Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Tree Nazi

Christmas traditons are always fun, like putting up the tree. As we were begining to decorate ours my mother called. I figured I'd talk to her a bit while my daughter and husband put on the lights. No big deal, right? When I got off the phone I came out to see one bare tree. Jeepers they couldn't even do that, I thought. Now I'm angry. My daughter is annoyed at me for grumbling and says she'll put on the damn lights, (my husband is safely tucked away in the family room). Are we having fun yet?
"No I'll do it", I tell her.
"Well I'll help", she replies.
She goes on to tell me that I'm soooo picky when it comes to hiding the wires from the lights no one wants to do it without me supervising.
"If you want to know someone who's really picky you should see your grandmother", I said. "Where do you think I get it from?"
Ah tradition, handed down from one generation to the next!

By the way, they let me do the garland by myself. It's more calmer that way.

A Blessed Day

I don't know when exactly it started but you hear most people wish others a Happy Holiday instead of Merry Christmas even when Hanukkah has long past. I've been doing it too. I know there's other religions but this time of the year, this day of December 25 is for Christians. Why can't the words Merry Christmas be taken for what it really means: wishing that person a wonderful day with family and friends, peace, and the strengthening of faith whatever it might be.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hank Phillippi Ryan +

The Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime had a talk given by Hank Phillippi Ryan which I attended yesterday. She's an investigative reporter at Boston's NBC affiliate. She's won 26 Emmys and 10 Edward R. Murrow awards, plus many others. And she gives a great talk. Over the past year I've been in quasi contact with her through The Red Jungle Writers blog, so I was excited to finally meet her. Of course, just like at Michele's book signing, I didn't speak too much because my brain kind of comes to a halt when in a group. But she's warm, personable and funny. Definitely someone you could sit down with over a cup of coffee. Though I might feel a bit awkward at times for she doesn't cuss. As she explained if it isn't part of your regular vocabulary then the chances of slipping while on the air is practically nil. Makes sense, right? I never thought of that. It's a nice little tidbit to know.

Some items she covered in her How to Write a Better Novel were: explore your world - research, interviews, visiting -what are it's boundaries; choosing your sound bites - dialogue; visual - make your story as visual as can be- always push it, and don't panic - realize you have a problem, face it and keep going. It's never as bad as you think. Good advice.

It was nice to get out and be with other people. I got to start doing more of this. : )

Ok now for the +. It's my rant for the week.

New Jersey will be holding it's third black bear hunt starting tomorrow and it will go on for six days. They say there's approximately 3,500 bears of which about 300-700 will be taken depending on who you read or which news report you listen to. Over 5,000 permits have been issued for this hunt. Some hunters have been baiting certain areas for weeks trying to better their odds. Some sportsman!

All of this is happening because bears have increasingly been in contact with humans. They're in backyards, disrupting garbage cans, interacting with pets sometimes seriously, etc. Ok, I can understand the resident's concerns and not all of residents share them BUT we as humans destroy and/or take over habitat with a disregard to the consequences and then complain when something happens. We took over their neighborhood. We pushed them into smaller areas because of our developement. Then we get upset when they try to survive. What did we think was going to happen? We disrupt the balance of nature. This is not just a single incident. We do this to all the animals, all of nature because we think we're better, superior, deserving, entitled. In my own personal opinion - Bull____! The key here is balance and that includes controlling our own population. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Hi All. Since I've been deliquent in my postings I thought I should wish you all a wonderful holiday now. May your loved ones be with you to share the day. If not, give a call or say a prayer if they are no longer here.

I hope you don't have to work that day or report at some ridiculous hour on Friday. I won't rant but that can put a big damper on the spirit since the whole idea is to be thankful for what you have with family and friends.

I know what I'm thankful for. I'd like to hear what things make you warm inside. So share a thought, a story, whatever. I'm all ears. :)

~ Donna

Sunday, October 31, 2010



I enjoy Halloween. I don't go crazy with decorating and such but to me it's a fun time, a kind of magical day. A day to be something you're not. When my daughter was little I made all her costumes. I'd ask her what do you want to be, anything. She was a goldfish one year - challenging. Another year she was a green dragon with a hot pink belly, green feet with purple toes, alternating colored scales going down her back, a long tail and wings. This put my sewing skills to the test because I had to alter the pattern. I know how to sew but I'm far from what you would call a seamstress. She was the cutest little dragon in N.Y.. I wish I could post a picture of her so you would know it's not just a mother talking.

I still go trick or treating - I did tonight with my daughter. We didn't go to too many houses just enough to get the feeling of being a kid again. I actually giggled, something I'm not prone to do, while we waited for someone to answer the bell. We only had one complaint from an old lady. She said it was late, it was 6:30. She said we were too old, my daughter is still mistaken for a teenager. At least we were dressed costumes unlike half the teenagers that came to my door. But she gave us candy anyway. We went to one more house after that because we didn't want it to end on a sour note. The man there was nice and gave us each a handful of candy. Much better.

As I write this a smile comes to me as I think of going from house to house, waiting in anticipation for someone to answer and saying "trick or treat" . It's sometimes good to act like a child again. It refreshes. For a half an hour I wasn't a 55 year old mother-wife-person, I was an excited 10 year old. We should all allow ourselves this pleasure and more than once a year. Let the little kid inside come out and see what happens.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Crime Lab 101

On October 16 I had the pleasure of touring the Suffolk County Crime lab with the LIRW. I know I should have talked about it last Sunday but gee I don't know what happened but I just didn't get to it. (I think I was engrossed in the book THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE. Sorry.) Anywhooo, it was great seeing the evidence room and the labs.

I especially liked the ballistics room where they compare the markings on the bullets. The guys that work in there are whacky or at least seem to be going by how they've decorated the room. We didn't meet them. It was sort of like CSI meets the Addam's Family. On one wall there are skulls of different animals sitting on a shelf. A stuffed animal sat in a corner. I didn't check to see if it was real. Sitting on the edges of two framed displays of ammo were small figurines about one and a quarter inches tall. They're all different. Men and women of all types, shapes and dress, done in a comical way. Leather bound folders on shelves tucked into a corner held back issues of the American Rifleman from 1970-2003 and stero microscopes sat on the back table. Definitely a interesting eclectic array of items.

Though the electron microscope made my heart go pitter patter (yeah, I know I'm weird), the firearms vault was my second favorite room. Oh you should have seen all the guns, from machine guns to revolvers to cute little derringers. I know some gun enthausist is cringing at the word of cute. There was even a cane gun. We saw the firing tank which isn't anything spectacular, kind of ordinary looking, but it was still cool to see.

An autopsy was being performed and we all took glances into the room when we passed. Some of us were bothered by the sight while others, myself included, had trouble looking away. The body didn't look real. And I don't think it was because I wasn't wearing my distance glasses, others said the same thing. It was real alright. It was somebody's son. A reason for someone's grief.

But that's what this lab's about -death. What really struck me were the individual stations where the employees worked. I saw quite a few collages of personal photos if the person faced a wall. Photos, statues and buttons with funny sayings adorned the shelves at other locales. Each seemed to try to help the worker fend off the repetition and sadness that probably permeates a job like this. Who could blame them. I'd do the same thing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

old t-shirt

The other day I tossed one of my favorite t-shirts towards my husband declaring it could now take up residence in the rag bin.

"Who gave it to you?" he asked.

"Bob's (an ex boyfriend) mother."

"Oh wow, how old were you then?"

"About fifteen or sixteen."

Mind you I'm fifty-five now.

I didn't share this with you just to show what a hoarder I am. (Ok I am a hoarder but you can walk through my house and not just in man-made paths.) If I like something I keep it. I don't follow a trend unless it appeals to me. I'm not what you'd call a fashionista.

I thought about "trends" in the writing business. I've heard write what you like but I've also heard certain genres are dead or there's no audience for that subject matter. Editors/agents won't even look at them so why bother. Hmm, why bother. Maybe you do because that's what's in your head and it's pounding to get out. It could be because trends are fickled, what's here today may well be gone within the next year or two or possibly a little more. Trying to keep up with trends is like trying to catch a train with your shoelaces tied together; the possiblity of making it before it leaves is slim.

So put on that old comfortable t-shirt, plop your butt down and write what is inside you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

? ? ?

I was sitting here trying to think of what to write when the following popped into my mind, so I figured I'd throw it out there. If no one responds, oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained, right?

Here’s the scenario: You’re dying. But you don’t want to go yet. How would you persuade God or your concept of supreme being to change his/her/it's mind? Or would you not even try?

I’ll give you some time to think about it. Get back to me when you have an idea. Meanwhile this is conjuring some images for a story, which I think I’ll explore. Maybe I can get those synapses to stop partying for awhile to help me out here. (You'd understand this last sentence if you read my previous post. : ) )

Sunday, September 26, 2010

That Damn Little Voice

Here it is another Sunday to post and nothing is coming through, just like last week. That’s why that week is empty. The same thing is happening with my writing. I try playing “what if” and it falls on its face.

Did you really try?

Well I. . . .

Tsk tsk Be honest.

Hey my cat is sick. I’m worried.

You already took the cat to the vet and you’re bringing him back tomorrow. Besides this lapse has been going on long before Chester got sick.

I’m really busy being president of a writing group.

Excuse. Other presidents are able to write.

Yeah well, if the other presidents jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge does that mean I should too?

That doesn’t even make sense.

Sorry. It was the first thing that came to mind. See what I mean! My mind’s not clicking cohesively.

And whose fault is that?

My synapses! They’re having a block party somewhere and they didn’t invite me.

Have you invited them to your creative parties lately?

Yes but attendance is usually low.

Because. . .?

Well I . . .


Because I tell them at the last minute and then we play computer games most of the times. OK, are you happy?

There’s no reason to get huffy is there? As long as you understand what’s going on, that’s what matters. I knew the real reason all along. I just wanted to hear you to say it.

You’re a smug little bastard, aren’t you?

Call it what you want. Now let’s talk about those excuses for not quitting smoking.

Oh, get the hell out of here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Get Ye to a Nunnery!

Last Saturday the Long Island Romance Writers had their first annual writing retreat, of which I participated. Sixteen of us embarked on a day of uninterrupted writing pleasure held at a House of Prayer in Riverhead, N.Y..

At the begining, Sister Barbara told us the history of the house and how the Archdiocese had come to own it. Yolanda, one of our members who had been there before, asked about the walkway to the beach. The Sister said it was not the sturdiest and that's why it was roped off. This of course peaked my curiousity. So while everyone else went to claim a little patch of solitude, I went off to find this path.

Now you have to picture this. I look like a pack mule. I have a beach chair, that I borrowed from one of the ladies, laying across my back like a backpack. I also have my pocketbook and a tote bag slung on my shoulder and I'm trying to crawl under the railing onto the walkway. Graceful is not a word I'd use. I finally got up there and started my trek. The path had some rotten boards while others were completely missing, but I trudged on. Then came the steps. Two hundred and fifty steep steps. They looked daunting but hey after that there's the beach, right? Ah, no. Then came another fifteen feet or so of walkway that ended on a twenty-five degree tilt to the right. Now the beach? Guess again. The rest of the path had fallen away. That section rested in the sand listing at an even sharper angle to the left.

The part I was standing on swayed gently every time I moved and I realized, after looking, that the supports didn't reach the ground. Oh fun. I took off my baggage and slid off the edge to the unconnected section three feet below then grabbed my stuff and causiously made my way across the next test of dexterity. Made it. Beach? Not quite. The last part of my journey was comprised of ten steps of sand covered wood that had been laid at intervals.

Ta-da! There was the beach before me in all it's glory. It was perfect. It was deserted. I loved it. I put my belongings down on a large flat rock and stretched out besides them, using my jacket as a pillow. I turned to my right and noticed I shared rock with a dead spider crab. I decided to name him Floyd. He had barnacles on his carapice and his front legs were curved in a defensive stance. Call me strange but there was something about him I liked.

I was there to brainstorm ideas for a story so I didn't get much real writing done. Hey maybe I could write a story about killer crabs. No that was done in a movie in the 50's. Well anyway, the day wasn't a total wash. I did come up with an idea, wrote a couple of descriptions and got to lay in the warm sun while listening to the waves as they rolled onto the shore. To me that's a good day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Authors and Vampires and NYC, oh my

Hi everyone.

Wednesday night I ran away from home and met up with a couple of vampires, authors and other eccentric beings. And where might this have taken place? At Michele Lang and Lucienne Diver’s book launching party held at the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art in N.Y.C., of course.

Lady Lazarus is Michele’s second book and the first in a series. Jim Butcher, who if I haven’t told you already is one of my favorite authors, gave her a stellar blurb. I can hardly wait to read it but first I have to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lucienne was also promoting the second in her YA vampire series book Revamped.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. It all started with a ride on the Hampton Jitney (a bus service) for I live pretty far out on the “Island”, Long Island for those who don’t know. I had to meet my friend Dawn on 39th St. because unfortunately when she made the reservations we couldn’t get the same bus. We took a taxi down to Sullivan St. but were an hour and a half early, so we went to Washington Square Park and hung out.

While sitting there talking, I hear “Psst, angel. Psst, angel.” I turned to see one of the two guys who had occupied a bench behind us standing about three feet from me. He said something else but I didn’t understand him. Since it seemed he was feeling no pain, I was hesitant to ask him to repeat it, so I just smiled. After he left I remembered that on the back of my shirt there were two large wings made up of tiny blue rhinestones. Aha, so that’s why he called me angel. Who says I’m slow?

We finally made our way back to the gallery to join the revelers. There was a guy there playing softly on an electric piano, a couple of vamps from a hosting company who interacted with the guests and other friends of the authors. They were fun. Throughout the night Michele and Lucienne posed for snapshots, signed books and mingled among the guests. (If you want to see more pictures, they will be posted on the LIRW blog on Sept 13). Michele and Lucienne looked like they were really enjoying their event.

While that was happening, Myra Platt, the treasurer for LIRW, her daughter and her friend connected up with us. We all moseyed around, Dawn drinking wine and me stuffing my face with veggies and dip as we partook in conversations. We met Keith R.A. DeCandido, a writer, editor and musician, who probably thinks I have some mental problem because I was pretty blanked faced silent (not the impression I was going for at the party) because I couldn't hear most of what he was saying for it was noisy. Diana Fox, who is an agent, was there as were many other interesting people. Then the clock turned to 9:20 and we had to go catch the Jitney back home.

I’m glad I went. I had a great time and it was a new experience for me. Thanks Michele (if you’re reading this) for inviting me!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Such is life

This past week I received another rejection letter. They stated that they were intrigued by the succubus heroine and mystery plot but felt the characters were flat and the writing style didn't engage them. Though this isn't the worst letter (for sure) and I'm know there are writers out there who would like to get one like this instead of some of the horrors they've been sent; I wish editor could have told me why they felt that way.

See I'm a little confused. I've had several compliments on my style. I guess it's like my fellow writers tell me, this business is very subjective. Don't get discouraged. As one editor I read said he would have passed on The Da Vinci Code. And we know where that book went. It all depends on the editor or agent who is reading your work. True, but after awhile you feel like the princess who kissed a thousand frogs and the only thing you ended up with is a pair of warty lips.

But life goes on. I have to change the master cylinder and do a tune-up on my car. I also have to get it inspected (it will be passed due on the 1st). Plus I go back to work on the 2nd - I work at a local college. But it's not bad, at least I have a job and a car, right?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It is 9:58 and it is now. Tomorrow at 3:00 it will be now.
On my deathbed it will still be now.

Since it will always be now, learning to respond now is the only thing there is to learn.
~ Hugh Prather, Notes to Myself, My struggle to become a person

Hugh Prather, after several attempts to get published, decided to write a book composed of a number of entries from his “diary”. A newly established husband and wife run company, who had no sales reps or ads, published it. It took three years for Notes to become known across the country and now has more than two million copies in print worldwide. He and his wife, Gayle, have published several other books while increasingly getting involved with counseling alcoholics, battered women, and parents who have lost a child. To help even further they founded The Dispensable Church. (From my understanding that church is now defunct.)

I had bought and read this book about thirty years ago. I was going to use part of the above info, which was vague in my memory, to write a blog about how the whole writing/publishing experience (and life) is fickled. Of course when I went to find said book, it was nowhere to be found. Thank goodness for libraries.

So I started to page through and read excerpts. I decided not to do my original idea but to let one segment stand alone. Many of the writings, in this book, clicked in my brain while others were stopped with a - huh? It’s a New Age type of insightful thinking. I guess I’m not as enlightened as I think I am or maybe just parts of me aren’t. But don’t go by me – check it out yourself.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Touch Someone

Dawn, a good friend of mine, who writes Romance Puppy, had what I thought was a really good idea. She said when you visit other blogs, if they have 4 or less comments, leave one of your own. If it’s their birthday, congratulate them. Spread some cheer.

Blogging can seem so pointless at times when no one comments. Sure you might have visitors but if they don’t say anything how do you know unless you have a counter? The internet has connected us in so many ways yet we still hide, still resist contact. Ok so some postings aren’t interesting enough to leave anything. I know I’ve had my dull days. We all do. But if you follow them for a couple of weeks I’m sure they would come up with something you could remark about.

Another friend, Judi Fennell, has a separate page on her blog just for people to post random acts of kindness that either the poster did or someone did for the person who had posted. It’s a nice way to show that goodness and generosity is still out there among the populace.

So make someone’s day - say hi, you’re not alone. I’m here with you. : )

Saturday, August 7, 2010

So who is this Chandler guy?

Last week I did a quickie post, on the LIRW blog, about Philip Marlowe. I've heard that name many times while growing up and decided to finally check out some of the books. My local library had Farewell, My Lovely and Lady in the Lake. Marlowe's wit, his tilted way of expression and pace are the points that kept me reading.

Then I thought, who's this Raymond Chandler who wrote this series? I was a surprise by what I found out and the couple of similarities between author and character.

Chandler was born in the U.S.A in 1888. Moved to London with his divorced mother in 1895.
Between 1905-1912 he moves to Paris, then Germany and then back to England In 1908 his poem "The Unknown Love" is published. And between 1905-1912 he worked briefly as a reporter in London and also wrote essays and poetry. (Poetry, in the typical Ode to a Grecian Urn sense, is not a style I would equate with him.) He finally settles in California where some of his jobs are stinging tennis rackets and picking fruit.

The U.S enters World War I and Chandler enlists in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He is sent to fight in France. He is also being trained by the RAF but the armistice cuts it short. After being discharged he took a correspondence course on bookkeeping and got a job with Dabney Oil Syndicate as a bookkeeper and auditor.

1924 brought him to the altar with Cissy Pascal, who was twice divorced and eighteen years his senior. By 1932 he had risen to VP of Dabney Oil Syndicate but is fired a year later for alcholism, and absenteeism. Now out of work he decides to go back to writing and in 1933 his first short story Blackmailers Don't Shoot is published in Black Mask magazine. Things move along and in 1939 The Big Sleep is published. In the next twenty years he writes seven novels, nineteen short stories and seven screenplays; two of which were unproduced. NBC airs "Philip Marlowe" as a 1947 summer replacement and CBS buys the rights to "The Adventures of Philip Marlowe" radio show in 1948.

After Cissy dies in 1954, he begins to drink heavily. (It seems he always had to wrestle with the bottle and his excess drinking shows up as one of Marlowe's traits. "So I got out my office bottle and took the drink and let my self-respect ride it's own race." - The Big Sleep) The years 1955-1958 have him traveling to London, Capri, Naples (where he interviews Lucky Luciano; never published), New York, Arizona, Madrid, and Tangier. He was hospitalized several times for alcholism. He had affairs with four different women, one of which was Helga Greene, his agent, whom he proposed to. (Marlowe was also a lady's man and appreciated the female form. "It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window." -Farewell, My Lovely )

In March of1959 he went to New York to accept the presidency of Mystery Writers of America but unfortunately on March 26 he dies of pneumonia at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla.

It's kind of sad to see the struggle this man had and how it's reflected in Marlowe. "I was as empty of life as a scarecrow's pockets." - The Big Sleep. I haven't read enough of Chandler's work or of his life to make comparisons between all of his and Marlowe's demons but I have to wonder if Chandler felt he was as honest, loyal and forthright as his character.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Nothing new today - I cleaned
Nothing special this week - I worked on my other house, renovating
Nothing special in my life (as of right now) - same old, same old

I will not bore you with the prattlings of a desparate mind just so I can have something down. (At least for this posting.) Today I'm feeling a bit blunt. But come back next week for I'm working on an idea that I hope will be of interest to you.

"Talk" to you soon. ~ Donna

Monday, July 26, 2010


Diversify the experts say. Get out of your comfort zone. Try writing something totally different.

Well, I did. I did an interview. Having never done one before I scoured other interviews trying to come up with pertinent questions, things that readers will find of interest. I guess it worked. The author I conferred with loved the finished product, said it was wonderful. She was probably happy because it was a mixture of her personal life and plugs for her new and past books. But that's ok for that's what it was suppose to be. I was trying to get people to know her and her writing a little better.

I was surprised how easy it came together. We did it all by email. I asked for some personal background. Then I sent her some questions using that and other sources. She returned her answers which I then copied and pasted into a coherent article. Let her look at it for final approval and Voila! we had an interview.

I'm glad it was easy because I promised to do the same for eight more people. : )

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Van

Yesterday we had our daughter's car towed away. She had totaled it over a year ago and it had been sitting in the garage since then. She was sad to see it go. We all were. It was a really nice car.

The emotions brought me back to my first car. It was a black, brown and yellow '65 GMC Handivan. It had no power steering nor seat belts and the heater was about as hot as a mouse's breath. The linkage for the stick shift was worn and if you shifted too quickly it could get stuck in gear. Then you'd have to go under the vehicle and give one of the rods a yank to get them moving again. I got quite proficient at it, surprising both my passengers and some onlookers . For the first 2 years of ownership it didn't have a radio. So I sang a bit or rolled down my window at traffic lights to hear other people's music while I waited. As you can see it wasn't much but it was mine.

Then in '77, while driving on the Meadowbrook Parkway with my husband (then boyfriend) a car came off the entrance ramp into the middle lane, right in front of me, going about 15 mph slower than I was. I swerved into the right lane to avoid hitting them but lost control and went up the grassy side of the parkway. There were some planting of trees being done and my left front tire fell into one of the holes. The van flipped, the ass end coming up and over, landing on the front driver's side.

My husband had pulled me down when we started going over. He said it was surreal watching the windshield shatter and disappear then seeing blue then green, blue . . green, blue . . . green as we rolled down the hill three times. Having no seat belts we bounced around like two super balls. We landed upright and the van was now traveling back towards the parkway. Don tried to reach the steering wheel but couldn't because I was unconscious on the floor, blocking him. Someone was watching over us for the van started to turn away from traffic. My husband pulled himself up slightly to see what was going on just in time to witness us hit a lightpole. He lurched forward smashing his nose against the metal dashboard as the light pole came crashing down. The accident had finally ended. (picure is of the injuries poor Baby Van incurred. The right side had very little damage.)

Someone had stopped and helped Don pull me out. He then went and turned off my car. Yes, it was still running after all this. My father drove it home wearing goggles. Can you just imagine that coming down the street behind you? :)

But I don't remember any of this. In fact I don't even remember the car that cut me off or being in the middle lane or half the time I was in the hospital. Believe it or not, we just got very badly beaten and the only thing broken was Don's nose. More than a hour of my life, where I lost my car and we almost lost our lives, is blank. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't know what happened. It's really a strange feeling.

Like my daughter, I was so sad to let my baby go. I had gotten her when I was 18. She was my independence. My freedom at a time when I was vulnerable and growing. She gave her life for me. I still miss her.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

500 Words

Remember how in my last post I said I finally sent out my ms? Well there was a bit of a snafu. It was an e-submission and the auto response never sent me the confirmation that they received it. I waited a few weeks and tried again. Same thing. I reached one of their editors and explained my situation. She’s helping me find out what’s happening. (I don’t want to say her name because I don’t want everyone to think they can email her personally. But I will say she’s very nice and understanding)

So that’s under control. Now what? I know they say to keep writing, editing and all that writer stuff but I haven’t had a real creative thought since March. Talk about a dry spell! Sure, I’ve had a several imaginative sentences but a few sentences does not a novel make. I also write this blog, I am a regular contributor to the LIRW blog and I write a monthly president’s message for Shorelines. But it’s not like the creative stream you need for a story.

I have to admit I haven’t tried that hard to write either. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into being president of Long Island Romance Writers. It’s taken up quite a bit of my time, especially since my computer is on the older side and I have dial up. Yes, dial up. I know, just give me a chisel and a stone slab. But the time the Board members and I have put in seems to be paying off. I sense an energy that’s growing within the group. We’re doing more things, trying new things and it’s been for the better. Yay!

But that doesn’t help my writing. So I’m going to pledge to write at least 500 words a day, starting Monday. I know that isn’t much but I have to start somewhere. I will place my total for the week at the end of each posting so you can keep me in line. You are permitted to virtually slap me on the back of the head if I don’t make the 3,000 words a week. (No, I’m not bad at math. Hey, I get to take one day off, right? : ) ) Deal? Anyone else care to join me in a pledge or am I the only one being a naughty little writer?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebrate the RED, WHITE and BLUE

Well yesterday was the 4th of July and I hope everyone had a safe and happy one.

I, like millions of others, had a barbecue but with bratwurst and vegetable kabobs; ending with the patriotic parfait of strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.

Then we all loaded into the van and drove over to the beach. This has turned into a tradition for us. From there we can watch all the fireworks being launched on the mainland. And it is spectacular. (By next year I hope to figure out how to put a video on this blog so you can see it.) So many people are there to view this event. More just drive the loop for a quick glimpse. But we're all sharing in the celebration of our great country. I think it was John Adams who said in 1777 that the citizens should celebrate with bonfires. Well that idea has certainly grown!

Then we came home and watched the remainder of the Boston Pops with Craig Ferguson. I think it's fantastic that he hosts this special. One, because I think he's funny and two, and this is the important one, he's originally from Scotland and became a U.S. citizen. He seems to genuinely love this country, sometimes even more so than natural born citizens. After he took the oath, he got a tatoo of the snake divided into 8 pieces that had been published in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, on his forearm. I wouldn't have had the . . . you know, to do that. But he did. He is now a part of this country and it is a part of him. YAY!!

We forget a lot of times how good we have it here. So Hip Hip Hooray and happy birthday, America. May you always be strong and wise.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Screwing Up?

Bear with me, I'm running on empty with only four hours sleep. The past couple of days have been busy with with some presidential duties, writing a post for the LIRW blog, helping my husband replace two basement windows, cleaning, grocery shopping and having to assist in fixing our daughter's brake light that was constantly on. Thank goodness it was no biggie.

I finally emailed my ms to Samhain yesterday and mailed it to Kensington today. I know. I shouldn't have waited so long after the luncheon but for some reason I didn't want to send it. I guess I was afraid. I've sent things out before and have been rejected. Maybe this time I didn't want it happening again, didn't want to hear it. Fear can be like a giant thumb pressing into your back, forcing you down. But I got past it because if you're a writer, that's what you have to do. If you want to succeed that is, right?

Let me tell you two things that happened today. After I mailed my story, I drove a block away from the post office only to realize that I forgot to put a stamp on the SASE that was enclosed in the packet. I went back, was able to retrieve it and fix the problem. If I hadn't remembered, I would have seemed like such an idiot to Alicia Condon. Ok, one disaster overted. Then tonight I'm getting the paper ready for the recycling and saw The South Shore Press, in the pile. That's the same paper I told Linda at Samhain and Alicia had published a few of my articles but was now defunct. Obviously it isn't. It was Suffolk Life that was no longer around. Crap! What was I thinking? Jeez, there's no way to fix that one.

I guess things like this happen to everyone. I sure hope so. I'd hate to think I'm the only one to screw up. Hopefully they'll look past any mistakes I made and say send me the entire manuscript. Yeah, that sounds good. I'll go to bed and have that dream. Maybe it will come true.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yippee! I've been rejected

Now that the luncheon is over, I thought it was appropriate to put this up. It's a little ditty I wrote awhile back for the LIRW newsletter, Shorelines. I hope you like it.


For three years I’ve attended the Long Island Romance Writer’s Luncheon, where I’ve sat quietly, watched, listened and ate decadent chocolate mousse. But this year I was hitting the floor. I finally had something to pitch. Armed with my trusty index cards I approached editor after editor, agent after agent, touting my manuscript, THE TOUCH OF A LIE.

I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t the smoothest out there. My nerves being what they were, I forgot what I practiced saying (that’s where the index cards came in handy), I couldn’t find my pen and had to borrow one from Jozelle Dyer, an editor for Tor, and when it was over, I realized I missed two people I wanted to talk to. But I did receive some positive feedback and a few said, “Send it.”

The following days I sent my baby out into the world where I hoped she could find a good home and would grow to maturity. Hearing it could take six months to a year to get a response, I pushed my submissions to the back of my mind while I worked on other things.

Imagine my surprise and partial dismay when I received one of my self-addressed envelopes less than three weeks after I mailed everything. I dropped it on the table unopened and walked away. I made myself a cup of tea and lit a cigarette. Now I was ready. Tearing away the flap, I pulled out the letter and read. Yep, it was a rejection from Liza Schwartz of New American Library. She was very kind and offered a few suggestions. She will go down in my chronicles as being my first.

Even though I knew my manuscript wouldn’t take shape there, I didn’t feel disheartened. I was kind of elated. It hit me at that moment, and thank goodness it did, that this rejection was a testimony to how far I’d come. I thought how many people are out there sitting at home, thinking of writing a story or writing that piece but never sending it out. Must be thousands, thousands upon thousands.

Yet I did it. I pushed myself to finish my idea, timidly placed it before others to critique it and forced myself to go past my comfort zone to pitch it. That’s no mean feat.

So I rejoice in the arrival of this letter because it tells me how much I’ve grown in four years. With this rejection in front of me I can honestly say I am a writer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Steven Zacharius and the LIRW luncheon

Good evening. A quickie this time. And no, a quickie tonight is not what you might think it is. Get your mind out of the gutter! I was referring to a short post about the LIRW luncheon, not. . . you know . . . that!

Anyway, the luncheon went so well. I'm grateful for working with such hard working, talented ladies. Yes, I did flub my speech a bit but people said I did fine. And as you can see, I didn't die from fright. If you'd like to see pictures of the luncheon, go to the LIRW blog at You'll see and read more about the luncheon there.

Steve Zacharius, our guest speaker, is so approachable, you can ask him anything. He is also a wealth of info. I won't get into everything in his speech but a few important things he told us were:

1) Though hard cover books are slowly dwindling, he is optomistic of Kensington being a strong presence in the future. Ebooks are about 10% of their business right now.

2) A good email list is essential. You can build one by using Twitter, Facebook and blogging.

3) Share that list with your publisher for e-mail blasts

4) Keep in touch with your publisher. Tell them what you're doing.

5) Be on time with your ms.

Well I hope that helped you a bit. Good night for now. ~ Donna

Sunday, June 6, 2010


A while back I mentioned that the group, Long Island Romance Writers, was having their annual luncheon. Well that day is almost here - June 11th. I just happen to be their president which means I'll be giving a speech, something I'm sooo looking forward to doing. Do you hear that? Ping! Ping! It's sound the little drops of sarcasm are making as they hit my metal desk. (By the way, that's me, pictured above, being dragged to the podium) Luckily for me it doesn't have to be long and the names are easy to pronounce. So it might not be as bad as my mind is building it up to be. I just have to get over my fear of speaking in front of a group of people. That's all. Ping!

When I get nervous I crack stupid jokes. I've warned the group about this so they're on the look out if I start to snap my fingers to do the lame butterfly with hiccups joke. Hopefully my mouth won't be on automatic pilot.

It's going to be a fantastic day. The luncheon committee has worked hard and Beth Glash has been instrumental in pulling this off. We have a bunch of agents and editors coming. We have people traveling from Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut to attend, all in hopes to make that one connection so they will get published. I wish everyone did but it doesn't happen that way. But some do. They either get their ms accepted or get an agent or both. That makes me happy. I like hearing good things.

Well I'm off to finish my speech. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

With our lives

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.
~ John Adams

The original concept of Memeorial Day has become minimalized, as have other holidays. Christmas is not about Santa but the birth of Christ. Easter isn't about a bunny but of salvation. Veteran's Day, Washington's and Lincoln's Birthday, all of these days, reduced to promoting sales and/or having parties. Don't get me wrong I like a good sale but not on those days. Don't lower the ideals just to put money in your pocket. I also like a good party. And I think that for some of these holidays we might be subconsciously celebrating that we are alive, at least a little. That's ok to do as long as we remember and appreciate the true ideas and meanings that are the basis for these days. For that is what's important. . .to remember.

Let's bow our heads to all the men and woman who, from the inception of our country through the centuries to the present, gave the most they could give. For without them, where would we be now.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Pit

Sometimes I feel critiquing is like walking a path permeated with holes that are lined with pointed sticks. You're just not sure which way to go to avoid falling in. And if you don't watch out, you might drag someone down with you or you might not help that person at all.

How far can you go, should you go? How much does the author, of the work you're looking at, want to hear? Does being kind, help? Is there such a thing as being too critical? I know it's hard to read evaluations of your ms. I have, at times, gotten my back up about some comments. (Yes, dear reader, unfortunately it's true.) I like trying to discuss the remarks made by the person, explain what I was thinking. If they can see what I was attempting maybe they could give me suggestions on how to make it clearer. But most people don't want to confer; taking such actions as a challenge to their opinions and that can start a whole new situation. Been there, done that, don't want a repeat performance. But if you want to be a good writer, you have to be able to shoulder the constructive critisim. I know, I know, I should listen to my own words. But I am getting better.

Which brings me back to how far should you go? What do you do when you critque someone's work? That's my question for you. Care to respond? ~ Donna

PS- Please don't criticize my picture/layout. I really wanted the picture between the 1st and 2nd paragraphs. After over 4 hours of copying, trying to get the picture to load (my computer wouldn't open up the file) and reading the little help suggestions, I finally e-mailed it to Blogger and this is where it landed. Hey, I was just happy to finally to get a picture up. My first picture. Yay!!!! : )

Monday, May 3, 2010


I just turned double nickel today. Well really yesterday, since now we're an hour and 19 minutes into the 4th of May. We had a simple celebration consisting of a pizza and for dessert a Baskins and Robbins mud pie with mint chocolate chip ice cream. (You can tell which one I favored most just by the amount of details I gave to each.) Love my ice cream and chocolate.

My husband, daughter, her boyfriend and I played Uno. Now that might not sound too exciting and well it isn't, but we got into such a stupid mood. Bad jokes and the retelling of dumb situations we remembered, had the bunch of us hysterical. We swear there was something in the pie.

It was good to laugh so hard and to look at them wiping their eyes. That was my present, though I know they didn't plan it to be because who knew those moments of sitting around a table with a worn out deck of cards would turn out to be so funny. Money could never buy that. And the present wasn't just for me. It's those times that make us close and remember what we liked about each other. It brings us together even when we're apart later on.
Here's hoping you share some presents with your loved ones.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where Can She Be?

Since things have calmed down, I figured ok let's get back to writing. eh eh. I've got my hero and heroine, I know basically what's suppose to happen and I know the ending but . . . . My muse, as skitzy as she was, has definitely left the building now and the words and ideas I had are running in circles or jumping off the cliff into the abyss. Jeez. Maybe I could leave a trail of Reese's Piece's leading to my room to draw her out? Nah, if she's anything like me she'd want Lindt dark chocolate truffles. But then she'd have to fight me for them. I'm sure that won't help the relationship any. : )

To make things even more difficult, this will be written in the third person, which I don't feel comfortable doing but I feel it is the POV to use. (My first ms was in the first person and I was able to get into my character so much easier.) So I'm reading more books with that POV trying to see how everyone does it without head hopping. Will this help, I'll find out soon enough.

And to top it off, when I sit looking at the blank page I start to wonder if I should even be writing a romance. I know my strength is more towards action and fight scenes. I know you can have both in one story but action stories are faster paced and romance needs to go slower in order for the reader to relate to the couple. Ah, I'll figure it out or I'll put it up and try something else. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


An idea occured to me as I drove to work this morning. If, at your death, your heart was weighed, as the ancient Egyptians believed would happen, which way would the scale tip?
What constitutes the goodness or badness of a person? Can we make up for past transgressions? I guess it depends on your beliefs.

If you got a peek at the scale say every twenty years, would you change your ways if what you saw was unfavorable? Would you run off to the nearest soup kitchen, plant a tree, take in a stray or reach out to someone you didn't know? Or would you say the heck with it I'm screwd anyway, and continue on the same crappy path?

It all comes down to choices. Some large, some small. Some that are realized, some that are intangible. Those we can live with and those we can't. Should I eat the apple or not.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I'm sorry for all my venting. I was depressed. I've decided to not participate any more with that Sci-fi group. I feel better now. Looking forward to the Luncheon in June with my other group. "Talk" to you next week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Life's strange

Well people, a lot has happened since I last posted anything. There have been meetings, discussions, readings of members views, lies, deception and accusations. There will be a civility policy and a dispute resolution procedure created in hopes to stop this from ever happening again.

I got my scores back from my entry in the Betwwen the Sheets contest. The judges had me as average with scores of 39, 48, and 36 out of 60. At least my husband thinks I'm sexy. : ) But I wanted feedback and two of the judges only gave me about two lines of comments besides their scores. The third wrote something for almost each question. That's what I was looking for. They all seemed to agree that I should get into the character's heads more. Oh well, I'll put that story aside for awhile, maybe even longer. I've got another story I want to do.

On the lighter side, I finished judging the 4 entries for the Daphne. I'm going to a "girls night out" dinner with three of my friends. Hanging with friends is something I very, very, rarely do. So I'm kind of psyched. Maybe I can talk them into hitting a bar too. I won nine books at Barbara Vey's blog party. I guess they'll be arriving soon. My daffodils are blooming and that always brings me a smile. And my family is doing pretty well. Hope you are too.
~ Donna

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yes again

A thousand apologies for not posting last week. I'll give you 348 guesses why I didn't. That's right. The trouble with the writing group was still boiling. I knew you were smart and didn't need all of those guesses. But there's a light at the end of the tunnel and as the old adage goes, I hope it isn't a train. Hopefully one more week and it should be more or less cleared up or it will explode into something I don't even want to contemplate. C'est la vie!

Since I had been creatively dysfunctional during this time, I decided to participate in Barbara Vey's virtual blog party. She has it every year to celebrate her anniversary with Publishers Weekly. It's fun. It's silly. And it's just the right thing for a marshmellowed brain person to do. Barbara tells everyone where it is virtually held, who some of the guests are, what they brought to the party and what kind of entertainment there is. Then people post anything they want. Most just say hi but it's more fun to respond to what Barbara has said is happening or to other bloggers.

My friend, Dawn came up with all these crazy characters who were dancing, drinking and flirting with all the women. She also came up with a little ditty called The Neglected Husband Blues -
- da da da da. I loved it. I came up with Eton, a cajun ghost, whom I met while the party was in a mansion in New Orleans. He then followed me to New York, England and Paris. I was just really getting into it and then it ended last Saturday. Oh well. It was good to be a bit zany. It helped to break the tension I was feeling. It was a pause. A much needed one at that. Next year I'll put down when it will be held and if there's anybody out there, they can come and join us.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

All Join In

Sorry for not posting last week. There had been a riff in one of the writing groups I belong to and it has held my time and mind prisoner for awhile. I'm still trying to fight it's bonds. People were hurt and a group is possibly damaged. And it's still going on. It's BS. I just got another e-mail. Round 439 has started and the bindings immediately got tighter. I feel like I'm Houdini, stuck in the middle of one of his escape tricks and I've got amnesia.

I'm listening to You can all join in by Traffic. It's jaunty beat and words are making me smile a bit. Maybe it will make you smile too. I happen to like the whole cd. I originally had it when it was an album. Am I dating myself? Oh well it happens. : )

Here's a little song you can all join in with
It's very simple and I hope it's new
Make your own words up if you want to
Any old words that you think will do
Yellow, blue, what'll I do?
Maybe I'll just sit here thinking
Black, white, stop the fight
Does any of these colors ever bother you?

Here's a little dance you can all join in with
It's very simple and I hope it'd new
Make your own steps up if you want to
Any old steps that you think will do
Left, right, don't get uptight
Keep in line and you'll be alright
Clap hands, move around
Make sure no one puts you down

Here's a little world you can all join in with
It's very simple and I hope it's new
Make your own life up if you want to
Any old life that you think will do
Love you, it's nothing new
There's someone much worse off than you are
Help me set them free
Just be what you want to be

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Olympics

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. ~ Johann Van Goethe

I love the Olympics, well most of it. The figure skating is beautiful, while the moguls and half pipe are exciting as is the speed skating. And the curling is - well - I'm sure they're sick of being the butt of so many jokes. I wonder, if I had the chance, would I ever try bobsledding or doing the luge. Maybe, but not a 90 mph. Do they have something like a bunny luge?

I think what gets me about all of it, is the intensity of the participants. Even though most won't medal, they all strive to be the best that they can be. That's how they got there. It's a lesson for all of us. The Olympics give me hope, exhileration and a kick in the ass to get moving.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I had this nice picture I wanted to post for Valentine's Day but after 15 + minutes of waiting to down load the friggin' thing, I got disgusted and gave up. One stinking, lousy picture. Geesh!!!!!
Anyway, I hope you had a nice day with someone close to you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super things

Hi all. Sorry this posting's a day late. Even though I really don't like football, I did watch the Super Bowl. It turned out better than I thought it would be.

Speaking of super things (How's that for a smooth segue?), my daughter's craft work is on the front page of the Craftster Blog. She posted her intricate paper cuttings several months ago and unbeknownst to her, they put it out front. It made her day. Am I proud of her, you bet. If your interested in seeing it, she goes by the name kinipayla. I don't know how long it will be there but you can probably put in her name and find it, if it's not there. This is also an interesting site if you like handcrafted items or are interested in learning a new craft.

Another super thing that happened is one of my critique partners, Kate Sheeran, had a short story accepted by Every Day Fiction, an on-line site that has new short stories posted every day for free. We're all happy for her. I hope you will go and read her story on February 24.

Well, I'm off to check out a blog party given by the Goddesses. Bye for now. ~ Donna

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Choice

I had written something for this blog but when I read it, it didn't appeal to me. And if it wasn't of interest to me, I doubted it would be to you.

I sat back and tried to think of something else and was rewarded with - zip. Great, third posting in and I'm already empty. So I sat some more. (Writers do a lot of sitting and a flattened, square ass is a result of such inaction; so much so that it has become a physical requirement of the trade. Just a warning to you newbies.)

A question started to buzz my mind. Say you lived in a world where you had the opportunity to change your life. It was the luck of the draw whether you would get a better or worse existence than you had now. Your present identity would be voided and your sex might even change. You might become rich or famous or end up in the darkest slum. The odds were always 50-50 and you only would get one try. No going back. No do overs. Who would take that chance? Would you? Hmm, I sense a story emerging. I'll "talk" to you later. ~ Donna

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Please help

For the past couple of days, my family and I have been renovating the first house we lived in. It's a small house, a little larger than 600 sq. ft., which was made to feel even smaller with three dogs, one of which was a Great Dane, two cats, and a baby. But it is a good house, always has been.

I thought back to when we lived there. Times were not always smooth, in fact there had been a very rough financial spot where we were behind in the mortgage and the collectors were calling. But we made it. I guess we were lucky. I know we were determined. Right now there are a lot of people in Haiti who need help. So if you haven't already done so, please send money to the Red Cross. Also don't forget that this did not only affect people. There are thousands of animals who are hurt, lost, starving or dying. Please give to the Humane Society to help those poor animals who cannot take care of themselves. Thanks.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Something new. . .at least for me.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. ~ Mark Twain

Hello everyone, or anyone for that matter. My friend and fellow writer, Dawn Berkoski, is trying to bring me into the 21 century since I'm such a cyber spaz. She insisted that it would be to my benefit to have a blog and I had to concede that she's probably right. So here I am floating with millions of other bloggers, all hoping to make contact.

As I stated, I'm a writer but my postings will not always pertain to writing. I hope you enjoy my insights, info, rants and occasional lapses into absurdity, which will be posted 4x a month. In the mean time, savor life!
Thanks for coming and please stop by again. ~ Donna