Category Archives: Rants

A BABE IN THE WOODS

I have a confession to make . . .

I’m freaking out a bit.

You see, I’ve agreed to be one of several authors at a  local venue next week for a book signing! What the hell was I thinking?

I have personally witnessed book signings (by others) about four times in my entire life. Two of those times were for my indie author husband, where my participation involved ironing the table covers and making sure there were cookies for his “fans.” Not exactly activities I could include on my resume as “book signing experience.”

What I do know:

Bring 10,000 copies of my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia”                                                                  Wait a minute . . . did I say 10,000? . . .  I meant 10.

Bring a pen (that works). On second thought —better bring two.

Bring a table cover (freshly ironed, of course)

Bring the clever(?) bookmarks I spent hours designing and re-designing to give away to anyone who gets within three miles of my table. (I do know how to make paper airplanes!)

Bring business cards — to make it easy for reps from those big publishing houses and movie moguls to contact me day or night! (Think positive…think positive…think positive)

Bring a stiff upper lip —so I don’t dissolve into a puddle of disappointment if no one shows up — or worse, if people show up, but no one buys my book…or, God forbid, doesn’t even talk to me.

Oh damn! I almost forgot —bring cookies!

 

Seriously folks . . . if any of you, Dear Readers, have  helpful  advice to get me through this horror show called “A Book Signing,” I will be checking back every day for the next week to read your comments.

It’s so weird — I keep hearing Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” in my head. Sorry to leave you with that ear-worm!

 

TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Sometimes when writing, you are required to go back to some point in time in your own past to recall a scent, a touch, an emotion, or perhaps a scene, in order to convey an experience your readers can relate to.

When you do that, it can be difficult to relive a moment that evokes the gut-wrenching pain of an emotionally draining event. There are also the memories of embarrassment or shame that somehow have to become a series of words forming sentences on a page, which draw your readers into another world.

In reality, it’s a black and white sketchbook of word-pictures drawn from the author’s most intimate life experiences.

This grueling process could explain the far-away stare emanating from that dreamer, whose morning beverage is getting cold next to their laptop perched upon the corner table, in the coffee shop where you stop every day on your way to work.

Don’t try to disturb them. You can’t. They won’t hear you. They are not in this world. They are creating new ones for you to enjoy.

(Featured image:  Memory Extraction Spell – Harry Potter)

 

MIND GAMES

Ever wonder why many old people get along so well with little kids? I think I’ve found the answer!

Young brains are constantly absorbing everything in the world around them for the first time. Old brains have stored so much they get to the point where they have to release some of what they’ve accumulated, or their heads will explode.

The logical thing for the elderly to do is hang out with little kids and shower their tiny brains with old people’s excess creativity. Problem solved.

“Psychology Today” in 2009, provided this more scientific blurb, for those of you who like sciencey-type explanations…

“Finally, intelligence studies indicate that older individuals have access to an increasing store of knowledge gained over a lifetime of learning and experience. Combining bits of knowledge into novel and original ideas is what the creative brain is all about. Thus, having access to increased internal warehouse of knowledge provides fertile ground for creative activity in the aging brain.

Many seniors are already making a mark for themselves in creative fields. Consider Millard Kaufman, who wrote his first novel, the hit book Bowl of Cherries, at age 90. Then there’s 93-year-old Lorna Page, who caused waves in Britain with her first novel A Dangerous Weakness. Following in the footsteps of Grandma Moses (who did not take up painting until in her 70’s), former patent attorney John Root Hopkins turned to art in his 70’s and had a showing of his work in the American Visionary Art Museum at age 73. There are numerous examples throughout history of the creative power of the aging brain: Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens at the age of 78, Thomas Hardy published a book of lyric poetry at age 85, Frank Lloyd Wright completed the design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York at and 92, and Giuseppe Verdi wrote Falstaff, perhaps his most acclaimed opera, at the age of 85.”

This explains, quite clearly, why I wrote my first book and started this blog at the age of 152!

 

WHY I HATE UNICORNS!

When the kids were young, they depended on me for everything. Food, clothing, shelter, changing the channel on the TV…you know—all the important stuff. I even bathed them when they were dirty! I was a good mom.

Through the years, I taught them how to sing, read, do all kinds of crafty things on rainy days. The crafty lessons were mainly to help me keep my sanity while they were stuck indoors.

They would fall down. Get scrapes and bruises. Push each other down. Get more scrapes and bruises. The crying and screaming sometimes became as irritating as nails skimming a blackboard. But, they were mine and I loved them, so I’d hug them, kiss them, patch them up, and tell them not to hit, bite, or kick the perpetrator in retaliation. Some times that worked.

During those early days, home desk-top computers came into fashion and affordability. Naturally, only the adults were allowed to touch the keyboard. After all, kids didn’t understand “if then/goto” and all the very complicated jargon of that early behemoth that required its own special room in the house. God forbid anything spilled within ten feet of that fifty-ton monster.

As the mom, I was permitted to play “games” on the computer. At the time, my game of choice (my only choice) was a text-based game called, “Zork.”

The only clear memory I have of suffering through that adventure game was the phrase, “The Unicorn is a mythical beast!”

That phrase glared at me in annoying white letters on that beast of a black screen more times than I could count. I recall it was in response to my trying to remove the key hanging around the Unicorn’s neck so I could open the next door…or some such thing.

In my frustration, the word choices that exploded from my brain to my mouth could only be spoken out loud after the little darlings were fast asleep!

Special Note: For those today who believe Facebook is a time-suck machine—you obviously never played “Zork!”

After hours and hours of hunching over the keyboard, tapping various instructions to the gremlins everyone knew lived inside the monster (and who obviously took great pleasure in making me crazy), I would trudge up the stairs to bed, bleary-eyed and grumbling to myself about how I would kill that Unicorn some day!

The next morning, my adorable, loving children would stare at me, frightened,  as they sat down to eat their breakfast of scrambled eggs and jelly beans.

Ah, technology!

 

PLEASE SHARE YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF HOW MODERN TECHNOLOGY AFFECTED YOUR LIFE . . . INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW!

NO RETREAT … NO SURRENDER!

I WON A “MAJOR AWARD!”  (Think: A Christmas Story – leg lamp) — back in December, 2015.

It turned out to be a legitimate random drawing for three nights and four days at “When Words Count Retreat” in Rochester, Vermont, for myself and a guest. My husband  and I checked in last Thursday!

We had no idea what to expect.

We became a bit concerned after traveling the last mile of our journey from southern New Jersey on a gravel-covered, narrow, backwoods road, and joked about “The Blair Witch Project”—(thanking God it was daytime).

Blair Witch image

 BUT, WE WERE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED (and relieved)  WHEN 

…we pulled into the drive of a lovely white farmhouse sporting a welcoming red door.IMG_2395

Behind that door was a total writer’s paradise. In between the fabulous gourmet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner—and the cocktails, of course!) there was uninterrupted writing time! A concept completely foreign to me, until last week.

In the evenings, guests read portions of their current work, and the rest (including our host, Steve Eisner) critiqued what was read, in a professional, caring, and encouraging way.

With the food, the new friends we made, the spectacular mountain views, and crystal clear air,  we felt completely pampered.

If you ever get the chance to go—do it!

SURRENDER to this, or some other RETREAT!

Your “Work in Progress” (and your soul) will be glad you did!

Have you ever attended a “writer’s retreat?” If you have, please share your experience (good or bad) in the “Comments.”

I’d love to hear your stories!

 

LET’S BE HONEST, FOLKS!

I have a question for you.

Why do writers (in this day and age) use pictures of old typewriters, pencils, pens, close-ups of typewriter keys, copybooks, lined tablets, et al as their website’s header image?

We all know that none of their blogs are produced using those arcane tools.

I mean, sure, some may begin by writing out their thoughts on paper with a wooden stick or ink-filled implement. But, c’mon—none of us would be able to access and read any of their brilliant posts, if that is where their efforts ended.

For instance—that is not me at the top of this page, and I did not use a typewriter from 1918 to accomplish this post. So, why do you suppose people think the only way to let their readers know that they are writers, is by reaching back into history for their photos?

I think I know the answer.

There is no romance, or mystery, or nostalgia in viewing a computer screen.  Perhaps in one hundred years, there may be. But not now. Not yet.

To prove my point, dear readers, I leave you with this antique version of the “backspace key”—reminisce with me for a moment:

pencil-eraser

See what I mean?

THE REVIEW IS IN!

My book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia” has received it’s very first Amazon review, and it’s killing me because the reviewer is listed as “Amazon Customer.”

FC

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition

Amazing book. You will not want to put this book down. Author’s writing style is captivating and made me feel like I was there. Looking forward to future books from this author.

Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Report abuse

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I have no way to know who this kind person is—therefore, I’m going to go to all my available sites to post a big THANK YOU!
 
(You know who you are…you little devil.)
 

 

IT’S ALMOST TIME!

WELL, FOLKS, WE’RE DOWN TO THE WIRE…

Waiting for the proof copy of my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia.”

I’ve got other things to do with my life (as we all do), but all I can think of is the book!

I go from being giddy that I’ve accomplished this goal, to being sad that’s it’s almost done! From excited butterflies to nausea. I feel like I’m in a Twilight Zone episode where time stands still waiting for the big plot reveal!

While I wait…I thought I’d share the final cover art with you, my dear readers.  Hopefully, it meets with your approval.

Amazon—here we come!

FCBC

TURKEY TROT

Thanksgiving is next week. I can’t believe how calmly I said that.

We celebrate Thanksgiving each year at our house—and by “we” I mean twenty to forty immediate family members!

In the old days, when there were seven or eight of us sharing the holiday, the beautifully roasted turkey would take center-stage in the middle of the dining table waiting for the ceremonial (dramatic music playing in the background) carving. It was surrounded by the appropriate side dishes and condiments, with lovely serving forks and spoons of polished silver.  Each person had at least two glasses included in their place-setting that rested on a lovely table linen, and their napkins were actually held, just so, in rings of appropriate autumnal materials.

We all sat together,

said “Grace” together,

ate together,

and sang “We Gather Together” together!

We made Norman Rockwell proud!

Kiss those days good-bye!

Thanksgiving now begins the night before, with the female regulars coming over to peel and cut up every vegetable there is; eating pizza in-between mincing olives for the stuffed celery; arguing over using a food processor instead of knives for chopping onions for the stuffing and gravy; singing and dancing and telling stories of the “old days”; eating chocolates; and drinking wine. Drinking a lot of wine. When the wine is all gone, the evening ends.

The family has grown exponentially. And the next day, Thanksgiving:

It’s buffet-style from the kitchen counters:

Elbowing each other to get to the gravy.

Making “yuck” sounds, as one of the perhaps two people who actually like them, spoon creamed onions onto their plate.

Waiting in line to take your seat at one of the three to six tables in various rooms because the person seated at the end in the corner is still in the kitchen fixing their plate and nobody else can sit down until they do—unless everyone stands up and moves out of the way to let them through—which is not done with smiles on their faces because their food is getting cold!

Make sure you grab a napkin before somebody else takes it!

Invariably, someone says, raising their voice above the din, let’s say “Grace.”  Five people actually hear them, and so a syncopated “Amen” is heard.

As the hostess, I try to join at least one or two people as I eat my always over-filled plate of turkey and everything else, before most of the clan are back in the kitchen for seconds.

Finally, when the thirty-seven desserts (I might be exaggerating a bit here) have been transformed from their initial beautiful presentations to mounds of unidentifiable mush, it’s time to do the dishes. At this point, the male family members all forget what their thumbs are for and cannot hold a dishtowel.

Through the evening, laughter is the underpinning of the chaos!

Time is not on my side at Thanksgiving, which is why you will never see an artistic vegetable tray like that pictured above anywhere near my house!

But, in the end, I know I am blessed more than most to have such a large, boisterous, loving, family to be with at this beautiful time of year. So, yeah—

Thanks!

Happy (early) Thanksgiving everyone. Please let me know in the comment section if you have any suggestions for keeping the craziness at a minimum this year!

Infrastructure Needs to Quiet Down!

It’s 5:45 a.m. and the bedroom window is open. I think I hear a freight train in the distance. A constant low rumble. I do mean constant.

I think to myself, “Damn, that is one extremely long train!” Then it dawns on me (get it? dawns?), it’s not a train.

It’s infrastructure!

The streets around our house are being drilled and dug up, and ditches are being backfilled and flattened with huge pieces of orange equipment. Our sewer lines are being replaced, and the rumbling, scraping, rat-a-tat-tat is endless!

Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m all for replacing hundred-year-old sewer pipes. And repairing bridges and highways and all that other stuff that needs fixing. That’s the sort of thing our tax money should be used for.

Summer, when everyone has their windows closed because of air conditioning, is the season for this sort of activity.

But it’s autumn for cryin’ out loud, and the air snaps like a spiced wafer and is filled with the aroma of apple cider. I NEED my windows open at this time of year.

I’m an October baby and this is MY month— not Caterpillar’s!