Thursday, December 30, 2010

Who Will You Be in 2011?

The curtain is about to close on 2010 and everyone is talking about resolutions, goals, plans for the new year. I'd like to kick up a discussion on that topic too, if you'll help me out.

If you were guaranteed to achieve your wildest, deepest dream what would it be? Pretend this blog can grant you that one special wish. How do you invision yourself at the end of 2011? Right now there are no obstacles. How do you feel in this new place? How do you look? What words come to mind to describe yourself? What are others saying about you? Go ahead, take a deep breath, and imagine. Now write it down.

I hope all your dreams come true.

Monday, December 20, 2010

10 Favorite Things This Time of Year

My top ten favorite things about this time of year:

Giving - I love that joyous and wondrous look on some one's face when they've unwrapped a gift.

Christmas songs - "Winter Wonderland" sung by Johnny Mathis. No Christmas is complete without it.

Going Christmas caroling - which I've only done while riding in a trolley, but fun none the less.

Christmas lights - The more lights you have on your house the more religious you are. (Just kidding!!!!!) But they are festive.

My Christmas tree - Yes, it's mine. I don't share it. The kids have their own.

Baking cookies - First of all, who doesn't love cookies? Second, it's a great bonding moment with loved ones.

Getting together with friends - Which I really don't have time for because I'm busy baking the cookies, decorating the tree, and buying the gifts! Kidding again!

Sharing traditions - Do you have any?

Did I mention cookies?

Oh, how could I almost forget - getting something in the mail worth seeing! The happy faces of friends of family - Holiday Cards!

What's your favorite thing about this time of year?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Do You Want for Christmas?

It's that time of year again. You've probably got family members and friends asking you what you want for Christmas (or Hanukkah or whatever gift giving holiday you celebrate this time of year.)

You know what I want? Kindness. That's it. Simple, right?

I am blessed with all the material items I could need, but what I don't seem to have enough of is kindness from others. Random acts of kindness from strangers. Most of my aquiantances share kind moments. I say most because not everyone I know is always kind. Sorry. That's the truth and maybe this holiday season they'll get a visit from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.

What kind of acts of kindness do you befall on your fellow man? Do you let someone get in front of you in the check out line? Do you hold the door for the person behind you? Do you say "thank you" to the person holding the door for you? How many times a day do you smile at a stranger? Did you ever think that your smile, simple and free, could change the life of the person you've given it to? Think about it the next time you're in a rush and your head is filled with your "to do" list. Think about the kindness you could offer this time of year when others are alone, cold, hungry, or afraid.

I leave you with the kind words of Tiny Tim, "God Bless Us. Everyone!"

Monday, November 22, 2010


Click on "Outraged" title of this blog to be linked to an article by Jeffrey Goldberg.

I'm outraged and you should be too. Did you click on the link and watch that disgusting video? Go do it now. I'll wait.

Here's what I have to say about this new searching procedure in place at the airports:

This is America! The home of the Free! Over my dead body will I ever let a TSA agent take off my child's shirt and frisk him! What is going on here, people?? Because we've swung so far to the left we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by "profiling" we'll allow a grown man to put his latex gloved hands on our children? Are you outraged yet?

Do you know what we're doing by allowing a child to be stripped and fondled? We are sending the pedophiles into a brand new employment. Isn't it enough that they've become priests?

I like profiling or behavioral analysis. I don't care what you call it, but I like it. The FBI knows, thanks to behavioral analysis, that serial killers are educated, white males in their thirties. I like knowing who the serial killers are. Now I know who to stay away from in dark parking lots. I also like knowing who the most likely group is to try and blow up an airplane. And guess what, my children aren't in either of those groups so keep your hands off!

The terrorists are winning people. They don't want us to live in a free land. They want us to be scared and I'm sad to say it's working. Stand up and shout. Don't stand for this. Take your country back. Get outraged!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Memoir?

Memoirs are all the rage. Have you noticed? Everywhere you look whether it's television or book store or you hear it on the radio someone is writing their story. What's that all about?

I'm not much of a memoir reader, unfortunately. This is going to sound mean, but frankly, I don't care. Reading used to be about escaping from the realities of life, but maybe now it's about "look at that guy. His life is way worse than mine. Phew!" (Wiping of brow.)

Don't get me wrong, some memoirs are beautifully written. Angela's Ashes is one of them. Frank McCourt is a master at prose, but many times I thought, all right already, I get it. Your childhood sucked. What I really wanted to know was how he got out of the situation. What's the solution? I didn't need four hundred pages of repetition. Maybe I need the Cliff Note version of memoirs? Does Cliff still exist?

And let me ask you this: How do these authors of their memories remember in such vivid detail what happened at the age of four? I don't have memories like that, but of course I wasn't trying to boil hot dogs at the stove because no one would feed me and hence catching my tu-tu on fire. I might have remembered that one.

Why are we reading memoirs? Mainly because they sell. Who doesn't want to walk into the book store and be met by the faces of their favorite celebrities screaming, "pick me, pick me?" Except me.

Or are memoirs being read because the people just want to know? They want a glimpse into the lives of others or maybe to know there is someone just like them going through what they did. Are memoirs becoming some version of the modern day support group?

Memoirs are here to stay. Like it or not. And as long as everyone is reading something does it really matter what it is? What matters is you've connected with a book, curled up in your favorite chair to bend back the binding and fell in love with the story. To that I raise my glass.

What type of books are you reading?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Journey

They say "success is a journey not a destination." I'm not great about the journey part. I like to measure my accomplishments by the big result. I have to practice daily to stay in the moment and find suceess in the small steps. Yesterday's journey on the road to publication blessed me twice.

I went to see my critique partner Marykate speak at Georgian Court University's Authors Day. While she was up there offering her knowledge and expertise on writing she mentioned me to the group! My breath caught in my throat and my eyes teared up. While she was there for herself she selflessly told them to be on the look out for my work. How blessed am I to be loved like that? Every challenging step of this journey to write books and get published has been worth it just so I could sit there and hear Marykate tell her audience she believes in my work. Oh yes, that was full blown success if you ask me and right in the middle of the journey to being a pubished author! That was my first little dance with grace for the day.

After Georgian Court I headed over to my daughter's elementary school to speak to her class about writing. Those kids are great fun. I love the opportunity to inspire children to write. But at the end one little boy raised his hand and said my daughter was lucky to have a mom as nice as me! What a touching thing to say. That young man inspired me! My second dance with grace for the day!

Yesterday was definitely successful and I'm still not published this morning, but that's okay. Right now I get it and when I don't I can remember those moments, take a deep breath, and plow forward.

What journey are you on? Share with us some of your successful steps.

Talk to you later...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Zombies are the new rage. They're popping up in novels. One of my favorites is Patient Zero by Jonathon Maberry - an absolute must read! Movies are made about zombies, television shows, and even video games. What makes them so likable? I've heard they're the new bad guys ever since vampires became the hero.

I've been sucked in too! I walked around all morning wearing a sticky note on my shirt with the time 11:14 on it so I wouldn't forget. Forget what? To harvest the zombies!! That's right. My son needed my help. He's playing Zombie Farm on his ITouch and at exactly 11:14 two new zombies would be ready for harvesting and when he accumulates eight zombies he can invade. What he can invade I don't know, but that's not the point. I couldn't let my son down, right? How hard could it be to play a video game and I needed an excuse to walk away from manuscript for five minutes.

The pressure was on. I didn't know how to make the farmer dig the little boogers up! I pressed the screen a hundred times, but the zombies remained in the garden. I couldn't fail in my first video game attempt to win the invasion, could I? Thankfully, sheer stubbornness won out. I pressed every button on the screen, praying I didn't delete the game, and discovered the farmer needed a harvesting tool! Duh!!! I freed the zombies and in the nick of time. Phew!

And let me tell you what, those zombies are cute! (Sorry, Jonathon, these zombies wouldn't work in your novel!) The whole game is animated in bright colors and the zombies have adorable faces. I dug up a Garden Zombie with a gnomes hat on!! Way cool! And every zombie has a name: Ted, Bill, Tom, you get the idea.

It looks like I've gone full circle. I enjoy everything from science fiction - thriller novels to the adorable Zombie Farm. Are you catching the zombie fever? Share some of your favorite zombie experiences with us.

Talk to you later...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Writing Skills

There's been a lot of talk lately about the public school system in this country. I for one, am very interested in seeing the movie "Waiting for Superman." As usual, I have my opinion about public school, but I'd like to hear yours. So tell us what you think about tenure, incentive based raises and job security.

Let me touch briefly on children's writing skills. I'm not an expert in this area, but what I can see students today are struggling in this area. Why do you think that is? Is it because pen and paper are going by the way of the dinosaur? Personally, I love the yellow legal pad and a black pen. I've done some of my best creative work with those instruments.

I'd like to change the fact students lack strong writing skills. I've started speaking to elementary and middle school children about writing. I hope I've motivated at least one child. What other ideas could we implement to get kids cheering for writing?

What's your opinion? Let's talk...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I just saw a posting on Facebook. One of my "friends" must be looking to buy a new house so she posted 52 pictures of a house she might buy! There are some comments like, "I hope you get it. I'll keep my fingers crossed. It's so beautiful for your family." Do you know what I wanted to write? "Do the owners know you posted 52 pictures of THEIR house on Facebook?!" Do you know what that says to me? "Hi, we're selling our house and some stranger posted pictures of it without my knowledge or permission. BTW, since you know where I live why don't you come rob me?" I know what you're going to say - what about That even gives you the address of the house. But it bothers me that some stranger can post pictures of my house on line just because she walked through it! Yes, it's a control thing, but while I own the house I should be able to control what happens to it, don't you think?

We read our personal emails out in public on unsecured networks. That means anyone can hack into our accounts and find things out about our lives. Do you have any emails you don't want read? Hhmm...something to think about. And who doesn't bank online or make purchases with their debit card? It's 1984 and a Handmaid's Tale all rolled into one if you ask me.

We can't go backwards and give up the technology we've become so addicted to. How do we protect ourselves? Frankly, I want to wipe out my Facebook site. But is that the answer? I guess the need to develop "street smarts" has spread into the cyberworld too. We have to be careful out there. Know your surroundings. Don't talk to strangers. And when in!

Talk to you later...

Monday, September 13, 2010

How Do You Persevere?

Writing a novel is one of the hardest things I've ever done. The manuscript I'm working on now has its hands around my neck and is choking the life from me. I want to set it on fire and if it wasn't for the support of my critique partners I might do just that and bag this writing thing forever!

I've edited this nemesis I call my WIP at least six (yes, I said SIX) times and it's still not done. Editing isn't just changing grammatical mistakes or coming up with a better word choice. It's having your characters make different decisions which leads to a different plot line, a different setting, a different outcome. You add characters and delete characters, but that leads to other characters having to say it, do it, feel it, see it. And after all this changing around you have to go back and fix the things you missed like telling the reader who Gayle is because you've edited the book so many times you don't realize you've cut out the part where you mention she's your protagonist's life long friend!

As I write this post I'm faced with almost another complete rewrite of the novel and frankly, I don't know if I have the energy to do it. And what if after all is said and done I still can't get someone to publish it? (Ah, the real issue I think.)

I know, no one said this was going to be easy and anything worth having usually isn't. Any pearls of wisdom from those of you out there? How do you keep going in the face of challenges?

I'm going to borrow a good idea from a friend. I'm going to eat a bag of peanut M&M's and maybe by the time I'm done this book will have written itself!

Talk to you later...

Sunday, September 5, 2010


With the unofficial end of summer about to become a tiny image in the rear view mirror and the new school year upon us I worry about bullying. It's an age old tradition, isn't it? And not a good one.

Why are children so mean to one another? I think it's because kids struggle with low self-esteem. I've read some experts say the cause of bullying is the exact opposite and in this day and age of overindulging I see their point.

I wish I could fix these kids basically so they'll leave my kids alone. And other kids too. NO ONE should get bullied. NO ONE.

Unfortunately, I don't buy into some of the methods the schools try to enforce. "Let's use our I Care language." Newsflash: Kids are still bullying each other. Those rules are only good for the kids who would've never bullied in the first place. (Kind of like hand gun laws, but that's a blog for another time.)

This leads me back to self-esteem. If a child feels good about him/herself, then they don't need to waste the time making other kids feel badly about themselves. How do we accomplish this? At home!
  • Sit down to a family dinner every night. It's a great opportunity to hear about how your child's day went.
  • Take an interest in their school work. Praise them for a job well done.
  • When you're disciplining your child make sure they understand what you don't like is the behavior. Make sure they understand you love them no matter what.
  • If your son or daughter is hanging around with a kid who has "mean moments"ask your child how he/she feels when they're with this person. Then ask them how they feel when they're with someone they really like. This empowers them to choose who their friends are and teaches them how to pick better kids to hang with.
  • Lead by example. Be kind to the people around you. If you walk up to an existing conversation and start whispering in someone's ear and leaving the others out you can bet your son/daughter is doing the same thing. Honestly, it's just plain old mean and you've taught your kid how to be mean too. And don't think they aren't watching you. Kids are smart cookies.

The world could be a better place if everyone felt good about themselves. I know it's possible and it starts with the kids. Talk to you later...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry

Let me tell you about a book I recently finished. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Some of you may have read her first book The Time Traveler's Wife.

Her Fearful Symmetry is about twenty-year old sisters, Julia and Valentina. They have an unusual attachment to each other boarding on creepy sometimes. They receive a package in the mail. Their dead aunt Elspeth has left her estate to the girls. But there are two conditions: They must live in her London flat for a year and their parents must never step foot inside it! You see, Elspeth's estranged twin sister Edie is the girls' mother.

Julia and Valentina embark on this adventure where they meet a cast of eclectic characters determined to have their way despite the consequences: Robert -Elspeth's younger lover, Martin - an agoraphobic suffering from extreme OCD and by far the most interesting character, and Elspeth's ghost who floats and flies around her flat as she adjusts to her new existence.

The plot is full of twists some predictable and many confusing. I had to reread a few sections just so I could follow it. I think Ms. Niffenegger was trying to keep her readers on their toes, but only managed to trip herself up in the process. However, her prose is descriptive and her choice to use Highgate Cemetery in London as her backdrop is fitting for this peculiar ghost story.

If you're willing to suspend disbelief and can forgive this multi-published author her winding and sometimes slow path (it drags a little in the middle) then pick up a copy of Her Fearful Symmetry. I'm not sorry I did. I never miss a chance to read a ghost story and this one will certainly entertain you. And after you're done, come on back and tell me what you think.

Talk to you later...

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Don't you wish you could interview your neighbors before moving into a new house? Walk up and down the street with a clip board and ask some simple questions like, "Do the neighbors say hello when they see you or do they become very interested in the pattern their shoelaces make instead?"

My family and I attended the annual block party of our OLD neighborhood. That's right. We've gone back to our former neighborhood block party every year since we moved. (Not to mention all the block parties we attended while we lived there!) How wonderful to see familiar faces and be greeted with warm hugs. It's almost like going home again.

Sometimes I wish I still lived there. (That's not a knock on the people who I've gotten to know in my new neighborhood. I like quite a few.) Things that are familiar feel like our favorite sweatshirt does - broken in, comfortable, soft against our harsher spots. But not everything can stay the same even when we want it to. We adapt. We adjust. We go back and visit. Sometimes we have to buy a new sweatshirt.

I miss my neighbors. I miss the knocks on the door and someone asking to borrow a cup of sugar. I miss knowing everyone on the street and knowing when someone doesn't belong there. It's a neighborhood like ones you only read about. Mayberry's got nothing on these folks!

So, here's to my neighbors! May the road rise up to meet you, may your grass always be green, and your cups always full! See you next year!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Inspiration shows up in strange places and most times exactly when I need it. Funny how that works, but it's no coincidence.

When you step on the path to fulfill your life's purpose it's filled with road blocks and detours. (I hear the grumbling now. There is a purpose for each and every one of you.) What keeps you going when all you really want to do is sit on the sidelines and watch? That just made me think of something. David Lee Roth once said there are three kinds of people in the world. The kind that make things happen, the kind that watch things happen, and the kind that wonder, "what happened?" Which one are you?

I try to make things happen. We've only got one go round here on this earth. I want it to be the best it could be. Where do I find the inspiration? It comes in the form of a gift handed to me the day after I've declared I'm quitting this writing thing because it's too hard to get published. (Not quitting, BTW.) It comes from watching someone with way more adversity in their lives accomplish more than I have done or when someone says to me, "you inspired me to pursue my dreams." My husband inspires me and my children inspire me. And I can't forget inspiration comes from watching the movie "Rudy." Go Rudy!!

Share with us here the things that keep you going. It may be a person, or a song, or your faith. Who knows, you may put down the words that inspire others. Wouldn't that be inspirational?

Talk to you later...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bad Parenting

I heard on the news yesterday a school system in NJ is taking away the "D" grade. Beginning in September the students can earn an A, B, C, or F. The school thinks removing the ability to earn a D will make the students work harder to get better grades. Possibly, I think.

Then I hear about another school system in NJ who took away the D and the C. Now I'm not liking this idea so much. Without the D or C it means the ranges for B's and A's must be larger. So, what does that say to the students?

I'm not entirely sure, and would like you to chime in on this, but I think this new grading system is set up so the students won't feel badly about themselves. A "D" or "C" on a report card doesn't look that good it says you're average or below average. And we wouldn't want anyone to feel average, now would we?

Are they really asking students to rise to the occasion? The school with no "D" increased the ranges of the other grades. Now a "C" is 70-79. I'd like to tell you what the "D" range was when I was in school, but I never got a "D" because I would've had my head handed to me. Funny, how that works. Parent says, "don't get a D or else," and student doesn't get a D. More parents should try that.

And that leads to the very thing I think is wrong with the world. Bad parenting. It all comes down to bad parenting. If parents did their jobs maybe, just maybe their children would rise to the occasion. Set the bar higher. They will reach for it. It means a lot more work on the parents part, but who said this was going to be easy? Anything worth having usually isn't and I don't know about you, but I'd like to see more children grow into determined adults not afraid to face adversity, able to offer kindness to others and know how to spell, write, and handle math problems. How about you?

Talk to you later...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Scary Story

I love scary stories. Who doesn't? Well, there might be a few people, but what fun are they? Just kidding. There's nothing like feeling that chill race up your spine and tickle the back of your neck when you hear about a ghost wondering the woods, or when you're sitting in a dark movie theater watching witches, spirits from the other side coming over, or Anthony Hopkins wearing a human muzzle.

But there's nothing like sitting down in a comfy chair, the room is dark except for a single light next to you, and the pages of a thriller, suspense, or mystery are between your hands. You tune out the world around you as you get on the ride of your life through the story of a dead wife haunting the new one, (Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier,) or the curse of a town killing off members of a specific family, (The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,) or a woman locked up in an attic presumed dead, (Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.) And let's not forget anything by Stephen King!

Which are your favorites? I loved to hear about them whether it's a book, film, or camp fire story. Post them here. Let's see who we can keep up at night!

Talk to you later...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thrillerfest 2010

Wow! I attended Thrillerfest V in NYC last week and it was fantastic! It doesn't get much better than meeting Harlan Coben and sitting in on interviews with Ken Follett, Sandra Brown, Lisa Scottoline, and David Morrell! Plus many more.

Panels discussed everything from how to avoid cliches to the best/worst advice you've ever gotten. The most inspiring part for me was the Debut Author breakfast where the people of Thrillerfest spotlight all the new authors from the past year. Each one was given a moment to stand up, talk about their book, and tell a little about their journey to publication. Every one had the same message. Don't give up! I hope to be sitting at that table some day inspiring others.

But nothing was more inspiring than NY Times Bestselling Author Brad Meltzer tell the story of Harper Lee having doubts about To Kill A Mockingbird and throwing the manuscript out the window. It's okay to doubt, but never give up.

I met some wonderful people and saw a few familiar faces. Everyone there was so welcoming no matter where they are in their publishing journey. I highly recommend, if you write thrillers, becoming a member of this organization. Thank you to the people of the International Thriller Writers for coordinating such an event. And as a past events planner I know how hard it was. I'll definitely be back next year.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beat the Heat

Summer is fully upon us. It makes me think of those Country Time Lemonade commercials when I was a kid. I always invision a tire swing under the big oak tree, the sun setting in the front yard while you push yourself in the wooden rocker on the wrap around porch and a tall glass of cold lemonade filled with tinkling ice cubes like the sounds of summer wind chimes.

Summer should be about slowing down and enjoying the moment with friends and family. Unfortunately, since I've become an adult I haven't been able to slow down to the pace I imagine in those lemonade commercials. This week is no different. I'm heading off to a writer's conference I hope will advance my writing journey and I'm working my tail off to get ready and the hours are slipping by and all I can see are the things I didn't get to. Even my sentences sound like an endless "to do" list.

I'd like nothing more than to take my kids to the beach, get lost in a book by a favorite author and forget about the tasks hanging over my head. But the drive to be a published author burns in me like the summer heat. Instead, I'll turn up the AC, pour myself a tall glass of lemonade and get to work.

Talk to you later. Much later...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Congratulations, M. Kate Quinn

I'm proud to tell you about the new release Summer Iris by M. Kate Quinn. She is a fantastic author and my critique partner!! That's us holding the new release. Marykate in the middle and Shari on the right. They are the best critique partners in the world!
You can purchase the Summer Iris from Barnes & or her website It makes a great summer read, gift for a friend, or book group discussion.

Summer Iris is a funny, poignant romance that takes a stunted, middle-aged woman, transplants her to a cottage by the sea for a summer and cultivates her into her true self.

Everyone can relate to the need to find themselves. You'll laugh along with Iris as she journeys to her heart's true desire. Pick up a copy now and tell me what you think.

Talk to you later...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Your Life's Purpose

Have you ever read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo? It's a fantastic book about a young man's journey to find his personal legend. My book group read it recently and a question that came up in discussion was "is it narcissistic to pursue your personal dreams?"

I say no. It's our responsibility to fulfill our life's purpose. But what about the people who step on others along the way? You know the type. They're only concerned with their own interests. They don't open their hearts and minds to the people and the world around them. As I like to put it, "Life in the Key of Me."

Being a writer on the path to publication teaches you a very valuable lesson. Other writers will have success when you aren't. It's like when all your friends are getting married and you have to keep going to those puffy, frilly, cake eating, weddings alone. What do you do? You certainly don't make it about yourself.

What has led so many to turn their focus on the world inward? I have my opinion on it, of course. We live in a society where everyone is a winner and no one can come in second place because it might hurt their feelings. We've become so worried about boosting self-esteem all we've done is create mediocrity and people (children and adults) who think the world should revolve around them.

Technology has added to this interior spiral. Don't get me wrong the advancement of technology is a great and needed thing, but now we are bombarded with ways people can tell you about their trips to the bathroom, their need to have a drink because the day was too difficult, or their crush on the neighbor's cousin's, father's uncle's spouse. Way too much information if you ask me.

Let's go back to that young boy in The Alchemist. He pursued his personal legend, his life's purpose, with his eyes and heart open so he could receive the signs telling him how to continue on his path. When you shut down you miss grace operating in your life, your actions are driven by negativity, and your piano is stuck in the key of "Me."

Your life's purpose waits for you. Open your heart and your mind and when you ask someone how they're doing, really listen. This time it might need to be about them.

Talk to you later...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To Edit or not to Edit

Hello to All! I apologize for being inconsistent with my blog posts lately. I've been up to my eyeballs in edits. I'm trying to get my latest work in progress Don't Play With Fire ready for a huge conference I'm attending in July. I've been making major changes to the plot. I think I have it all figured out now. The only thing left is the fine tuning which is easier said than done. All my writer friends know about that!

So, I got to thinking - What the heck am I going to write about on the blog? Might as well talk about the importance of editing. I mean, we could talk about the NJEA again or bad parenting (I could go on about that forever) or children who don't know how to play nicely, (wait a sec, that goes under the bad parenting column!) But since editing is on my mind it might as well be on yours too.

How often do you edit your work? You don't have to be writing novels to do editing. You could be writing notes to your children's teachers. Everything needs to be rewritten at least once.

In the day and age of emails and texts do you even bother to look over what you've put down? I bet a lot of you don't. I edit everything now. I even edit television commercials and other people's conversations! Scary, I know. But I can't help it.

You may be saying, "Stacey, I'm a great writer. I don't need to edit. It's you who suck." And my response to that is (after I stick my tongue out at you) "Stephen King you ain't!" And even he edits!

So, where am I going with all this? Good question. When writing it's important to slow down and spend some time with it. Think of editing like hanging out with a good friend. You want the time to last. After you've written something you should put it down and walk away from it. The longer time you can put between you and the piece the better. You'll come back with fresher eyes and you'll see things you've missed.

You may not have made your point as clearly as you would've liked. You might have mispelled a few words. And please, for the love of Pete do not rely on spell check! Give your piece to someone else to read. They will bring a different perspective to what you've written.

If you're doing creative writing learn your craft. There are tons of books out there to help you. Or attend writing workshops about character, plot, conflict. Read your favorite authors and see what they've done then go back and reread your work.

Because of emails and texts I think the art of writing (and it is an art) is becoming a thing of the past. Many can't even put a complete sentence together and it's sad. Call me old fashioned, but I think everyone should take pride in the words they put down whether on paper or screen. Remember the old adage: It's not what you say, but how you say it? If you can't write well then you sound plain old dumb.

Talk to you later...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Critique Partners

Writers work in a vacuum most of the time. We sit alone at our desks with only the voices of our characters in our heads. That's not always a bad thing, but every once in awhile we need to get out from behind the computer screen and interact with other writers.

Getting feedback on your writing is a necessary part of the process and a very frightening part. For months sometimes years we sit alone crafting a story pouring our souls into it. Now we have to give it to someone to read and tell us what they think? For many writers we'd rather poke our eyes out.

What are we to do? Find critique partners of course, but not just any critique partner. A bad critique partner can make you want to give up writing for good. I know I had some once.

You must find partners who write on the same level you do. This doesn't mean the more experienced shouldn't help the beginner starting out on their journey. It takes time to learn the craft of writing and how to edit. You may not be getting the best feedback from someone who hasn't learned as much yet. But when they do, by all means think about becoming writing partners.

Your critique partners should be nice people. That sounds like an obvious one, but not everyone is nice about how they edit. There's a better way to say your piece needs some work than, "I hate your prologue." You want your critique partners to care about your work as much as you do. If they're vested in your work too they won't be jealous when you get "the call" before they do. They'll be proud of you and stand up and cheer because your characters are real for them too.

How do you find a good critique partner? Unfortunately, sometimes it's trial and error. Join a writing organization in your area. There's plenty in all different genres. Start asking around and talking to people in the group. Really pay attention to the vibes you're getting. Your instincts know when you've met the right person.

When I was looking for new critique partners I received an email from a woman who sounded like I did. She seemed to be at the same writing level I was. We agreed to meet. Another woman joined us. I knew instantly these were the right women for me. I felt the energy around us like a lightning bolt. They have been invaluable to me on my writing journey. I couldn't have accomplished all that have without them. I am as committed to their work as they are to mine. I owe a world of gratitude to Marykate and Shari. Not only are they wonderful writers, but they are fantastic people. (Okay, enough gushing. I'm going to make their heads huge! LOL!!! Just kidding ladies. I love you!)

Talk to you later...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just Do It

First off I want to thank everyone for their comments on the No Toys in the Happy Meals post. Whether you spoke here, emailed me or called we kicked up quite a discussion! I'll be sure to find more things we can discuss like that!

Today I want to talk about pursuing your dreams. I encourage everyone to go after the thing they're most passionate about. I'm trying out on you an article I'm submitting to the LSFW newsletter.

"Just Do It." The marketing people at Nike really had their acts together when they came up with that one. "Just Do It" is my absolute favorite slogan. I say it to myself and my children all day. Three simple words that say it all: stop talking about it - take action. Words that help me achieve my goals.

The phrase applies to every aspect of our lives. Writing - just do it. We all know books don't' get written without putting words on paper. How many people have you bumped into that say they want to be a writer, but never write a single word? A mother in my town just told me that the other day! I said to her, "if you want to be a writer then write." You can dream about writing bestselling novels, but if you don't take acton, actually do it, then being an author is nothing more than a passing thought.

Just do it applies to goal setting. Whip out a piece of paper and jot down your wishes, hopes, and dreams. (Go ahead. I'll wait.) The list alone isn't enough. You have to do something to accomplish those goals. Take the steps necessary to make your goals a reality.

Women nurture by nature. We take care of everything and everyone else first. That leaves little time for ourselves and then add in the much needed time to write. Finding space to write among the "to do" list is a daunting task, I know. But you know what I say? Just Do It! You owe yourself those three little words. I promise you - no one will give you the power to just do it, but you. You'll be glad you did.

Appropriately, just do it applies to exercising. I'm an avid exerciser. It gives me the energy to keep up with my hectic life. It clears my head of white noise so I can be present for my family and importantly my writing. When my rapid thoughts are quiet my creativity flows. I find myself putting words on paper and completing manuscripts. I'm doing it!

Maybe you already find the time for physical activity. Maybe you meditate daily. What's on that bucket list of yours? Getting an agent? Signing with a bigger publisher? Finishing your first manuscript? Finding a critique partner? Figure out what steps you need to take, research, learn your craft. Just Do It! I know you can.

Talk to you later...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

No Toys in the Happy Meals?

I'm about to get on my soap box. The following may be inappropriate for the more liberal persuasion of the population. You may wish to turn the blog off now.

For the rest of us...I heard the channel seven anchor of the five o'clock news say some group wants the toys out of the happy meals. Are you kidding me? What is this country coming to?

Do you mean to tell me that parents have lost complete control of their children? They need the government to force food chains to change the way they've been doing business for decades because Mommy can't tell little Susie or Johnny no. Here, let's try it together. Take a deep breath. Ready? "NO!" There. Don't you feel better?

Who is the parent here? If your child has a weight problem it is your responsibilty to take care of it. You brought the child into the world. Not Ronald McDonald. (Well, maybe he brought in a couple. Who knows.)

We owe our children to be the best parents we can. That means saying no even when they kick and scream. Especailly when they kick and scream.

I don't know about you, but I don't want the government telling me how to raise my children. If I want to allow my kids to eat fast food because they like the toy that should be my business and mine alone. And if a parent doesn't have the good sense to watch what their children eat, make sure they get enough physical activity then shame on them!

Step up to the plate people and take responisiblity for your actions. Be the parents you were meant to be. Have rules. Say no. Your children will thank you for it when it counts. They might hate you now, but oh well. We aren't supposed to be their friends.

I'm getting off the soap box now. Talk to you later...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Criminal Minds and the AAA Man

I've been watching too many episodes of Criminal Minds. I love that show. I can't get enough of it. I even watch the reruns on A&E and Ion Television. And as a suspense author I'm always thinking someone is out to get me. That's what happened the other day.

My car battery died Thursday morning. After the kids got off to school and my husband left for work I called AAA. The nice man pulled into my driveway, jumped the battery with his cables, and told me to let the engine run for twenty minutes. Simple enough!

But I decided to leave the garage door open so I could keep an eye on my car. Just in case someone wanted to steal it of course! (There goes that suspenseful mind again.)Not five minutes later I heard a knock on the door inside my garage. The one that leads to the inside of my house. The one NO ONE ever comes to probably because they don't even know it's there.

My heart slammed against my chest like a jack hammer breaking concrete. Who could be at the door? And that particular door of all things. My hands shook. I didn't know what to do. Do I call 9-1-1? Do I go to the door? Had the AAA man come back to murder me? That was it! The AAA man had returned to kill me. I was sure of it. That's what they do on Criminal Minds.

Who would find my body? Could I fight this intruder off? Thoughts spun around in my head like a tornado. I tip-toed forward. I didn't want to give myself away of course. "Who's there?" I said with trepidation.

The AAA man hadn't come to murder me after all. My imagination had run away with itself yet again. I opened the door to a familiar face inspired to enter my garage because my car was running in the driveway.

So, what does that say about people like me? Are you also thinking someone lurks around every bush ready to pounce before you have the key in the lock? Will I stop watching Criminal Minds? Will you put down that suspense novel for something less scary? I hope not. For without us the world would be filled with blue skies and Palomino ponies. Boring!

Talk to you later...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My First Book Signing

I mentioned the other day I was teaching a class to sixth graders. Last week I participated in the Ocean Township Intermediate School's Authors' Day. It was awesome! I taught the students all about writing in the active voice. (You can get a snippet of my lesson below.)The students were so enthusiastic about learning. They participated, asked questions. This was the first time they were exposed to active voice. I met other authors and an illustrator. It's always a great experience to meet other people in the industry.

But the best part was the end of the day. The authors had an opportunity to sell their books to the students. I don't have any books to sell yet so the students asked me to sign my business card for them!!!! How thrilled was I? My face hurt from smiling all day. It was a fantastic experience and I'm so honored to have been included. I had my first book signing and it was as wonderful as I imagined!

You know what this means? Believe in yourself. Follow your heart. Live your passion. Never surrender and never give up! And a few supporters in your corner doesn't hurt either!

Talk to you later...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Writing Lesson - Active Voice

I'm teaching a class to sixth graders this week. I was asked to speak at an author's day at a local intermediate school. My topic is "How to Write in the Active Voice." I thought I'd share some of my wisdom for all you aspiring writers. You can apply this to all your writing. Even letters. Feel free to add your own knowledge of the craft or ask questions. I don't know about you, but I love to learn. Here goes:

Writers use active voice to make action jump off the page. It puts the reader right into the scene with the character and you feel like you're doing whatever the character is.

But what is voice? Voice refers to whether the subject performs the action (active voice) or is the recipient of the verb's action (passive voice.) A writer needs to identify the difference between active and passive voice so they can find it in their writing. Here's an example: The computer ate my paper. That's active voice. The paper was eaten by my computer. That's passive voice. See the difference?

Passive sentences always have a form of the verb "to be" in it. When you find that in your writing ask yourself how can you change the sentence so the subject is performing the action?

If you want your writing to be strong, powerful, and concise make sure to use active verbs and watch your writing jump off the page.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Occasional Dark Corner

I promised the occasional dark corner. As a suspense writer I couldn't resist the urge to tell a scary story. Read on.

Lara Adler woke with a start. Her heart thumped in her chest like a captured wild horse. Another nightmare. She closed her eyes, but couldn't shake the vision of a man outside the McDonald's. Murdered. That would teach her to eat fast food late at night.

The cool breeze from the bedroom window blew across her skin. She pulled the covers tighter, but the chill settled into her bones. She should sleep in something other than yoga pants and a tank top. Tossing the blankets aside, she swung her feet to the cold floor.

The digital clock read 1:52. The nightmares always happened at the same time. She fumbled for the lamp on the bedside table knocking her IPod and psychology text book to the ground. The light pushed the darkness into the corner of the room. She blinked against the painful intrusion.

Her usual sleep garb had transformed into her college sweatshirt. Covered in mud. "What the..." And her jeans, a pair she only pulled out for working in the yard, streaked down the sides as if she'd been wiping her hands on her legs. She wiped her pants then and brought her hands to her face. Blood.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Opinion Is...

Everyone has their opinions. About everything: religion, politics, music, movies, books, how to raise children. I'm the first one to put my hand in the air and say, "listen to what I think!" Some people like this about me. Some people not so much. Too bad, I say. (Hey, that sounds like an opinion!)

Agents in the publishing industry are no different. If a writer queries an agent that agent has an opinion about the novel. I sent out two queries last week for my suspense novel Don't Play With Fire. One agent gave me her opinion, which wasn't I love it, and then told me to take her opinion with a grain of salt. What do you suppose that means?

I'll tell you what it means. Opinions are not facts. So, she didn't like my novel, big deal. Another agent will have a different opinion. If I look around long enough I'll find the agent whose opinion is the same as mine.

Should we refrain from giving our opinions? No. If I'm asked for an opinion then brace yourself because I'm going to give it. Do we offer our unsolicitied opinions? Well, the PC answer is "no," but I admit there are times when my opinion is out there for the whole world to hear before I can stop it. Oops!

I love people with an opinion. Tell me what you think, don't hold back. I want to hear your views on religion, politics, music, movies, books and even tips on how to parent. Then guess what I'm going to do. Take it with a grain of salt!

Talk to you later...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anything is possible...

How many of you have seen the movie Julie & Julia with the amazing Meryl Streep? You may remember a scene near the end where Julia is about to send out her cookbook manuscript for the second time. She turns to her husband wanting to savor the moment and says this is the time when anything's possible. (I paraphrased. Forgive me Ms. Streep!)

I just sent out a query of Don't Play With Fire to an agent and I totally get what Julia Childs meant in that moment. Right now I can dream Ms. agent loves my manuscript and wants to take me on as a client. This time is like floating in the air shrouded in a bubble.

Now let's hope no one bursts it!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Road Filled With Hard Work

Let's start with a quote from my favorite author, Stephen King. "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

I began my journey to seriously become a professional writer six years ago. It's been a road filled with pot holes of self-doubt and wrong turns. It's also been a road of clear straight aways and green lights. (Like meeting and loving my indispensable critique partners!!)

On Saturday I attended the Liberty State Fiction Writer's first annual conference. I pitched my suspense novel to an agent. She liked what she heard and asked to see pages! I'll be getting that out to her this week. Hopefully, she'll ask to see the full manuscript next. (More hard work.)

I was also blessed with meeting and connecting with two New York Times Bestselling authors! Jonathan Maberry and Virginia Kantra. They were kind enough to share fantastic information to help me on this journey. Talking with them was as comfortable as taking a long ride with an old friend.

Even though I can't see where the road ahead leads, though I hope I know where it makes a stop, my hard work drives me closer to my goals. And when I land face down in a pot hole I will remember making connections, learning something new about my craft, and hearing the support of the spectators on the side. I'll brush myself off and let hard work lead the way.

Talk to you later...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friendships - Keep Them or Toss them?

Hi! It's great to see you again! The topic of friendship has come up a lot lately and I thought this might be a good place to start up a lively discussion.

How long do you keep a friendship before you need to end it? I like to think of it as cleaning out the crazy people from your friendship closet. Some people refer to it as weeding a garden. You pick the metaphor you like best, but any way you slice it when do you say enough is enough?

I've been told I drop the hatchet a little too quickly and some times that's true. (Sorry to all of those under my knife!) I have a low threshold for drama so once someone starts playing games See Ya. If someone isn't being honest See Ya. And if anyone is living "Life In The Key of Me" SEE YA!! Which unfortunately is a lot of people. So, maybe I do clean the closet out too often.

Maybe that crazy friend (and I say crazy with loving kindness) tucked on the top shelf doesn't need to be tossed, but taken down and dusted off. Maybe they just need to be placed in the sun and given kind words from you so they can bloom. Until all of your attention is focused on their needs and they've managed to suck the life from you. See Ya!

I'm just kidding. Not everyone is a life sucker. I've been blessed with knowing some wonderful people. And even the challenging ones have taught me a lesson or two. Tell me what you think. Talk to you later...

Conference Coming

On Saturday, I'm attending a writer's conference hosted by the fabulous group: Liberty State Fiction Writers! I'm very excited to spend the day with fellow writers, learn more about my craft, and pitch my new book to an agent. That's right! I've got an appointment to knock the socks off of a fantastic lady who can change my world with one simple word: YES! Cross your fingers for me and I'll let you know how I made out. Thanks for your support. It really means the world to me. Talk to you later...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Here Goes...

Welcome to my blog! I'm so excited to be on this journey and to have you with me. What fun is a good ride if you don't have a few friends along, right?

I'm a writer. I've completed two manuscripts. The first one is in a file titled "Do Not Touch" and the second has gotten some good feedback from agents. I'm currently working on a third. I thought whipping together a blog post should be no big deal. How wrong I was!

For those of you who already know me, you know I like to talk. A blog should be right up my alley. A place where I can talk to my heart's content and no one can say, "Hey, Stacey, shut it!" So how come I'm so nervous about writing a blog?

I think it's because I shy away from all the new technology. (Okay, shy isn't a good word to describe me, but go with it for a minute.) I like interpersonal communication. I actually want to see a person's face when I talk to them. Well, most people's faces, but that's a blog for another time.

So here I am sticking my toe in the ocean of technology and I'm dragging you out to sea with me. I'll keep you posted on my books, the thrill ride of life, and maybe I'll tell a ghost story or two. Don't be afraid to tell me what you're thinking. I'm certainly not afraid to speak my mind.

I'll talk to you later...