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.

Life

Good Grief!

Good Grief! If you read my last post, you know I went to start school on Monday only to find out I had been erroneously purged from the system. I marched across campus immediately (okay, my pregnant ass more like waddled….but it was, as Bill would call it, a turbo waddle, because I meant business!) and went to the Registrar. They admitted they made a mistake and told me it would have to go to the Dean. She took my phone number and told me to hang around campus until it was fixed.

Good thing I didn’t listen and went home instead. It was not until Tuesday, after several phone calls TO the college (they had not called me like they said they would) and three emails, one of which went to EVERYONE in the President’s office, I finally got a call it had been fixed.

Once I had sent that final email though, I started to have doubts. What if it was a sign I needed to not enroll in school? What if I’m not meant to finish? What if I need to focus on the new business or my writing. Then my mother chimes in “what if you’re about to get a major book deal?”

Way to go mother….now I’m going to overthink it……get my hopes up, and then……well, the phone rang. The guy on the other end CLEARLY did not want to make the call to me, probably because he read my email and was afraid of me yelling, but he assured me it was fixed and we moved on.

Fast forward to this morning and I’m in the dreaded math class. The good news is I was switched to a math class with a teacher I know and who is great. The bad news, I was a few minutes late because 1) my wallet went missing (Talia) and 2)…..well….Starbucks.

Being 34 and in a basic math class means I’m mixed in with a LOT of 18 year old kids. I don’t like 18 year old kids. Why? Because they are obnoxious and talk the whole time. The girl next to me today was no exception.

It was almost entertaining in a way. If I had not been so bent on concentrating on my work (which is hard with ADHD to begin with) I would have found it amusing. I was sitting next to a girl who had another girl on the other side (we are at round computer stations) whom she apparently knew. They spent the entire 2 hours gossiping and whining about “all this math which is just too hard.”

She spent most of her gossip session talking trash about other girls they had gone to high school with. She would talk about how this one wanted to hang out with her and how she hated that one. She then would end her sentences with “but I’m going places with my life.”

She insisted she was going places with her life several times….and then she dropped the bomb…… She was dead serious, but I could not help but bust out laughing, probably like a hyena, in a rather quiet computer lab.

“So and so is also pregnant, can you believe it? She wanted to hang out but I’m going places with my life and ….oh, there are only 286 more days until 4/20….” (I don’t remember the exact number so don’t quote me if you’re counting….) but SERIOUSLY??? Who counts down the days until 4/20???? You must be some EXTREME pot head….but you’re going places with your life….

I don’t know about you, but the calendar I use is for doctor appointments and deadlines….not drug based holidays!

Now if you’re into pot, I don’t really care. It’s not my thing, but I once had a roommate who was an extreme pot smoker and other than the smell, I just don’t care. I mean, if being lazy and eating everything in your house is your thing, that’s fine with me. I wouldn’t care if it was legal either, but I’m guessing “Miss I’m Going Places” doesn’t function well when high. She looked straight today, and I’m pretty sure she completed three whole math problems in two hours….

I digress.

The good news is my other two classes are online. Also, this math can be mostly done at home because it’s a computer program, but I have to go there to take the tests. There is one test a week. I’ve ridden this rodeo before (I’m so horrible at math) and I HAVE to complete this for graduation in May because I have like 3 more maths to take. I’m confident I can do it…with Bill’s help.

In the back of my mind though, I keep thinking “What if my mother is right? What if I am about to get a book deal?” or, what if the new business is about to take off? Do I abandon ship and focus on those things, or FORCE myself to finish and graduate? I suppose I should wait until I get to that bridge when it comes, but it is fun to daydream!

Writing & Publishing

It’s a Hockey Life Thing

I’m not a sports person.

I don’t play sports. I don’t run, I don’t work out, I dread football season because I don’t want to hear about it.

I don’t watch sports….EXCEPT Ice Hockey.

I LOVE ICE HOCKEY!!!! (I AM a New Englander, after all!)

Bill also loves Ice Hockey….

So naturally, we couldn’t wait to bring Talia to her first game. The best part? The Stingrays made history the night we brought her (Friday)…they also haven’t lost a game since she was born! I think that makes her a good luck charm…also, if we weren’t moving over the summer, I would say they need to give us season tickets to keep the momentum next year. They won their 14th straight game that night! Since then they’ve won two more!

We bought special ear protection for her, but tough girl wanted nothing to do with it. She didn’t seem upset at any of the noise though, even when they scored and the crowd would go nuts. She slept through most of it actually.

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I just love this picture of Bill holding her. He’s just such a great daddy!

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Of course I needed one with her, too.

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I always look so silly trying to do “selfies.” Ugh!

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Yes, I freaked out a bit when Bill handed her over to the mascot (who willingly took her).

I also started baking again last week. I had to make 45 Mudd Pies. Let me tell you, it’s great to be back where I belong….IN THE KITCHEN!!!

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This is our signature pie. It’s a chocolate crust with a soft, baked chocolate bottom, topped with pudding and whipped cream. We boxed them up for bridal shower favors. It was so much fun, and I can’t wait to get back to baking full time.

In the meantime, the first half of the semester is now over. Since they split the semesters in half, I’m actually done with 3 classes this semester already. I pulled 2 A’s and 1 C. The C was for a class I HATED because of the content and format, so I’m not too upset. Also, I did manage 2 A’s, so I’ll focus on the positive. I also had a baby this semester. I think I get extra points there.

Tomorrow we have an appointment at the pediatrician for Talia and then I head over to school to submit my application for graduation. I’m not getting a degree, but a Professional Writing Certificate. Who knows when I will get around to taking the math and lab science (both require I go on campus) so I’ll take my certificate! I still get to walk in graduation and it’s something I’ve really worked for, so I’m excited! I also missed my high school graduation, so I’m due for getting a cap and gown!!!

With the rest of this spring break I’m working on my sample chapter for my book “Literary Crazy” about mental illness and our most beloved writers. It should be done before we go back to school on Thursday. Talia is a DREAM baby, so I’m getting a lot done!

Ciao for now!

Military Spouse Life

Settling In

Mommyhood, Day 13:

Talia will be 2 weeks old tomorrow and I’m trying to figure out how to slow down time. Everyone keeps telling us to enjoy this time because they grow up too fast. I can see that. I wish I could change it.

Since I can’t, I’ll do my best to enjoy it all. Talia sleeps A LOT right now, so I am anxious for her to be a little older so we can all do stuff together. In the meantime, I’m reading more than I have in the past, and getting more writing done!

I did start reading The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius. The book so far is talking about creativity and how to measure creativity. It’s absolutely fascinating! I was hoping the book would help me with my research for my own book, but instead it has me asking more questions and wanting to know more about how the brain works and what defines creativity and what defines genius. The most interesting part of the book (so far) is where the author has first hand accounts of known genius’ (i.e. Mozart) talking about their creative process. To hear how he thought in his own words was fascinating!

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This is what the book looks like, if you’re interested. I was able to start the book on Saturday while my good photographer friend started doing Talia’s newborn photo’s.

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It took about four hours, and I’m glad Selena and I are friends, because Talia urinated and defecated on her, the props, the blankets, and basically everything she touched. She did NOT want to go to sleep at all. Several times, daddy had to step in and sooth her. She is absolutely my (Sicilian) daughter!

In the end, she did get some great shots, and I can’t wait for all the pictures to come back!

I then was able to continue reading while Bill got his hair cut. This is not normally something I’d share, but as I sat there with Talia waiting for him, I knew as a writer, I had to share. The place where he gets his hair cut is a goldmine for writers.

It’s called “Ed’s Barber Shop” and it sits in a semi abandoned strip mall. The owners are trying to bring it back to life, but the only worthwhile place in there is the Barnes and Noble. Most of the stores are empty, even though it is at a busy intersection with a great anchor store. Apparently, Ed’s has been there longer than Bill and I have been alive. Directly next door is a Supercuts, though this doesn’t seem to be a problem for Ed’s. As I sat there reading, I noticed a steady stream of customers flowing in and out of the door. Customers came in and sat in one of the old plastic chairs which seemed to be from a left over school auction. They were greeted by the staff and promptly sat down, waiting for their turn in the old metal chairs with the original leather. They must be from the early 60’s.

The rest of the fixtures appear to be the originals as well. Old wooden cabinets with mirrors starting to cloud. On one wall sits several taxidermy heads protruding over the cash register. There are no hair products for sale, no up to date fashion magazines, and the hair dryers were clearly left over from the 80’s. It doesn’t matter though, Bill enjoys going there. Sure there are no plush comfy chairs to sit in, no head rinse stations for a quick hair wash, and you can’t buy overpriced shampoo made to smell like botanical gardens, but who cares? Ed must be doing something right, because the chairs are always full, and the customers are clearly repeats.

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It’s one of those places I really hopes survives. I would much rather see a small business owner succeed, than the giant next door with the corporate logo and shiny new floors.

Anyway…

Because our school has decided to split semesters into 7 week courses (you take either two or three and then two or three more instead of four to six over 16 weeks) we are about to end the first set of classes for this second half of the year. I’ve managed to hold a 100% in my Creative Writing class so far, but I have one more assignment to hand in today, so I best get on it.

Ciao for now!