Back to my fiction roots

Over the past eighteen months, I’ve been writing and stretching my creative wings. I’ve also rediscovered a genre I’d been neglecting for a very long time. I needed a project, something a bit different from my present preference for constructing novel-length suspense and thrillers. A submission call for short horror stories caught my eye (I can’t even remember where I saw the announcement), and I was hooked and up for the challenge.

I’m pleased to announce my short story, “Hell of a Pitcher” will appear in Fae Shivers – Forgotten Horrors, an anthology which will be released November 15, 2021. There are many wonderful stories crafted by marvelous writers who know how to tell tales that send chills up readers’ spines. If you love being scared senseless, you might want to give it a read! I’ll post links close to the publication date for those who are interested.

Yes, it’s been a while since I last posted. As I’m writing this, I’m hoping to remember all the steps I need to do in order to post this blog! Needless to say, I’ve never been big on social media platforms, and I’m clumsy and inept when it comes to conveying news of even my own work to readers – odd, I know, for a former reporter. At the newspaper, all I had to do was write the story. The other stuff, actually getting the articles into the hands (or electronically before the eyes) of readers, was done by a savvy publishing team.

Regardless, I haven’t given up on suspense and cozy mysteries. Recurring (a domestic suspense) is in forefront, and my time is consumed with Lesser Saints – which I hope will be a breakthrough novel for me. It’s coming along better than expected.

That’s it for now. More news as it happens . . . promise!

Happy 2021!!!

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Belated Happy New Year to all. It’s been a crazy few weeks but things are beginning to settle down into a sort of routine. When I was younger I dreaded the word “routine.” I’ve come to realize predictable days need to be cherished.

I get more accomplished when one day follows the same pattern as the day before. I can plan, and more importantly, carry out the schedule. Writing isn’t easy. Knowing what I expect to accomplish during working hours is something of a Godsend, even if it is mundane. Later today I will edit – if only for an hour. The anticipation of what I might accomplish during that hour thrills me. Will the book finally be good enough to entice an agent or editor? Is it possible I will climb over that barrier that has been holding me back from being the author I want to be? My humdrum routine will be anything but if it results in the victory I need to place my name on the “A” list!

How about you? What have you been putting off because you think it’s boring?

My wish for everybody for 2021 is the freedom to gather with friends and family without fear of contracting a deadly disease. May you all have wings and the freedom to reach new heights in search of your wildest dreams!

Christmas 2020

Merry Christmas to all! I’m trying to write a post, but so much has changed with WordPress that I’m certain I’m doing this all wrong! Regardless, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m ready to forgive them for over-complicating functions that were simple enough for even me to use.

It’s been a horrible year for everyone, me included. COVID has claimed most of 2020, and serious illness in my own family has prevented me from writing anything at all – which is the reason I’ve gone so long without posting. I’ve been in limbo since September and can barely manage to get through the day. I don’t know when things will get better, but I have learned not to say, “things can’t possibly get any worse.” Trust me, things can always get worse! Thank The Lord for Xanax. I couldn’t have gotten this far without it.

I vow to do better from this moment on and hope those who follow this blog will continue to do so. Things will possibly settle down in the near future, and if so, (fingers crossed) I will be able to throw myself completely into writing. As for tonight, I’ll settle into the sofa and watch the rest of It’s A Wonderful Life. Yeah, right. What does Frank Capra know?

Enjoy the season everybody. May all good things come your way!

There ain’t no cure for the pandemic blues

 

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What is there to say? I’m still in self-imposed exile from the human race (like the guy in the picture), but I’ve been reading and writing up a storm! Though the isolation is difficult, I’ve also been filling my time by toying with Recurring. The manuscript needs to be longer and now I find I’ll have to add 4,000 more words, which amounts to roughly 16 manuscript pages. This is easier said than done. Depending on the author, this means one very long chapter or two rather short ones. I’m partial to longer chapters (for some reason short chapters seem too choppy for my taste), but I guess it depends on how well it’s done. The idea of padding a manuscript makes me sick. I’ve seen it done and it usually doesn’t add much to a storyline. Some talented authors do manage to do this successfully, but it almost feels like cheating to me.

Speaking of successful writers (especially one in particular who would never dream of padding a manuscript to meet a word count), I promised my brilliant friend and fellow author Jane Kelly that I’d mention her latest book, Greetings From Ventnor City, on this post.

As you can probably guess by the title, Jane sets her Meg Daniels Mystery series right here in good old New Jersey. If you yearn for the beach and are cooped-up at home, this clever book will whisk you away on a mental vacation. I’ve read it and it’s the perfect escape – down the shore and into the past as sleuth Meg Daniels tracks down a flower child gone missing decades ago. It’s available in both Kindle and paperback. If you’re interested, click here.

 

Meanwhile, I’ve put other projects on hold because I’m working on a new series with the meanest group of women writers on the planet. These are gals you’ll really love to hate and I hope some very clever publisher picks it up soon. I’ll go into more detail in a later post, but boy, I admire characters who say exactly what they think with no filter and no concern about whom they might offend! What fun!

To close, let me wish everybody a Happy 4th! Be safe, remain healthy and stay the **** away from your fellow Americans!

Reading in the Time of COVID-19

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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

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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

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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).

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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

 

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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

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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.

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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

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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!