Sunday, December 27, 2009

Favorite Christmas Movies

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas celebration with family and friends. We did and it's still ongoing this entire week with another family get-together in a few days! We always need entertainment ideas and look toward board games, Christmas movies and outings. Since this time of year gets a bit stressful, our favorite Christmas movies are comedies and love stories such as:
  • Four Christmases
  • Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase
  • Love, Actually
  • The Grinch That Stole Christmas
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

There are many to choose from and I'd love suggestions. What are your favorite movies to watch during the holiday season?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Exciting Publishing News

I recently heard from Smith Magazine that another one of my six-word memoirs will be published in Smith's newest book, IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT. There's a book tour in January (in New York, Seattle, Austin, and San Francisco). And you can buy the book on now. It'll be released in early January. Their newest book features 1,000 memoirs from famous and obscure authors. (You might have guessed-- I'm in the obscure category.) Smith's previous book of memoirs was a New York Times' Bestseller and received rave reviews from the NY Times, LA Times, NPR and more. I'm told Smith receives submissions (10-20,000) from all over the world so I'm very excited and honored. Try writing one yourself at Warning: They're highly addictive.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas Poem

Over the past year, I've begun to appreciate poetry and have attempted five poems to date. In fact, I recently bought a sweatshirt that reads, "I'm a poet and I just know I am." That about says it all when it comes to poetry and me...hey, I'm still learning. Below is my first attempt at a Christmas poem. We printed my poem in last year's Christmas cards alongside a photo of the beautiful angel my mother crocheted nearly three decades ago. Christmas Tree Angel By Beth Carter Bejeweled with strands of pearls Feathered birds and twinkling lights; Glittering ornaments and velvet bows Encircled our tree with delight. Plump snowmen and toy soldiers Carefully placed just right; Shiny Red and Green Packages Completed the joyful sight. The most special gift of all Topped our majestic tree; A frayed, embroidered angel Handmade by Mommy and me. Do you enjoy poetry? Have you written any poems? If so, please submit them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My First Love

Okay, you knew this was coming. I want to write about another "first." Since I'm a romance writer (with suspense and humor thrown into the mix), let's talk about our first love. My first true love was in high school. Alan and I dated for two years. (I'll spare him the embarrassment and not mention his last name.) He was two years older than me, tall, with blonde curly hair. He had a chevy van with a bed in the back. It was the 70's... Boy, did my dad ever hate that van. I honestly was a good girl throughout high school (I truly was) so dad needn't have worried but he probably got quite a few gray hairs over that van. Alan and I loved to camp and would go with my parents, sister and brother to a place called Jellystone Park. I was only interested in getting a good sun tan so Alan would swim with my sister, Alison, who was a lifeguard. We'd cook outside at night and then kiss in his van until Dad yelled at me to come inside the tent. Did I mention Alan was a great kisser?!! We'd also go to Central ballgames (he was the quarterback), school dances, eat Shaky's Pizza after every game and play fooseball. We also liked going to concerts and movies. Alan was a really sweet guy and a great first boyfriend up until I cut my very long, brunette hair. Soon after, he broke up with me. BROKE UP WITH ME. While staring at my shorter hair and remindng me it used to be past my elbows, all he could mutter was, "You cut your hair." Astute observation, Alan. I was a senior in high school and he started dating a girl who had a big house, a pool table (and long hair). Well, I certainly couldn't compete with that, so it was o-v-e-r. We did get back together the summer after I graduated (he was already in college) but it didn't last long. I almost literally ran into him at a local hospital last spring. It was interesting to say the least. He looked good and seemed happy. It was a little awkward but he could tell I'm happy and we had a nice conversation, so all's well. Wonder what he thought about my now-blonde hair?!! How about you? Who was your first love? Please, do tell.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cooking My First Turkey

I remember cooking my first Thanksgiving Day turkey and inviting my entire family to dinner. I was a nervous wreck and was just 24 years old. My husband had to help with the turkey because it gagged me to get the stuff out of the inside. I just couldn't do that (still can't). Then, I called my mother to ask all sorts of questions like how long to boil the potatoes and at what temperature to cook the turkey. I tried my hand at making cinnamon apples (and have never made them since) because my head was stuck in the oven spooning sauce over those apples for what seemed like hours. When my parents, grandparents, sister and brother arrived for the big meal, everyone thankfully brought food to help out. My daughter was a year old, and I can picture her little high chair beside the dining room table. She was and still is an angel. After we sat down to eat and gave thanks, I remember my grandfather, Monroe, said something I'll never forget. "I bet the president of the United States doesn't have a Thanksgiving meal as nice as this." That made all the effort worthwhile. Every year, I think of him and fondly remember that statement. Thanks, Grandpa, for the sweet memories. Wish I could cook for you and Grandma again. May you both rest in peace. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My First Car

Let's continue on with "firsts." What was your first car? I remember mine very fondly. My first car was a beautiful 1968 red Camaro. It had a black vinyl top and a black interior which got very hot in the summer. It also had a fancy schmancy eight-track tape deck. Unfortunately, I sold all of them at a garage sale. I wish I had at least one eight track to show my daughter! My Camaro was gorgeous and could really hug the curves. I loved it. My dad was a skilled, artistic, perfectionist of a car painter, and when a little rust appeared, he painted the entire thing. It looked brand new and was very shiny. I wish I had never sold it. How about you? What was your first car?

Monday, November 9, 2009

My First Job

Everyone remembers the first time they had a real job and received an actual paycheck--that all-important, grown-up feeling of having a boss, co-workers, a schedule and responsibilities. My first job was great fun and perfect for a high school kid. I worked in a movie theater downtown in both the concession stand and box office. I much preferred the concession stand because I could eat all the popcorn I wanted, drink soda and interact with customers. I only had to pay for the candy I ate. Other perks included watching the movie after everyone was seated and doing my homework once the movie started. Our uniforms consisted of a very short, navy, one-piece dress. My boss's name was Mr. Schnaible (I never knew his first name). He hired me when I was just 15--three months from turning 16. He told me to keep my age quiet after I told him I really wanted a job and needed the cash. I was saving for a car and was a total clotheshorse (still am). We sometimes had midnight movies and Disney premieres where moviegoers would line up around the block. I remember The Love Bug was a huge hit. We had to make bags and bags (trash bag size) full of popcorn beforehand and then mix it with the warm stuff. I remember the big, clunky cash register didn't add up the totals. It was very old--sort of like a manual typewriter. I became very adept at adding quickly in my head. Once, a guy angrily challenged me and said, "How do you know that's the right total?" I smiled sweetly and said, "Because I do. I can add in my head." If someone had a huge order, I would pull out a napkin and pencil and add the total on that. Of course, we had to be able to count back change (unlike today) but I digress. Several of my friends who were also in the Kiltie Drum Corps started working at the theater so we often had scheduling conflicts with games and parades. Many times, we had to be off at the same time but Mr. Schnaible never complained and would even take a shift himself. What a great first boss. My hourly wage was $1.10. Can you beat that? Let's hear about your first job.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Are You a Writer, Author or Novelist?

I've always loved writing and have considered myself a writer for decades since I've written non-fiction work-related articles, expository essays, television scripts, annual reports, short stories or my new love--novel writing. When I finished my novel this summer, my husband referred to me as a novelist. I stopped dead in my tracks. I really liked the sound of that. The delightful title had not occurred to me before he uttered that wonderful word. Novelist. Sigh. It sounds romantic and mysterious, doesn't it? And very artistic. Somehow that single word makes the two years of hard, solitary work worthwhile. Thanks, hubby. Happily, I wholeheartedly agree with him. When a writer finishes a big piece of work (i.e., over 300 pages) and there's a story full of compelling characters and plot twists with a true beginning, middle and end (woo hoo for the end), I believe they have become a novelist. As for author, though, I won't proclaim that title until I'm published. What do you think? Do you consider yourself a writer, novelist or author?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween At The Hospital

When I was director of public relations for Doctors Hospital, I decided to hold a Halloween decorating contest among the departments. I thought the patients and visitors would enjoy a festive atmosphere and the employees loved getting into the spirit. They were always up for a competition. Every department participated from pharmacy to human resources to physical therapy. The entire hospital was adorned with witches, ghosts, and pumpkins. I remember radiology used actual skeletal x-rays and hung them around the department. They won the pizza contest. I also asked every employee to dress up on Halloween and we opened our doors to the north-side kids. Fremont Elementary was one of our Partners in Education, so we invited them to our hospital-wide Halloween party. Our chief of surgery dressed like a vampire, stood on a table, and chose the top three winners of our costume contest. A few hundred little trick or treaters walked throughout the hospital, collecting candy from all the caregivers. We were also the only hospital in town to x-ray candy and received great coverage. It was very memorable and a great deal of fun in a place that is usually viewed warily, especially by children. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Spooky Stories...

'Tis the scary season, so I'll share a few more spooky stories. When my sister, cousins, friends and I were in middle and high school, we were intrigued with otherworldly things. Maybe all kids are at that age. Below were our top three choices to make contact with spirits. Ouija board As you probably know, this is a board containing the alphabet, "yes and no," and various symbols. Participants ask a question, lightly place their fingers on the pointer, and let it slide (be guided) to the correct answer. Of course, we asked things like, "Will so and so kiss me?" "Does he think I'm cute?" Of course, the pointer would miraculously land on the appropriate answer. Levitation was another method we used. To this day, I don't know how it worked because we were all barely 100 pounds (maybe 115) and would somehow lift a body. A person would lie flat on the ground with two girls on each side, one at the head, and another at the feet. We'd say some mystic thing and then be able to lift the body into the air using only two fingers each. I'm still puzzled by how young girls could do this, but it worked every time. Chills. Seances were, by far, the scariest practice we used. Once, on the gounds of my cousin's very old home, we built a bonfire and sat in a circle. A woman who supposedly knew how to contact spirits did her thing. She kept staring at me and finally said she saw her grandmother over my head. I ran screaming as did everyone else. When I got to the house, I had a mark on my forehead. It looked like two fingernail scratches and was bloody. I tried to tell myself I had run into a tree limb. BUT the next day my mother had the exact same mark on her forehead! She didn't tell me for weeks but that ended my seance, levitation and Ouija board activities. Have you tried these methods? Did they work?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Haunted Hotels & Ghosts

In the spirit of Halloween (and since I just returned from a supposed haunted hotel in San Diego), this week's post is about ghosts. Last week, my daughter and I stayed at the Del Coronado Hotel (affectionately called "The Del") in San Diego, California. Built in 1888, The Del has hosted many major celebrities including Madonna, Brad Pitt, Barbara Streisand, Marilyn Monroe and many other celebs. The movie "Some Like It Hot" was shot there. Also, ten U.S. presidents have stayed at The Del. But their most famous guest is Kate Morgan. The story goes that Kate went to The Del decades ago to meet her estranged husband. We saw pictures of her checking in and walking alone along the beach. One problem: her husband never showed. She waited and waited and finally, allegedly took her own life on the stairs near the salon. A bellman who has worked at the hotel for 27 years said she was murdered and that's why she can't rest. She wants everyone to know and has appeared in many rooms, turned on ceiling fans, televisions, opened closet doors or appeared as a shadow. Eeek! Every person we spoke with (front desk, bellman, elevator guy, and servers assurred us Kate is still very much around). I specifically requested a non-haunted room, and we were placed in a newer addition which looked just like a Holiday Inn. At the high room prices, I requested a change of rooms (Madonna apparently requested five changes) and we were placed in the old Victorian section. Oh, my. AND...our room number used to be her room! Since they remodeled, it was a different room but the same room number. I was terrified she'd get confused and visit our room! For that reason, I slept with my eyes tightly shut, took sleeping pills, and hated to get up in the night to go to the restroom. Luckily, we didn't see her. Apparently, Kate most often visits the rooms of couples because she's jealous. As I mentioned, I was with my daughter. The hotel is very unique, has great restaurants where you can eat along the beach, and an old-time elevator operated by scary old guys. There's also a unique wine/cheese/chocolate bar. Yum. The beach was gorgeous, there's a pool and a spa/salon. I'd highly recommend this hotel if you aren't afraid of Kate. Have you ever stayed in a haunted hotel or encountered a ghost? Please tell us about it. BOO!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Writing Bug

I'm always intrigued as to when and why writers first became enthralled with writing. Was it as a child or as an adult? Were you inspired by teachers or authors? Did you write because you had to, i.e., work-related writing or have you always written for pleasure? For me, the writer's bug bit when I was in eighth grade. I was on the Pipkin Junior High School newspaper staff. I wrote articles and served as the roving reporter. I especially liked that because I love to ask people questions (note my weekly poll!) When I wrote articles and saw my byline, though, I was hooked. I'd love to find those articles some day. Basically, I've always enjoyed writing--any kind of writing. Short stories, novels, six-word memoirs, children's picture books and even corporate writing. In banking and healthcare, I created several thirty-second television and radio scripts. I even won a state-wide, second place award for one of my television scripts about substance abuse. Now, my writing career has turned to novel writing which is exciting, fun, solitary and agonizing all at the same time. When did the writing bug bite you? How old were you, what did you write at the time, and what do you write now?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Thanks to fellow blogger Shirley McCann who nominated me for the Honest Scrap Award. This award goes to bloggers who write from the heart. To fulfill our Honest Scrap duties, I must list ten things about myself and nominate others for this award. Top ten things about me (in no particular order): 1. I love and cherish my family and friends. 2. I adore writing novels but it is such hard work. 3. Simple things make me happy: Finding a wildflower in the woods, seeing a deer, buying a cool bookmark or cute pair of earrings. 4. T.J. Maxx is my favorite store, hands down. 5. Every Thursday, hubby and I eat pizza and watch Survivor and Grey's Anatomy. 6. My favorite suspense authors are James Patterson and Harlan Coben. 7. A chilled glass of chardonnay is hard to beat. 8. My husband and I both love to dance. 9. As a single mom for 16 years, I am very close to my amazingly talented daughter. 10. I was vice president of a local bank for several years. I pass the Honest Scrap Award to bloggers Jean Rosenow, Virginia Pohlenz, Louise Jackson, M.J. Macie, Jessica Carter and Jarie Lyn Robbins.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Remembered. Always and Forever.

I can't get through this day without commenting on the tragedy of 9/11. I remember exactly where I was--at home running late for work, as usual. The television was on as background noise, but when I heard the frantic reporters' voices, I knew something was terribly wrong. I went into the living room and watched, stunned. I called the bank to make sure everyone knew and was tuning it. They were. When I finally made it to work, everyone was gathered around a television in the investment office. Not much was said as we watched the horrific tragedy unfold. We were all in shock. My heart goes out to the 9/11 victims' families. I hope they've found a way to move on and find some sense of normalcy. May the 9/11 victims rest in peace. You were taken much too soon. We will always honor and remember you and will never, ever forget what happened that day. I've always had an affinity for New York. My daughter used to dance there and lived in New York after college. In the 90's, she and I ate at the Top of the World restaurant in one of the towers with several other dancers and moms. That was also the day the designer Versace was killed. One of the dancers wore one of his creations to dinner. Since 9/11, I've been to Ground Zero twice. It was sobering and chilling. I remember all the comforting banners and quilts strung across the fence expressing sympathy and love from every state and other countries. The fence was covered with suffed animals, pictures of the victims, letters from loved ones, and mementos like a fireman's hat or boots. A fireman who didn't make it, obviously. The nearby blackened buildings made me cringe. The entire area was heart-wrenching to say the least. A year or so afterward, I remember flying into New York City at night, and two tall lights shone above the city. They were the exact dimension of the two towers. It was eerie yet comforting. Rest in peace, 9/11 victims. You will never be forgotten. And I hope the terrorists rot in hell. Do you remember where you were that fateful day?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Be Like a Volunteer Flower

As I watered this morning, I was amazed at the number of volunteer flowers I have this year. You know the ones--flowers that you didn't plant, yet they somehow push their way through the earth, even in rough terrain and without much water. Think of the poster called Determination that was popular years ago. The poster featured a dry, cracked earth with a beautiful, stubborn flower pushing its way through the ground against all odds. I have four large pots chock full of such flowers this year. I planted petunias, which died, and in their place I started noticing little green sprouts. At first I pulled the green leaves thinking they were weeds. Then, I decided to water them. Now, they're the biggest flowers I have--several are a foot tall and in brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow with gorgeous, lush leaves. I'm not sure what they are but I love them--and their resolve. As writers, we face a tough road ahead just like volunteer flowers. We hear all about rejection letters, the gazillion other writers trying to break into the biz, the particular agents who may or may not take us on, the huge, overflowing slush piles, and the publishing industries that are floundering. We're bombared with different rules for various agencies and spend hours reading blogs and websites just to make sure we're dotting our "i's" and crossing our "t's." We wonder if real books are going away in lieu of ebooks. All this crosses our mind while we plod away. As we sit at our desks, hunched over our keyboards (in solitude no less), we must have the mindset of tenacious volunteer flowers, regardless of the odds. Are you going to be like a volunteer flower? I am.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weird Sandwiches

A debut author I've "met" on Twitter (Richard Jay Parker who wrote STOP ME, a thriller you can buy now) inspired me to write this post. I read his bio and it mentioned he lived on mustard sandwiches when he was a poor, aspirirng writer. Yes, just bread and mustard. What are some of the weird sandwich combinations you've tried? Here are a few: Bread, butter and sliced radishes (my mom's favorite) Chips and sliced pickles (put a pickle between two chips - my favorite) Peanut butter and sliced bananas (future son-in-law's favorite) Can you think of other strange combinations? Please share.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back-to-School Memoirs

Everyone knows I love six-word memoirs. Since it's back-to-school time, I thought it would be fun to share some of my school memories in that format. Before first day: Sleepless night, excitement. First grade: Same dress as friend. Cigar box: Pencils, eraser, crayons, protractor. Everyone was afraid of the principal. Climbed on bus. Sweaty palms. Excited. Played four-square at recess. Teeter-totter, too. Hair-in-bun, prim teacher took no bull. Loved English and spelling. Hated history. Fifth grade: Wore blue windowpane hose. Afraid to sing alone. Crouched, hid. Loved being a Kiltie. Drum captain. Please share some of your school memories--either as a kid or as a parent.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grandmothers Are Great

As some of you know, my grandmother, Evelyn Jones, passed away Sunday. Her funeral was yesterday, and somehow, I mustered up enough courage to unexpectedly speak at the service. Mom and other family members were surprised but happy. I thought I'd share a few of my special memories here. Grandma was born July 21, 1921, when new houses cost $7000, new cars cost $400 and movie tickets were just 15 cents. She was married at the ripe old age of 17. (No wonder I always had the youngest grandparents!) She told us the story of how she saw a cute guy named Asa Monroe Jones (who later became Grandpa) at a gas station. She said she thought he was the “berries.” Their first date was Drop the Hanky at a church supper. After their courtship, they were married by a Justice of the Peace. Grandpa and Grandma lived and worked in Aurora most of their lives. Grandma worked as a cook--first at Franklin Elementary School, followed by Elliott Robinson Elementary and later at Cox Medical Centers. Grandma came out of retirement to serve as Head Cook at the Aurora Senior Citizen Center. The cooks made everything from scratch, and during Grandma’s tenure as head cook, the Senior Citizen Center had its biggest crowds in history. According to Grandma, the two most popular days of the week by far were Fried Chicken Day and Meatloaf Day! For those of you who may not know her well, here are some of her favorites: Favorite color: Pink Favorite term of endearment for her grandkids: Sugar Plum Favorite singer: Johnny Cash (especially the song, Walk the Line) Favorite bird: Hummingbird Favorite movie: Gone With the Wind Favorite TV show: Andy Griffith which she watched with great-granddaughter Amy Favorite flower: Roses Favorite entrĂ©e: Fried chicken or roast Favorite desserts: Pumpkin pie, carrot cake, banana pudding w/vanilla wafers Favorite pastimes: Crossword puzzles, reading romance novels or westerns, viewing cooking shows on television, and watching birds enjoying birdbaths or eating from their feeders Favorite soap: Dove. She never used anything else and had beautiful, smooth skin. Favorite attire: Housecoat (casual dress) She never wore pants. Last Wednesday after being at the nursing home several times the previous week, we decided to go to the fair for a light change of pace. I decided to switch purses so I’d have a long strap and found a purse that I hadn’t carried in years. Inside, was the Guardian Angel pin that Grandma had given me about ten years ago when Bob and I were dating and flying quite often. Grandma wanted me to wear it onto planes and I did. I thought I had lost that pin and had searched my jewelry boxes for years. I knew finding that pin was a sign. The next morning Mom got the call from Hospice that Grandma had 24-48 hours to live. She was a strong woman and lasted four difficult days. Now, that special pin is buried with her. I feel better knowing her Guardian Angel is right there. I shared several other stories yesterday but won't recount all of them here. Rest in peace, Grandma--Sugar Plum. We’ll always love you and will never forget you. xoxo

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fair Memories

The fair is in town which brings back nostalgic memories for me. As kids, we always looked forward to the fair. It was a big summer event right before the start of school. My parents would take my sister and me (my brother wasn't yet born) and we'd excitedly head to the fair. My Dad always wanted to visit the livestock first. BOR. ING. As a child, I complained and complained. "Mom, I want to go on the rides." Dad would be off staring at the cattle and I stood there like a brat with my arms crossed. After about thirty minutes and a few more complaints from me, my mother would say, "Jay, the kids want to go on the rides." He'd relinquish the animals and we'd head to the rides. Dad was great about going on the rides with us. Mom stood by, smiled and waved. He and I rode the roller coaster together and sometimes ended up in the front seat--exciting and thrilling. We'd ride the ferris wheel, merry-go-round, tilt-a-whirl, and go to the Duck Pond where there were sure-fire prizes. Then, we'd get hungry and go to the pork chop place (can never remember the name) because it was air-conditioned, albeit very small and crowded. Dad also knew the owner and would chat with him. I was always in a hurry to get out of there and back to the fun. After dinner, we'd play some of the games and Dad and I would shoot the water guns trying to raise the ball in the tube. Once I threw a ring around a Coke bottle atop a big square block. Amazingly, the ring went around the square block and I won a huge stuffed animal. We'd play games until it turned dark and then eat something very unhealthy like cotton candy, snow cones that dripped down our shirt or funnel cakes. It was grand. Toward the end of the evening, we'd look at the prize-winning produce since Dad is a great gardener. We also meandered around the entries of showcased art, photography and baked goods since my mom is a wonderful cook. We always visited the conservation booth to see more animals--usually a fox, deer and snakes. I haven't been to the fair in years but have a longing to go this week. I think I'll ask my dad if he wants to go and let him look at the livestock first for as long as he wants. I won't complain at all. Hopefully, Mom will join us too. How about you? What are your memories of the fair?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sometimes Life Gets In The Way

When it comes to writing, do you let life get in the way? I often do but wish I didn't. For decades I worked in a corporate office, Monday through Friday (more about that in another post). Having to go to an office each day forced me to accomplish my work. I met my deadlines. Always. And had lots of them. The past month has been completely out of control. Family members visited for most of July. Fun, to be sure, but everything work-wise came to a standstill. On top of that, two family members were hospitalized this month--one out of town for well over a week. Like it or not, my husband and I basically put our work on hold the entire month. Sometimes I miss going to the office purely because I was forced to work for eight straight hours, and therefore, was definitely more productive. I've gotten too lax by working out of my home. Also, since I now work from home, others sometimes don't see that I actually "work" if that makes sense. I'm working even if I am in my pj's. Maybe I should think about renting an office...and wearing one of my corporate suits every day--just so we're all clear that I have work to do. Myself included. Do you let life get in the way of your writing? If not, care to share your tips?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Unusual Words

Okay, writers. What unusual/funny/cool/interesting words have you used in your short stories and novels? Below are a few words I've used in my current novel (with an explanation of how they were used). Yummy - How Alex referred to the sexy Sgt. Tony Montgomery Bamboozled - How Suzy felt about her son's surprise Bread - A seventies term referring to money and used often by Hope's hippie dad Scumbag - What Sgt. Montgomery called a meth dealer Cyber friends - Displaced New Yorker Cheri's only friends Testy - Marc, the gay florist's, description of Suzy's bratty bride What fun, interesting words have you used lately?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fave Summer Recipes

I know my blog is mainly about writing but our characters have to eat, right? And one of my characters is a chef so I love to discover interesting recipes that she can create. Below is my new, favorite burger: Green Pepper Chili Burgers 2 lbs. lean ground beef 1/2-3/4 white onion (chopped) 1/2 green pepper (chopped) 3-4 T. chili sauce Mix all together in a bowl, make patties, and grill. Yum! These are great. Here's one more: Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Pie 1 carton softened chocolate mint ice cream (I use the sugar-free Splenda kind) 1 Oreo pie crust Spoon softened ice cream into pie crust. Smooth top with a spoon and freeze. Thaw about five minutes before serving. Everyone loves this pie and always thinks it's grasshopper pie. If they only knew how easy it is! You can substitute your favorite ice cream and use a graham cracker crust as well. Do you have an easy peasy summer recipe you'd like to share?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Twitter Twerminology

I've been on Twitter for a couple of months and am thoroughly enjoying it (although it is taking up at least an hour of my time each day which could be used to actually write another novel, but I digress). I'm still learning the lingo and think it's great fun (especially the terms "tweet" or "tweets.") However, I'm beginning to think the entire universe is developing a lisp. Read some of the terms below. You'll see what I mean. Twopular - Recent Twitter trends Twellow - Yellow Pages Twibe - Tribe (i.e., group of like-minded folks) Twug - Hug Twable - Fable Twitterholic - What I'm becoming Twitterature - Book recently bought by Penguin. Two college freshmen are retelling the classics using 140 characters or less. Genius. These are just a few of the terms I've come across. I'm sure there are many more. Care to share more Twitter lingo? Don't worry--we won't waff at your wisp.(My apologies to anyone who actually has a lisp. No ill will intended.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I. Did. It. Today, I wrote THE END and finally finished my women's fiction novel! Yippee. Hooray. Woo hoo. Snoopy dance. I can't believe it. Novel writing is very HARD. Much harder than I thought it would be. It takes discipline, determination and doggedness. Also, I didn't realize the lonliness that would be involved. Sometimes I feel like I'm in my writing cave, hunkered over my keyboard, rubbing my wrists or back while the bright sunshine gleams through the window, teasing me. I tell it to leave me alone for I have to finish. Actually, I've become a pretty good hermit. Thank goodness for the writers' groups I've joined. We spur each other on and actually leave our computers for a few hours to socialize. Here are the stats: I finished at 1:24 p.m. on June 20, 2009. That's when I wrote THE END and hit the 93,000-word mark (that's over 300 typewritten pages). Spouting off all these stats makes me feel like a proud mother. Honestly, I almost feel like I gave birth. (It wasn't as painful as my natural childbirth but darn close.) I'm so happy I could cry--or do a Snoopy dance. Maybe I'll do both. Just had to share. Thanks to everyone for their support over the past 1.5 years. Huge smile.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Would You Answer This?

Last summer, a published author from Ireland was visiting my Uncle Wayne (another author and former English professor). When the visiting author, Claire, found out I was writing my debut novel, she posed the following question: Would you rather write something beautiful or a bestseller? I didn't realize the two were mutually exclusive and pondered that question for a few seconds. My answer? "I'd like to write a beautiful bestseller." Glib, maybe. How would you have responded? Labels: writing

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Finding Inspiration Through Planting

Recently, I planted 25 pots of flowers. Overkill, I know but that's me. I bought my favorites--vincas, geraniums, petunias, and impatiens. I selected colorful shades of purple, red, yellow, pink and orange and gathered my tools--a bench, gloves, a little gardening hoe, rake, sunscreen and a bottle of water.

I buckled my knee pads (highly recommended) and piped several CD's outside -- Michael McDonald, Blake Shelton, Lionel Richie, Christina Aguilera, Andrea Bocelli and Rod Stewart. Yes, I have diverse taste in music but that's not the point here.

As I started digging in the dirt, I regretted that I had to do this chore instead of writing. I knew it would take at least one full day to plant 25 pots of flowers and my mind wondered to how much writing I could do if I'd put fingers to keyboard for that many hours.

Soon, though, I delighted in the cheerful pots brightening the veranda. Our two Labs "helped" and I observed how they preferred to drink out of a fountain rather than their dog bowl. I watched the birds swoop overhead and butterflies swirl around the flowers. I coulld smell the luscious lilac bushes wafting through the air, even though they were far away.

As I planted each variety, I noticed how some of the leaves were shiny and smooth while others were velvety and rough. I again encountered the killer hummingbird that taunted me last summer. The territorial little brat attacked me three times last year. Once, he buzzed smack into the middle of my back, scaring me half to death. The little bully. After many sweaty hours, I realized that planting actually helped my writing. It made me think more descriptively and awakened all my senses.

Planting also gave me ideas and hobbies for my characters. Our characters have to do things. They might as well have a pretty yard. It also provided humor (and angst) such as the hummingbird and our silly dogs. So, let the watering (and writing) begin. What have you done lately that inspired your writing?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Present Tense Vs. Past Tense

More and more, novels are written in present tense. Still, I've read several articles in writers' magazines (like Writer's Digest) which say some editors frown upon this practice. They even went so far as to say present tense writing may cause the manuscript to get tossed in a bin. I'm talking about narration here--not dialogue. Here's an example: Past tense: Rebecca put down her cup and looked out the window. Present tense: Rebecca puts down her cup and looks out the window. I write in past tense but have read many novels recently that are written in present tense. It always gives me a start and sounds like poor grammar (unless it's dialogue like I mentioned). What do you think? What is your preference? Labels: English, grammar, writing

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Incomplete Sentences

Is it just me or is everyone using incomplete sentences these days? Here's an example of one I hear a lot lately: Do you want to go with? This seems to be a trendy thing to say but it really bugs me. Is it really too much to ask to just finish the darn sentence by adding one little word? For example, "Do you want to go with me?" or "...with us?" You know. The way we used to talk in the good old days. By bringing this up, I know I risk sounding like my high school English teacher. I'm just curious, though. Do these incomplete sentences bug any of you writers? Labels: English draft 12:21

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Almost on a Reality Show

For the past two months, we have been in talks with a reality show. Originally, this was all hush-hush and top secret but now that we've declined, I can tell you. My husband and I, along with my daughter, future son-in-law and his parents were almost on a big-name cable network reality show! In fact, this very weekend we would have been filming at some undisclosed, hot, probably tropical location. We were not going to have contact with the outside world for five days. You can't believe the hoops we've all jumped through--we each had to make videos of ourselves and overnight them. Then, we had to fill out very loooooong questionnaires with questions like: "Name three odd things about you" and "What is something no one knows about you." You know, stuff that they'd use against us on TV. Anyway, we were game until we saw the contract. That killed the deal. It was too probing about anything and everything. Our attorney looked it over and felt strongly that we shouldn't sign on the bottom line. So, it was disappointing at first but I can't wait to see the show when it airs. It was a pilot so it may not be picked up. We'll have to wait and see...

Monday, May 11, 2009

How Do You Edit?

Since I'm in the dreaded editing phase of my debut novel, I'd love some suggestions from fellow writers. Do you edit on your computer or do you use a hard copy? I know some people hire professional editors and I wondered if any of you have done that. If so, who do you recommend? I've seen several names at the back of Writer's Digest and they seem to have good credentials and connections. Thanks for any light you can shed on this. I am ready to start my next novel but can't until I get through this process. I don't know why I hate it so much and keep putting it off doing anything and everything else.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chosen as Memoirist of the Day!

This week, I was selected as Memoirist of the Day by Smith Magazine! They featured my six-word MOMoir and photo on the cover of their online magazine in early May. Since then, they've published thirty of my MOMoirs and memoirs. Yea! Give it a try. Warning: Sixes are highly addictive--almost as much as chocolate. Hemingway wrote a six-word memoir. His was--For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. Says a lot, doesn't it? You'll be amazed how big a story you can tell in six little words. Check out the site at Smith publishes books containing editor-selected memoirs and all of their books have been New York Times' bestsellers. They also hold several contests. I highly recommend this site and so does Writer's Digest.

My First Blog Entry

Wow. I did it. Technologically challenged me. You may not realize how big this is but it's big. I really didn't think it would work. Okay, enough about that. Please follow me on Beth's Banter. You can find me at This is so cool. Since my new career path is writing, I'll discuss that most often. Of course, I've spent two decades in marketing so I may talk about that some, too. I'll try not to bore you. Family is very important to me as well, but I like my privacy (and so do they). I'll drop a tidbit here and there.