photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

I think I’ve become a town crier. Here’s what wikipedia says a town crier is:

The town crier can also be used to make public announcements in the streets. Criers often dress elaborately, by a tradition dating to the 18th century, in a red and gold coat, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat. They carry a handbell to attract people’s attention, as they shout the words “here ye, here ye.” 

I’m not making public announcements in the streets, though I could be persuaded, but I do announce the time every morning. I bang on Noodge 1’s bathroom door and shout the time so he will get out of the shower and make it to the bus on time. I don’t understand why he spends so much time in the shower, and honestly, I don’t want to know, but I do want him to make the bus so I march up the steps, bang on the door, and cry out the time.

Part of me finds this whole escapade every morning frustrating because in addition to crying out the time for the shower I must announce the time to wake him up. (The only things missing each morning are the gold coat, white breeches and the handbell. Wait a second, I actually have a handbell! Hmm….I might be going about this all wrong.)

I don’t want to be the town crier, though I might want to wear the clothes. I want Noodge 1 to wake up by himself, take a shower without a reminder to get out and oh, I don’t know, wear his retainer without being told. “Is that too much to ask?” I ask.

But part of me, the mommy part who misses her little bald baby sometimes, takes a deep breath and says “enjoy being the crier. You look good in the hat.” You see, in two very short years, Noodge 1 will be in college and I won’t be able to walk into his room and shake him awake or bang on his bathroom door. I’ll miss him terribly and wake each morning wondering if he got off to class all right. I won’t know how he’s spending his time or if he’s getting his homework done.

Noodge 2 doesn’t need me to wake her up, gets ready on time, and has one foot out the door into adulthood already. She won’t step into her brother’s place for me.

After Noodge 1 goes, how will I spend my mornings?

Folding up the breeches, hanging up the coat, tucking away the tricorne hat.

You can bet I’ll never stop ringing that bell!

By the way, Welcome To Skull Mountain, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series, is due out the end of November. More details coming soon.

FOF007_Wilkes_KataTartaroo_F_LRBut first let me tell you a little story, with the upcoming release of my third book, I’m going to submit Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo (Book One) to BookBub for selection. BookBub is an on-line ebookstore that allows readers to purchase really good books for a small amount. Not every book submitted is selected, but from my research it appears those books that are selected end up with lots of downloads which means more readers than before. I’d like to be one of those authors. I’d really like to grow my readership, but here’s where I need help. I need more reviews on Amazon and GoodReads in order to be chosen. I don’t have enough now, so if you’ve already read Kata-Tartaroo, and haven’t yet written a review, would you mind writing a short review for me? One sentence will do. It doesn’t have to be 5 stars either.

And if you haven’t read Kata-Tartaroo yet, but would like to here’s the link to my Amazon Author’s Page.

Please write the review by Sept. 30th then comment back here so I know the review is up and I will put your name in a drawing for one random winner to receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Thank you for your continued support of my writing and my blog!! I couldn’t do this without you. 


photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

I usually write silly stories about my family and my writing that I hope make you laugh and entertain you. But today, I want this blog to be about remembering. We have to remember the acts of September 11th. We must remember the 3,000 people who lost their lives that day.

Those people were going to work, planning their lives. They worried about their children, their parents, will they get the promotion, will she marry me if I ask, will I be a good father when the baby comes, will I ever be a father at all? They were mothers, sisters, wives, husbands, brothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles. They were our neighbors and our friends.

They were innocent. They did nothing wrong that day. But they died for being American.

For the first time in 14 years, I thought I’d make it through this day without crying. Maybe I’m finally past it, I thought. I was wrong. I listened to a woman on the radio recount her experience on Sept. 11th and I was doing okay until she spoke about the people jumping from the tower. A man, with his tie flapping in the wind holding the hand of a woman whose skirt was riding up. She kept trying to push it back down against the force of the wind as she plummeted to the ground. She was worried about being modest in the last moments of her life.

This is the greatest country in the world. The one place, with hard work, where you can make your dreams come true, make as much money as you want, the place where you can speak your mind, and practice your beliefs. On September 11th, all that we hold dear was rattled, cracked, broken even. And it hasn’t stopped. Terrorism has still touched our soil, by monsters who believe that the very country that allows them to practice their beliefs should be stopped.

Today I say, no more.

Today I say, never forget.

Well, like everywhere on the east coast it is the start of another school year. So many of us are jumping up and down and shouting, “YEAH!!!” My kids are going to learn all kinds of great stuff, make ever-lasting friendships, and love their parents unconditionally. Okay, I admit it, there are chocolate rivers where I live.

But seriously, the school year is upon us and I love the structure the school day gives our lives. My kids get on the bus at an ungodly hour, and in the winter in the pitch darkness, and I now have 7 hours to write, which really means I have 7 hours to write, market my writing, take care of the house, the dog, and exercise because I constantly slurp from the chocolate river.

Today was the first day of school for Noodge 2. She’s in the 8th grade and Noodge 1 started his sophomore year last week. I’m a big kid mom, which means, I’ve been to the first day of school rodeo several times. And I think it’s showing.

Two years in a row I forgot to take someone’s picture on the first day. Probably because they no longer begin on the same day and once the first one goes, well, it ends up being tough luck for the second one. I’ve stopped buying brand new clothes for the first day of school unless I’m pestered which would only be by Noodge 2 since she’s a she. But why bother wearing new fall clothes when the first week of school could be a hundred degrees and you’re going to need to wear the same things you’ve been wearing all summer? Why not wait a few weeks, the crowds will die down and the fall clothes will be on sale. You won’t need a sleeve until October. See? Big Kid Mom tricks. Ten years ago I was a very different mommy.

But I always drive my kids to the bus stop because we live too far away from it to walk and if they did even want to walk, which God forbid, they do not, they’d have to leave at least 10 minutes sooner to get there on time and we all know what 10 less minutes means in the morning. Even in the land of chocolate rivers.

For the high schooler, I drive down, drop him off and turn around to go home. Easy-peasy-one-two-threesie. And remember, school started last week. High school is old hat by now. But the middle school started today. Oh boy, what a difference at this bus stop and there has been a bus restructuring so now we have some elementary school kids on the bus. Big Kid Mommy wasn’t expecting what she found at the bus stop. Oh no.

Tons of kids, in the street, lined up to take photos and all the young mommies outside their cars, chatting, cameras at the ready. There was even a daddy and a mommy team. Really? It’s just the first day of school. There are 179 more opportunities to come to the bus stop.

Unfortunately, for me, it’s a been there, done that, kind of thing. I’m an old mommy. I want the bus to come so I can get back to work. And don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to death. I enjoyed having them around all summer, but it’s school and it’s time to get back to business.

So, when we turned onto the street and there was a parade of people at the bus stop, I stopped the car half-way down the street, turned to my daughter, told her how much I loved her, to have a fantastic day, but I wasn’t going to attempt to drive my vehicle through that crowd to jockey for a space on the street and I wasn’t going to get out of my car and take pictures of her. She would rather die than allow me to do that. School pictures are only allowed in the house and I can only share them with my mother.

And guess what? I forgot to snap a picture of her this morning,after all. Well, that’s what tomorrow is for or the next day. In twenty years, who will even remember what day it was I took that picture? Not me, I’ll be sipping from the chocolate river.

This baby will be born in November.

This baby will be born in November.

Welcome To Skull Mountainbook three in the Gabriel Hunter series, will be out in November if it kills me and it just might.

Let me tell you a little about writing a book: it’s hard! And it doesn’t get any easier with each book you write. Sure, there are mechanical elements that have to be in every story, and I’m not talking about comma placement, but it seems the more I know the harder it is to write. I say things to myself like, “that can’t happen,” or “don’t forget on page 59 the character said this.” I won’t bore you with the nonsense that runs around in my head.

I’ve heard this analogy a million times, but it’s worth repeating. Writing a book is the same as birthing a baby. For those of you who have birthed your babies you’ll understand, and for everyone else, trust me. I spend months writing a first draft, just like a pregnancy. There’s research to do, like I did when I was having Noodge 1. “Ooh, what does the baby look like this week???!!” The story has to get on the page, just like the baby must grow in womb.

But the editing process is just like the labor and delivery. And if you were like me and gave birth without the aid of pharmaceuticals (not my choice, believe me) the pain of reworking your novel rivals that of pushing a child into the world. Because when Skull Mountain will finally be done, I’ll be panting, sweating, thinking I’m not going to survive, and wondering why the heck I thought writing this book was a good idea to begin with.

Then when your baby is born, wearing a beautiful new cover with your name printed on it and crisp, clean pages to flip on the inside filled with your magical words that come to life, you’ll want everyone in the world to know about it because you created it. “Look what I made! Me! I did that! Can you believe it??!!” Just like having a baby.

You’re going to want everyone to come over and visit with the baby. You’ll want them to hold it, see how marvelous it is, and then write a great review about it so others will want to pick up your baby and drool over it too.

The difference is your book will never sass you back. It won’t know more than you do, think you’re old no matter how long ago you wrote it, and it won’t go to the therapist some day blaming their failures or bad book rankings on you.

Skull Mountain is in the labor and delivery process now. This has been a very long delivery for me since I decided to trash the original version of this book and start over. But come November, you’ll have a brand-new pretty copy to hold in your hands or download to your Kindle. I hope you’ll come visit us on the maternity floor and ooh and aah over it. I’ll have the cannolis. I’ll need it.

Something’s Gotta Give kitchen  6

Here’s Jack in an early scene in the movie. I think what gave here were his pants. ;-)

Did you ever see that movie, “Something’s Gotta Give” with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton? It’s a fun movie. If you haven’t seen it, rent it. I think of that movie often when I’m trying to figure out how to juggle life. In the movie, Diane Keaton’s character has a very structured, predictable, boring life until Jack Nicholson comes along and turns that predictable life on its head.

My life is pretty predictable too. I have the Noodges, a dog, a husband, a home, a career. I exercise to stay nice and healthy. (Two separate things.) It’s important to me to do all my jobs well. There is a lot at stake if I screw up being a parent or a wife. Not to mention, I like having a clean house. And if I don’t devote the time necessary to my writing career my books will only be read by my friends and family. In order to do everything well, something’s gotta give.

My kids are around because it’s summer vacation, but I still have a book I’m trying to publish. I pushed out the release date of Welcome To Skull Mountain because quite frankly, the story needed trashing. Believe me, trashing a 200-plus novel is a huge decision. Writing while the Noodges are around is hard even now while they’re teenagers. If one of them comes to me and says, “Mom, guess what?” or “Mom, listen to this,” or “Mom, you want to go to the movies?” I drop everything and run. I won’t turn my kids away when I have so little time with them left. Noodge 1 goes to college in three years! Three! He was two like a blink ago and now he’s almost a man ready to fly the nest and I want to hold onto him with both hands and say, “Just a little longer.” But spending time with them means no writing or less writing which in essence is no writing.

Writing is hard and takes a lot of time if you’re going to do it right. When I write I don’t always have time to do the marketing of my work I need to do so I can have the number of readers I want. It’s frustrating not to have the hours I need. Time with the kids, time writing, time marketing, time exercising.

Something’s gotta give.

I’ve got an ugly word for you: Compromise. If you’re a type A like me, you just cringed. People like us don’t want to compromise. We want to do it all. Yeah, well, take it from me, you can’t. Everything is a compromise. Everything. 

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” Suzyn Waldman said that. She’s the female sports announcer for the New York Yankees. I believe what Suzyn said and hearing her say it made me feel better. I’m just not sure I like it, but at least I can take a deep breath and know all the things I want in life, time with my kids, tons of readers, tons of books, and toned muscles will come.

What about you? What are the compromises you’ve had to make? What gives in your life?


“Persistence prevails when all else fails.” That’s one of my favorite quotes. I have it on a plaque. Persistence is one of the few things you can control and we all know how Italian women want control.

Recently, I put together a new workshop for writers. This one is about – you guessed it – persistence. The writer’s journey is a long one and without a little persistence and a few good laughs you’ll give up. Planning the workshop got me to thinking about Noodge 1.

He started playing the drums at the age of 8. He’s 15 now, (I am so not old enough to have a fifteen year-old) and has learned a valuable lesson about persistence. It pays off. He tried out for the marching band drum line last year as a Freshman. He made the cymbals. Cymbals is the place where most kids start. You have to work your way up to a more coveted spot like Tenor drum or Snare drum. There is also the Bass drum, which a Freshman can make. Noodge was disappointed he landed on the cymbal line. He wasn’t even going to be holding a drum.

He worked hard; never missing a practice or game. He rehearsed his part as a cymbal player and he continued to work on playing his snare drum. He knew his marks on the field during the halftime show. He had a difficult person on the cymbal line he needed to learn to deal with.

Auditions rolled around for the 2015 fall season. He practiced that audition piece and when it was time to show the judges what he knew he was ready. He made the Snare drum. This is what he said to me, “I worked hard and it paid off.” That was the best lesson he could’ve learned and I didn’t have to do a thing. Persistence.

Parents need to be persistent. As a parent, you’re going to have to say “No!” more than once. You’re going to have to remind them to do their homework, to choose the right friends, to be active, to read. The list goes on and on. It’s exhausting. It would be much easier to give in to your child’s demands, to let them do what they want, but you must stay strong. You know what’s best for them.

Writers need to be persistent. You have to show up every day. Write something. The first draft will stink. I promise you that, so forgive yourself now and get the work done. Your gem will shine in the editing, but you have to show up to do that too. You need to learn your craft and meet other writers who can be a support to you.

But it’s also about passion. You can’t show up every day if you don’t love what you do. Noodge 1 wouldn’t have practiced, even under the threat of bodily harm, (which no one was going to suggest, by the way) if he didn’t love to play the drums. There have been many times along my writer’s journey where I woke at 5 am to write. Someone said to me once they could never get up at 5. They hadn’t found their passion yet. The only reason I could be up at that hour was because of my love of writing. I have to write. I can’t imagine not writing. I would never get up at 5 am to make a three-course meal. I’d rather starve. Passion is what got me to be a published author. Passion will take you where you want to go too.

If you could be anything at all, what would that look like?