Life · Writing & Publishing

I’m Still Here

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog, alas, I am alive. I still think about you, dear reader, quite often. The reality is I’m working on a new project.

Let me back up.

We have settled into Illinois and I am sure we made the right decision to move here. I found a day job I enjoy (I literally get paid to drink coffee all day!) and our children are loving every minute of being with family.

Sadly, my paternal grandmother passed away in July. Bill and I had to take the kids to PA and then CT to say goodbye. I won’t get into the sadness of it all. The lady was 95 years old! She lived a good life and now it’s time for her to be with her youngest son and my grandfather again.

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I was able to see my her in April at my cousins wedding. Here is the last photo of us together. Please note my daughter had on pants which were too big, so the last picture of her with my grandmother entails her pants being around her knees….only my kid!

My own kids are growing like weeds, as they say…and Liam was kind enough to wait until we were in a hotel in CT, completely tired and stressed out, to break his first tooth. He’s much happier now, and since getting the second tooth in, he has taken on everything from pasta to Pop-Tarts (the Pop-Tarts are his fathers doing!)

Talia is talking up a storm, and just when I thought she was already into everything, she finds something else to get into.

Back to the project.

I completed the book Seeking Sita. I’m still working on finding a Literary Agent to work with, but in the mean time I am writing The Legend of Lavinia Fisher. Because it’s a historical fiction novel, I have had to do an extensive amount of research, hence my lack of updating this blog.

I did start another website, http://www.LaviniaFisherLegend.com to detail the book. I’m hoping to put together a book trailer once the manuscript is complete and edited. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I am almost done with research and I’m outlining the book so I can start writing.

I’m also baking again, going back to teaching yoga, and finally finishing my degree. I have chosen Forensic Psychology as my major, since most of my coursework has already been in Criminology and Psychology. I feel it will help my writing, since the main theme in my books has been setting the main character free from whatever their struggles have brought them. I can talk more about this once this next book is finished. As crazy as it sounds, I also have ideas and themes for the next two books as well. Basically, I need about 10 more hours in each day!

Until next time!

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Life

11 Things I Learned in the South

I’ve been in Illinois a week and thankfully I have not had too much in the way of culture shock! I was a bit surprised when I tried a new grocery store and they required a .25 deposit for the cart, then charged me for bags, then made me take my groceries back out of the cart to bag my own bags…which I just paid for, but nothing was as surprising as the things I encountered when I moved from New England to the South. Some of them are funny (now) and so in no particular order….

  1. Texas Pete is not a biker dude. When I first moved to the south, I left the world of law and my position as a paralegal to wait tables. The money was much better, and I was not stuck behind a desk. A rather large man with a Harley Davidson shirt asked me for Texas Pete. The restaurant was loud on a Sunday morning for brunch, so I did not clearly hear the way the question was phrased….I just heard the name. I was taken back for a moment. I know I have tattoo’s, but what about me made this guy think I hung out with a guy named “Texas Pete”? When I told the gentleman I didn’t know him, he asked for hot sauce in an aggravated tone. It wasn’t until I got back to the server station and asked if anyone knew my mystery man, did I realize my mistake. Texas Pete IS the hot sauce. This was 10 years ago, and I’m sure Texas Pete has made it into New England supermarkets since then.
  2. Armadillos are roadside ornaments. In the 10 years I spent in the Carolina’s, I never once saw a living armadillo. I only saw them on the side of the road….dead.
  3. Alligators will fuck you up. I’m not kidding when I saw my first “Beware of Alligators” sign and about choked. I had no idea I was moving to the land of gator, and I thought they only lived in the Bronx Zoo. Not only do they walk about freely, there was one found at a drive thru window in the heavily populated Tanger Outlets near our house, just looking for a burger. Not cool.
  4. They are still fighting the Civil War. This one is sad. As soon as I landed in North Carolina, and even more-so in South Carolina, it was evident racism is a BIG deal. Having grown up an hour outside of New York City, where you can be anyone you want to be, I was shocked. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a “Yankee” with negative connotation. Some people just automatically hated me because of where I was born. They have not realized the Civil War was over 150 years ago, they lost, and my family didn’t even get here until the 1920’s…..we really had NOTHING to do with it.
  5. They call Cockroaches “Palmetto Bugs!” Not only is this the state bug (gross), it’s a damn cockroach. Southerners can call it what they want…it’s a cockroach and it’s nasty!
  6. College Football is a Religion. It doesn’t matter if you even went to college, or where. Everyone has an affiliation they pull for on game day. Some of the major teams include USC, Clemson, Ole Miss, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Like I said, you didn’t have to go there, you just have to wear their colors and carry their koozie around….which brings us to number 7….
  7. Everyone uses a Koozie. I had never heard of this until I showed up in the south. Everyone uses koozies for everything from soda to beer. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They even personalize these things. Having a bakery, I delivered cakes to a lot of weddings. Personalized koozies were so popular, I swear 3/4 of all weddings I did the cake for offered guests their own koozie commemorating the happy couple. Koozies bring me to the next thing…Moonshine.
  8. Moonshine exists. In high school and college I could drink a lot of people under the table….then I met moonshine. People in the south still produce the illegal substance in sheds and can it in mason jars. It comes in a variety of flavors and is often given as a gift…you know…on the down low. This stuff is no joke! My first sip almost knocked me off my stool. I’ll just stick to my Amaretto Sour, thanks.
  9. No One is Ever in a Hurry.  Dear Lawd I cannot express to you how frustrating it is when you’re trying to do ANYTHING in the south in a timely manner and everyone else is just taking their time! They don’t drive fast, talk fast, or just move fast at all. Yes, I grew up an hour outside of New York City where the term “A New-York Minuet” comes from, but seriously folks, people will just miss entire green lights and NO ONE will hit their horn AT ALL…EVER….. These same people enjoy sitting out on their front porch, just sitting. They aren’t even reading a book. They just sit there with dogs next to them…..doing nothing!!!! The dogs bring us to number 10.
  10. Hunting Dogs Are Working Dogs. Here is another sad one. So many people in the South actually use their dogs as hunting tools. When they are done with the dog, they abandon them. The most common of these dogs are Treeing Walker Hounds. I have had 3 in total….all abandoned.

    This is Tremor. He survived one of the worst abuse cases in SC history (by the skin of his teeth) and was once a great hunting dog. Because he’s older, he was abandoned and given to a man who killed over 200 hunting dogs. Tremor was one of 45 to survive.

  11. BBQ is important. In Connecticut, we used to drive over an hour to get the best BBQ in the state….it was also the ONLY BBQ in the state. In the south, BBQ is so serious, each state has their own signature flavor or rub. Some people will only eat certain types of BBQ and I’ve even heard people fight over what is the best. Seriously, I was just happy to have it wherever I went! Some people take their BBQ so seriously, they drive around with smokers attached to their vehicle. I guess it’s “just in case?”

So there it is! The good, bad, funny, and ugly of living in the south.

Writing & Publishing

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

I was off today, so with Bill on Spring Break, we took advantage of family time.

A few weeks ago, The Cat in the Hat came to visit our local Barnes & Noble. Here was Talia’s reaction (notice she was excited as long as he was at a distance!):

Then because my sweet friend Caroline was working and knew it was Talia’s birthday that weekend, she had them sing to her!

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The Cat gave her a cupcake, which she quickly took!

When we got close, she hung onto me for dear life (while I balanced Liam in the carrier!):

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Today the Cat wasn’t there for story time, but we did read Green Eggs and Ham. Talia loved it. She also enjoyed pinning the tail on Horton, and coloring after!

Do you have kids? What did you do for Dr. Seuss’ Birthday? What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? I think mine has to be “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

The children are now in bed, so I’m off to work on my book proposal on the Old City Jail. Be sure to look back at the post from earlier this week for photographs!

 

Life · Writing & Publishing

If I Won Powerball…

Apparently the Powerball payout is crazy high again. I remember last year in January it was ridiculously high, and we bought the employees Bill and I had working at the bakery a bunch of tickets just for fun. I never thought for a second any of us would win, and of course we didn’t. This morning on the way to work, the local radio station was talking about how virtually no one wins, but it is fun to think about what you would do with the money if you did.

Of course I would buy a house, pay off our debt, pay off our parents houses, put money in CD’s, etc, etc….but what about every day life?

I’m not huge on traveling. Sure, I would one day like to see other places around the world, but I don’t really LOVE living out of a suitcase, or having to leave my dogs at home. I’m all for SOME travel, but not a lot.

I would no longer go to either of my two jobs (no one punches a clock to make someone else rich because they WANT to!) but I would continue to write. I would write books upon books upon books….even while most people would probably be on a permanent vacation, I would need to write.

Here is the fun part: Thankfully I don’t need to win the lotto to write books. Sure, I would have more time, but I can still write.

So with this said, I’m starting a new project. It started about two weeks ago, but someone cracked the screen on my PC (probably me, but possibly a toddler), and it has been with the geeks at Best Buy. I just got it back a few hours ago.

I want to introduce you to the new project, starting with the historical fiction book, so here is the pitch:

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For almost 200 years, the story of Lavinia Fisher has been handed down from generation to generation. Now, in the new millennium, tour guides throughout Lavinia’s hometown of Charleston, SC tell her story to hundreds of tourists each day. Some claim she was Americas first female serial killer, others claim she never killed anyone at all, while still others believe she was a witch. Some people believe her ghost lives on and can be seen around Charleston after dark. Many secrets were taken with Lavinia to her grave when she was hung on February 18th, 1820. I will tell you the story, you decide for yourself who was the real Lavinia Fisher.

Intrigued? I hope this makes you interested. Of course I will share more as I work on the project. I keep referring to this as a project because it had more than one part to it.

My first goal is to write a non-fiction book about the jail where Lavinia and John Fisher were held and eventually hung.

I then want to write a historical fiction version of their story.

To start the project, I’ve been poking around the jail, and I will tour it inside next week with my friend Beth. I will leave you with some pictures I’ve taken!

No, I’m not usually a selfie person, but I accidently flipped the screen to me and went with it. Bill came with me to look around. When a wagon of tourists passed by, he told me I should jump the wall and onto the wagon yelling “Go! Go! Go!” as if I was escaping the jail. I’m pretty sure we don’t want to scare the tourists driving our economy away like that!

Given our move in 66 more days, I need to work as quickly as I can to get all my research in before we leave. Of course we plan on coming back (hello: book tour!) but the majority of the leg work must be done in the next two months. With this I must leave you to go schedule some research appointments!

Life

The Love of a (Great) Grandmother

I love my grandmother like you wouldn’t believe! She’s a strong, hard working, caring person, and I just love her to death. I apparently was a complete shit-head to her growing up because she thought a box of musical “equipment” as we shall call it, for my children, was necessary.

Let’s back up.

Over Christmas break we stayed at my dad’s house for a few days. He has a player piano, the type you put the music in and it plays itself. My father probably knows three songs he can actually play, but the music coming out of the piano is impressive because it plays off the player music you put in.

Talia thinks this is cool as all hell. My dad likes to put her up on the piano bench with him and pretend to play. At 2 am on Christmas Eve, when Talia could not sleep for whatever reason, she decided to start playing the piano at my dad’s. My mother (who is divorced from my father) and grandmother think this is hysterical. Meanwhile, my father and his girlfriend think giving Talia a drum for Christmas is also cool….

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I’m not really sure what I did to deserve this  but I must have been a miserable teenager and didn’t know it because that drum was filled with other musical instruments as well.

Anyway, last week my grandmother is out with my mother and she sees a keyboard. Apparently she thought Talia needed said keyboard, based on her 2 am escapade at my dad’s house.

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Talia LOVES this thing (apparently Tremor thinks it’s cool, too, as you see in the picture.)

Now look at this picture of my grandmother with Talia and Liam. See how innocent this little, old, Italian grandma looks? Don’t be fooled my friends….

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Not to leave anyone out, my grandmother got something for Liam as well. Here’s where life fell apart last night.

Having to work in the morning (yes, I’ve gone back to work, but that is a whole other post), I was less than happy when Liam decided to wake up in the middle of the night and Bill just would not wake up. I climb over Bill and spend a great deal of time trying to get Liam back to sleep. The toy my grandmother bought him is in the crib with him, so I turn it on. It lights up on the “screen” but it also projects an image onto the ceiling for him to stare at. Liam LOVES this. I set the music mode to jungle sounds, and he drifts off to sleep. Success….or so I think.

I leave the timer on 20 minutes thinking it just shuts off like a normal child’s toy. Oh no my friends…..the toy goes off, and then 20 minutes later it comes back on! The picture is back on my ceiling, and the thing is now playing baby freaking show-tunes. Bill is between us, so after I’m startled awake, I now have to climb over a sleeping Marine to get to my kid…and the toy.

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I don’t even have to get the image going the right way for you to see how annoying this is for me.

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Here is the image of Liam’s “friends” on the ceiling. You can see how scary they are, right?

There are at least a dozen buttons and switches on this thing and none of them seem to want to shut the whole thing down. Liam is now awake, and we are back to square one….only now Bill is awake and wants to know why the baby is playing Nintendo. I inform him he’s not helping, the baby is not in-fact playing Nintendo, and Bill rolls over so I can be between them. Once I get the thing shut off, Liam doesn’t want to go back to sleep until I get that stupid image of those smug looking cartoons back on the ceiling. ARGH! Dogs are also now awake and wanting to know what is happening, so they all start rotating on and off the bed.

This whole thing carries on for well over an hour. By the time everyone is asleep and happy, my alarm clock goes off. I honestly thought about calling my grandmother at one point, and just giving Liam the phone to scream into. I don’t want her to miss out on all the excitement since she started this whole thing in the first place. (I’m totally kidding, though she has a cell phone now and can’t work it. It would be a wasted call.)

Thankfully there was a counterbalance in the mail today. I was able to sign both kids up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. As if we need another reason to love Dolly, she has a program for children through age 5 to receive an age appropriate book every month, free of charge. When Talia was born, our zip code did not qualify, but just before Liam came, our zip code was included, so I signed them both up! Talia has received a few books, and Liam got his first one today! Talia came running and sat down as soon as I started reading!

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As you can see, he thought this was pretty cool! We’ve read it a few times, and I’m sure we will be reading it a lot more before the next book comes. He also got a lot of great books for Christmas, so he won’t be tired of any one book anytime soon!

I’m off to try and get some sleep to make up for the escapades last night. Right now I have the toy in the crib, with the directions close by! The moral of the story…be nice to your parents and grandparents because payback comes in the form of musical instruments and

Writing & Publishing

Book Club: A Man Called Ove

Have you ever read a book only to spend days after you finish, feeling sad because you miss the characters? This is how I feel about the book A Man Called Ove. While most of the book will make you laugh, the end made me cry my eyes out and left me feeling sad because it was over!

An older gentleman named Ove has worked his entire life, following the rules, taking care of the house and car, as well as caring for his wife. An absolute stickler for the rules, Ove feels as though the world has gone mad for doing things such as driving in residential areas and leaving bicycles in unattended under signs stating not to leave bikes. After suffering several losses, Ove decides things would be better if he just ended his life. The majority of the book is spent on Ove trying to kill himself, though his plan is always foiled. The man is clearly the neighborhood grump, but within the first few pages, you can’t help but love Ove!

Despite trying numerous times to end his life, Ove finds himself needed by some unlikely people and one ragged cat. Once you meet Ove, it will become clear he is the only man in Sweden (the setting of the story and home to the author, Fredrik Backman) who can back up a U-Haul. This leads to the overly happy new family next door depending on Ove, only to find out he needs them just as much.

This book was not at all what I expected from the cover, but I found lovable characters I will miss! I can’t wait to see what else this author has written and anticipate more great character driven stories.

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Military Spouse Life

Moving On Up…To Illinois

It’s really happening. We started packing recently and while it seems like I’ve spent enough time to pack an entire house on just packing one room, it’s ALL books and I’m not done with that one room!

This said, I hesitated several times when I was packing books on or by some of my favorite authors to be included in the book I am working on, Literary Crazy. If I find an agent to work with and can move forward on writing the rest of the book, I’ll need those materials. Knowing I have several other projects I can be working on, not to mention school, a newborn, a toddler, and the zoo of animals I live with, I packed all the books.

THEN BOOM!

Twitter hosted a pitching party where you use certain hashtags used by agents to find potential authors to work with. I found out about it last minute and sent my tweet anyway. Two tweets later, I had four interested agents!!!!!!!

I was beyond excited by which agents had requested more material, but now I must sit and wait. When I told Bill, he said I had better dig the books I packed back out because we rented a trailer to take the packed stuff back to Illinois over Thanksgiving! Now I’m not a superstitious person (well except for hockey…..and I’m pretty sure the Cubbies won the World Series because of my rituals…..in fact, I should call Theo Epstein and see where my ring is!) but I’m afraid to dig out the books/materials because if I do, the agents might not get back to me with good news. I know, I know……you’re rolling your eyes, I’m sure.

Instead of working on unpacking and repacking the mass amount of books to find what I need, I’m just working on other projects needing my attention. This consists mostly of article writing and trying to catch sleep when the kids let me!

I’m sure I will wait until the last minute (when Bill is loading the trailer to go to Illinois) to decide to pull out the books….which will be how the fight starts (just kidding).

Meanwhile, if you don’t hear from me, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! As I mentioned, we are headed to Illinois so little man can meet the family and we can start house hunting! Sadly, I don’t  care much about the house we buy, as long as it has a room for my writing and a space for my soap making. I’ll leave you with some pictures of what I’ve been working on in that department!