End of Summer

 

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I promised myself I wouldn’t post until I had some news about Another Man’s Poison. Unfortunately, it’s been three weeks (it seems so much longer), and I haven’t heard a peep from the publisher. In the dark recesses of a writer’s mind, there are lingering doubts about the work. Do they hate it? Is it good enough? Does it completely suck?

I know tons of writers and we are the most insecure people on the planet. We don’t think our words are the nectar that attracts butterflies and readers alike, as are the flowers in my yard (see above) that these two beautiful creatures and the occasional hummingbird crave. We have our doubts. We know our writing will be scrutinized and not everyone will fall head-over-heels in love with our work. For such creative types, we’ve been around long enough to view the big picture with a pragmatic eye. The wait for acceptance is agonizingly long. To fill the time and occupy the mind, we dive into another project and try to concentrate. It doesn’t work. Once your story is out there awaiting approval, it’s all you can think about.

So that’s where the book stands for now. Limbo. I’ll post as soon as I hear something – good news or bad. Meanwhile, I’m re-reading Recurring, as two agents have told me they didn’t like the pharmaceutical angle of the book and that is why they decided not to represent it. The thing is, the pharmaceutical angle is the entire book! I’m not really considering changing the story, but I am looking for a way to make it more palatable for an agent’s taste buds.

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Meanwhile, we are awaiting Hermine here in New Jersey, a downgraded hurricane reduced to sub-tropical something or other status. My neighborhood suffered through a microburst-type storm a few weeks ago. A neighbor’s tree top came crashing down on my house and yard and, of course, I was responsible for its removal (Act of God, no physical damage to the house, no one injured). The neighbors never even inquired where the entire top half of their tree went. I had to pony-up and pay to have it cut up and carted away. Yeah, I’m complaining. What’s the point of homeowner’s insurance if they don’t cover these things?

That’s it for now. Sad that the summer is over, but I won’t miss the heat. How about you guys?

Have a wonderful Labor Day!

Too Hot to Trot

Sunset 3It’s only slightly cooler at night!

Can it get any hotter? It can, and it will here in Central Jersey. The best thing I can do to beat the heat is to go back and revisit a snowstorm scene in Tranquil Harbor – which I am presently doing. Somehow the idea of cars fishtailing making right hand turns, having suede boots ruined trudging through snowbanks, and experiencing the icy-cold, damp sand traveling up your spine as you sit on the deserted beach in January and contemplate life, sounds pretty good in July.

Spending days doing revisions isn’t the worst thing a woman can do on a sweltering day. It beats washing my car, or taking a very early morning walk around the neighborhood – which is already sizzling at 6:30 a.m. Thank God for treadmills! But revisions take time, especially when dealing with a complex crime. I’ve given myself a self-imposed deadline of August 1st – the target date for Another Man’s Poison‘s submission to the publisher. Yeah, this book took much longer than the others to write. Perhaps writing two books simultaneously wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had. Actually, it was pretty stupid! It’s hard to concentrate when another storyline is constantly lingering inside your head, waiting to be told. My new motto — do only one until done!

So that’s what I’m up to – an August 1st deadline. If I post it, it’s binding. It’s there for all to see. It has to get done. I have to do it!

Other writing and reading news:

The first weekend in August is the annual Deadly Ink Conference in New Brunswick, N.J. It’s always a fun conference packed with mystery lovers and mystery/crime writers. Click here http://www.deadlyink2016.org/ for more information.

There’s a Sisters in Crime Central Jersey symposium, The ABCs of (Writing) Murder on September 24, held in honor of Agatha Christie. If anyone needs information on registration, just comment below or send me an email. I’ll be glad to forward the info and registration form to you.

Mystery lovers should also check out Merry’s Amazon Reviews:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2TDTVMPLU6Z1K/ref=cr_cm_rdp_pdp

A former Jersey Girl (though once a Jersey Girl, always a Jersey Girl), Merry has been busy down in Florida, reading avidly (in all that heat and humidity, reading is the coolest activity a gal can do!) and posting insightful reviews of cozies and mysteries. There must be over a hundred titles listed (I didn’t count them all). It’s obvious she’s a huge mystery fan.

Until next time (and hopefully much sooner than the two month stretch I have gone without a post), stay cool and avoid exertion.

Relax. Sip on a gin and tonic like Colleen Caruso. And read!!!

Who Killed Nadine Rhodes?

Mer & Jess Central Park

In the second Jersey Girl Cozy Mystery, Hide nor Hair, we learned Ken’s wife, Nadine Rhodes, was murdered. The question was left up in the air as to who killed her and why. Colleen Caruso vowed to find Nadine’s killer and clear her hunky editor’s name, which may (or may not) happen in the third book in the series – Another Man’s Poison.

Right off the bat, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I didn’t do it!

Nadine’s mother, Belinda Fairfield, is convinced Ken Rhodes had nothing to do with her daughter’s early demise. She thinks one of Nadine’s jogging buddies had a hand in her death. Unfortunately, Mrs. Fairfield is slowly losing her marbles and she can’t recall which woman she first considered as a likely suspect. At times the poor old gal can’t even remember if she put on her underwear when she got dressed in the morning.

Ken never believed anyone in the group killed his wife. He had his own suspicions about Nadine’s death, but the police never pursued them. They were convinced Ken was their man.

I received a strange email with a picture attached yesterday and my first thought was – ah-hah! Maybe Mrs. Fairfield was right! Perhaps the two highly dubious-looking runners in the photo above (as well as their cartoon-kidney companion) had a part in this mystery! They are obviously incognito (actually, they weren’t in cognito at all, they were in Central Park – get it?). These gals ran a marathon on Saturday and took the time to mug it up for the camera before their big race.

The two crazy kids are too young to be part of Nadine’s jogging group, and they were home in Central New Jersey on the day the crime occurred. They are my girls – Meredith and Jessica – the sweetest daughters-in-law a mom could ask for. BTW-though the disguises are quite convincing, they are actually two of the loveliest gals you’ll ever see.

So, if it was not one of these two chicks, who might have wanted Nadine Rhodes dead? Why? And did this same person try to poison Ken Rhodes at the Town Crier’s Golden Anniversary dinner at Food for Thought – Tranquil Harbor’s newest and most trendy restaurant?

Well, I guess I’ve said just about enough. Maybe even a little too much. I’m such a blabbermouth, just like Colleen Caruso. Reporters are like that.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Mother’s Day and Matricide

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Happy Mother’s Day all! Okay, there actually isn’t a matricide here, but wouldn’t that make an interesting story?

This Mother’s Day was all about lovely plants like the hydrangea above, and the best Mexican food in New Jersey at El Meson on Main Street in Freehold. Obviously, I’ll be planting the hydrangea tomorrow. Tonight I’m still trying to digest my scrumptious late lunch. I think I’m drunk on food.

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Isn’t this the most delicious looking thing you’ve ever seen? It’s like a belated Cinco de Mayo!

But enough about food and flowers. The real deal here is mystery, and I’ve contacted an agent who showed a spark of interest in Recurring to let her know it’s done and I’m ready to send it. Oddly, I’m feeling a little blue about that. It’s like a post-Christmas let down. What do I do if I’m not fretting over the book? Like every other writer I know, I’m moving on to the next project. I have another stand-alone idea I’ve been toying with, an exciting new storyline for a fourth Jersey Girl book that I’d like to pursue, and a terrific idea for a another series.

I’ve been rereading Another Man’s Poison (originally titled Food for Thought) and discovered an interesting angle that I missed in past rewrites. I really want to pursue this because it’s funny and adds to the book. Yeah, the Jersey Girl Cozy Mysteries are primarily about mystery, but everyone is nuts in this state (as if the world doesn’t already know this), and I want my writing to reflect that craziness. So I’m rewriting a bit more and will have the manuscript in tiptop shape before I send it to the publisher in a couple of weeks.  They will then decide if it’s a hit or a miss. Keep your fingers crossed for Colleen and the gang!

So have a great night readers, a wonderful week, and remember — no matricide no matter how much you hate your mother!

Happy Easter

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This post doesn’t have much to do with fiction, unless you count embellishing the past to be used as a scene in a novel. I guess much of my past has been used this way – there’s plenty of truth in all my fiction. But today my thoughts bring me to Easters of the past, some from my really long-ago past, and how much things have changed.

 

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Okay, I’m getting nostalgic. Sentimental. Yearning for a more simple time (or maybe just the naivety of childhood). I remember a new Easter outfit every year, with shiny patent leather shoes, a straw hat, white gloves (can you imagine?) and a bright, pastel topper jacket that was so light, I swear the thing was made of spongy foam. The thing is, you wore that outfit, even if was twenty degrees outside and you had to climb over four feet of snow to get to the car – just to fall asleep in church during a marathon high mass. See above as an example of yours truly, dressed to kill at five years old.

We kids were plied with so much chocolate, not to mention jelly beans and Peeps, that I’m shocked we’re not all diabetics. As if the candy wasn’t enough calories, we piled into the car again after church to ride to my grandmother’s tiny apartment – where twenty kids with thick towels covering our new dresses and suits sat on chairs with ironing boards stretched out between them to accommodate more tiny behinds, and downed heavy, delicious homemade cavatelli (gavadeels for all you Italians out there), and meatballs that were actually fried before they went into the gravy (sauce for all you non-Italians). Of course there were vegetables and salads, which we kids never bothered with except for a tiny bite at the very end of the meal so we could say, truthfully, yeah, we ate some greens.

Easter dinner at my Irish grandma’s house was pretty much the same, except we had things like spring lamb or a huge, greasy ham (there was no such thing as high-sodium or cholesterol back then). Still, different cultures are basically all the same. The towels came out to cover the new clothes, the kids ate first, and then were unceremoniously shooed outside when their meal was done so the grownups could sit down, eat in peace, and possibly, after dinner was through, play cards (yeah, for money).

The holiday was colorful, loud, crazy, discombobulated, and a whole lot of fun. I miss that.

Even raising my own kids, we fussed more. There were baskets to fill, eggs to be colored, flowers to be bought, plans to made as to which grandmother would feed us on Easter Sunday, and which one would be taken out to lunch the day before and brought candy and flowers.

Things are so different now. So quiet, so up-in-the-air, so not-a-big-deal, so laid-back, so sad! Things change, and not necessarily for the better.

So there are my Easter memories – not exactly steeped in religion, but bursting with traditions that no longer apply in today’s world. Ah, for the good old days.

Have a glorious Easter, girls and boys.

 

 

 

March Madness

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Spring begins in fourteen days. I can’t wait for those tiny, cheerfully-yellow forsythia blossoms to breathe some life into my tundra-like yard. Have you noticed the small, encouraging signs that warm weather is coming? I captured the above shot this morning. Those are genuine little buds on the trees. Of course, below is a mentally depressing cornfield, brown, dried–up, and dormant – just itching to be planted. I think our brains get like that. I know my certainly does in the winter.

 

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But spring is almost here and there’s good news ahead.

My publisher is asking to see the third book in the Jersey Girl Cozy Mystery series, which I am pretty sure will be titled Another Man’s Poison – changed from the original working title, Food for Thought. I need to fix a few things, clean it up, and then I’m sending it in. It seems like such a long time since Hide nor Hair was released, but it’s been less than a year. If accepted, this new book will take a few months before it sees publication. That’s just the way publishing goes. You think once it’s done, it’s done – that’s it. Unfortunately, having the book accepted is just the beginning of the publishing process. There’s still more editing, covers, cover art, what I used to call typesetting but I think is now called digital formatting (who knows what these terms mean?), and so on and so on. But the good news is PageSpring is interested and waiting to take a peek. I’m thrilled.

I am not thrilled with Recurring. The ending is so freaking tricky, it’s driving me crazy. I certainly know the ending inside out. I’ve played it out over and over a thousand times in my head. I’ve outlined it on paper. It’s been written and rewritten – and rewritten again! It’s all there. The fault is in the storyteller – me! I have to be satisfied with it and I’m not. I intend to have that monkey off my back by the end of the week.

While I wrestle with my stand-alone, everybody go out and enjoy the coming week. I hear the weather is supposed to be a delightful preview of spring here in New Jersey. If you are reading this post in a miserable climate, remember spring will arrive before you know it, and in a few more months you’ll be cursing the heat!

The February Funk

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Sunrise Beach. We’re ready for you!

We’re over the halfway point in February and I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m itching for spring. It feels like it’s been such a long winter, even though there has only been one major snow storm here in New Jersey and temperatures, with the exception of zero degrees over the weekend, have been relatively mild. Still, enough already. I want to throw open the windows and air the joint out. I want to see green, and not just in a mug of St. Patrick’s Day beer. I want leaves and flowers. I want warm days and fragrant breezes other than those that blow out of my clothes dryer vent and hit me in the face when I walk out the door. We’re due!

It’s time to refresh my writing, too. When my mind is in a funk, my words and thoughts get a little dull. I think it happens to most writers. I remember reading The Shining, with Jack Torrence typing the same few words over and over again – page after page. His stale phrase was the result of a creepy hotel, a lack of booze, too much snow, and cabin fever. What’s my excuse? It isn’t any of those things, though I probably should be drinking a whole lot more to improve my mental health (I’m thinking Colleen Caruso’s favorite – gin and tonic – with real tonic water and not diet, if you please).

I believe we all get stuck in our own ruts, and it’s especially true in winter when we feel a little housebound, even if we’re free to come and go.

I had a big lift out of my winter blahs yesterday from a Jersey Girl in Florida named Merry. She reads this blog, and sent me a link to her review of Hide Nor Hair, which she posted yesterday on Amazon:

Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa has done it again! I absolutely LOVE Colleen! And of course being a NJ girl, I recognize a lot of the settings. I love how she handles her kids, and how absolutely snarky she can be. The action and twists and turns keep you going even into the wee hours of the night     . . .

To read the full review, click here: Merry’s Review

Obviously, I was thrilled when I read it. And it was just the encouragement I needed to keep me going and to start thinking fresh, new thoughts. Many thanks, Merry! I already know you’re an avid reader and a prolific review writer. I don’t know if you’re a FICTION writer. If not, maybe you should consider it! I don’t even mind the competition!

Click below for a complete list of Merry’s reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2TDTVMPLU6Z1K/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdp?ie=UTF8

I’ve already signed up to follow her.

Okay, so it’s back to the word program for me, and hopefully back to reading and writing for all of you. Have a great week. We’ll talk soon!