Devices, Devices, Devices!

Today I’m channeling Jan Brady!

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The reason? Because I need to whine a little and Jan’s iconic “Marcia, Marcia, Marica!” just resonates so well for that.

The other evening, as I was plugging in my iPod, cell Phone,  laptop and Kindle to charge, my husband was brushing his teeth with his electric toothbrush. When he was finished, he looked at me–struggling to get everything plugged in for the night in one little over loaded  outlet– and then down at his brush and said, “How many extraneous electrical devices do you think we own?”

“Define extraneous?” I said.

“Something we use that we could use something non-electric for. Like our toothbrushes.”

I thought about it for a moment, counting everything I used on a daily basis that needed to be charged or plugged in to work, and then said, “None. Everything we use we need.”

“Really? Do you actually need all that”–he pointed to the overloaded outlet–“all day, every day?”

“Yes.” No hesitation on my part at all.

And I’m being truthful.

“What about all the other things, like the microwave, your hair stuff, your lighted makeup mirror, the fans you keep blowing all day and night? Those aren’t superfluous?”

“No.” I should have known he wouldn’t leave it at that. Dog, meet bone. The definition of my husband.

“Why not?” he asked.

Ticking all the items off on my fingers, I gave my best argument ( debate club alum, remember?).

“When you work late and come home hungry but don’t want a full dinner, the microwave is the perfect thing for either reheating something, or making something small and quick for you. You’re hungry and you want to eat NOW not in 30 minutes after the oven has preheated. I need my blowdryer and all my straightening hair devices and tools because you know I look like I have a bird’s nest on my head if I don’t straighten my hair. There’s no other safe way to do it if I want to avoid the myriad of chemicals needed to attain non-pubic hair-looking status. Since I am in the throes of menopause and we don’t have robots or droids to fan me all day long to keep the heat at bay, I need those fans on or else I am in a perpetual state of sweat. Not attractive. And as for the lighted makeup mirror, I have two words to say on that subject: cataract surgery.”

A little disclaimer here so you get where I’m coming from: When I had cataract surgery it killed my near vision – I have perfect distance, but can’t see anything 5 feet or closer to me. I need, absolutely NEED that lighted, magnified makeup mirror or else I’d never feel confident in what I looked like to go out of the house and not scare children, the elderly, or small pets.

“And your computer, phone, kindle, iPod and Ipad? Those are necessary to your health and well being every single day?”

“Yes on all counts. I need the Ipod when I go to the gym ( 5-6 days a week) or else I’d be bored out of my gourd, and if I’m bored and not distracted enough, I won’t finish my workout, so that would be a waste of time. I need the iPad to watch my tv shows  when we travel. I need the Kindle to, you know, save trees. I read so many books every week. Just think of all those poor trees I’d be killing. It’s actually an act of Christian Kindness and Mercy to use the Kindle. Do I really have to explain the necessity of the phone? And as for my computer, well, my editor is not going to accept a handwritten manuscript.”

I took a breath. “And as for the toothbrushes, the dentist said our teeth are healthier since we started using them. Do you want gum disease? Excess plaque? Halitosis?”

He stood there, staring at me, while I prepared some other reasons why I needed every electrical device known to man to survive on a daily basis. I truly hoped he wouldn’t get me started on the necessity of dishwashers and vacuums. There’s a reason we life in modern times. If I’d been born in the dark ages ( aka the time before electricity when it was, truly, dark!) I wouldn’t have survived. In even older times? I would have been one of the ones eaten for the others to stay alive. And I would have been happy to make the ultimate sacrifice just to get away from the dark and cold and tedious.

There’s a reason I don’t camp, peeps ( aside from the going to the bathroom in the woods – never gonna happen!) All that wilderness living? Yeah, not for me. I’m like the character in Private Benjamin who said she joined the army for the condos and travel vouchers, not the marching and tents.

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After a few seconds of staring, my husband shook his head and got into bed without another word on the subject.

Score!

When I’m not using every electrical device know to man you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

 

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My life in three words….

and those words would be, “Help me, Jesus!!”

Let me ‘splain.

I’m doing a presentation for my Romance Writers writing group in March 2017 and then giving it again at a conference to the New England Romance Writers group in April. It’s a good talk, even if I do say so. Timely and to the point. Plus dotted with humor.

But, I digress…

The lecture/talk is accompanied by a POWERPOINT presentation. Now, I am a great talker. I could ramble on for hours about any topic that strikes my fancy. I was on debating club in school so I can argue for both sides of almost any discussion. But I have never before used a machine to aid me in my discussions, and this is why I need celestial help. I have no freaking idea how to effectively use PowerPoint.

Now, because this is, well, me, and most of the things I’ve learned about in life I’ve learned about in books, I did the logical, smart, quick thing to do and bought a PowerPoint Manual. 2 in fact. Powerpoint for Dummies, ( because this is, like, me!) and Teach Yourself Visually PowerPoint.

Last night I started learning how to navigate through the PowerPoint system. Chapter one was called NAVIGATING THE POWERPOINT INTERFACE. Okay, what?? Navigate and Powerpoint I knew the definitions of. Interface? No friggin’ clue. This is Webster’s definition of Interface:

  • a device or program enabling a user to communicate with a computer.
  • • a device or program for connecting two items of hardware or software so that they can be operated jointly or communicate with each other.

Okay, once I got over being panicked by a simple word, I read on. How to choose a theme, how to decide on a design, how to create a SLIDE, how to navigate around the RIBBON. That’s another word I had trouble with because, you know, RIBBON signifies something I tie my hair back with or the backs of fancy dresses.

I dutifully created my first slide after about 50 stops and starts and deletions and begin-agains. I had some text – no pictures yet because my mind was boggled by now – but a starting point.

Okay, so now, how to save it? I did everything the manual instructed me to do. Perfectly, I might add, the first time.

Then I went back to check and see where the document had saved to and….couldn’t find it. Yup. Two hours of sweat down the drain. Another fifteen minutes of frantic checking and I “found” it listed in an obscure compartment titled PRESENTATIONS. Well, Du-uh and FML!

2 hours and fifteen minutes on just one slide. Here is what it says because –of course– I couldn’t figure out how to cut and paste it here!

Romance and the Baby Boomer Generation

or

Writing Romance about and for the Seasoned Crowd.

2 hours fifteen minutes, people. For that. At this rate, my presentation will be complete in 2020.

When I’m not pulling my hair out trying to learn something new, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

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The San Valentino family…

My very first Christmas Romance Book, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS  has just hit the proverbial shelves and I am over the moon! I love love love the San Valentino family and am so happy I could tell Gia’s story in time to share for the holidays. Her sister Chloe’s story was told in the Valentines Day Candy Hearts book, 3 WISHES, and ever since then I’ve been dying to give Gia her own happily ever after story.
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Like the San Valentino’s, I was raised in a large Italian/American family.  I need to put a disclaimer in here: I am 100% Irish. My parents divorced and my step-father was of Italian heritage, so it was his large family I grew up in. Many of the traditions and family experiences I write about in A Kiss… I actually experienced  through interacting with my step-family. The difference between my book’s stories and my real life is varied, but let’s just say the San Valentino clan are a lot more loving than the family I grew up with. A lot more.

The San Valentino’s revere family. To them, it is first, last and always. From the way the entire family gathers every Sunday after Mass to eat, to the way they each weave and inveigle their way into each other’s lives and “businesses”, this is a family that would do anything for one another. And when I say anything, believe me. I mean it. From getting you that sold-out, unattainable , everyone’s gotta have it this year Christmas toy, to helping you remove a business associate who’s become a pain in the neck. And when I say remove I mean it in the truest sense of the word – you never saw or heard from them again!

The San Valentino’s are true loyalists with matriarch Nonna Constanza leading the family and keeping the old country traditions alive. They never leave the house without first kissing the picture of the current smiling Pontiff on the wall next to the front door. They cook everything from scratch. You will never see a processed food box, or a commercial jar of sauce or gravy in their cupboards. Mama and Nonna even bake the bread the family enjoys every day at every meal. Natural produce, farm grown vegetables and meats from a traditional butcher are the only food allowed to be served in their home. The one concession they give is to dessert, which they purchase from 95 year old Pappa Pontevecchio, who’s owned Pontevecchio’s Bakery for over 65 years. Even Nonna admits his pizzelle are so much more flavorful than her own.

Gia, as the baby in the family – a term she will forever be known as even though she is 24 – wants a life of her own with a man who loves her and bambini she can spoil. Her family wants this for her too, but they go about introducing her to the kind of men a 21st century woman runs in the other direction from: no-neck wise guy wannabes with old world thoughts on wives – namely the pregnant and barefoot kind! Gia loves her family, but wants a man who will see her as an equal in every way. When she meets Tim Santini, a man who seems to fit her fantasy in every way, a misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something other than the man of her dreams. Their story is the basis for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS.

I hope you enjoy reading about the San Valentino family as much as I did writing about them.

When  I’m not writing, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Winner! Whiner?

Strange blog post title, right? Well, maybe not.

So, November is a memory, but not the November challenge of NaNoWrimo. You’ve – hopefully – gotten your winner banner, letting one and all know you managed to eek out that 50,000 word minimum for the month, and maybe even a little more ( like me!) and now you’re internally debating the next step.

Dive right into editing? Start to query agents, editors, and publishing houses?  Print out the book and give it to one and all of your supportive peeps to read and review and critique?

Well, I hate to give advice because I hate to receive it, but….

Let’s sit back for a second and think this through.

You’ve just spent 30 arduous days giving literary birth to your new baby. A quick pregnancy in potential plotting ( if you’re a plotter) and then 30 continuous days of delivering it into the world. 720 hours, 43,200 minutes, 2,592,000 seconds ( does this remind you of a Broadway show tune?) That’s a lot of time spent in doing one thing, any way you slice and categorize it. The goal of the challenge is to write your story. To get it onto paper or the laptop. Like most writers competing  in the challenge you did not edit along the way. I’m sure your manuscript – like mine – is rife with spelling, grammar, and tense mistakes, not to mention maybe a plot hole or two. Or three. Now is not the time to submit it or allow ANYONE to read and review it.

Now is the time to….sit back for a little bit. Let the manuscript safely stew in your file section. Don’t read it…don’t edit it…don’t start letting the publishing world know it’s available, because it’s not.

I know the excitement of getting the story down – and quickly – is high. Believe me, I know it. But you need to rest your creative brain for a tad and forget some of the words you wrote. Then, when sufficient time has passed – and that can be two days, two weeks, or even a month ( like AFTER the holidays!), you can open it from the file and start to read it with fresh eyes. Eyes that will see all those mistakes, plot holes, and character problems. Those setting mixups and description errors. You’ll be able to SEE you gave your heroine green eyes in chapter one and then realize the hero described them as brown in chapter four. You’ll be able to SEE the motivation you gave your killer to kill was the same internal struggle you gave your hero to. You’ll SEE the escape plan you concocted in chapter 6 is pretty much impossible if you’re penning a contemporary tale and not one filled with dragons and wizards.

Right now you are high on the fabulousness of what you’ve written. Let it stew a while and you’ll realize it’s still fabulous, but needs work. Namely, editing.

Editing with fresh eyes is the best way to find the problems and think of ways to correct them.

Now, as far as querying – don’t. Not now, and certainly not after the first read through. My last three NaNo written books have been published AFTER they went through extensive edits and rewrites BEFORE I even submitted them. The books I submitted to my publisher were the ones where I removed all the mistakes, fixed the grammar and tense, and idealized the plot and story line. My settings were all consistent, my characters fully formed and possessing the correct hair and eye color throughout the book! And even after they were bought they still needed more editing!!!

Do yourself a favor: have a glass ( or two or…) of wine, sit back and put your feet up on the ottoman. Watch a good romance chick flick or even an action adventure movie. Or both. Relax. Rest. Revive. Then you can review, revise, and rework those wonderful NaNoWriMo pages.

Trust me. You’ll be happy you did.

AND ( here comes a shameless plug and I’m not ashamed in the least) if you want to escape into something funny and read a holiday tale, try A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, available right now. It’ll take your mind off writing and put it back on reading someone else’s work for a bit.

When I’m not being shameless you can find me here:

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A Christmas Wedding Story that could have been a nightmare!

With the publication of my first holiday-themed romance novel, A Kiss Under the Christmas lights, I thought I’d give you a little insight into my own Christmas-centered love story.

I was married the day after Christmas. Yup, December 26. Boxing Day in the UK; 1/2 price retail day in the US. Everyone I knew was surprised, and I think a little anxious, about a wedding at Christmas time because, really, sosososo many things could go wrong and spoil the day. Since I was getting married in New York, we could have had a terrible snow storm, ruining the day and the travel plans of my guests. Because so many people travel on the days leading up to and including Christmas day, you need to plan for twice the travel and drive time than you’d  usually give to getting somewhere, so the thought I’d be late – or anyone in my wedding party would – was great.

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Booking a Catholic church for a wedding the day after the Lord’s birthday was a nightmare. My regular church was already taken, and I “shopped around” for weeks until I found one that had an opening. It wasn’t my family church, but it was an old, neighborhood one, complete with ecclesiastical frescos and stained glass windows. So pretty. Oh, and its name was serendipitous because it was St. Margaret Mary Church. I’ll leave it to you to figure out why it was so fitting.

The holidays are typically met with joy, fun, and in many cases, depression. I had two invited guests tell me they weren’t coming because they usually felt blue this time of year and didn’t want to ruin my day with their grumpiness. Thanks for that. Oh, and btw – they didn’t send a gift.

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The holidays are also usually met with weight gain. Do you  know how difficult it was for me not to eat the wealth of delicious holiday food my family always served because I couldn’t afford to gain not–even an ounce–just so my dress would fit??? Torture, it was. Simply, torture.

In addition to the excesses of food offered, the holidays are also a reason to imbibe. And over imbibe, at that. I had more than one relative tell me that Uncle SoandSo or Aunt What’sIt was known to hit the bottle a little harder and faster during the holidays and that I shouldn’t (a.) invite them to the wedding, or (b). if I did invite them, cut them off at the pass ( and by pass, they meant the BAR!), or else I was going to have either a drunken fight, a drunken sound-off, or a drunken mess on my hands.

But….

The day arrived crisp, cloudless, and clear. Not a flurry in sight and the wind was minimal. My dress fit, the limos arrived on time- as did the guests and the wedding party despite the ridiculous, back-up everywhere, shopping traffic- and the ceremony started when it was supposed to.

Because it was the holiday season, I’d chosen the traditional green and red colors for my wedding theme. I know: not very original, but they are a tradition for  a reason! My bridesmaids wore Scarlett O’hara style, hooped green velvet and satin dresses, my flower girl the same dress in red. My groomsman had green bowties, my ring bearer donned red plastic glasses so he’d match my flower girl. I had red and white roses with baby’s breath for flowers and boutonnieres. All in all, it was a very festive looking party.

So when I came up with the idea for a Christmas inspired romance story, I knew I needed my hero and heroine to meet, fall in love, and then commit to one another during the holy season and find their happily-ever-after during such a joyous time. Exactly like I did.

Oh, and just so I fully disclose here: Uncle SOandSo did get drunk and pass out behind the poinsettia-ed dais.

A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS 

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Blurb:

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind.
Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.
Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

Excerpt:

His back was to me and he was carrying a table, but after he put it down and turned around I got a good look at the front of him.

And Holy Mary, Mother of God, what a front he had.

Close cropped military style hair the color of wind blown wheat topped a head which stood – truly – head and shoulders above everyone else around. The guy had to be six-three at least. Sharp, etched cheekbones God cut with a knife, sat under deep and dark oval shaped eyes. His face was a composite of planes and angles, the carved cheeks meeting up with a chiseled-from-stone chin. Hardened concrete looked softer than this guy’s jawline. His nose was perfectly fixed in the center of his face, the slight aquiline bend at the tip bringing to mind Michelangelo’s David, the cupid’s bow under it well-defined and pronounced. He was clean shaven, and his mouth was full and thick and – God help me – looked utterly kissable.

I could tell even with the chunky vest covering his torso, he was closer to thin than stocky, but from the way his biceps pulled against his sleeves, he had some muscle to him.

And some pair of legs. They went on forever, from heaven to earth in a full, hard line.

I don’t know how long I stood there just gawking with my mouth open like an empty cannoli shell waiting to be filled, but I’m being truthful when I say I couldn’t move. My feet were frozen to the ground, my knees had locked, and my hips weren’t taking me anywhere soon.

This was one beautiful man.

The old masters would have used him as a springboard for their work, and I could actually picture him in a Botticelli fresco, garbed in Roman robes, lounging while naked, buxom-breasted chubby women fed him grapes and sweetmeats.

In the time it took for a hummingbird to flap its wings once, I pictured myself as one of those women.

I’m giving away one free e-copy (KINDLE) of A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights to anyone who comments below by telling me: what month did you get married in?

Bio:

View More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/peggyjheadshots

I write about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

When I’m not writing feverishly into the night, you can usually find me here:

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RELEASE DAY!!

I think it’s a little serendipitous that today is the last day of NaNoWriMo and the day my newest book gets released into the world from my publisher.

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A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is here! I’ve been waiting for sosososo long to share Gia and Tim’s story. I’ve read it so many times over the past few months, waiting, just waiting until it could be released as a holiday novel that I’ve got pages of it memorized!! The San Valentino family is one I’d like to call my own for so many reasons. They laugh loudly, live broadly, and love unconditionally. Who wouldn’t want to be a member of such a clan??!!

SO if you like romance/love stories centering around family and you need a little comedic break during these busy holidays, you’ll love this story.

Here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin to whet your book reading appetites. Since I never had a sister to share with and learn from, I created sisters who mean the world to one another, Chloe and Gia:

Excerpt:

Sometimes living in such a close-knit family was a little suffocating and lot of claustrophobic.

How to be a good Italian, lesson 3: family comes first, last, forever, and you do everything together. Always.

“Gia,” Chloe said, breaking into my thoughts, “come and help me with your goddaughter. She needs to be changed.”

She rose, as did I, and grabbed the diaper bag sitting in the living room with one hand, her other hand holding her two-month-old. “Lorenzo, be a good boy for Nonna and Papa,” she told her two-year-old son with a kiss to his head.

Up in Gianni and Paolo’s old bedroom, which now served as an all-things-bambino warehouse, Chloe held the baby up to me and said, “Here. You do the honors.” Once she handed her over, she plopped down into the rocking chair Mama had rocked all six of us in and let out a sigh that tugged at my heart.

I laid Arianna down on the changing table Nonna had brought over from Italy with her seventy-five years ago and tickled her little belly. Her toothless grin stared up at me. She was already a heartbreaker and owned my own heart and soul completely.

“Okay, baby sister.” Chloe folded her hands across her stomach. “Spill. What’s up?”

“What do you mean?” I popped open the crotch of the onesie, pushed it up to Arianna’s tiny waist, and bent down to kiss her soft, swollen, little baby belly.

“Your face went the color of Mama’s tomatoes when they started discussing the new priest. What gives?”

Chloe is nine years older than I am and one of the smartest women I know. At times she’s been more of a mother to me than our own, like during the horrible two years Mama went through chemo treatments for breast cancer when I was eleven. Chloe was the one who helped me buy my first bra, taught me about my period, and listened to me when I had questions about boys, sex, and what constituted appropriate dating behavior for girls who came from families like ours: overprotected.

BUY LINKS: Amazon// Wild Rose Press//  B&N

 

 

 

 

 

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Home stretch…NaNoWrimo, Week 4

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It’s hard to think that November is almost gone already and with it, NaNoWriMo. On November 30th at midnight, not only will the month end – giving us 25 days until Christmas, but for the millions of writers around the world who are participating in this year’s annual event, it means we can all breathe a little easier, take a little break from the laptop ( a very little break!) and see where we are in our current works in progress ( WIP). Hopefully, many of us will have reached that brass ring of 50,000 words ( or more!) and be declared a WINNER by the NaNo team. Many of us will not have reached it, but that doesn’t make us any less a winner. Just devoting yourself to writing something any day is winning in my book.

I happened to make it to the golden number a while ago. Don’t hate me. I knew what I wanted to write, and my life is such that I can devote it to writing for long stretches if I so desire. I did. I realize I am one of the lucky ones who can do this.

But even if I hadn’t reached my goal I would still have considered my efforts winning-worthy. There’s an old saying that it’s not the destination of a journey that is important, it’s the journey itself. I sosososo agree.

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Just attempting to do the NaNoWriMo challenge is empowering. Getting in the habit of committing your words to your laptop everyday fosters that continual need to do so, so that, long after November is a memory, you are still devoting yourself to the thing that gives you such joy, namely, writing.

Take these last 4 days of the challenge and pour your heart and soul into it. Get those emotions, those worlds, those characters, settings, and plots from the depths of your imagination to the confines of the page.

The world needs your book.

And you need to give it to them.

When I’m not participating in NaNoWrimo, you can find me here:

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One Week Countdown!

I’m all aglow because in just 7 days ( the time it took God to make the world!!!) I get to introduce you all to Gia San Valentino and Tim Santini. My new Holiday/Christmas novel A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS releases on  11.30.16 and I am sosososososos thrilled the time is near.

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Gia could, truthfully, be one of my best friends if she were, you know, real! I loved writing about her and how she deals with her crazy family. As you all know,  family is a big topic for me when I’m penning a story, and a loud, loving, full of life family is one I just love to write about.

Families are a complex network to deal with, navigate through, and survive! Truth, no? The San Valentino family lives hard, loves even harder, and they are a loyal bunch who put the welfare of one another ahead of everything – and everyone – else. Gia, the “oops” baby in the clan, the last of 6 – five planned and, well, you figure it out(!) is the last kid left at home. At the age of 24,she longs for a home of her own, filled with bambini she can spoil and love, and a man who will love her unconditionally.

Into her life walks a man who just might fill the bill. Tall, dark, ridiculously good looking. And best of all: Italian/American and Catholic! But…. he’s forbidden to her, in every conceivable way.

Or, is he? You’ll have to read the story to find out, but I’ll tell you this: love can find you anywhere – even under a set of  glowing and festive Christmas lights.

Preorders are available here: Amazon  //The Wild Rose Press  // B&N //Kobo

Here’s a little sumthin’ to whet your romance reading appetites:

          At twenty-four I still lived under my parents’ roof, had no full-time paying job other than helping my father with his business books and those of a few of his business associates, and my love life was nonexistent.

     It wasn’t that I didn’t get asked out or date. I did. Often. Plus, I was perpetually being set-up by the aunts and uncles. I’d had a steady boyfriend all through high school, but we went our separate ways when we each left for college. My choices had been limited in recent years to guys I met in college–who were all looking to score, not forge a life-time commitment—and then in accounting school who were, for lack of a better word, boring and absorbed either in numbers theory, finding jobs after graduation, or in just getting into my pants. The men my extended family routinely set me up with were mostly thick-necked, uneducated, wise-guy wannabes who wanted a conventional Italian bride they could keep barefoot, pregnant, and cooking.

     So. Not. Me.

     I needed to make some decisions about my life and make them soon. First, pass the exams and get licensed. Then, look for a real job so I could afford to live on my own. This one might be the hardest to accomplish since my parents were old-school thinkers who believed girls should stay home until they were married. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go from their house to a husband’s house, and never experience what it would be like living on my own.

     Lastly, I wanted to find the one special guy I could commit to. A guy who’d be family oriented like me, want kids, the minivan, a house in the ‘burbs, the whole family-comes-first-and-always mentality I’d been breastfed on.

     I wasn’t too picky. Obviously, I didn’t want him to look like a troll, but nice looking wouldn’t hurt since I’d be spending eternity staring across the kitchen table at his face. A good-paying job would be nice in a career where I didn’t need to worry he’d make one wrong move and wind up as fish food in the Meadowlands marshes.

     Don’t laugh: have I mentioned my Uncle Sonny?

See? I love families and all the crazy that goes with them!

When I’m not basking in this glow of new release-dom, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+

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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Life challenges, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press

The power of PEOPLE who care…

I’m going to go off the NaNoWriMo blog bandwagon for a moment because  I want–need–to tell you about an event that happened in my little town yesterday that still has me weeping.

The problem of hunger,  homelessness, and economic disparity in this country is nothing new. Go back to the Great Depression and you can practically mimic some of the events that happened during those devestating years with what is happening in our country today. Hunger, especially, has always been a big concern of mine. I’ve mentioned before I didn’t exactly grow up in the Leave It to Beaver or  Brady Bunch version of a family or household. We were, by today’s standards – poor. The term bandied about nowadays is working poor. My mother and stepfather had jobs, but they didn’t quite make it paycheck to paycheck every month and there were times when the easiest thing to let go was the food bill. I ate a lot of mayonnaise sandwiches growing up, and in a weird way, its kind of like a comfort food for me today.

But I digress…

As I said, hunger and people going hungry have always been a concern for me. I happen to live in a community that has a food pantry, a Saint Vincent DePaul society, and a community kitchen. In October, our local newspaper published a piece about the community kitchen and their struggles to keep available food on the shelves for its recipients and clients. The kitchen had barely enough food to last through Thanksgiving and if their food coffers weren’t filled, they would need to close down right after Thanksgiving. The Community Kitchen serves a large number of families and individuals in this area who–for whatever reason–are not able to adequately feed themselves. The holiday season is an especially difficult time for some families to cope with paying bills, trying to bring some kind of Christmas cheer to their children, and in general, just getting a meal on the table. To have the kitchen close its doors – and at the holiday season – was a grave concern.

Well, enter MOMS On A MISSION.

Yesterday, in an empty storefront in the center of Keene’s busy downtown, these wonderful women organized what was originally billed as 1000 cans in 1000 minutes. Facebook publicity, word of mouth, and in every way they could, these women got the word out that they would be manning this store all day to accept any and all food and monetary donations for the Keene Community Kitchen to aid them in keeping their doors open to the people who so need them.

That 1000 can goal quickly switched to 2000…then 10,000… then 20,000. And when it looked like they might be done, they issued another challenge: why not 25,000 cans/boxes of food?

Final tally last night when they officially closed their donation doors? 25,860 cans/boxes of food raised by the grassroots efforts of 8 Moms who know that no child or family or person of any age should know hunger in this day and age.

I love living in a small town because of unifying events like this. When you really know your neighbors, know their struggles, their strengths, the foundation of their circumstances, you know yourself as a human being in ways you’d never consider in a more urban, non-individualistic, less neighborly area. And you can see the benefits of generosity firsthand.

These women epitomize the good neighbor principle.

I just want to add one more thing before I finish. Yesterday in Mass, my Pastor spoke a homily extolling the virtues of living the Corporeal Code of Jesus as Catholics and Christians.  One of the codes for Christian behavior Jesus asked of us is to feed the hungry. These women, by the virtue of their actions, the love in their hearts, and their  spirit of giving, have shown our community what it means to be generous, selfless,  and charitable. They have truly shown us what it means to walk the walk and talk the talk of neighbor-helping-neighbor.

The power of a Mother on a Mission is one of the greatest and most powerful forces in the universe. I am so proud of these women. Proud to know them, proud to honor them, and proud to tell you about them.

No child, or any person really, should ever know the ravages of a hungry belly. Not at Christmastime or any time of the year. I ask you to be that good neighbor; that community spirited and minded person; that honorable human being. Take care of your neighbors as you’d take care of your own family. Put yourself in the body of someone who doesn’t have enough to eat and see what it feels like to them to know hunger when all around them are full. And, if you’re like me – someone who knew the horrors and pains of hunger and who now lives a full, better life – pay it forward.

A generous spirit, and a knowledge of how to make someone else’s life better make us all better human beings. I live this and I believe this with all my heart and soul.

To support our local Community Kitchen and other Food based charities in our area, click here:

Keene Area Food Pantries

The NH Food Bank

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Filed under Author, community advocacy, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Life challenges, love, New Hampshire, Strong Women

Thankful Authors

Since it’s the holiday season and it means so much more than just running around and trying to find the perfect gift, fellow author — and writing friend — Angela Hayes has invited me to post a blog to her ThankFul Authors website. Angela hosts a wide variety of authors each year who try to express just why they are thankful for all the blessings in their lives. Here’s the link to my post for today. It kind of explains why I write about the strong women I write about. And why I will continue to do so….hopeyou enjoy it.

here’s the link: THANKFUL AUTHORS 2016

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, love, Lyrical Author, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor