Release Day – Two Weeks Away

The Second Chance House will be released in print and digital formats on March 7, 2018. That’s only two weeks away! It will be available from all major online retailers, and on my website.

me in panera Feb21_18
Sorry about the picture of me sitting in Panera. I’m trying to mess with the Facebook algorithms.

There are so many moving parts in getting a book out into the world. I could write a blog post every day for a month and still not hit on all the things an author has to do to get a book into the hands of her readers.

A friend of mine recently suggested I talk about my process for writing the book. So you can blame Sean for this one. Wink! And then when you’re done here today, jump over to Sean’s blog and read about writing (he has a great book coming out if he’ll ever stop editing it. Joking.), movies, and his nostalgia for New York City. You won’t be sorry. I promise.

Come sit beside me as we talk about writing. I have my tea. You? Great. paneracup

In 2015, in the midst of finishing the third book in my middle grade series, Welcome To Skull Mountain, two characters began talking to each other in my head. Non-stop. No matter what I was doing, they’d show up. They drove me crazy. That’s good stuff for an author. I started putting their story down on paper.

Problem was I had to finish that third book first, and then my daughter became sick. It took a little while before I could really figure out who these two people were. Thankfully, they kept talking to me.

I believe all stories are character driven. In my world, people talk about plot driven stories and character driven stories. In my humble opinion, you could have the best story in the world, but if your characters don’t actually make choices on every page then who cares about your plot? Characters are what stay with us long after the book ends. Characters make me laugh and make me cry. Plot is just an accessory. The most important, like a pace maker, but plot can’t do diddly without character. I’m sure someone else will have a different opinion.

The first thing I have to do when I write a book is get to know my characters. I don’t do character interviews, though that’s a popular technique. I start asking myself questions about what their wounds are. The ugly stuff we hide from Facebook. I need to know what happened to them in their past that makes them the way they are when my reader meets them. I come up with stuff you’ll probably never see, but that’s okay. The better I know my characters the more real they’ll be to you.

We’ll pick on Grace for a minute. Grace Starr is the heroine in A Second Chance House. I like Grace. I can relate to her. She’s middle-aged, has a teenage daughter she can’t communicate with, and a husband who left her for a younger woman. (I can’t relate to the husband part. Good thing for the Coffee King. Otherwise he’d be coffee grounds. Ba-da-bump.) She’s a control freak, and she’s been following the rules her whole life. When you meet Grace, she wants a new life.

First question for Grace is what happened to you that made you this way? I start to build her backstory. Her father left her when she was too little to remember him. Her childhood was filled with chaos. For some people, in order for them to handle chaos in their lives they like to control things. That’s Grace.

So, who would be the worst kind of match for her? Well, a rock star might be a good place to start. We’ve all heard wild stories about rock ‘n roll. I have a vivid imagination. Enter, Blaise Savage. Just his name alone should have Grace shaking in her boots. In more ways than one. Ha! Sorry, Grace.

I’ve sat through countless workshops and seminars on the craft of writing. I learned pretty early on if you want a romance to sizzle on the page you need to pair opposites. The analogy often used is if your hero is a fire fighter then your heroine better be an arsonist. Follow?

Once I know who my characters are I need to know what they want. They must want something they can touch, and they must want something internally. Love, family, a second chance. Those things Grace wants have to be connected in some way to the things Blaise wants. And as often as I can work it in each scene, Grace has to stop Blaise from getting what he wants and Blaise has to stop Grace from getting what she wants. So, if Blaise wants to kiss Grace, it can’t happen. If I can’t get Grace to control herself, (because let’s face it, Blaise is a damn good kisser) then I bring in another character to break up the moment. I know, that’s so mean! Trust me, makes for a page turner.

Now I can build the plot. I won’t go into the details about inciting incident, plot points, black moments, point of view, show don’t tell, etc. Unless you’re a new writer and need to learn it, all that stuff will just pull the curtain back too far. Readers need to be mesmerized by the smoke and mirrors. If you are a new writer, and have questions email me. I’ll get you going in the right direction.

I write the first draft. A Second Chance House is 99,000 words. That’s about 380 pages. I edit that draft with the help of my critique partners. I ask questions, they give me suggestions. I let them read the first fifty or so pages because they understand all the technical stuff and they can tell me if I’m hitting my stride in the right places.

After the third or fourth time through the book can go to my editor. ASCH is published traditionally so the publisher has its own process I will follow at this point. Indie or self-pubbed books follow a slightly different path. But either way, a lot more editing happens over the next several months. Right, Sean?

By the time you read the book it’s been polished to a high shine and in it’s best Sunday clothes.

I am eternally grateful for all the people who help me along the way. My critique partners: M. Kate Quinn, Shari Nichols, and K.M. Fawcett. My editor on this book, Roseann A., is the master editor. I owe her big time. Also have beta readers who I bring in at different stages for help. They read the book all the way through as readers. Readers read like readers. Writers read like writers. My betas give me invaluable feedback so I can fix whatever else might need fixing. Thank you, Robin and Betsy. Love you tons.

I’m hosting a Facebook party on March 7, 2018 from 7 – 9 pm to celebrate the release. We’ll be playing games, there will be prizes, and we’ll be chatting about writing, publishing, and whatever else you want. Hope to see you there.

I’ll be having a Book Launch Concert on March 28, 2018 in Neptune, NJ at Patrick’s Pub. 7 pm. Patrick’s hosts an open-mic night every Wednesday with wonderful bands playing some great music. They were kind enough to allow me to tag along because my hero is a drummer in a rock band. I’ll have books to sign, and I’ll be doing a reading. If you live in the area, please stop by and say hi. We’ll have a good time.


Give Me One Word

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

I’m doing this on Facebook today, so I thought I’d do it here too. Give me one word, in the comments section, that describes your day today. Mine: reading.

I’m reading the final pass through of Welcome To Skull Mountain before I send it off to my formatters. From there they will set the story up for the eReader and print versions and then we go live! It’s been a long road (so the word for my writing these past months is ardorous. Love that word) to get to publication with this book. I’m grateful and thrilled to be ready to hand it off to you to read. Look for the book on December 1. (I know, I keep pushing the date out. Should we add frustrating to my list of words?)

So, go ahead, leave me that word that describes your day. Can’t wait to see what you’re up to. It will be fun.

The Real World Or Reality TV?

A real world room.
A real world room.

Just about every day I spend a little time on Facebook. I enjoy keeping up with my friends from all my walks of life. I mean, where else can you talk to people from high school who wouldn’t give you the time of day thirty years ago? But seriously, I do like seeing accomplishments, babies being born, weddings, job promotions, and vacations. From the bottom of my heart, I want everyone to be happy, healthy, and at peace with themselves.

But let me ask you something….would anyone really post how disappointed they are in their children? Or the rejection letter to a college? A bad hair day? Social media is not the real world. We live in the real world with bad hair days, circles under our eyes, disappointments, and children who work on our last nerve. And don’t pretend you don’t have moments where you need the time out. Because you do. We all do. We’re human. We’re not actors on a reality series. Or are we? Maybe that’s what social media is for all of us. Our own version of reality television highlighting only the high points in our lives.

Sure, some people post about an illness or the lost of a love one, but I haven’t seen anyone post this, “I’m so mad at my kid right now I’ve packed up everything they own and threw it on the front lawn.” Or “my kid didn’t work hard enough in high school, he didn’t try hard enough, he got bad grades, didn’t join any groups, bombed the SATs, never made a school team and every college he applied to rejected him. Now he lives in a cardboard box under a bridge. I’m so proud of him.”

Social media puts a lot of pressure on us to be our best, look our best, raise the best kids, and on and on. It’s kind of like high school all over again. I don’t know about you, but high school once was enough for me. I don’t need the extra pressure. I’ve got enough pressure just trying to fit in a workout.

Because in my world, nothing is perfect no matter how hard I try. I can never stay on top of the laundry, some days I have to choose between a shower and writing. You don’t want to see a picture of me on that day or a picture of Noodge 2’s room on any given day. You don’t want a to hear a video of me yelling about the dishes in the sink or the mess that accumulates at the bottom of the steps. That’s not the way to keep friends.

Maybe it’s better our less than perfect sides stay off social media. It might be too much of downer to see pictures of divorce papers signed or traffic tickets. No one needs to know about our failures as parents. There’s something to be said about our reality tv lives.

I think I’ll make a cup of tea, grab a cannoli and change the channel.

Coming in April:

Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series
Book Three in the Gabriel Hunter Series

New Friends, Old Friends, and Unfriend.

These wonderful ladies are some new friends I made since moving to the country. Boy, do we laugh. Thanks, ladies!
These wonderful ladies are some new friends I made since moving to the country. Boy, do we laugh. Thanks, ladies!

Recently, I discovered someone I’ve known since I was 10 “unfriended” me on Facebook. I know, who would do that? I’m nice to everyone. I was rather impressed she had the time to comb through her “friends” and bother to delete me at all. But, she did and that’s that. She isn’t the first friend to change their status with me, in real life I mean, and she won’t be the last. Over the years I’ve had friendships end on a bad note and others that just ended without a sound. I realize now most friendships need to end at some point and I don’t have to make such a loud stink about it. It’s better to go quietly. Which we all know, being quiet is very hard for me. (Go ahead, ma, chime in. I know you want to.)

I’m a firm believer we walk a path with our friends and when we no longer need each other the path splits and we go our separate ways. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure you’ve all heard that saying, “a friend for a season, a friend for a reason…” It’s true. When I look back over my life I see it was time for a friendship to end and then another friend steps on the path to walk with me for a while. It’s amazing, really.

Ladies need their girlfriends. We need someone to laugh with, cry with, vent to. We need that person in our life who with only a look knows exactly what’s going on inside us. The friend to crack up with in the dressing rooms when you’re trying on bras and can’t remember where your boobs are supposed to go. The friend to laugh with about raising kids, because some days if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. And remember my parenting tip, better they cry than you do. But we need our friends to cry with too. Someone who can watch our faces turn red, our eyes swell up, and our noses run and still love us for the sloppy mess we’re making.

I’m okay with leaving the path from people I’ve called friend. It made space for new friends to come in. But there are a few women who’ve walked with me for a very long time and I hope the Universe sees fit to keep us on the same path until the end of the road. Love you all!

This friend is chained to me. She can't leave the path even if she wants to! Ha!
This friend is chained to me. She can’t leave the path even if she wants to! Ha!

Would You Want to Be Immortal?

One of the trends on Facebook and other social media sites is “Throw Back Thursday” or “Flashback Friday” where your friends post pictures of themselves or their families from a long time ago. It’s cute to see some of the old pictures, but really, do we need to be reminded of plaid polyester and oversized collars? I guess, if only to make sure we don’t repeat history.

I haven’t posted any old pictures, because frankly, I’m too lazy to dig them out, scan them, file them in a new folder in the picture gallery on my computer and then upload them. Nobody cares that much about the yellow, red, purple, and orange flowered pant suit I wore in the 4th grade except my mother and Mrs. Owens my fourth grade teacher. May she rest in peace.

But this week “Throw Back Thursday” had me thinking of long ago events like the first time I ever went to a concert. Van Halen, April 3, 1984. That was 30 years ago and 30 is a very large number. Wasn’t it only yesterday I pulled on my white jeans, red sweatshirt, and tied a red bandanna around my thigh as a testament to my loyalty as a VH fan? How can it be that my own children are now asking to see their favorite artists in concert? (Let me just say the price of concert tickets today do not resemble the price of my VH ticket in 1984.)

Not exactly Alex Van Halen’s drum set, but you get the idea.

How about friendships? I have friends I’ve known for more years than my Van Halen concert anniversary. I’m grateful for those friends and in my eyes they will forever be 14. I can only hope they see me the same way and not the middle-aged, lined face individual I have morphed into like a demon character in a sci-fi novel. I’m also grateful for my Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick in Warm Beige. Just saying.

The alternative to having large numbered anniversaries is having small ones or worse, none at all. Even though many days I want to believe the date on my driver’s license is a lie, I still feel like that kid going to her first VH concert. There is so much I still want to accomplish like learning to play the drums or speaking Italian (the real Italian and not the dialect of my crazy family) fluently. I haven’t hit any of the best sellers lists yet and that goal might take me well into my golden years. Hopefully, air brushing technology will continue to improve so my author photo will resemble me and not that demon character I’m fighting off with my foundation stick.

Honestly, I’ve thought I might like to live forever like Dorian Gray, but minus the magic picture business. (Maybe just drink an elixir) Then I’d have all the time in the world to slay dragons while speaking Italian. And if I can’t live forever than 150 years would be good as long as I could still do yoga. If I could make it to that age, then I wouldn’t be mid-life but heck, maybe still a toddler with lots to learn. I’d want the people I cared most about to grow really old with me too otherwise, I’d have no one to go to Van Halen concerts with.

So, what about you, faithful reader, would you want immortality? Why or why not? What would you be willing to do to get it?

Happy Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just a day away the inevitable question hovers on everyone’s lips. I think most people state the obvious: family, friends, health. Years ago I started keeping a gratitude journal so I could always remember how blessed I was no matter what was happening in my life. In the beginning I had to state at least five things. The list grew quickly from there.

I thought I would share some of my things. Please share what you’re grateful for with me. I’d love to hear them.



Our health

Our  home

The sunshine


My friends

My family (yes, even the crazy Italians)

For being a writer


For my friend Marissa forgiving me for forgetting our breakfast. (I was sick, but that’s no excuse.)

I’m even grateful for the negative people who have crossed my path because I learned something about myself from each one of them.

And the list goes on and on.

Happy Thanksgiving, my faithful reader. I’m grateful for you too.

Book Launch – Giving Thanks

I didn't even have to pay her to stand there!
I didn’t even have to pay her to stand there!

Thanksgiving is around the corner, but I have plenty to say thanks for right now. Sunday, I officially launched my new middle grade book Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo. Once again, I have been humbled by the support bestowed upon me like holiday gifts.

Writing a book takes a long time, some sweat equity, and possibly some mental illness because you’d have to be a little out of your mind to undertake writing a book. Many times along the way you think, this will never happen, I’ll never see my name on the cover and then one day after all that time and pain it happens! (Like giving birth, for all you mothers out there.) And you think everything will change, but it doesn’t. You’re still the same person who cleans toilets, food shops, and chauffeurs the kids. You just have a new edition, displayed prominently on your desk.

So, to have many people excited for me is completely unreal, but very cool. I do have to ask, why me? All I did was write a book. If I can do it, they certainly can. You can do anything you put your mind to. (Albeit, a crazy one. No, no, that’s just me. I’m sure everyone else’s mind is fine and perfectly functioning.)

I give thanks to you today, my new reader. I hope you enjoy the adventure.

I'm not writing out the grocery list!
I’m not writing out the grocery list!