Wednesday, December 5, 2018

THE HOLIDAYS ARE ALMOST HERE! TOO BUSY TO BE ANXIOUS...LOL AN IWSG POST

Hi All and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

As Christmas approaches, there is just SO MUCH TO DO. Luckily I am really not stressing about it. I made the smart decision to leave insanely cold and damp Chicago a month earlier. SO I am in Orlando loving the spring type weather. People here have already decorated their places to the hilt. So festive! How could anyone not enjoy that, right?

I arrived just before Thanksgiving and the first week was certainly hectic, but now that things have settled and I am back to writing again... YAY, I must say I am in great spirits. Wonderful Christmas music and movies splashed all over the television makes me so happy. YAY, again! And I even managed to see a few fun Christmas flicks. IF you get a chance don't miss DISNEY'S NUTCRACKER, it was a spectacular film. I enjoyed every minute. Of course I saw the new Grinch movie. Not as wonderful as I had hoped, but I still enjoyed it. Also caught the next segment of the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Great special effects, but I didn't love it as much as the first.

As the holidays move forward like a runaway train, many of you are probably starting to stress about getting it all done. Just remember to BREATHE and take on one project at a time. That really works for me. One day designated to a different task. Before you know it, everything is done. The holidays are to be enjoyed and spending quality time with our loved ones. If you are stressed you won't enjoy the fruits of all you labor.

Once again, I'd like to thank Alex for creating this group and all the effort he and the staff have put into making it as great as it is. SO much talent and so much help is available to all who seek it... I'm beginning to sound like Albus Dumbledore. LOL. Don't forget to drop by his blog and the other members for encouragement and support and perhaps your comment may help some other writer. Here is the link:

Since this will most likely be my last post before Christmas, I'd like to WISH EVERYONE A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON and a VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

HUGS TO YOU ALL!




Wednesday, November 7, 2018

GETTING TO THE FINISH LINE... AN IWSG POST

Hi All,

Welcome to another session of the IWSG! As we all know it's NOVEMBER and the holidays are just around the corner.

I, for one, have been a bit anxious over the revelation of this year coming to and end in less that two months. EEK!

THANKFULLY I can vent all my anxieties here today. This group is such a blessing and thanks to the founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh, we have our chance every month. If you are new to the group, WELCOME. For those who are sitting on the sidelines, DON'T BE SHY... join us. Let us help you and perhaps you have some words of wisdom to share with us. Drop by and sign up at Alex's website.

As most of us know, writing can be taxing at times. WE start full speed ahead and then crash...it always seems to be somewhere in the middle of the MS. I know you are all nodding over this. I was there just recently. For a few months I wrote nothing on my present work in progress, MOMMY KAY, a memoir. I am chronicling the life of Kay Hickman Ferrara.... through her daughter, Kim. I have a few snippets posted. The first even won first place at the WEP in April. 

But as I began writing again, after this long hiatus, it was tough. I had planned to post another snippet for the WEP with the prompt, VOODOO or Deja Vu at the end of last month. I managed to write an unnerving piece about Mommy Kay and Kim's altercation with a black voodoo priest. The story was terrifying to write. I actually stopped at the cliffhanging point of the snippet. It took me nearly two weeks to finish the conclusion. Thankfully, that particular story is completed and it was well received. If you'd like to read it, it's the post before this one.

This is the reason for my anxiety this month. I am now on the final last third of the book. I have most of my facts and just need to write the last 20,000 or so words. The subject matter is incredibly interesting, but I find it hard to concentrate and just keep on plugging along. Has this ever happened to you? This is a first for me. My first two novels' first drafts were written in approx. six -seven weeks. I started this project in April, it is now November, SEVEN months! I still haven't completed the first draft. 

Granted this isn't a fictional story and there are TONS of facts and research, but still. I am actually a bit freaked about it. I needed to have this complete by now. I had scheduled and AMAZING editor who Kim is willing to pay BIG BUCKS to do a read through. Since her current projects are not completed, we rescheduled for the second week in January. Phew! This helps my anxiety a lot. But it's still looming overhead.

I have worked with other editors before, but they were kind and believed in my work and helped me along my journey. This is the first time I am sending my work out to an editor who has many NYT bestsellers under her belt. Can that be why I am so nervous and putting off my writing? I have never been nervous before. I guess it's because another person is putting up such a great deal of money to have her story edited properly. It's scary for me. Not to mention where this could lead. I actually have a huge shot at a bestseller here and I am worried. What if the editor doesn't like the story? Kim and I have such hopes for this. I guess these feelings are normal, right? 

As you can see, I am not my usual self this month. I know I will get through it. I am leaving to head back to Florida in a few weeks. Seeing Kim on a daily basis will kick me back into gear again. Plus the warmth and sunshine will be good for me. It's been gray, damp, cold, and nasty here in Chicago for over a week! NOT my favorite weather. Winter is setting in very quickly. No beautiful fall weather. We went for 85 to 40 in 36 hours and it's been nasty ever since. 

So, that is where I am at. On the plus side, my health is better. I started doing physical therapy for my arthritic shoulders and it's helping a great deal. It's an holistic approach, which I will share with you all in another post. But I won't be taking any more steroids because it didn't come back this year. Thank God!

I hope all is well with all of you. ENJOY your THANKSGIVING! We have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Our families, our friends, and our fur babies!

Here's a pic of my buddy Hamlet in his Halloween costume. He is next to one of his gal pals, an adorable Maltese named, Liza... I know it will put a smile on your faces....

Introducing Pope Hamlet I with Hippie, Rabbi, Liza. LOL



















Friday, October 19, 2018

THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND OF HAITI- A WEP CHALLENGE

Hi All!

Welcome to another WEP Challenge. October is the month for mysticism of all sorts. SO the prompt is Deja Vu or Voodoo.

So appropriate, don't you think?
There are some incredible entries this month, so I do hope you plan to visit the other authors at the WEP site, who put their talents to the test. You will not be disappointed.

My entry is an excerpt from my current work in progress MOMMY KAY. If you recall, I had submitted an early snippet from this memoir for the ROADS LESS TRAVELED prompt and won! Still so excited about that~ if you have the time and would like to familiarize yourself with Mommy Kay here is the link.

Before you read my entry, I'd like to give you a bit of back story. Mommy Kay and her daughter, Kim are visiting the impoverished Island of Haiti, the week after the Dictator, "Papa Doc" Duvalier died and his son was newly sworn in as President for Life. 

The now, fifteen-year-old Kim, didn't want any part of this trip, but Mommy ALWAYS got her way. 

During their visit to Haiti, Kim mainly stayed at the hotel. Mommy Kay would be gone for hours at a time. She was up to something, and Kim knew what it was. Mommy Kay had a new obsession. She wanted to experience a Haitian Voodoo ritual. 

This scene opens with Mommy Kay and Kim about to partake in the mysterious world of Haitian Voodoo. It is written in Kim's POV. I hope you enjoy this little teaser at approx. 800 words.




The hotel seemed eerily quiet. We met no one on the elevators or as we walked toward the back entrance.

Antoine was waiting for us in a beat-up jalopy. Through the open window he said, “Welcome my friends.” His heavy Haitian accent had a slight quiver to it.

Mommy sat next to him in the front seat and I slid into the back. Next to me was a large bottle of rum and a box of cuban cigars. Antoine started the car and off we went into the night. The twitchy manner in which he drove didn’t help the situation. Sweat beaded on my face.

“Where exactly are we going, Antoine?” I asked after a long pause of silence.

“Porte au Prince.”

“I figured that, but exactly where?”

He didn’t answer.

We drove on the main road and arrived downtown. The stench from the garbage in the streets overpowered the musky smell of human sweat and the lingering of cooked food. Several people sat on the sidewalks outside their front doors. Their haughty looks staring at us as we drove by. We turned up a side street. At the top of the hill we stopped abruptly. 

“We get out here,” Antoine said in a low voice.

“Kimmie, bring the rum and cigars. They’re a present for the high priest.”

My shaky hands gathered them up, and I exited the car. Antoine and Mommy were a few steps ahead of me. They stopped and faced a peeling red door.

“We go in here.” Antoine turned the handle.

He entered.

Mommy followed with her head lowered. I wondered what she was feeling. She moved normally, however my legs shook as I stepped inside the dimly lit room. Flickering candles from a ceiling chandelier created dark shadows that performed a savage dance on the rough stained walls. Hundreds of scattered bones, entrails, and piles of white feathers littered the floor. A pungent smell of years of decay, cajun incense, and dried blood loomed heavily in the air.

I dug my fingers into Mommy’s fleshy arm. “Are you sure about this?” I whispered. That’s fresh blood on the walls.”

“Yes.” 

She shrugged away her arm.

Antoine moved a few paces ahead of us.

“It is time.” He pointed his finger up. “Follow me.” 

 Unidentified things squelched under our feet as we made our way toward a staircase at the back of the room. Antoine disappeared in a sea of creaks as he ascended. Mommy followed, squeezing between the walls of the narrow entrance. It was my turn now. I sucked in a deep breath and held it. 

Thump, thump, thump, pounded inside of my head as I climbed each of the rickety stairs. My heart threatened to tear away from my chest. 

Mommy’s breathing increased as we turned up the next flight. 

Then the next.

As we confronted the final flight, she stopped, clutching her heaving chest. “I-I need to catch my breath—go—a-head, Kim-mie.”

“No way.”

“Go—”

Antoine climbed back down and stared at us. “We must not keep him waiting.” His voice cracked.

I stepped over Mommy and continued up the stairs. My legs grew heavy as if hundred pound weights were attached to them. Mommy’s stomping feet and raspy breathes kept up with my slower pace.

At the top of the stairs, hundreds of candles flickered in the room. Beams of moonlight filtered through the five large open windows. A soft chanting and distant drum beat played, as a shadow appeared across a fraying, thin drape.

Mommy stepped into the room, panting.

“He is in our presence. Keep silent until he addresses you,” Antoine whispered.

A massive figure stepped out of the shadows. Yellow light glinted off a jewel encrusted medallion and rows of heavy gold chains. His frame was cloaked in black robes, and on top sat an elaborate plumed headdress.

The whites of his eyes shown through midnight blue-black skin. 

“I know what you seek. Leave your offerings.”

I couldn’t move. This being nailed me to the floor. 

Antoine pried the rum and cigars from my hands, then bowed and placed the offerings at his feet.

A split second later, the voodoo priest disappeared.

“We must follow him,” Antoine said as he took hold of Mommy’s arm and dragged her through the drape.

I was convinced Antoine planned to have us sacrificed. And me, still a virgin. How appropriate. The beating drums grew louder and more sporadic. Or was it my heart? I wasn’t quite sure.

“Come, Kimmieeeee!” Mommy’s voice echoed through the rising of the heretic chants.

I willed myself to move. My left foot slid a few inches, followed by my body. 


And then, as if by some strange, dark force, a dusty wind swirled around me. 

I was swept through the curtain, my destiny unknown.


Well that's it! I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Have a WONDERFUL weekend everyone!















Wednesday, October 3, 2018

FALL IS IN THE AIR and ANOTHER IWSG POST!

Hi All,

A crisp breeze is in the air and Autumn is here! How fast has this year gone? Already October and Christmas is just around the corner.

It always amazes me how fast time is flying by. Imagine, this month is my EIGHT year BLOGAVERSARY! Eight years in this wonderful community. I have learned so much about support, dedication, friendship, and even love... love for writing. For the first forty plus years of my life, my only interest was in the arts: drawing, painting, illustration, and music. Although I always enjoyed reading, I never would have dreamed I would be a writer. It's amazing how versatile a person can be once their livelihood is in jeopardy. Back in 2008 the real estate market had crashed and so did my interior design business. 

Books saved my life and that's when I realized I wanted to write. I wrote my first MG fantasy novel. All 125K words of it. LOL  I hear you all laughing. But from that first book I met all of you. The support from more experienced writers helped me so much. And only a few short years later, our friend, Alex Cavanaugh created the IWSG! And look at it today! It's a force of it's own, helping hundreds, maybe even thousands of writers. Let's all give a CHEER for ALEX and the IWSG! ALL of it's members are here to HELP and to receive HELP from the group. That is the beauty of this group!

If you aren't apart of it yet, it takes just one click...sign up here.

My insecurities this month are the same as many of you. Is my work good enough? Will I finish that first draft in time? Can I get through all the editing without giving up? Will I find a home for my new baby? These are all questions that plague us. It is part of all of our journeys. But how do we keep motivated? How do we not GIVE UP? The last is a LOADED question. I have asked myself that one many, many times over the years. 

The answer is not easy. How long do we keep trying? ..... As long as it takes for us to achieve our goals. Yes, we will fall flat on our faces. Yes, we will bury ourselves in life's issues. But the bottom line is.... we are writers and we HAVE TO WRITE! SO like all of you, I will carry on, no matter how long my journey takes. And....you will, too.

Keep going my friends... Keep writing and when it gets tough, pick up one of your favorite books and think about how long it took your favorite writer to get that book in your hands...

HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY ALL!

PS... I am continually being thrown out of my blogger sign in..so I am having the hardest time leaving comments. I am visiting, but my comments are not posting. Anyone else having this problem today?


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

AN EARTHY ANGEL...YES, THEY ARE STILL WITH US!

Hi Everyone,

I am so happy to be writing this post today. It's been several years since my last Earthly Angel sighting. Sad, but true...

BUT...

Yesterday, one took me by surprise and restored my faith that they are still walking among us. For those of you who are not familiar with my EA posts, let me explain. An Earthly Angel is a very special person indeed. Out of sheer kindness they come to the rescue of another human being without expecting anything in return.

In a big city like Chicago, these wonderful beings are rare, or at least out of plain sight. One would be hard pressed to find one especially in the downtown area where there is so much hustle and bustle.

I live in an area called Printer's Row. It used to house all the book and newspaper printers in the city. Now, it consists of these wonderful old building turned condo, with storefronts on the lower levels. An historic landmark graces the main cross street at Polk and Dearborn. Dearborn Station used to be the downtown rail station at the turn of the twentieth century. Now, it too, has been reconverted for commercial space. It was in front of this wonderful old building that I encountered an EA.

Several minutes before, I had met a friend at a nearby park about a block away. My Westie, Hamlet and I were sitting by the fountain, when my friend joined us. We chatted about our day, and then he decided to accompany us in a walk around the neighborhood before heading home. Just before we arrived at Hamlet's favorite park, a few blocks away, my friend realized his wallet was missing. We feverishly checked his backpack and the shopping bag he was carrying. The wallet was nowhere to be found.

He raced back to the fountain and I followed close behind. We checked the area where we sat, even the garbage cans surrounding the plaza, hoping to at least find the wallet. Most people just take the cash and toss the wallet, knowing fully well that the credit cards would be canceled immediately. Sadly, we found nothing.

He lost not only his wallet, but his iPhone was inside as well. Not to mention all his ID's, credit cards, medical cards, and CASH... he had just withdrawn a considerable amount a few minutes before meeting me.

Since he had no landline, I offered to help him call and cancel everything with my cell phone. As we walked in front of Dearborn Station a lovely young African American woman stopped us. She looked straight at my friend.

"Are you Ulises Gonzalez?"

Both of us looked shell shocked. Right away I answered..."Did you find a wallet?"

She smiled so sweetly and pulled the wallet out of her bag, handing it to my friend. Everything was intact. Nothing was taken. "Yes. I had just left your apartment building. I looked at your address on your license and planned to leave the wallet with the doorman, but he wasn't there." She looked up at him and smiled again. "I am so glad I found you."

Still in shock, Ulises just stood there. I hugged and thanked her. I insisted she take a reward. "At least have dinner on us." 

She shook her head. "That is not necessary. I am just so happy you have your wallet back."

I nudged Ulises, and he sprang to life, thanking and hugging her, too.

"You must let me buy you dinner. Take this, please." He stuffed a bill into her hand and hugged her again. 

In all the excitement, I forgot to ask her name.  I looked at my friend and said, "God certainly sent an angel down to you today. What a sweetheart."

He agreed. We talked about her during the rest of the walk. 

I hope to run into her again. It may never happen. But I hope so. She looked like one of the college students from Columbia University which is in my neighborhood. She certainly found my friend's apartment rather quickly. 

Her face was lovely, with large, dark eyes. And a smile that could melt you with a glance. May God bless that caring young woman. She is certainly an EA in my book!

Writing this post reminded me how much I enjoy discovering Earthly Angels, and writing about them. So PLEASE if you have an EA story, do share it in the comments. OR you can send it to me and I will feature it in a post.

Thanks for dropping by today. I hope this story puts a smile on your face and warmth in your heart! There is so much GOOD in or world, we just have to be aware of it.

Sending out a big hug to you all! Have a wonderful rest of week and weekend!






Wednesday, September 5, 2018

ANGST ABOUT RE-SUBMERGANCE INTO A STORY ....AN IWSG POST

Hi All,

Can you believe it's already September?! Where did this year go? I apologize for missing the past two months, but moving back to Chicago did throw me for a loop. I was sick over a moth with allergies and a terrible cold. I guess my body just wasn't used to all the pollens and pollution in this city compared to Orlando.

Last month I spend finishing up the remaining remodeling projects of my condo. I am happy to say, they are almost finished.

Many of you know I had a great start on a wonderful memoir. I hadn't written a word on it until yesterday because of what's been going on in the rest of my life. It is tough getting back in the grove! Don't you think? The words practically wrote themselves for the first half of the book. Now that I am in Chicago and away from the person I am writing for, it is so much tougher. Has this ever happened to you? Able to write in one home and not in the other? Odd...

I did manage to get some pages written AFTER reading the previous thirty of forty pages. This does work. One does have to immerse themselves back into the story if there has been a long hiatus. I am hoping I can get through this angst and continue to capture this amazing woman's life with all the gusto she had when she lived it.

This month's question is hitting home for me. 
What publishing path are you considering and why? 

For me, I always strived for traditional publishing...get a top NYC agent and move on from there. Well....after ten years of trying, I am still not published. I have come so close to nabbing a great agent, especially on my second book. My query is strong, my pages are clean, they request the full, and sadly pass on it. Not much feedback is given. It has happened about ten times for me so far this year on this particular story. I am tired of the rejection. How many more should I get before moving on to possibly self publishing? I have thought long and hard. I may shelf it for another year and concentrate on the memoir. It has a very good chance of enticing the right agent. Then...if that pans out and the story gets published, I can go back to my second novel and it may have a better chance. 

Your thoughts?

Sorry for the "Loaded" questions today, but I am at a sort of crossroads. Ten years is a long time. Many of you know how hard I've tried and how tenacious I can be. I know we all have our own roads to take and we all have different times. I have honed my craft and still strive to improve. I guess that is all we can do.

Thanks for listening. You are all truly wonderful friends and even though I tend to disappear from time to time, ALWAYS remember you are in my thoughts. We are an amazing community of incredibly talented people.

Thank you Alex for all your support and kindness throughout the many years I have known you. To all of the co-hosts and administrative talent in the IWSG... you know who you are... My sincerest THANKS for all of your hard work and caring for our community. You all deserve a golden TROPHY!!!

For those of you who are still on the lurch of joining the IWSG, don't hesitate to sign up here.


I hope everyone is well and I'm sending you all a HUGE CYBER HUG!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WRITING AND LIFE....A CONSTANT BATTLE.

Hi All,

Welcome to another session of the IWSG created by our good friend, Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you would like to find out more, DO pop over to his site and sign up. You will feel so much better when you do.

With the temps raising into the mid 90's, Orlando is becoming a steam bath. Just a few more weeks and I return back to Chicago and hopefully a bit of peace. Sadly, my time here in Orlando has been extremely stressful. As most of you know the condo development I live in has taken a turn for the worse. I tried to get on the board with a small group of other concerned owners, to change the situation, but the president and his minions fixed the election and not one of us got on the board. 

I vowed to sell my unit and was lucky to find an investor/buyer right away. But, just as he was sending me the papers, he met with my neighbor, who also decided to sell, and he blew me off. Made a deal with my neighbor and bought theirs... then had the gaul to ask if I would come down to that price and then he would buy mine. HA... I only have a fully upgraded corner unit with all the bells and whistles and he wants to pay me the same price for an inside unit with half the upgrades. FAT CHANCE!

So the reason I'm telling you this is because I am still trying to get the first draft done on my MOMMY KAY memoir. How can a creative writer WRITE, with life kicking him/her in the teeth every chance it gets?  

The answer? You tell me. WE all have been in unpleasant situations in our lives where our stress levels and anxieties vise grip us around the throat where we can barely breathe. I have just come off a two year strangling and now it's back.

Don't worry, I am managing, but my attention wanders back to life's drama when I let my guard down for just a second. Thankfully my subject is still very intriguing to me and I try to write daily, but not nearly as much as I'd like. I am up to 24K words, so about a third or a bit more done.

I was so angry today when I found out about this treachery. I was moving along very well this past week. I tried to write today, but only managed a page. Finding my focus again will take a lot. I hope I can. I need to finish this amazing project. 

Immersing myself into Kim's whirlwind life with Kay does help. I guess that's all I can do at this point. I wish I had the answers to this predicament we all face at one time or another. Any advice would be greatly appreciated by me and other writers with this same situation.

Thank you Alex and all the IWSG team members. WE all appreciate your hard work and support. 

Have a wonderful day everyone!