Reading in the Time of COVID-19

mona lisa protection protect virus

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

I hope this post finds everyone in the best of health and you are all taking precautions to stay that way.

It’s already the end of April and summer is close. I can’t help but wonder what kind of summer we will face – or shall I say face-covered? We will want to catch those beautiful rays and pursue our favorite pastime – devouring books. Reading outdoors will be a challenge for many. I’m lucky enough to have a big yard (both front and back), so maintaining distance is not a problem for me. But not everyone lives in suburbia. How do we catch some rays and read without close encounters with our fellow beings? Stoops are good, a nearby bench is even better. With a little luck the parks will reopen and we can read, keeping a safe social distance, without fear of contamination.

What will you be reading over the summer? I have a stockpile of novels from various conferences that I can dig into. There are also Kindle titles that you can buy, or you can borrow them from the library, without ever having to leave your home. The problem with that is the sun! I can’t see a thing on my screen when I’m outdoors, and if the book is in The Cloud and I’m too far away from my router, I lose the signal. Yeah, I know I can take it off The Cloud and store it on my iPad, but I have a ton of titles there already. I will have to rely on my freebies when reading outside, and save the Kindle titles for indoor reading.

For those of you who are curious about history, I’ve done some research on the 1918 flu pandemic, Typhoid Mary, The Plague (which I mentioned in my last post), the Ebola outbreaks, etc. I find how past cultures have dealt with these scourges encouraging, and get a sense of hope that life goes on no matter what. Others have gone through this. We are not the first people to deal with what feels like an impossible situation. We certainly won’t be the last.

We are strong. We are tough. We are readers. We can do this!

Stay safe and healthy. And please leave a comment to let me and everyone else know what you’re reading and more importantly, how you are feeling!

 

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

drinking glasses with green liquid

Photo by Pressmaster on Pexels.com

I thought a little cheer (or cheers!) is needed in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. We can all use  a little pick-me-up to take the edge off current events. So what if the bars are closed? Check way back in your cabinets and I’m sure you’ll find a bottle of something to add to your orange juice, cranberry juice, or even that opened tonic water that’s been taking up space on your refrigerator door for the past month. I plan to make corned beef and cabbage on Tuesday, as well as carrots and those little potatoes that are too cute to eat. And you can bet I’m having a drink. Maybe two. Gin and flat tonic. Just like Colleen Caruso. After all, I’m half Irish, too.

Writing-wise, I’m not as productive as I should be. It’s been a difficult few months with health problems. Thank God they’re nothing compared to some folks’ medical woes – especially lately. But I’m sticking to home as much as humanly possible because of this virus, as I’m sure so many of you are.

Other than writing, how else am I occupying my time? Well, because I’ve always been fascinated with weird things, I’ve been reviewing some interesting reading and viewing material on my shelves. I’m rereading The Stand. Yeah. I know. That’s a hell of a book to read during a pandemic, but it’s right there in the bookcase gathering dust and contagious diseases that spread like wildfire captivate me. Then again, so do serial killers, but I digress.

Several years ago I ordered a History Channel DVD entitled The Plague, which I plan to watch tomorrow. It’s fascinating. So is Contagion, the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow as patient zero. And The Crazies, Cabin Fever, Outbreak, Virus, and my personal favorite – The Andromeda Strain (the original version and not the remake). The book (written by Michael Crichton and released in 1969) is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. If you’re not squeamish and have an interest in how these viruses and microorganisms spread, these are mandatory reading and viewing materials. Think of them as valuable lessons in what not to do if you want to stay healthy.

No, I’m not making light of such a serious situation. Just engaging my mind – as all readers and writers do. Remember, this too shall pass. If we’re all careful and thoughtful of our fellow beings, we’ll make it through this.

Be healthy and strong, everyone. Stay safe!

 

Happy New Year

selective focus photography of several people cheering wine glasses

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

If you’re like me, the vague prosperity resolutions you make for 2020 will include enriching your mind. Reading outside your comfort zone will certainly contribute to this decision. I’ve expanded my brainpower in the last several weeks by reading some really old works and the best part – the books are absolutely free!

While rereading “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover, I came across some titles she mentioned she had read during her studies at Trinity College. I tracked a few of them down because they related to women issues and being a woman, I was intrigued.

I’m on page 120 of “The Subjection of Women” by John Stuart Mill and it’s brilliant. What’s the brilliant part, you might ask? The book was printed in 1869! Modern-thinking Mill was way ahead of his time coming to his conclusions about the unfair and often criminal treatment of women. I’m surprised he wasn’t ostracized for his beliefs (or maybe he was, I haven’t actually looked into his history just yet).

Also on my list is “An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals” by David Hume – A 1912 Reprint Of The Edition Of 1777. Say what? 1777? Hume was lightyears ahead of his time and I’m totally surprised the guy wasn’t burned at the stake (again, maybe he was – have to look into that, too).

blaze blazing bonfire burn

Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

If you have an interest in women’s studies or are seeking what I assume would be very old public domain titles on whatever interests you, check out Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/ and find some mind-blowing books. You have the option of downloading epubs, reading them online as an HTML, or even adding them to your Kindle library. If you’ve made a resolution to be more frugal this year, you have no excuse. Like I mentioned before, it’s free, free, free!

As for me, life (which is writing) goes on. Perhaps 2020 will be better for this author.

May the coming year be your best year yet!

 

 

Winter Wonderland

 

christmas xmas christmas tree decoration

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy Holidays to all! The snow is falling here in Central Jersey, though it shouldn’t be. It’s only December 2nd, still technically autumn and way too soon to contend with this white sh*t. Is Mother Nature on steroids or something?

I’ve been on a short hiatus from writing due to some health issues. My concentration hasn’t been up to par for several weeks, but now is a great time to reengage in my own fictional world. To help fuel the writing fire, I’ve been tracking down the fates of several stories that have been in the hands of potential publishers for the past few months. As I learn more, I’ll pass on the info – good or bad. And I can’t wait to submerge myself in my Boardwalk Psychic series. It’s been a while since I’ve spent time with Dani Grotowski inside her mother’s psychic reading booth in fictional Sun Beach, New Jersey.

To pass the time (and to keep from going crazy), I’ve been reading a lot and watching as much mystery as I can on TV. I am especially intrigued by Dublin Murders on Starz, though after Sunday’s episode, I’m just about ready to scream. Has anyone else been following this series? If so, did you find the latest installment unbelievably contrived? How convenient that the dead girl (Lexie) looks exactly like Cassie! And what a coincidence that Cassie just happened to have an imaginary friend as a child named Lexie . . . Oh, and Cassie’s going to impersonate her doppelganger . . . What the hell? Seriously? Though I won’t do spoilers here, are they kidding? The series is based on two books by author Tana French – “In the Woods” and “The Likeness.” The stories are sort of combined, but not seamlessly. What annoys me most is that if I e-submitted a story like that to an editor or agent, they’d reject it faster than you can hit “reply” to an email. I’ll continue to watch, of course, because I’d like to know how this thing ends – but are they for real? Sorry. Enough of my rant. If anyone thinks this storyline is brilliant, kindly leave a comment and let me know why.

To end this post, I wish everyone a joyful holiday season. Hopefully I’ll be able to post again before Christmas with some really great news.

Stay healthy and keep reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween

orange pumpkin

Photo by Trygve Finkelsen on Pexels.com

What is it about Halloween that stirs the imagination? Is it the love of a good scare? The chance to dress up as anything from a ballerina to Michael Meyers? Maybe it’s the candy!

Creepiness has always appealed to me. I write horror as well as mysteries and always have. I think we’re all attracted to the strange, probably because we’re all a bit strange in one way or another. That’s a good thing – almost as good as the trick-or-treat candy.

Stories, in particular, fire our imaginations as Halloween approaches. Think of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman. How about a little Edgar Allan Poe? Who isn’t captivated by The Mask of the Red Death, The Pit and the Pendulum and my favorite, The Tell-Tale Heart?

At a recent Sisters in Crime – Central Jersey meeting, I had the privilege of hearing a talk by Irene Curran, a local Poe expert.

102_0495

What I learned about Poe is that he was, well, an odd-ball. His life was horrible, awful, tragic, sad . . . there aren’t enough adjectives to cover the kind of life this guy endured since early childhood. Yet he wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

Primarily Gothic in his writings, the macabre author was the one of the first American writers to make his living by writing alone. As such, the poor man was dead broke for most of his life (I can certainly relate, as do many of the writers I know). If you get the chance, read his life story. Also, there’s an excellent movie called The Raven, made in 2012 starring John Cusack. It doesn’t cover Poe’s whole life and much of it is fictional, but I loved it and think it’s worth watching.

Other news:

OB Library Event

left to right: Nicki Monteperto, Christine Clemetson, Kristina Rienzi, Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa and Linda Rawlins

The picture above is a bit blurry. I didn’t take the shot (this time) so it’s not my fault!I had the pleasure of appearing with fellow Sisters in Crime authors at my local library on the Saturday before last, for a discussion about writing mysteries and getting published. I was amazed at how many would-be writers there were in the audience – all seeking advice on how to get their stories down and into print.

That’s all for now. I hope to have some good news about my upcoming books in the very near future. Please keep your fingers, toes, legs, etc., crossed for me. Meanwhile, enjoy Halloween, eat plenty of candy, dress up weird, and read something chilling.

 

Library Event

325796462_AASJYrLwqClTCEgM0m-dO14taexX4aUZHWyGAAYJKW0[1]

Good evening all! Members of Sisters in Crime – Central Jersey will hold a writers’ event this Saturday at the Old Bridge Public Library, Old Bridge, NJ:

Sisters in Crime Mystery Women’s Writers Group

October 19 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Sisters in Crime Central New Jersey Chapter offers a friendly, supportive network for women crime writers at every stage of their crime writing career. Join them as several authors share their experiences as crime writers.

If you are in the area (or care to take an enjoyable weekend drive to our area), please join us. The address is One Old Bridge Plaza, on the corner of Cottrell Road and Route 516 West in my beautiful hometown of Old Bridge.

Including yours truly, other speakers will be Kristina Rienzi, Nicki Montaperto, R.G. Belsky, Linda Rawlins and Christine Clemetson. We will have our books for sale, speak about our crime fiction, and hopefully recruit some new members (both readers and writers) into our local Sisters in Crime chapter. Remember, too, that we’re not all sisters, we also have misters.

I hope to see lots of faces at the event.

As always, keep reading!

Open Mic – Sisters in Crime Central Jersey

Open Mike June 29

Good morning everybody.

This is just a quick post to inform readers and writers in the vicinity of Central New Jersey about the open mic/fundraiser, which will be held at the Sisters in Crime – Central Jersey meeting tomorrow at the Jamesburg Senior Center, Jamesburg, NJ. (See above)

I will be reading an approximately five minute except from one the Jersey Girl books (haven’t decided which one yet, but I’d like it to be a body-discovery scene). There will be plenty of talented fellow sisters and misters reading excerpts from their own work as well.

The address is 139 Stevens Avenue, Jamesburg, NJ 08831. If you happen to be in the area, please stop by. I’d love to meet you in person!

Have a great day.