behind the anonymity of social media to leave nasty comments about any number of people and things. Voicing your opinion is your right and is an expression of power. Turning into a bully and using your voice to belittle others is not powerful; it’s a sign of weakness—your own.

So by all means, read my books and review them. Honestly. Just treat me, and every other writer, as you, yourself, would like to be treated.

Monday, November 9, 2015

I'm THAT Mom

It is never a good sign when I start off a blog post saying, “I am not a moron.” I’ll admit I’m not a rocket scientist—being related to one and being friends with another, I can say this with some certainty—but I’m pretty intelligent, have a good dose of common sense and am very intuitive.

However, I’m a mess when it comes to health forms.

No matter how many times I fill out the same ones, I never get them right. Inevitably, I forget someone’s allergies, fill out the wrong information or put one child’s information on the other child’s form. You have not seen fear until you’ve looked into the eyes of a sleep-away camp counselor suddenly faced with the prospect of having to explain menstruation to a cabin-full of nine-year-old girls. Sorry I gave you the wrong child’s form. Sorry. Sorry. So, so sorry.

And now we come to the swim team health forms.

For the third year in a row, the same paper and Internet form had to be completed. Every year, I fill them out. Every year, I get a call from the athletic department or the health office or sometimes both departments telling me I made a mistake or asking me about something I incorrectly filled out.

This year, I vowed to conquer the forms.

In October, when the forms were available, I printed them out, delivered them to the physician, filled out the parent part and went online to fill out the Internet part. I called the health office and had them walk me, step-by-step, through the entire form. I asked a million questions—yes, I’m THAT mom—and made sure every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed. I submitted them a month ahead of the deadline. And I waited.

I did not receive a call from the health office. I did not receive a call from the athletic department. The only email I received was a mass reminder to turn in the forms by the deadline.

Been there, done that.

Today, the teen attended the swim meeting prior to the start of the first practice. In the middle of the meeting, she texted me, “So my physical wasn’t approved for swim.”

No, no, no, no, no!

So in the middle of the meeting, I called the health office. Ignoring the manners I’ve been taught (sorry Mom), I spoke over the person who answered the phone—this was made easier by the fact that she had laryngitis and couldn’t do much more than squeak—and asked why the child’s physical wasn’t approved.

I’m not sure if she didn’t know, couldn’t talk or was scared of me, but she handed me over to the head of the athletic department, who informed me that the forms were sitting in the health office and just hadn’t been delivered to him yet. But he had them now and she was approved.

I’m counting this as a success.

And now I’m off to fill out the camp forms.

Monday, November 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo--No, No, No!

So, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this month. For anyone who doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Those who participate have to write 50,000 words in November. There is a signup process and rules and all kinds of official things, including a badge you can put on your website when you complete it successfully.

I love the idea of it and it’s great for discipline, especially for someone like me who has this ingrained fear of missing a deadline. If I know I have to write a certain number of words a day, come hell or high water, I will write those words. I’m working on three manuscripts right now (in various stages of completion), so I could probably even do it.

But the thing is, I can’t take on one more thing. Not one. I have a high school junior who is beyond stressed and is dealing with school, swim team, and college prep. I have a high school freshman who is beyond stressed and is dealing with band and adjusting to high school. I have various writing projects that I am in the middle of that need polishing and crafting and much more than the equivalent of verbal diarrhea, which is, in essence, the most successful strategy for making that 50,000-word-goal (I’m not knocking anyone who is doing it—50,000 words is 50,000 words). And I have volunteer work and appointments and meetings and carpools and a family who would like to have dinner more than once a week (the nerve).

Not to mention, it’s NOVEMBER! The month of “No School in NJ.” Admittedly, now that we’re all in high school and don’t have to deal with conferences, which cause two weeks of half days, they are in school a little more. But between Teacher’s Convention and Thanksgiving, they are still off a lot of days. There’s holiday shopping and cooking.

And I seriously can’t deal.

So I’m still writing every day. I’m working on my manuscript for my agent, editing and writing one that is 2/3 of the way done, and writing one that is 1/3 done. Will I hit the approximately 1,600 words a day needed? Possibly. But I don’t need the added stress that I’ll put on myself to hit 50,000.

However, to all of you who ARE participating in NaNoWriMo? Good luck!