Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bargain, Bear, Burger

There are several things that happened recently that got me thinking and my anger on a roll.

But that aside, I'd like your opinion on them even if it's different from mine because there are always other ways to view a situation.

1) I was listening to an interview with a corporate CEO the day after Black Friday. He was asked about the increasingly early hours stores now open on that day. He replied that the change in the hours are in response t0 what the public wants. Going by what I saw in interviews and clips on the news it would seem that he was correct. Many people camped out for an incredible amount of time, cutting short their Thanksgiving meals and missing time with "loved ones" to get big discounts.

But I have would have asked him, if the stores offered typical every day sales on Black Friday would the shoppers still rush to the businesses at these God forsaken times? I think not.

How do you feel about Black Friday? Do you go shopping on that day and at what time do you start?

2) New Jersey is once again having a bear hunt starting tomorrow, December 5. New Jersey black bears, which were considered wiped out in the 1970's, made a tremendous comeback in the last few decades - enough to have three hunts conducted in the last decade: 2003, 2005 and 2010. The last hunt set a record for 592 bears killed.

My question is what has happened in the forty + years to cause this tremendous reversal in numbers? I can't seem to find the reason on the sites. Are the numbers correct? There is some controversy about that. I know NJ's population hasn't gone down and has probably extended itself into the surrounding forests. With people come easier meals for a foraging bear who'd not think twice of going into trash cans, dumps and farm fields for some morsel. Could humans have been a large part of the cause? Could they have created dangerous Yogis who are looking for a pic-a-nic basket and not their harder to obtain natural venue?

3)The horse meat inspection ban was lifted this past week. The Huffingtonpost reported "But pro-slaughter activists say the ban had unintended consequences, including an increase in neglect and the abandonment of horses, and that they are scrambling to get a plant going – possibly in Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or Missouri. They estimate a slaughterhouse could open in 30 to 90 days with state approval and eventually as many as 200,000 horses a year could be slaughtered for human consumption. Most of the meat would be shipped to countries in Europe and Asia, including France and Japan".

Maybe it's my romanticized idealism that has me upset with this. Visions of Mr. Ed, Trigger, Flicka and Black Beauty burst into my mind. The thought of slaughtering a horse for food unless there's nothing else to eat just turns my gut. You can't tell me France and Japan can't afford anything better than horse meat.

I can see how the economy could produce more neglected and abandoned horses but to the extent that it helps legitimize the butchering of horses? I doubt it. But that's not the only excuse being used. Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state lawmaker who's the vice president of United Horsemen, said ranchers used to be able to sell horses that were too old or unfit for work to slaughterhouses but now they have to ship them to butchers in Canada and Mexico, where they fetch less than half the price. Wild horses are also captured and sold in order to control herd populations.

The Humane Society has worked hard to protect all horses but the lift was inserted into a spending bill signed by President Obama. I was taught when you take in an animal, no matter what it is, it's your responsibility to take care of it the best you can for the life of that animal. If you can't provide good care you find someone who can. You don't sell it for it's meat, fur, skin or to a breeding mill. But that's me. How do you feel?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

There is a Different Way

With Black Friday fast approaching I thought this letter that was sent to me by a friend was appropriate. I felt some of the ideas were good and should be passed on. Though it is down on products from China you have to admit it's hard to find items made in the USA.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods --merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is! It's time to think outside the box, people.

Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificate from your local American hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamin's on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course. There are hundreds of thousands, owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.

Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China and other cheap labor countries can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

Can you think of some other ideas for presents that would help other Americans and our economy? Remember November 26th is Shop Small Business Day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Epiphanies and pumpkins

Are you ever like this? We all have had those flashes. My light bulb moments are usually restricted to metaphors that don't pertain to the story I'm working on. Figures, right? I've got a couple of pages dedicated to them. They're all waiting their turn for the right story.

So c'mon. Fess up. Tell me about some of your epiphanies. Did you go a bit too far like dear old Leo here? After rereading them were they as good as you originally thought? Are they short like my metaphors or are they whole passages? Did they stay in your story or did you write them down for a future work?

*Mr. Boffo is a Joe Martin creation. You can see more of him at

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Biblical Halloween?

The other day I was talking to my sister, who lives in N. Carolina, about Halloween. She told me she’d been discussing Halloween activities with some co-workers. They told her the church doesn’t call it a Halloween party but a Fun Fall Festival. The children go to the event dressed as their favorite Bible character. She told them when we were kids our church gave us containers to collect money for UNICEF then we’d go to a party at the church dressed as anything we liked. Now I ask you which seems more of a Christian ideal- dressing up as a Bible character or collecting money to help others?

Afterwards I wondered what a biblical themed party would be like. I imagined walking into a room with all these miniature “apostles” donned in old sheets with their dad’s raggy work shirts that have had the collar and cuffs removed layered over the sheet and cinched around their middles with a bit of rope. They are all running about. There’s an adult saying to a little boy “And who are you?” The boy holds up a hunk of netting and says, “I’m James”. “Gee, I thought you were Andrew” replies the adult. Really, I think. How could you tell one from the other? And how many Marys and angels can one party hold? This place was packed with them. Ok so there are other roles for girls if you include the Old Testament but many churches emphasize the New Testement which, like back then kind of sucks if you’re a female, few choices.

Then I visualize the smart-ass teenager doing his impression of Jesus turning the water into wine by spiking the punch. In the corner, boys are throwing wadded up paper towels at someone recreating the stoning of Paul. I see another little boy lying on the ground being told to get up. ”No”, he says. “I’m Lazawus. I haven’t been wesuwected yet.” Though his miss-pronunciations are adorable he’s yanked up by the arm by his mom. “You are now,” she says.

All right maybe my imagination took off a bit. (I personally like when that happens) The party is not like this at all. There are games and food for the children to enjoy. They’re safe. And probably more than a few, though frowned upon by the church, have gone trick or treating. Whatever you think of the day I hope you enjoy it.


Sunday, October 16, 2011


One morning Hoda and Kathy Lee were interviewing Tara Sophia Mohr, author of "10 Rules for Brilliant Women". She was listing some of the things mentioned in her book, but the one that caught my ear was number 3 - Gasp. Start doing things that make you gasp and get the adrenalin flowing. (And we're not talking sexually here- :) ) Ask yourself, “What’s the gasp-level action here?” Your fears and a tough inner critic will chatter in your head. That’s normal, and just fine. When you hear that repetitive, irrational, mean inner critic, name it for what it is, and remember, it’s just a fearful liar, trying to protect you from any real or seeming risks. Go for the gasps and learn how false your inner critic’s narrative really is, and how conquerable your fears.

This led my brain to the movie I.Q. (You know the one where Meg Ryan is a super smart mathematician and niece to Albert Einstein and Tim Robbins is a mechanic who is in love with her.) In it he asks her " When's the last time *you* said Wahoo?" Well that kind of stopped me; when was the last time I Wahooed? I can't truly remember. 

 I think, for most of us, life with its responsibilities tends to make us seek the safer side of life. You don't want to disrupt the family or get hurt or take the time, etc. But I feel it's important not only as a writer to experience new things but as a person. I don't know why but I've been feeling the tug of that need more and more lately.

I almost had a wahoo moment when I went to N. Carolina. I was seriously thinking of going paragliding, which would have been a big deal because I'm afraid of heights. But I decided not to because I felt $60 for an hour and a half, of which 15 minutes was air time, was too much. Besides what would my family do while I'm off on some personal adventure? I felt guilty. So I didn't do it. But I'm still kicking it around for the next time I go down there. (If I do I'll try to record it so you can all have a good laugh) I think it's time I started hitting those safety walls.

So when was the last time you said wahoo? Plan a few. Maybe even ask your husband if he'd like to join you on one. He probably needs to say wahoo too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


On July 19th at 5:57 a.m. the shuttle Atlantis touched down for the final time. It’s crew: Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Rex Walheim and Sandra Magnus are the last Americans, for a while, to make it into space. Any future visits by Americans to the International Space Station will be as passengers on Russian or private company rockets .

I know things have changed but I find it ironic that over fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to beat the Russians in space by putting a man on the moon. And we did it –July 20, 1969. Now almost forty-two years to the day later, we’re stopping and are going to pay the Russians to haul our keesters back and forth. I know we’re “friends” with them but it is another country and anything can and will happen in the future. I guess I just don’t like us being dependent on someone else. But that’s how the world runs nowadays. We’re all intertwined. Maybe my feelings grow from being raised during the “cold war” or maybe it’s American pride in me raising its head. The prospect doesn’t sit too still within me.

I know we haven’t given up on space exploration but NASA’s plans are a bit fuzzy. They say they’re going send Americans deeper into space to possibly explore Mars and asteroids. Maybe I’m being a bit shortsighted. Maybe it’s good we spend the money toward new horizons and let the Russians and others spend theirs doing what we have already conquered.

How do you feel about the changes in our space program?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baseball's First Ladies

Last night as I was watching the Antique Roadshow, an attendee had brought in memorabilia of Jackie Mitchell. Not being a baseball fan, much less a sports fan, I was surprised to hear she was the first woman to have a contract with an all male minor league. My curiosity was stirred so much I had to google her. This is what my quick research uncovered.

As a child, Virne (Jackie) Beatrice Mitchell, was taught how to pitch by her neighbor, Dazzy Vance, who later pitched for some major leagues and was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1931, at the age of seventeen, Jackie signed a contract with the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA minor league team.

A few days later on April 2, 1931, the Chattanooga Lookouts played an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. It was suppose to be played on April 1st but postponed because of rain. In front of 4,000 fans, Jackie was brought in during the first inning to pitch against Babe Ruth. (No pressure there, right?) She struck him out in four pitches. Next came Lou Gehrig. She got him out in three. Some said it was a practical joke since the game was originally to be played on April Fool’s Day. Even I have heard of the tremendous egos of Ruth and Gehrig and feel they wouldn’t let a woman beat them even as a joke. I could be wrong but hey, think about it, am I?

A few days later after that game, baseball commissioner, Landis, voided her contract, stating women unfit to play baseball, as the game was “too strenuous”. She continued to play with The House of David, an all male team. She retired in 1937 at the ripe old age of twenty-three and refused to come out of that retirement when the All-American Girls Professional league was formed in 1943. She died in 1987 and is buried in Forrest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga.

But Virne wasn’t the first to play with a minor all male league, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame website. In 1898, Elizabeth Stroud a.k.a. Lizzie Arlington pitched a game in the Class A Atlantic league. Atlantic League President, Ed Burrow, spotted her when she pitched in an unorganized professional game for the Philadelphia Reserves against Richmond. She also played second base for the rest of the game. “For four or five innings, she had plenty of stuff and control,” said Burrow.

In 1907, the mayor of Vermillion, Ohio arranged a game among the local sandlot teams to watch seventeen-year-old Alta Weiss pitch. She later signed on with a local semi-pro team. After her high school graduation, her father purchased interest in a semi-pro team. She played with them as they barnstormed around northern Ohio, continuing to do so during the summers while she advanced her education attending Starling College of Medicine. She was the only girl in her class to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree.

The first woman to play with big leaguers was Lizzy Murphy. On August 22,1922, she played first base in a charity game of the American League All-Stars versus the Boston Red Sox.

These women had guts to challenge the norms of society and social etiquette of their time. Were you ever in a similar position? Did your actions go against what was socially expected? I was in a slightly comparable situation when I was one of three female mechanics hired for all of Nassau and Suffolk counties by AT&T. I was always in all-male garages. Even though many years had passed between these ladies and myself and those years brought significant changes in thought, it was not always fun because for a few men some things stayed the same – a woman doesn’t belong in certain places.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


On June 28th I joined 2,100 other romance writers at the RWA National Conference. Can you imagine 2,095 women and, I think, maybe 5 very, secure men converging in one spot? Well I had to go - had to experience it. Was it out of my comfort zone. You betcha. But I'm glad I went.

That's me (above) with Dianna Love and Sherrilyn Kenyon at the Signing for Literacy RWA puts on. Both are lovely women. Sherrilyn, two days later, gave such an inspirational speech about the problems and setbacks she faced before she got published, it moved everyone.

Besides attending some good workshops I was able to get to know and enjoy the company of some of the members of LIRW. That was a big plus for me. I don't get out much and to spend time with these wonderful, crazy ladies was fun.

But not all was fun and games, there were pitching appointments with agents and editors. Like many others I got a request. Have my fingers crossed - we'll see what happens. I wish the best for my fellow members who are in the same boat and to all of you who are trying so hard.

As Sherrilyn said "NEVER GIVE UP".

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What da frack?

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking” is the process where sand, chemicals and millions of gallons of clean water are injected at high pressure into the earth to fracture rock releasing oil or methane gas deposits. The water is then extracted and put into open lined pits or holding tanks. From there the water is either allowed to evaporate or taken to be refined.

Is it safe? Well you tell me. A New York Times article states that fracking got a “clean bill of health” in a study done by scientists at Duke University. But a press release that accompanied the study said that fracking changes the water in wells.

A whole array of chemicals can be used in fracking, some of which are toxic. These chemicals can make it into aquifers and personal wells because a significant portion of the water used to frack cannot be removed. Also poor well construction during drilling allows methane gas to escape and it is leaking into the drinking water of local residents. There have been instances of this in several states. The most famous in Dimmock, Pennsylvania where resident’s drinking water could catch on fire due to the high amounts of methane gas in it.

For an extensive article check out:

If this is not enough for you, fracking is now is being considered the source for an increase in the number of minor earthquakes in vicinities where the drilling is being done. In northwest England, Cuadrilla Resources has stopped hydraulic fracturing while it studies data from the quakes on May 30, 2011 and consults with experts.

According to a state commission in Arkansas, two natural gas exploration companies agreed to extend the shutdowns of two injection wells as researchers continue to study whether the operations are linked to a recent increase in earthquake activity. Shane Khoury, deputy director and general counsel for the commission, said preliminary studies showed evidence potentially linking injection activities with more than 1,000 mostly minor quakes in the region during the past six months.

I know we need energy, there's no way around it but oil, gas, coal and uranium will eventually run out. I was a teenager when the first Earth Day was celebrated and at that time the idea of renewable energy sources was gaining momentum. Somewhere along the line it petered out. If the government and oil companies had really put the effort in over these past 40+ years to research and implement those and other ideas we would probably have that renewable source and not be doing business the same old way which can destroy the environment and hurt the people who live near the sites.

Do you think we can ever obtain renewable energy? Have you or a family member been affected by fracking?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

664,863 Final Goodbyes

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.
John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Today is Memorial Day - a day to remember. Let the numbers speak. Let them show what it took to protect her borders and ideals. And let us not forget the lessons and those who taught them.

In honor we remember. . .

MAJOR WAR _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _DEATHS *

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 4,435

WAR OF 1812 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _2,260

CIVIL WAR _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _214,938

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ 140,414 Union _ _ 74,524 Confederates

WW1_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 53,402

WW2 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 291,557

KOREA_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _33,741

VIETNAM _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 58,479

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _6,051+

* I tried to verify the numbers using several sources; unfortunately for some of the wars I found conflicting totals. Please forgive any errors if my numbers are different from what you know.
Also my choice to use only the major wars was to make a more dramatic showing and is in no way belittling the losses incurred during smaller wars, skirmishes, police actions, etc.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I just finished reading two books. (My husband would say "Hell that's no big surprise, you're always reading.) One was of the genre that I like - suspense and the other a historical. As a writer you always hear "read something you usually don't"- well this was it, plus my sister recommended it.

I've read a couple of Jeffery Deaver's books and like the pace that he usually writes in. EDGE is no exception. The suspense is reborn with more vigor at each new twist. There were several of these turnings and a couple took me by surprise especially the small one at the end which made me say "hmm cool". I was a bit disappointed in the real person the lifter, a person hired to extract information, was after and why. But what can you do, it's still well written. I won't go into any details because I don't want to give anything away.

MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER by Robin Oliveira is a historical with strong romantic elements. Mary is a midwife who wants desparately to be a surgeon. When Lincoln asks for 75,000 volunteers and Dorothea Dix advertises for nurses to help in the upcoming Civil War, Mary travels from Albany, New York to Washington hoping to get the training. It is her experiences, her fears and her feelings that transports you through the months of her struggle. I liked this book though the pace and subject matter is not what I would normaly read.

What I found interesting about it was how little was known about medicine, disease and the care for wounds. I was also surprised to find there was a National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Fredrick, Maryland and the Civil War exhibit in the National Museum of Medicine at Walter Reed. Ms. Oliveira obviously did her homework and it shows in the richness of her words .

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m kind of excited. There are several things happening this year. New things. New challenges.

First - In February, if my check got there in time, (yes, Dawn, I know checks are antiquated lol), I’ll be taking an online class about plotting through motivation by Campbell. Maybe it will make my synapses snap a little brighter. Maybe it’ll be a slap to the back of my head. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken one and I’m soooo looking forward to it. There are four stories waiting for me to get my act together, as I said in my previous posting. I’ll keep you informed unless I screw it up. :)

Second – I’ve registered for the RWA’s National Conference. It will be the second conference I ever attended. This one’s huge. This one’s a bit scary. I will be going as President so I’ll also be attending the Leadership seminar. I’m sometimes good at talking to people one on one or in small groups but put me in a large bunch and I become a mute with a brain seizure. I’m going to make this a challenge to improve myself – to go out there - say “hi”, introduce myself and to string more than two words together.

Third - If the above-mentioned workshop helps, then I will be pitching at least one story at this conference. Trying to make someone interested in your tale - your vision in just a couple of sentences can make you feel as if you’re under a hundred feet without an air tank. It is a tense time for anyone who writes. I am definitely no exception though I’ve done it a couple of times. It becomes another place where I can sharpen my skills. I’ll also be perfecting my spiel at the LIRW’s annual luncheon.

As the year gallops on I’m sure other ventures will present themselves. What kind of challenges have you set for yourself this year?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Confession Time

Ok time to fess up. I have not written anything, besides the interviews and a few blog posts, for nine months. Yes, nine months. Talk about your writers block, I’ve got a whole barricade –moat and all.

Oh sure I’ve come up with ideas for stories, four in fact with heroines and heroes and main premises. But they sit with their luggage at a closed station waiting for a train to take them their destination. They’ve been there for so long they’ve set up housekeeping. They may be getting a bit too comfortable. When I knock on the door, they don’t answer. Little do they know I could destroy them with a stroke of my pen, but I won’t. They’re smug with that knowledge.

It started, as I said, about nine months ago with big holes in the body of the stories and it has progressed to halting any ideas for my blog. If I do get something down it sounds like crap to me. Being President of a writing group, I feel like a charlatan because besides guiding the group with the help of the Board, I feel I should be writing pages upon pages of spellbinding words. It doesn't happen. As I listen, during the critique period of our meetings, to the great work some of these members have written, I feel inferior almost to the point that if I do conjure up something to read they’d find a hundred faults with it.

I’m also the moderator of our Book in a Week group where I’m suppose to help members meet their writing goals. This should be real interesting (insert sarcasm). But maybe, just maybe, some of those words of wisdom, those hearty cheers will catapult boulders through my wall. I think they will.

Did I tell you this so you could say wow is she screwed up? No, I wanted to show those of you who are out there having problems that you’re not alone. You have to want it and work for it if you want change to come. This little confession has had, for me, a slight cathartic effect. Maybe you could start there - write down all your fears, then rip them up, burn them, get them out of the way. Try taking an online course, that’s what I’m going to do. It will force you to think and write. So would an all day workshop. You can sign up for a conference where there’ll be agents and editors. That will give you a deadline because you’ll need something to pitch. I’ll be doing that at the LIRW annual luncheon and at the RWA conference.

Try different things. There’s no magical cure all except to keep at it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Simple Words

My wish to you . . .
May the new year be gentle and give you what you need.
(It may not be what you want but if you have what you need, you'll get by.)

Hugs ~ Donna