Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

As the old year passes I a little saddened. 2010 was a fairly good year for me. I'm blessed with family and acquired a new grandson as well as a great grandson. What more could a person ask for. I still have my health for the most part. Yes, I'm overweight and need to do something about it, but I feel fairly good. No, I can't do as much as I used to, but I do what I can. I contracted eight new books with Muse It Up Publishing. And, I also acquired a new puppy. What a monster, but cute as a button.
So, why am I sad? I'm always sad at the end of a good year. Partly fear of what the new year holds, and yet I look forward to the new year and what it holds.
Yet, I look forward to the new year and pray it's as good as 2010.
I wish all my  blog followers a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Welcome, Heather Haven

I Can’t Keep up With My Life

Several years ago, when I discovered my husband was becoming a working musician on top of having a day job as a teacher, I knew I had to get a life that didn’t revolve around him. It was hard to wait up several nights a week for the one highlight of my day to show up, bleary-eyed and exhausted, only to give me a quick hello and kiss, and then stumble to bed, snoring not five minutes later. My plight was another form of the Empty Nest Syndrome, known as the Empty Spouse Syndrome.

I had always been a writer but I decided to become more serious about it than ever. I joined writing groups, took writing classes, and finished the novel I’d been threatening to finish for nearly ten years. I was no longer a Woman of Procrastination. I was a Get It Done Gal. And I am a Mere Shell of My Former Self.

Three years later, I am in the midst of writing my fourth novel. Two are being published by MuseItUp Publishing (shout Hosanna from the rooftops and pass out the bubbly). Murder is a Family Business, the first in the Alvarez Murder Mystery Series, debuts in less than a week. The second of the series, A Wedding To Die For, I am now editing. To Die For is out in May.

Another novel, not of that series, is on the back burner waiting for my last round of edits before I send it off to a publisher. Aside from my writing projects, such as a three-act play and a 5th mystery novel, I’ve had short stories published, entered and won writing contests, had two one-act plays mounted, created a website, and write a blog -- when I can remember. In short, I have become the person I’ve wanted to become only I’m having a hard time keeping up with me.

Add to that, I am a gourmet cook, which is fun but shopping, prep time and cooking take a lot of time and energy. Hubby Norman is a gourmet eater, so we get along just fine. But have you seen my kitchen lately? Where is Mr. Clean when you need him?

Then there are my two cats. Now most people might ponder how much trouble a cat can be. I am proud to say I am known for turning the average alley cat into a neurotic French Poodle. Putting the basic care and feeding of my pets aside, there is playtime, treat time, grooming time, picking up the toys from all over the floor time, and huggy-poo, kissy-face time. For me, having two cats is a time-consuming bit of business. But frankly, when I die I want to come back as one of my cats.

Also, Norman sings and plays the guitar in a group called Nigel and Clive and the British Invasion. They are sort of a Beatles Tribute rock and roll band and have taken the Bay Area by storm (curious? Go to Norman is “Clive” and I often go along on the more fun gigs, another venture that bites into my time but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

And somewhere in all of this, I do have to clean my house. If I don’t, the two cats, Ellie and Yulie, have threatened to call the SPCA and lodge a complaint. Even Mr. Clean occasionally protests.

Did I leave anything out? Probably. My mother says the people in China don’t know how I suffer. But not to worry. She sent them an email about it just the other day, so it’s covered.

Happy New Year, everyone. May the coming New Year bring you all you want and need.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I love Christmas

I love Christmas. I mean I really really love Christmas - or rather the holiday season in general. I love the period of time betwen Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love everything about it, the preparations, decorations, even the hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking and baking.  I especially love the time spent with family.
It begins just before Thanksgiving for me. I put my tree up and decorate inside and out the week before Thanksgiving, but I don't light anything until Thanksgiving day. It's become a tradition for me. I used to decorate the day after Thanksgiving, but since my family doesn't spend Christmas day at my home and they are here for Thanksgiving, I decided to do it before.
This year, I decided to have my traditional Christmas Eve supper the Sunday before. Partly because we spend Christmas Eve with my brothers and sister and this year my sister decided to have it earlier than the usual six thirty, seven pm time. It made more sense since we always serve food - we alternate the day between us, by the way-so this left little time to have our dinner. The other reason I decided to have it the Sunday before is because most of children couldn't join us for dinner on Christmas Eve.  This worked out so much better this year. I love being surrounded by my children and grandchildren. Unfortunately there were still a few who couldn't join us. I guess that's always going to happen, but most of them were there. It made for a much more relaxing day. We had all day to enjoy each other's company and didn't have to rush to clean up after dinner and hurry off like we usually do on Christmas Eve. Not only was that day and dinner more relaxing, Christmas Eve itself was more relaxing. I didn't spend the day in the kitchen cooking like I usually do and I had plenty of time to get ready to go. No cleanup, no muss, no fuss.
Christmas Day we spent at my son's this year. It's nice not having to prepare dinner for everyone. Usually, I pay for the main course and everyone brings a dish to share. It works out well. This year, my son bought and paid for the main course, so I brought a dish to share. Well, two actually. I made noodles from a recipe my mother in law gave me and my kids love and homemade cranberry sauce. Again, it was a relaxing, but fun filled, noisy day.
Since my son's home is on the small side, we had to open gifts in shifts - the young children first, then the older children and finally the adults. I love the joking and teasing that goes on between the family. We're  a large family and our get togethers are very loud. Someone once called us obnoxious. Maybe we are, but we enjoy it.
There's always a let down feeling when the day is over, or maybe it's more of a sadness. The long awaited day is over. In another week or so, everyone will have their trees down, outdoor lights will no longer be lit. The cheeriness of the season will be gone. The anticipation of the day will pass and the long winter doldrums of January will set in with only Spring and Summer to look forward to. Days, weeks, and months will pass slowly. The fun and activity of the holiday season will turn into memories.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older and I know my days are numbered that I feel this more so this year. I look back on Christmases past and remember the fun we had when I was a child and the Christmases when my children were young. Thank God, I still have enough young grandchildren to still enjoy.
I love Christmas and I guess I always will.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Welcome Becca Cavington - from Santa is a Lady

I want to thank Roseanne Dowell for inviting me to speak on her blog site.

And I’d like to thank you, Becca Cavington, for joining me. It’s always a pleasure to have one of you from Santa is a Lady on my blog.

It’s Christmas time in Northeringale, and let me tell you—there’s no place in the whole world I’d rather be at this time of the year.

Oh My. Here I am yakking away and I haven’t even introduced myself yet. My name is Becca, Beck for short, Cavington and I own the best confectionary shop in the entire tri-county area, called Sweets and Treats. My deliciously scented store is a favorite with all the children living in and around Northeringale. ‘Course it helps that I am also the place to go to if you want to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him all the magical things you hope to find under your tree Christmas morning…or at least it was—until last night.

Last night, just five days before Christmas, Santa was arrested!

Yep, that was my Santa you saw being carted off on your news in handcuffs and burying his head in his furry jacket trim!

The minute I saw the early edition of the local news, I learned the true meaning of PANIC ATTACK! The Northpole Throne without Santa is just about the sorriest sight you’ll ever see…but it gets worse.

The last four shopping days before Christmas are crucial to my store’s blackening bottom line. I immediately dug out the phone number for Santa University where “professional” Santas go to earn their “letters” in Santaology, but every degreed Santa is already “on-the-throne” so to speak. There’s something so totally unfair about that. Don’t you agree?

I had to do something! When my store opens tomorrow morning, the good little girls and boys, not to mention their harried parents, are expecting to find the Jolly Old Elf sitting where he belongs!

Let me just take a second here and explain…panic sometimes makes you do crazy things—so I am claiming Temporary Retail Insanity for what happened.

My best friend, Angie Brightwell…yes THAT Angie Brightwell, mystery writer beyond compare…fought against my suggestion with the tenacity of a miniature rottweiler, but when you are up against the wall, who you gonna call? Your absolute best friend even if she does sound like a mouse on helium.

I can trust Angie, and with only four days to go nothing more could possibly go wrong…right?

Famous Last Words!

To find out what happens you need to get your hands on LJ Holmes’ Muse release SANTA IS A LADY at the Muse it Up Bookstore.

You can also follow LJ Holmes at

She also has her very own AUTHOR page at the Muse It Up Publishing website

Again, I want to thank Roseanne Dowell and wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome, Mavis Dasef


Marva Dasef

Eternal Press PDF

Amazon Kindle

(Q) Thank you for joining us today. Why don't you tell everyone a bit about your book?

(A) ULTIMATE DUTY is space opera with a bit of romance. From the cover:

Remy Belieux, a woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her ultimate duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.

(Q) Where did the concept for the book come about?

(A) I wrote a short story titled "Pressure Drill" years ago. I got a good response from my critique group, but back then, submitting was entirely by snail mail. I didn't pursue publication. When I retired from real work, I hauled out the story, along with a few others and gave them a fresh look and rewrite. That first story, plus one more with the same main character were published. From that I expanded the story and it eventually became a novel.

(Q) How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?

(A) Only thirty years in the making, but I was busy doing other things most of those years.

(Q) Are there any authors that have influenced your own writing?

Mark Twain, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov. Plain, simple stories well told.

(Q) Do you have any favourite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?

(A) I always write at home. I have a great setup in the family room, right next to the kitchen for quick snacking. I'm one of the few non-listeners. When I write, I find any music distracting. I've become used to the sound of the dishwasher, hubs running power equipment, and my cat vocally worrying about what's going on outside.

(Q) As a writer, what is your greatest fear?That I actually suck, and I'm wasting my time.

(Q) What normally occupies your desk while writing?

(A) A stack of scratch paper, two pens, a ruler, a calendar, a calculator, my cell phone, stack files...Okay, this is boring. Just the usual desk stuff.

(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on? If so, what are they?

(A) Mostly, I'm wrapping up a lot of projects. I have a mystery/suspense, "Missing, Assumed Dead," coming out in July 2011 from MuseItUp, a tween fantasy titled "Bad Spelling" scheduled for October 2011. I'm also waiting on a response from MuseItUp to the two sequels of "Bad Spelling." I sure hope they take the whole series. Having books 2 and 3 without a publisher is worrisome. I'm in the note-taking stage of a sequel to Ultimate Duty.

(Q) What tip would you offer to a new writer who is just beginning their submission journey?

(A) Get your web presence set up RIGHT AWAY. Start with a blog, but I strongly encourage you to snag a website with your name as soon as possible. Get on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, but don't make enemies by expressing strong political or religious views. If you want to do that, use a pseudonym. You want to be prepared to jump out of the gate running when you sell your work.

I spent a twenty-five year dryspell without writing fiction. Since I wrote technical documentation for a living, I could hardly face a computer after work. But I'm sorry that I let it go for so long. Don't wait to write!

(Q) Please tell our readers where they can find you.

(A) All over creation and beyond.

My website:

My blog:

I'm a member of SCBWI and maintain pages on Facebook, Twitter, Jacketflap, MySpace, and a variety pack of writerly websites.

How about an excerpt?

With the protective helmet off, they could now talk. Remy pulled down the rebreather mask. “You guys ready to get the hell off this planet?”

Her mom patted her on the shoulder and her muffled voice answered, “More than ready, sweetheart.”

“Well, hang on. This is definitely going to be a bumpy ride.” Remy replaced her rebreather over her face. Once they got moving, the shuttle’s environment equipment would kick in, and they could take off the masks.

Remy clicked on the communicator and tuned to a close-range channel. She set her infopad near the spare headset and switched it to an electroid number. She could hardly call it music since the robotic instruments reprogrammed themselves at random, making a weird variety of sounds. Remy shrugged. “I guess I just don’t get modern music.” Bill and Ted were monitoring the frequency though and would know that Remy was ready to take off. They’d come in for another diversion run so that she could escape the planet unnoticed. Anybody else who picked up the sound would, hopefully, ignore it.

Her father looked out the passenger side screen and tapped Remy’s arm. “Would three guys holding blasters running in this direction be of interest?”

Remy nodded and goosed the shuttle’s back jets to get them moving across the bleak landscape and into the sky. She boosted out of atmosphere so hard her mom suppressed a squeak. “Slow down!”

“Can’t, Mom. Just try to hang on.” Her mother nodded, her eyes wide with fear. Her dad, on the other hand, was grinning like a kid with a new toy. Remy thought he might not be too old to take pilot training.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ginger Simpson's Christmas Memory

Sleigh Bells and Reindeer

“I think I hear sleigh bells,” my dad would say every Christmas. We’d scurry to our bedrooms and pretend to be fast asleep. Being the oldest of four, I knew Dad was the one who went outside and attempted to make reindeer tracks in the dirt. We didn’t have a fireplace, so Santa had to come in through the door. The important thing was that he came.

How my mom and dad managed to give us such joy and the very thing we wanted when the raft shop where my dad worked at the local air force base paid ninety cents an hour.
We thought we were in hog heaven when he brought home the canned rations every now and then. Each one had a candy inside, and the crackers weren’t bad either. I can’t recall a Christmas that didn’t put a permanent smile on my face and joy in my heart.

Although Dad was Jewish and didn’t believe in the reason for the season, he was always the first to shake the presents beneath the tree. We always vowed to wait until Christmas morning to open gifts, but he was the culprit behind the “let’s open just one.”

Sure, one turned into two, and before we knew it, we sat amongst opened boxes and a landslide of wrapping paper, happy with what we’d received, but disappointed that once again we’d failed to wait until morning. So the tradition continues. Christmas eve is our time to celebrate, and I’m always urged on by my father’s voice in my head, telling me now from heaven, “just open one. What harm can it do?” Oh, we still have our Christmas dinner on the day of, and as a Christian, I celebrate the birth of Jesus, and I will be forever thankful for the parents he gave me.

We weren’t rich in the financial sense, but in love we were millionaires. I’d give anything to have one of those Christmas Eves over again, and hear my Dad’s sweet voice talking to me for real. He’s been gone for over twenty years now, but if you’re listening Daddy, your little girl loves you with all her heart, and I miss you still. You’ll always be in my heart.

I wish all a "let's just open one," Christmas. Happy New Year, too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Barbara Bockman’s Wonderful Christmas

I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville. When I was young, it sometimes snowed at Christmas. I loved to watch snow falling and to go out and play with my cousins. Once Billy and Nancy and Frank and I attempted to make an igloo.

So many of my wonderful Christmases were just alike that it’s hard to single out a special one.

Of course, I always got a doll. That was necessary because the one from last year was always missing a limb or an eye (the kind that fell backward out of the eye socket into the head of the doll). Also, if I had left her out in the rain, the paint of her face washed off. By the next Christmas, that doll was an eyesore, so Santa Claus brought me a new one.

For years, after breakfast, I proudly marched out the road to visit the relatives. I showed off my new doll and admired the gifts Santa had left my cousins. If I hung around the kitchen doors, my aunts gave me cookies or candy; it didn’t even require a hint.

A special Christmas does come to mind. One year, my aunt Gladys gave me a Brownie camera. What a treat! I wanted to go out immediately and take pictures even though it was snowing heavily. My mother bundled me up in my coat with matching leggings and cap and boots. I slung the little black strap around my neck and out I went to take pictures. The little black box was easy to focus, with its two-inch square aperture under the flip-top. Since there was no such thing as a flash attachment at that time, all my photography took place outdoors.

It’s strange how the white world of a snow-filled sky seems to take color out of regular objects. I walked in whiteness, sometimes sticking my tongue out to capture snowflakes, hardly feeling the cold.

Some of the neighbors had hedges of evergreens or boxwood, and that special Christmas day, snow piled inches high on the limbs and weighed them down. I was ecstatic with the beauty of it all, and took up a whole roll of film.

That Brownie camera was one of the best gifts ever and one I remember fondly to this day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Barbara Ehrentreu's Favorite Christmas Memory

My Favorite Christmas Memory

Whitesboro, NY : Christmas lights on Main StreetWhen my husband and I got married we moved back to Cortland, NY where I had just graduated from SUNY Cortland. I had never really appreciated the town itself, since I was from a big city and the town had very little to offer me. When I had been a student all I knew about the town were the bars, a restaurant and the only diner.
When we moved back we didn’t really explore the town. I was teaching every day and the only trips we took to town were to go to the huge, cavernous movie theater, the supermarket and the laundromat. It would have been very lonely for both of us, but my husband had school during the day and work. My teaching took me to the neighboring town of Cincinnatus, which was so small it would have fitted into Cortland with space to spare. The weather was cold and snowy, since Cortland is right in the middle of the snowbelt. We were both feeling a little down at the holidays, because we hadn’t been able to get back to the city where all of my relatives lived.

So my husband decided we would try to have our own holiday celebration. Of course we celebrated Chanukah, but he remembered when he was a boy and had celebrated Christmas. He went out and got us a tree. It was more like the tree in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, but it was a little fuller and half the size of a normal tree. We put it on a stand and decorated it with brand new ornaments we bought together complete with the lights. I was delighted, because I had never had a tree in my place before and this had been such a dream for me.:) Then we decided to give each other presents and allotted one day for the shopping.

We walked over to Main Street, which was a few blocks away. We couldn’t have driven there anyway, since we didn’t have a car yet! We were living in a tiny one and a half bedroom apartment and paid only $65 a month for it.:) This was back in 1965 when prices like this for rent were the usual in small towns. So when we got to the Main Street we divided and went our separate ways. We had each given the other a list of the things we might like. I explored the possibilities for shopping and found a department store where I could find everything I needed. I also found a few other specialty stores as well. Having had each gift wrapped for me, I met my husband again and we walked back home. Each of us had a secret smile on our faces. But we had to put our gifts under the tree. It wasn’t Christmas yet and we didn’t want to spoil the surprise.
Finally Christmas Eve came and we couldn’t wait any longer. Our tree was there in the middle of our living room with its pine scent and bright colored lights. We unwrapped each other’s presents and the only thing I remember from it is a beautiful dress with a design of a Mondrian painting on it. It had big squares colored red and blue and white with black lines surrounding each one. I had also knitted my husband a sweater and he loved it.:) Standing in the middle of the gift wrapping wearing my dress I finally felt like we were a family and that someday we would be surrounded by our future children. I didn’t realize that this would be the last Christmas that we had a tree, but I will never forget it and it was the best Christmas I ever spent.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Memories

There are so many Christmas memories that I find it difficult to know which ones to  But this one came to mind for some reason.
We'd been married for about five years and it had always been our tradition to put up our tree the beginning of December. My mom always put her tree up on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th. Later, once we bought artificial trees we began putting them up the day after Thanksgiving, a tradition started by my sister that everyone copied. I love Christmas and everything to do with it, so it only seemed natural to put it up then. Besides, back when I was a child the holidays started for our family the day after Thanksgiving with baking cookies and such.
But, I digress from this particular memory.
We lived in a small community that Santa came down all the streets in a sleigh(with wheels) pulled by horses every year around the middle of December Everyone came out to greet him and he passed out candy canes to the kids, no those little candy canes either, those big, thick, long ones. Anyway,  we still didn't have our tree. Money was tight and other things took priority that year. Besides that, our car was broke down and we didn't even have a way to get one.
But that didn't stop me from whining. I wanted my tree. It was getting late in the season and already people were decorated and trees showed up in everyone's windows. Everyone's but ours. I missed the bright colored lights and the warm glow. So, of course one weekend I complained endlessly.
Either tired of hearing me or just being a terrific guy (I'm still not sure which) hubby put on his coat and shoes and walked up to the corner. Let me describe walking to the corner. We lived on a main street and there were several houses between us and the next cross street. That's not the corner I meant. Between that cross street and the corner was a very large cemetery, maybe three quarters of a mile away.
Hubby bought a tree and dragged it home behind him in the snow. And I'm not talking a three or four foot tree, I'm talking about six feet. So... he comes home and he's cold and out of breath, but about.
Amazed at his good mood, I asked him what was so funny.  Apparently, while he was walking home, a lady stopped him and asked if he knew when Santa was coming. Not stopping to think about it, and not in the best of moods, he looked at her and answered, Christmas.  After she pulled away, he thought about it while walking and realized she meant the Santa who went around the neighborhood. 
Bet she never stops and asks a man dragging a tree down the street that question again.  I wish I had a picture of that. It must have been an awesome sight.