Start A Neighborhood Watch.

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

What are your neighbors like? Not to brag, but I have wonderful neighbors. That doesn’t always happen and we’ve been lucky enough to experience it twice. The first house the Coffee King and I bought, many years ago, we had fantastic neighbors. We moved out of that house ten years ago and we still keep in touch with many of them. The second house we bought, well, let’s just say during the six years we lived there we never said two words to the people who lived next door to us. And believe me, it wasn’t because we didn’t try. In fact, the more they ignored us, the more fun it was to say hello.

But out here in the country, we struck gold again. Let me tell you a story….

It was a warm, June morning. The kids had made it to their destinations without a hitch. The morning was looking good and I needed exercise. Who better to go with me than my furry monster? Munson and I headed into the neighborhood.

Now, I don’t know what it is with this dog, but three minutes into every walk he has business to do. I’m always prepared. But on this particular walk, Munson had more business and I was out of bags. We were almost home and I tried to make him run the rest of the way. Poor dog. He must’ve been thinking, “Lady, I’ve got to go! Are you crazy???”

I couldn’t let my dog make a mess all over the street. Well guess what? Dogs and toddlers can’t hold it.

I was faced with a dilemma: Did I leave the mess and come back with bags?  Or just leave the mess? In all honesty, bags weren’t going to work here, more like a fire hose. Maybe I could wait for a good rain to come along?

Instead, I called my neighbor Bobbie. She lives across the street from the crime scene. Frantically, I searched for Bobbie’s number. “Are you home? I need help,” I said to the voice mail. I figured a similar text might get me an answer.

But when Bobbie didn’t respond to my overwrought request for help I decided to wait for a good rain and went home. (Don’t judge me.) That’s when I decided to pull my phone from my pocket. And there were four texts from Bobbie. She’d sent the neighborhood watch to my house.

Charlie, who lives across the street, was searching in my windows. You see, he saw the garage door closing and assumed someone was in the truck holding me at gunpoint. He watches the same television shows I do.  I would’ve assumed the exact same thing was happening had I received the desperate message I’d left Bobbie. Plus, my overactive imagination and the fact I write thriller type novels, always has me assuming there’s a dead body in need of hiding in every scenario.

While Charlie and I were having a good laugh over the mishap, another neighbor pulled up. He was coming to see if I needed an ambulance. Bobbie had called him too.

And that’s when I read the rest of the four texts. Bobbie was coming back from wherever she was! I didn’t get to her in time. She too pulled into my driveway ready to rescue me.

The lesson here? Be more specific on your voice mail messages. Unless kidnapping is involved, “I need help” might not be the way to go.

But I know I have great neighbors. Who Watch. And you can’t beat that.

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What Will It Say On Your Tombstone?

grave stone
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

I’ll tell you what my tombstone is going to say. “She Kept It Clean.” That’s it. You know why it’s going to say that? Because I’m out of my mind. I’ll tell you what happened, but before I begin, let me explain a little about the life of a writer. I don’t sit down each day before my computer and watch as my fingers dance across the keyboard creating flowery words that best describe the thoughts of my characters. Not even close. I often sit at my computer and want to pull my hair out of my head because the ideas that float around there, don’t make sense once they’re on the page. I spend hours doubting I have any talent and why would anyone want to read what I wrote anyway. When I’m not writing I have to do my own marketing, keep track of my expenses and income, set up all my own gigs like school and library visits in hopes of meeting new people who haven’t read my book and will want to read the next one I’m still struggling to finish. It’s not glamorous. No one takes me to lunch in fancy restaurants, I don’t get to meet exciting people, well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve met some very exciting people but they’re other authors.

But let’s get back to the cleaning. My original plan for the day was to leave the house to write. I accomplish much more when I can’t hear the calling of laundry and dirty floors. But Noodge 2, who destroyed her phone and I mean unusable, wanted me to go to the Apple store for her. “Please,” she begged. “I don’t have a phone.” Tragedy.

So, I thought, I could go up to the mall, which isn’t close to my house, take the stupid phone to the store and work at the Starbucks. Yeah, well, that idea lasted about as long as a cup of tea. Instead,  I would sit outside and write. The phone could wait.

I love being outside. And being in nature is just as good for writing as sitting in Starbucks. In fact, better.  I’m not tempted by the 400 calorie brownie in the window when I sit outside.

Except when I went to sit outside, the table was filthy. It was covered in bubble solution, because the Coffee King thought it would be a good idea for the dog to have a bubble machine so he could chase bubbles. Yeah, don’t ask. Well, it appears Noodge 2 had the dog out last weekend playing with bubbles and she spilled the solution on the table. She always cleans up after herself and this time she must have forgotten. I also have a bridge for sale if you believe that. So, what do I do? I CLEAN! I should have went to Starbucks.

But why, Stacey? Why clean? Why not ignore it? Why not sit somewhere else? Because I am insane. And because I’m a writer it proves I’m insane. I sit down at my desk every day trying to write a 200 page novel from nothing but an idea and I don’t even get paid that much. I quit every other day, but the next day I find myself back at my desk trying to write something new. I’m doing it right now. (With elbows that keep sliding in the soap bubbles I didn’t get up very well.)

I can’t walk away from the dirt. I know lots of writers who let the house go while they’re trying to meet deadlines. they don’t shower, they don’t come up for air to see their families, but that’s not me. Showering a must. Wiping up a spill a must. Seeing my family….okay, okay, a must.

My tombstone might read, mother, wife, friend, tried to be a writer, out of her mind, but it will read: She Kept It Clean.

There’s something wrong with me.

So, You Finished Your Novel. Now What?

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So you’ve finished writing your book or have you? What revision work still needs to be done? Where can you go for feedback? How will you know when it’s ready to send out, and where should you try first? Join New Jersey Authors,Stacey Wilk (moderator) Brian McKinley, Ilene Schneider, Keith Fritz, and M. Kate Quinn,

at Moorestown Public Library, 111 West 2nd St., #1, Moorestown, NJ 08057 on Thursday, May 21st at 7 pm.

for a fun, informative discussion on getting published in today’s market, and find out why typing ‘THE END’ is really just the beginning.

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How Do You Handle Confrontation?

wolfThere is something inherently wrong with my internal wiring. I can’t walk away from a confrontation. All the years of yoga and all the spirituality books I’ve read go right out the window when I’m staring into the face of a fight. I don’t know why. I think I like it. I can let the anger go, but I need to have the last word. It’s just that simple.

Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of hot-headed, opinionated, loud, but lovely people. Well, that’s not even true. Some of my relatives aren’t very nice. (And I’m not referring to my mother. Okay, ma? You can take a deep breath.)  See? Poison runs deep in my blood.

I’m especially confrontational when it comes to my children. When Noodge 2 was no more than 3 we were at the mall. She stopped to look at these colorful, fake aquariums. A young man working the kiosk patted her on the head to which I replied, “don’t touch my child.” We all know I skeeve everything. Especially some stranger’s hand near my kid. Had he just said, “sorry” that would have been the end of it. He decided instead to tell me to go do something to myself which I believe is impossible and possibly immoral.

I don’t like being spoken to that way about as much as I don’t like strangers within inches of my kids. I think I scared my sister Kiki because she tried to drag me away from the scene I was causing. But I had the last word.

I could bore you with a long list of times I grew out of my 5’1″ frame into a firebreathing, beast with long claws, a purple cloak and gold crown. (I didn’t want to be a dragon.) Like the time I was pretty sure I was going to have to knock over the old guy with a cane who told my 2  year-old daughter he loved her.

Recently, I had a run in with a neighbor. (Ironically, Noodge 2 was involved again. I’m noticing a pattern here.) I wanted so badly to send a scathing text message to her. Who was she to speak to me like that? No one tells me what to do. But I didn’t send the scathing text I so desperately wanted to. The Coffee King pleaded with me not to. “Trust me,” he said. I stormed out of the house quite certain my blood pressure was high enough to cause a stroke and chewing off the head of my meaningful husband like the firebreathing beast I repeatedly turn into.

Who did that woman think she was talking to me like that? I couldn’t let her get away with it. But I did. And I’m not happy about it. Not even now, even though I know it might be better to stay quiet. I should’ve said something. I should’ve had the last word.

Even when friends tell me stories about walking away from a situation without telling someone how they feel, I see it as letting someone get something over on you. You’re sister-in-law yells at your middle-school aged kids for having a different opinion than she does about something completely innocuous and you don’t say something? Not this girl.

Do we get to a point in our lives when we finally accept who we are without judgement?  I spent my twenties and thirties trying to tame my personality. Think first and speak later. Speaking without thinking isn’t right. No good can come from expressing every emotion I have. What does it solve by telling someone I think they’re an idiot except that I feel better? Why is it so important for me to have the last word?

How do you handle confrontation? Do you shy away from it? Or do you face it head on?

Busy, Busy, Busy

Professorhinkle frosty the snowmanDo you remember the animated 1969 Christmas show, Frosty The Snowman? I love that one. Professor Hinkle was the magician who chased Frosty for his magical hat. In the end, Santa Claus shows up and tells Professor Hinkle he’s on the naughty list and he better get his act together before Christmas Eve otherwise the mean magician is getting coal. Professor Hinkle, in his relief to still please Santa lists all the things he needs to do in time. Then follows up with, “busy, busy, busy” before he runs off.

That’s the kind of week I’m having.

Noodge 2 is making her Bat Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvah means “Daughter to the commandments,” and it signifies that a Jewish, young lady has reached the age of religious majority. A Bat Mitzvah is entitled to all the rights and privileges of religious adulthood and of course, to all its obligations and responsibilities.  In other words, it’s a big deal for her and especially for her Italian Catholic mother. I have a party to plan.

This is the week of last minute details. I’ve made my lists and checked them twice. I’m off and running with my goals in sight. And when we arrive at our final moment, hugging good-bye to our guests, thanking them for sharing in her special day, I’ll need a nap. For a month.

In the mean time, I wish you all health, joy and happy reading. Preferably, one of my books. Wink, wink.

See you next week.

Get ready. It's coming in April 2015.
Get ready. It’s coming in April 2015.

 

The Newsletter Is Here

e-newsletter-md

I’ve got some exciting stuff happening this month. First up is my brand new author Newsletter! I’ll be sending it out about four times a year filled with info on my books and appearances along with fun activities for my younger readers and giveaways. There’s a gift card giveaway in the November newsletter due to hit the stands (ha, I’m dating myself here) November 10th. All you have to do is find the hidden object. (Sound familiar?)

If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter in your inbox just click on the image above or on the left side of the blog. I promise I won’t sell your name for anything less than $20. Just kidding. $50. Okay, okay. No solicitation. Promise.

Also, on Saturday, November 15th from 1-4 I will be at the Hillsborough Public Library, in Hillsborough, NJ for their Authors’ Day. I’m one of a few children’s book authors in attendance so come and by and say hi. Books make great holiday gifts. I know I have a few on my list.

Happy November!

 

 

 

I’d Rather Be Doing Laundry

Doing laundry here would be easier that writing a novel.  Image courtesy of morguefile.com
Doing laundry here would be easier that writing a novel.
Image courtesy of morguefile.com

I should be working on book three in my Gabriel Hunter series right now. Yes, right this second, but instead I’m procrastinating. Writing a blog entry shouldn’t seem like procrastinating and please don’t take it personally, I love hanging out with you, but I’m really try to avoid the hard work that waits for me like a burglar in the bushes. Yes, I just compared writing novels to being robbed. Well, really, the comparison should be me having to fight off the burglar because trying to get words onto paper is just about as painful as having to punch someone in the nose. Ask any of my writer friends. They’ll attest to this.

I don’t like to think of myself as a procrastinator. I’m typically very organized. I make lots of lists and cross off each task as I complete it. Crossing off lists gives me some kind of weird pleasure. Don’t judge, you have weird pleasures too. I’m sure of it. I watch television. I see what goes on in the world.

Why do we put off the very thing we don’t want to do when after we finally finish the task that’s been hanging over our heads we breathe a sigh of relief. “That’s done. Thank God.” Instead of pulling up my word document and digging deep, I’m here. It’s the digging deep part. I don’t think I’m in the mood to get messy.

Even now I’m fighting the urge to leave my desk, walk downstairs, and make my third cup of tea. The real thing stopping me? The puppy. If he hears me, he’s bound to bark and say, he lady, I need to use the bathroom. I don’t have time for bathroom breaks. I’m busy procrastinating. And let me tell you what, when I finally do get rolling with my work in progress, that will be the time the poor puppy has to pee and I’ll get mad I wasted so much time when I could have been writing. See the viscous circle? Good. Now explain it to me.

I could force myself to write. Or I could do a load of laundry. That’s always fun. Frasier is on Netflix. I’m sure there are one or two episodes I haven’t seen yet. But none of those activities are going to get my novel completed, are they? So, why procrastinate? Why not type until the end?

Have you ever written a novel? All the way through? Don’t try it alone. That’s all I’m saying.

Writing a novel is akin to spending time in Kata-Tartaroo. The sun never shines, the forest moves of its own accord, scary Demon Owls will eat you whole if you try and leave. Yeah, that’s a little like writing a novel. Now I know why I procrastinate.

How do you handle procrastination? I’d love to hear your ideas. Do you persevere anyway? Do you put it off until tomorrow? Are you a list maker? Do you hide inside your laundry basket? Please share. Or wait and tell us later.