Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Quick Hello!

Just popping in to say hello, if anyone even pops in here themselves any longer these days. I know I've neglected this blog horribly, but I've been writing and knitting and doing some vacationing (we spent Spring Break in Florida, doing Disney and spending some time with family.)

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Our Easter was spent in airports in both Florida and NJ (and it was the first time I've ever been to the AC airport. Small and quiet, not the zoo Newark can be) and then we had a 3 hour car trip up from AC to home. But it was worth it. I love DisneyWorld. I could go there every year on vacation, and I would, if my bank account would let me. :) I'm trying to talk my other half into doing my birthday in Disney - maybe next year. We'll see.

Other than that, I've got a few subs out that I'm waiting on responses for, and I've got some new cover art that I'll be showing eventually. My release date for Don't Tempt Me has been changed, so it won't be out until mid-summer. Not really happy about it, but it's out of my hands.

The school year is winding down and I'm thinking I really don't want to be a class parent any more. There are too many stupid rules to follow when it comes to class parties (no junk food. Really???? I can't bring cupcakes for a Christmas - sorry, Holiday--party because they're "unhealthy" and yet, my 2nd grader can buy all the cookies and ice cream he wants in the cafeteria. Hypocrite much, school principal who makes the rules?)

Ahem.

So, I think this year is my one and only foray into classroom parenthood. Or it will be until common sense returns to the district (yeah, right. Same district that built one lousy snow day into their calendar. A snow day that was used up in December. Then came storm after storm, and closing after closing... real brilliance at work here, sometimes.)

Ahem.

So, there you are. I'm still here. I still don't know when (or even if) I'll return to regular blogging. But rest assured, I'm alive and well and writing and living. Yanno, enjoying life.

Hugs.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Harold Ramis 11/21/44 - 2/24/14

In the summer of 1984, I was twelve years old. We didn't have cable television and my favorite thing to do was play Barbies with my best friend, Kris. The way our town was laid out, our neighborhood (one of the older ones) was on the northern border of the township, while the schools and most of the other neighborhoods were on the other end of town. As a result, when school let out for the summer, the other kids pretty much forgot we existed. And that was fine. I grew up in a tight-knit neighborhood - everyone knew everyone, and we knew when it was time to go home for dinner because Mrs. Tesoriero would stand on her front porch and bellow for her son Michael to come home. That was our cue. Summer afternoons meant Barbies with Kris, swimming at the local pool, and hanging out - listening to music or whatever (usually done in the house with the best AC, since none of us had central air yet.) When I look back, it's fondly, because it was a great time to be a kid.

But, it did get boring at times and one of the things we did was go to the movies. A lot. One mom would drive, another would pick up (and we saw some howlers - Xanadu and Love at First Bite are two that come to mind. :D) but it was fun. Back then, when you were old enough to go to the movies at night, sans parents, meant you were finally no longer a little kid.

I remember the first time I saw Ghostbusters. I don't think I'd ever laughed so hard as I did at that movie. To this day, if I flip on the tv, and that movie is on, I'll stop and watch. Every. Time. It's still in my top ten lists of favorites, and in the top five of favorite comedies. And this movie was where I learned something very important about writing.

Writing comedy isn't as easy as it looks.

In that movie, the laughs come so naturally. To this day, the special effects might look dated ( it was the early 80s, after all) but the movie itself is still funny. It holds up. It's just a great movie and one I always thought should have been recognized by the Academy Awards. It's a shame it wasn't because good comedy is a gift.

After we saw it that first time, we talked about it for days after, reciting line after line, and cracking up over this scene or that scene. And Dr. Egon Spengler was my favorite Ghosbuster. He was smart. He was tall, dark, and handsome. And he was funny (maybe unintentionally funny, but funny nonetheless.) What wasn't there to love? Or to crush on?

I've seen pretty much every movie Harold Ramis either wrote, directed, and/or starred in - and to this day, I still will admit to having a bit of a crush on him. He wrote comedy brilliantly, sometimes so deftly that it took me a few viewings to get it - Groundhog Day was a movie I hated the first time I saw it. I thought it was boring and redundant. But then, I happened upon it on cable about a year or so after I originally sat through it, and for some reason I decided to watch it again. And again. And again. I fell in love with it, and now it's also on my list of great comedies.

The world has lost a brilliant writer, one of the few with the true gift of writing genuinely funny funny. And it makes me sad that there will be no more Harold Ramis movies released unto an unsuspecting world.

Rest in peace, Dr. Spengler.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How're YOU doin'?

I'm going crazy from all of this snow. It's been the worst winter I can remember in a long time. Snow. Snow. SNOW! It just. won't. stop. I honestly don't remember the last time it's snowed this much. My kids are going to be going to school until July to make up for all the lost time. For reasons known only to them, our district's BOE built a grand total of ONE snow day into the school calendar.

Yes, you read that right.

One.

Day.

Now, this is NJ. We don't always get a LOT of snow, but it does snow. Blizzards are rare, but not unheard of. I can't remember there ever being less than three days built into the calendar. But not this year.

One.

Day.

And they burned that day off back before Christmas.

So far, my kids lost President's Day. They lost the Friday before Memorial Day (don't know why that was a day off, but it was) and now, their spring break will consist of two days. Two lousy days. And that's only if there is no more snow this winter.

Excuse me while I go laugh over that one.

There are twenty-nine days until spring and with any luck, I'll still have some semblance of sanity left. And who knows, I may even see my front lawn again by June.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Still Around

Whew - is it really December 14th already? It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, as you can see, I'm still here, just not as here as I used to be.

November was a busy month for me, between Thanksgiving and NaNo - I didn't see much in the way of sunlight, so to speak. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday - mine was bittersweet this year. Before we bought our house, my husband and the kids and I spent Thanksgiving at my mom's house. But after we bought the house, my mom very gladly handed off the holiday to me and up until she got sick, we did Thanksgiving together. And although she'd been too sick to do Thanksgiving since 2010, this was the first one without her entirely. Since her death, I'd gone back and forth over whether or not I even wanted to host Thanksgiving - my mother in law and sister in law both offered in my place.

But in the end, I decided that I wanted a houseful of people and I wanted to be able to drink as much wine as I wanted without having to worry about driving home - so I did Thanksgiving. And as the day drew nearer, I have to admit, it left me feeling a little blue - as much as I looked forward to having my husband's family there, I was dreading the empty chair.

When my brother and I cleaned out my mom's house three years ago, I inherited my mother's china and crystal, which had been my grandparents' wedding gifts. I boxed it up and stored in my attic. This year, I decided that I wanted to use it - with some hesitation because it's 80 years old and what if something got broken??? - so I went into the attic and brought everything down, washed it (by hand. Can't put 80 year old china in the dishwasher) and as I dried and stacked everything, I felt better. And when I set the table on Thanksgiving, seeing all that beautiful china and delicate crystal made me feel like my mom and grandparents were with me, which made me smile.

The firsts are the worst - and I'm looking toward Christmas with the same mixed feelings. I don't know if it will get better, but at least it can't really get any worse.

As for NaNo, I banged out over 100k words in about sixteen days - so it was a success. At one point, I was averaging 12k words a day. It was another Sebastiano book and it just sort of wrote itself. Now, I'm in the process of revising it (along with Rafe's story, which should be done and ready for subbing around the beginning of the year.) I decided to do NaNo this year because since my mom died, I hadn't really felt much like writing anything, and I didn't care if I ever wrote another word. I thought NaNo might be just what I needed to reignite that spark and it worked. I have the basic plot for another Sebastiano book, one I plan on writing sometime over the winter. It felt wonderful to not only be writing again, but to actually be excited about the story I was telling, so I won on several different levels where NaNo is concerned.

I haven't decided when (or even if, which I probably shouldn't be admitting) I'll get back to regular blogging. I know it won't be before the new year - I'm concentrating on family and current projects right now - but I will pop in from time to time.

Until then, I'd like to wish everyone who celebrates a very Merry Christmas (or a happy holiday, whichever holiday that might be) and Happy New Year!



Friday, October 18, 2013

Number 14

I don't get political on this blog. My views are mine and I don't see any need (for the most part) to get up on a soapbox and preach. I'm not registered with any party, but I do tend to vote Democrat. I am liberal for the most part. I'm pro-choice. I'm pro-gun control. I'm pro-same-sex marriage.

Today, New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize gay marriage. Actually, the ruling came down a few weeks ago, but our governor, who I like for the most part, is appealing the ruling. While the appeal is underway, our State Supreme Court ruled, same-sex marriage is legal, with the first licenses being issued as of Monday.

I cannot even begin to tell you how happy this makes me. I am a heterosexual woman, happily married to the same man for almost seventeen (egads!!) years and I support same-sex marriage. I won't do the whole bs about claiming some of my best friends are gay, but I know plenty of gays and lesbians and I can honestly say that I don't give a damn who you go to bed with. I just. don't. care. Love is love and as corny as it sounds, there is no such thing as the wrong way to love someone.

To me, the whole idea of being against equal rights is baffling. Anyone who knows me knows I have no use for organized religion (I was raised Catholic, but the Church and I went our separate ways a long time ago and I don't see me ever going back, but that's another post for another time,) but I respect those who have deeply religious beliefs. But I think those who claim religion as a reason for being anti-same-sex marriage are wrong. They are entitled to believe as they do, just as I'm entitled to think they are wrong. If you're against it, don't do it, but you don't get the right to tell another couple they are wrong for loving each other and wanting to commit to each other. Sorry.

And for that reason, it should not be left up to the general population to decide. Civil rights are not a majority-rules situation. They are rights. We don't get to vote on who gets rights and who doesn't. If we'd left segregation up to the people, what are the odds there would still be separate fountains? Interracial marriages would be illegal.

For those who believe that procreation is the main reason for marriage, I ask you - what about couples who choose not to have children? Or those who can't have them? Are they no longer married in your eyes? If I apply that silly logic, then that must be the case. But wait, their marital status doesn't change, does it?

Your argument is invalid. Move on.

And for those who honestly think that same-sex marriage will lead to people marrying their dogs, or cows, or chickens, I really have nothing for you but an eyeroll and a slap upside your head. You are a moron and should probably not be allowed out by yourself.

Your argument is invalid, not to mention utterly stupid. Move on.
 
What is the big deal? Your hetero marriage is under no threat. Hell, straight people take care of screwing up their marriages all on their own. Same-sex marriage is legal here now and yet, I'm just as hetero-married (hey, a new phrase!) as I was this time last year. Nothing about my marriage has changed, but now, gay and lesbian couples can share in the same wonderful chaos that marriage brings. And for that, I say, bravo to NJ. You did the right thing. Now all I can do is hope that Governor Christie loses the appeal and our State Supreme Court upholds the decision.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NaNoWriMo

Every year, about this time, I have the same debate with myself. Do I want to participate in National Novel Writing Month - fondly known as NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo for short. Basically, the entire point of NaNo is to write 50k words in thirty days. 50k is the minimum end of a novel for most publishers, and it sounds like complete madness, doesn't it? Trying to write an entire book in thirty days?

But it's not quite as crazy as it sounds. I once wrote 117,000 words in two weeks. True, they weren't very good words, but they were words nonetheless. I eventually pared the book down to less than 100k and sold it to my first publisher way back in 2004. It was rereleased by Musa Publishing in 2011 as Playing with Fire.

So, in reality, 50k in a month isn't so crazy. It breaks down to 1667 words per day. That's not really a lot of words. On a good day, I can spit out 5k words (relatively good words, too, for the most part. I've come a long way in eleven years.) And it's fun, in a way. You get to join in a very nice, pretty supportive community and there's a bit of bonding as you all race to finish and collect the goodies, which consist of a banner to put on your website, a certificate you can print out, and the bragging rights to say, "I wrote an entire book in less than thirty-one days."

I've done NaNo every year since 2008. I've won every year. One time I had the book finished in something like 19 days. One year, I wrote the 50k in addition to doing edits (with very tight deadlines) on several other projects at the same time. That was not one of my wiser decisions. I burned out after that and didn't write any new words for months when it was over. It's not something I'll be doing again any time soon.

Every year, at this time, I debate whether or not to do it. This year's decision was probably the most difficult. Since my mother's death last June, I just haven't felt much like writing at all. I'd just finished a book literally a day or two before she died, so I've been working on revising it (and edits for Stolen Promise) but that's it. I just haven't felt that urge to write anything new. So I figured NaNo would be a NoGo for me this year.

But then earlier this week, an idea began rolling around in my mind. A few characters popped up. A storyline began niggling its way through my brain. And little by little, all the pieces are falling into place. So, I decided earlier this week to give NaNo a shot again. For the first time, I'll go into it knowing pretty much everything about the story. It'll just be a matter of getting the words down on the screen. It's nice to feel that urge to write again. I'm looking forward to it, actually.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ireland

Twenty years ago today, I was supposed to be married to my high school sweetheart. I say supposed to, because it never happened. Long story short, instead of getting married on October 16, 1993, I boarded a plane bound for Ireland. This trip was my mother's way of keeping me from thinking of What Might Have Been.

Those two weeks were amazing. Ireland was so beautiful (if quite cold. Apparently, there are two types of weather, according to the Irish I met - warm and rainy, or cold and sunny) and the people there were some of the nicest people I've ever met anywhere. And they truly seemed to like Americans. They asked us about why we'd chosen Ireland and when we explained our Irish roots, people treated us like long-lost relatives. Honestly, if there is a more beautiful people in the world, I've yet to meet them.

We landed at Shannon Airport at the ungodly hour of six AM. It was still dark and cold enough that the windows of our rental car had frosted over. Mom and I were traveling with my aunt and uncle (her sister and brother-in-law), and we all hunted in vain for the ice scraper. None to be found. So, while the car heated up, my uncle attempted to clear the windshield using his glove. It didn't work,

But finally, the windows cleared and we were off - navigating the madness that is the Irish highway system. They love roundabouts. In New Jersey, we call them traffic circles and there isn't a Jersey driver alive who isn't a master of these (the ones who can't drive them are usually from out of state. Mostly, Pennsylvania,) so we handled those without any trouble. Driving on the wrong side of the road presented a bit of a challenge, but even that took only a day or two of adjusting.

From Shannon, we went down into the Ring of Kerry, to Kinsale and Blarney, up to Kilkenny and Dublin, and finally to Galway. I got sick three days into the trip (it started in Kinsale. In all the pictures, I look miserable and trust me, I felt worse than I looked. It was bad.) By the time we reached Blarney, I just wanted to die. My aunt and uncle went on the hunt for a pharmacy and throat lozenges because my throat felt like I'd swallowed broken glass and then gargled with salt water. It felt shredded. I was running a fever. It. Was. Horrible.

I remember that our hotel room at Christy's (in Blarney) had a window seat. And I remember sitting on it, leaning my head against the window pane. Then, I realized there was condensation on the glass. Then I realized that, using the side of my hand, I could make footprints (the toes? I just touched my fingertip to the glass to make toeprints.) So, while my mom, my aunt, and my uncle were at dinner, I made a trail of footprints all the way to the top of the window. This is what happens when I'm left alone and feverish.

Sometime during that night, my fever broke and when I woke the next day, I felt a thousand times better (aside from the stuffed up nose. Blech.) I felt well enough to kiss the Blarney Stone (which was a scary experience, since you hang upside down and backward from the top of the tower. The only thing between me and certain death was this little old man who was about five minutes younger than the tower itself.)

I sniffled my way through the rest of the country and the flight home was pretty uncomfortable (I found out when I returned home that I had bronchitis, so ended up on antibiotics afterwards.) But it was the only trip my mom and I would ever take, just the two of us. It was the only time she ever traveled outside of the United States. She often talked about going back, but it just never happened. Money. Circumstances. There was always something else that would come up and keep her firmly rooted in the US. It really was a great two weeks (despite the sick) and I've always been so grateful to have had that time with my mom. We spent one night tracing our family history back to Kilkenny, in the 1860s. Someday, I'll see how far back it actually goes

Every October 16th, I think about that trip, but this year is different, since the 16th also marks four months since my mom died. Some days are good ones, but every so often, I'll see or hear something and think, "Oh, I have to call Mom and tell her that!"

And then I remember.

It's still so hard to believe that I will never hear her voice again. I dream about her sometimes.

And now, when my mother's words come out of my mouth (usually said in exasperation to my daughter,) I don't cringe the way I used to. They almost make me smile now.

I still miss her, though. I always will.

Twenty years ago today, I was supposed to be married to my high school sweetheart. I say supposed to, because it never happened. Long story short, instead of getting married on October 16, 1993, I boarded a plane bound for Ireland. This trip was my mother's way of keeping me from thinking of What Might Have Been.

It's now one of my favorite memories. Thank you, Mom. I'm thinking of you today.

I miss you.