Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween, so I wish you all spook-tacular fun!

This has been a crazy week for me, and today is no exception. I am frantically cleaning for a party we are hosting tonight.

I did manage to finish a read-through of my YA sci-fi rewrite. It holds up, except in one spot where I need to figure out how to fit it together around things I had cut out. So that’s good!

Since this week has been tricky, I am giving myself a treat by taking today off from blogging.

Although since that means I have to go clean the bathrooms, I guess it;s not much of a treat, LOL.

It’s a cloudy, rainy day here, so we are in for a wet and wild Trick or Treat tonight. Everyone enjoy their holiday and stay safe!

9/11, A Generation Later

So yesterday was 9/11. Anyone above a certain age in America, and in many countries around the world, knows what that means. A day of horror and grief as terrorists attacked America, flying commercial airliners filled with passengers into buildings. The day the Twin Towers of Manhattan became twisted rubble, the Pentagon lost a side, and a plane full of heroes plunged into a field.

That was 18 years ago. Almost a full generation. I remember it like it was yesterday. The horror, the pain, the tears, the rage, the grief. My daughter is 9 years old. She’s in 4th grade. This is the first year they really talked about it in school. Honestly, I don’t know how the teachers do it, as I know they all feel the same emotions I do when I think about it.

My daughter came home and started asking questions about my experience, but it soon turned to the events themselves. She was very impressed with the people on Flight 93. “They didn’t fight to save themselves, but to save other people.”

And we talked about why the Towers eventually fell, and why they didn’t right away. We talked about why the firefighters and other first responders kept going back in for more and more people even as the likelihood of structural collapse rose.

We discussed why the terrorists targeted the buildings they did (“Why didn’t they crash into the Statue of Liberty? That’s a symbol of America.”). The heart of our military and the heart of our business sector. And why they attacked America and not other Western countries.

For all that we talked, there were some things I did not tell her.

  • I did not tell her that people jumped from the Towers rather than burn to death.
  • I did not tell her there were babies on Flight 93, and likely on others.
  • I did not tell her that even today people who were at Ground Zero are dealing with the illnesses contracted from the toxic debris.

I did not tell her because she is only nine, and there are some things she doesn’t need to know yet.

Some things I wish I could un-know.

So instead, we talked about other parts of 9/11.

  • The rescue dogs that patrolled the debris searching for survivors.
  • The motley flotilla of boats that raced to Manhattan and ferried people to safety.
  • The generosity and compassion of Canada as they took in flights full of frightened and bewildered Americans.

We talked about those things, because that was the progression of the day: Horror. Grief. Pain.


Hope for a better future—a future I see in the face of my daughter and all of the current generation. We will never be able to fully transmit to them the terror of that day.

But we can give them the hope.

Lady Liberty’s torch shines on, and they are the ones to carry it next.

Celebrating Your Milestones

Writing a novel is a slog. It’s a marathon. It takes a great deal of perseverance and guts. It can feel like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without looking at the picture.

Because it’s such an arduous process, it’s a smart move to celebrate different milestones along the way. What you celebrate and how you celebrate, will be unique to you, and that’s fine, because it’s about motivating you to get to The End.

So, I finished Veritas a while ago. And I sent it around to agents. And got one who was interested, but wanted some edits done. After some soul searching, a lot of ice cream, and a chat with my friend Kathryn Craft, I saw a way forward with the edits that I could get behind.

My first step was reworking the main character’s POV. I chipped away at it and finally finished. But I still had 2 POVs to go, and I seemed unable to find the time I needed to dive into them.

The stars aligned this month. My daughter went to sleepaway camp and I was able to take off from my usual blogging duties thanks to fellow Author Chronicler J. Thomas Ross. So I threw myself into my work.

And I did it! All three POVs are finished. The breakdown went like this:
Jinx: original 30,200 words, new 38,700
Ace: original 39,900, new 30,400
Kit: original 9,700, new 4,100

It also dropped the total words from original 79,900 to now 73,300. That seems a touch short for YA scifi, but it’s very probable I will be adding things in as I go through the next few passes, so hopefully I will be closer to the golden 80,000 number by the time I am finished

As I mentioned above, I’m not finished with the rewrite. I need to go through it at least two more times for continuity and tone and see if I need to add in anything else to make the new version smooth.

While there is still more to do, I feel like the heavy lifting is done. So I am celebrating!

What are you celebrating today?

NJASL 2018

This past weekend I wrapped up my event schedule for 2018 with the New Jersey Association of School Librarians’ Conference. I was only able to be in the Authors’ Alley for one day of the three day conference, as usual, but I enjoy putting in an appearance.

Sunday was a misty day, not a great beach day. This was the first year the conference has been in December, so I got to see the conference center decked out for the holidays. Christmas is my favorite holiday, so I love the decorations (although nor before Thanksgiving, please!).

For the first time in my 4 years attending the conference, I was on the upper level of Authors’ Alley. It was a bit warm up there, so we propped open the door to the balcony to get the cool ocean breeze swirling in. We had a good view of the ocean from up there, when the fog lifted enough to see it. The waves were large and I could have watched, mesmerized, for hours.

NJASL holds a special place in my heart. It was the very first book event I did after my book The Witch of Zal came out in 2015. I was terrified, but my friend and tablemate Donna Galanti showed me the ropes. Plus, all the librarians are enthusiastic and interested, and that love of books is infectious. NJASL is one of my favorite events, and I hope to perhaps be on a panel next year to expand my experience there.

I have heard that the NJASL 2019 will be at a different location, so onward to new things for all of us! I will be back next year.

48 Years

Today my best friend Donna should have turned 48 years old…but she is forever 32. Cancer took her much too soon.

Donna was more of a sister than a friend, and I feel her loss keenly even after 16 years. There are many things I miss about her, of course, but for me what I always miss most is the laughter.

She could make me laugh until I cried like nobody else. And she did it on a regular basis.

These last few years have been rough for a number of reasons, the last few months especially. I could use her laughter right now.

So today I am missing my friend while remembering with gladness the 18 years of friendship we had.

I miss you, Donna. I miss the laughter.

I always think of her when I hear this song:

Thanksgiving 2019: My Thankful List

Today is Thanksgiving, and here in America we celebrate being thankful. It is so hard to see the good things in life sometimes, because human nature focuses on the bad. Our culture also encourages greed and envy, creating a selfishness that can make us forget to be grateful for what we do have. So today I am focusing the many good things in my life.

  1. I am thankful for my health and the health of my family.
  2. I am thankful for my husband’s return after almost 6 months away for work.
  3. I am thankful for a family that is warm and loving.
  4. I am thankful for having a strong house and enough to eat.
  5. I am thankful for the luxury of time to rest.

I am lucky. My family is healthy, we are all safe, we are all well-enough off that we have enough food to eat and healthy places to live. I am part of a family who is kind and generous and loving. I have work I enjoy, and hobbies that inspire me.

I have enough. And in this world right now, where so many people work themselves to the bone, where they live in fear for themselves or their loved ones, where they have to worry every day about food and safety, that is a tremendous amount to be thankful for.

I have enough.

And I am thankful.

South Jersey Writers Conference…and Snow

On Saturday, a group of writers got together for the 2nd Annual South Jersey Writers Conference. The original location was only about 5 minutes from my house, but then it got moved to a place 45 minutes away. But I went anyway because this is a great group of writers to hang out with and we always have a good time!

We kicked it off with a workshop by Laura Kaighn, then the keynote by K.A. Magrowski. We rounded out the day with two panels where we discussed everything from what/who inspired us to write what we write to marketing to process. As always, much learning was accompanied by much laughter.

photo by Kristin Battestella

Many thanks to Kristin Battestella for organizing the South Jersey Writers Conference, and to all the people who came by–including my cousin and his wife! A nice surprise.



The rest of this week was taken up in mopping my floors and steam cleaning my rugs. (I live such a wild life.) I gotta say, when you have a child in the house, it takes longer to clear out the room so you can do the rug than it actually takes to do the rug. Still, it was worth the effort.

Today, it’s snowing. Since I have nowhere to go, I am able to actually enjoy watching the snow fall, and take pleasure in the beauty.

Aftermath and South Jersey Writers Conference

It’s Thursday again, and the election is now in the rear view mirror. I did not win in my run for school board, but it was quite the experience. I now need to sleep for about a week to recover.

With the election past, I can now turn my attention forward. And I have something great to look forward to! On Saturday, I will be a panelist in the 2nd Annual South Jersey Writers Conference. This is a great group of people, many of whom I have been on panels or at events with before. The panels will be both informative and fun, so if you are in the area, some on down and check it out!

The Conference is from 10 AM – 3 PM at the Carnival of Collectables located at 368 Cross Keys Road in Sicklerville, NJ. $10 at the door entry. You can check out more details on the event page.

Hope to see some of you there! You can even join the authors for an a la carte dinner at a local restaurant afterward.


OMG, It’s Thursday!

So it’s Thursday. And there’s supposed to be a post. But there is no post because this week has been one thing after another, and I didn’t even realize it was Thursday until this morning!

Between several firestorms that popped up this week, and family obligations, and Halloween…well, it’s Thursday and there’s no post.

I never used to know what the kids meant when they said, “I can’t even.” But after this week…

I. Can’t. Even.

Next week I should be back on track.

I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween!


October’s Crazy Days

I don’t know why, but October is always a crazy month for me. Maybe it’s because I have 2 anniversaries, 2-3 birthday parties, Halloween, and the Halloween activities such as Trunk or Treat and school parties. The fact that is starts to get dark early and is often still barely dawn when I get up doesn’t help. Add to that the regular litany of extracurricular activities and housework, and it’s quite a load.

And then I decided to run for the local school board.

So now, in addition to the normal October madness, I am in the final two weeks of my campaign. Just the other day I spent 2 hours canvassing in my neighborhood to get the word out. 16,000 steps for the day. My legs still haven’t recovered.

All this is to say that I have not had time to think up a properly satisfying blog post for this week. So I am giving myself a break and just letting it go.


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