Thursday, August 30, 2012

Knowing Your Limits

Hi Reader!

One aspect of wisdom that some acquire with age is knowing your limits.  So many people today tell us that warm, fuzzy platitude:  You can do anything you want.  Not to rain on your parade, but that's not really true.  I'm all for shooting for the stars, but you also have to be realistic.  When I was growing up, I wanted to be the first female NHL player--even though I couldn't skate.  I eventually realized my limitations, that I would never be a hockey star, but I resigned myself that I could still be a fan.

Aristotle said: Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. One person who could have used a little of that wisdom is the woman in Spain who was recently in the news.  Perhaps you have heard about her?  She was the elderly woman who attempted to "restore" the century-old painting of Christ.  She had no training, and as far as I know, she hadn't even slept at a Holiday Inn. But take a look at her handiwork:

Courtesy of the AP

She must have trained at the Mr. Bean School of Art Restoration. 






There are reports that she was quite elderly so I won't be too hard on her, but this illustrates my point--it's great to dream, but know your limits. --

We can't all be good at everything.  There is no shame in backing off from a task that you are not equipped to carry out.  For instance, writers, unless you are a grammar guru, you may want to hire an editor.  Unless you are familiar with word processing programs, it might be wise to hire a formatter.  Unless you are a graphic designer or are willing to invest the time to learn the craft, you may want to consider hiring someone to do your cover. S

If you are looking for someone to do a cover for you, I hear tell there's a very talented Spanish woman who works very cheaply.

September Song

Hi Readers!

If you are a Northern Connection magazine reader and you saw the piece on the release of my novel, St. Anne's Day, in this month's issue and decided to visit my blog, thanks for stopping by.  I'm very grateful that the novel is getting great reviews--many from people I didn't even know were reading it.  Thanks so much to anyone who has posted a review.  If you are interested in learning more about the book or how to purchase it, click on the links to the right.

Also, if you are a member of Goodreads, I'm hosting a Giveaway on the site where you can register to win one of three signed copies.  If you are a reader, but have never heard of Goodreads, you may want to check it out.   

This time of the year always make me feel a bit melancholy.  School is back in session.  Daylight grows shorter and the carefree days of summer are reduced to nothing but memories or photos in an album or postings on Facebook.

However, I always remind myself about something I learned in September of 1978.  I had graduated from high school that previous May, but my first semester at Duff's Business School didn't commence until September 25.   It was the first time in my life that I could remember that I wasn't in school come September.  And you know what?  Summer really doesn't end when we flip the calendar on August.  There are many days of glorious sunshine left, flowers are still blooming, and the oppressive heat has diminished.   

So take heart, summer doesn't end until later this month and even then, fall is also beautiful.  Life is too short to be sad.  Enjoy reading St. Anne's Day!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Six Sunday

Hi Readers:

It's Six Sunday so here's a little excerpt from St. Anne's Day to savor while you sip your coffee.  Careful now, laughing could make cappuccino squirt out your nose!

In this snippet, Gerry tells his elderly mother Peg, who is recovering from heart surgery, that the person who usually keeps her company while he runs his business Mac's Place, a bar, can't come on Friday night.  Peg offers another suggestion, Anne, her nurse--the girl she is trying to match Gerry with.


“Oh, no! Not Ruth,” Peg said, slamming down her fork and eyeing Gerry. She’ll spend the whole night telling me about her diverticulitis, how the gas just rolls through her bowels. She came to the hospital and went on and on so long, I almost reached back and pulled the plug on myself to put me out of my misery. Get someone else.” 

“And who do you suggest, Mother?” 

“Anne. She never has any dates.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Books--Sharing is Caring!

Hi Readers:

There is a little phrase I heard from a preschooler a while back that was so pithy, simple and wise, I just couldn't forget it.  Sharing is Caring.   What do you share with others?  A smile? A joke? Your bad attitude--I hope not!  I like to share books. Sharing books is one of life's little pleasures.  I've shared books with many people during my lifetime.  At present, I regularly share recommendations and swap books with my mother, sister, daughter, sister-in-law, neighbors, and co-worker.  Sharing books is a great way to strengthen a relationship.  I can still remember being in my grade school library and perusing the shelves of Nancy Drew books with my best friend and recommending my favorites to her.

Studies show that most people find their books from recommendations made by others.  Sharing books has undergone great changes over the last ten years with the rise of the Internet.  Sites like Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing allow readers to recommend and review books with thousands of people.  If you are a reader, you should really check out one of those sites and join in the sharing fun.

 BookCrossing is another fun way to share books. I've never done this but a fitness instructor told me about it.    You register on the BookCrossing site where you print out and place an ID label in your book.  Then you release that book it into the wild.  (I'm singing Born Free now!)  You can then check into the BookCrossing site and track where your book is.  More than 1.2 million book lovers around the world participate in this book sharing community.  Perhaps I will release a copy of St. Anne's Day into the wild and track it like it is a migratory bird!



The sharing of St. Anne's Day has already begun, and I thank all of you who have read the book, recommended it to others, or have posted a review about it. 

To date, I know that people in the following states are now reading it:

Washington
Oregon
Florida
California
Georgia
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
Kansas
New York
Ohio

I know of one person who has read it in Canada, and yesterday I shipped my first copy to Spain! I hope it goes viral.  If you are reading St. Anne's Day in a place other than those mentioned above, please send me a message.

Thanks again for getting the word out and for posting reviews.  I hope to put up photos from the launch party in the next few days so be sure to check back.

Remember, sharing is caring!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Party's Over

Hi Reader,

Well, I just finished sweeping up and clearing all those red Solo cups that were littering the place.  It's been great fun being a part of the Beach Book Blast, and I hope you had a great time as well.

Even more importantly, I hope you enjoy St. Anne's Day.  If you haven't picked up your copy yet, check out the links to the right.  Also, thanks to all (and there were way more than I expected) who have purchased the book.  If you like it, please post a review, and let me know that you did because I'd like to mail you out a St. Anne's Day magnet in appreciation.

Also, be sure to check out this blog to keep up-to-date on the latest fun and publishing news.

Now on to the goodies.

Denise Z. won the St. Anne's Day T-shirt.  Try not to be too envious of her good fortune.

I'm still endeavoring to learn the name of the lucky person who won the $25 Red Lobster certificate on the main BBB site.

Susan Catherine Mahoney won the highly coveted "Pittsburghese" mug from the FB party.  She will soon be speaking like a native "Picksburgher" before yinz can say Stillers.

Have a happy Sunday and be sure to keep in touch.  I love hearing from you.

Janice

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beach Book Blast - Day 4

Hi Reader,

As they say, all good things must come to an end--but that doesn't make saying good bye any easier.  I'd love to remain in touch with you after the BBB ends. Please sign up for my email list or newsletter so I can keep you informed about the latest newss about St. Anne's Day and the upcoming release on my Christmas novel, A Shepherd's Song, where I write from the perspective of a young man--yes, I know, I need therapy!

For some stupid reason (my stupidity) the contest ended a day early for the T-shirt.  Sorry about that.  I will be notifying the winner tomorrow.  

Anyway, last night I hosted a launch party for the book at my home.  It was great fun and served some dishes that relate to the book, which I will be posting at a later date.  One of the fun things we did was to play Peg trivia.

For those of you who haven't yet read St. Anne's Day, Peg sometimes steals the show with her quips and antics.  We've played Anne trivia so I thought we'd give Peg equal time.  Look for Gerry trivia in a future post as well. 

Peg Trivia

1.  This show tried to fit people in round holes.

2.  This Peggy's star is rising while her TV boss is the "Don" Juan of advertising.

3.  This Peggy could "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan."

4.  This popular Peg was immortalized in music by the rock band named for a sex toy. 

5. Before there Kristi Yamaguchi and Dorothy Hamill, this Peggy skated her way into our hearts.

6.  This Peg put up with a lot in her TV marriage to Al.

7.  To most of the world this Iron Lady is know as Margaret, but intimates may have called her Peg.

8.  Peg is a nickname for Margaret, which is derived from the Greek word for_____?

9.  Peggy's Cove, which sits on St. Margarets Bay is located in which Canadian province? 

10.  If you are a pirate with a wooden appendage, you might be called _____?

11. This Buddy Holly song was originally titled Cindy Lou

12.  This Peggy once served as Ronald Reagan's speechwriter.

13.  This pretty Peggy caused the Petticoat Scandal during which U.S. President's administration?

14.  This Peggy was a regular on TV game shows like To Tell the Truth and The Match Game.

15.  This Peggy was cool and "Mod" on this 70s TV show.

Answers:

1.  Square Pegs; 2.  Peggy Olson; 3.  Peggy Lee; 4.  Steely Dan;  5.  Peggy Fleming; 6.  Bundy;  7.  Margaret Thatcher;  8.  Pearl;  9.  Nova Scotia; 10.  peg leg;  11.  Peggy Sue;  12.  Peggy Noonan; 13.  Peggy O'Neal;  14.  Peggy Cass;  15.  Peggy Lipton

Friday, August 17, 2012

Beach Book Blast -- Day 3

Wow, Beach Book Blaster, that was some party last night!

I had so much fun, and I'm still trying to get that confetti out of my hair.

Writers are a crazy bunch of people.  We sit at the computer all day listening to the imaginary people in our heads speak to us while never really knowing if what we are creating will touch our readers, REAL PEOPLE.  It was great to finally get to meet REAL PEOPLE! 

When I conducted my VIP launch for my Anne Fans (those who have signed up for my email and newsletters and who have helped me along the way) on July 26, the actual St. Anne's Day, we played some Anne trivia.  Click here if you'd like to try your hand at it.  

While Anne Lyons, the main character of St. Anne's Day is my new favorite Anne of all times, I was wondering who your favorite Anne of all times is?  And why?

We know Henry VIII lost his head over a pair of Annes--or I should say they lost their heads. Is it Anne of Green Gables, Raggedy Anne, Annie Lennox or maybe someone named Anne like a friend or grandmother who meant a lot to you.  Please tell us about your favorite Anne.

Don't forget to register for the raffles at the main BBB site and here on my blog.  Also, don't forget to stock up on the books offered by all the amazing authors participating in the BBB.  You can get mine by clicking at the right.

Remember, When it's St. Anne's Day, it's your day too!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beach Book Blast - Day 2

Surf's Up, Beach Book Blasters!

Welcome to Day 2 of the Beach Book Blast.  I hope you are having as much fun as I am.  Be sure to mark your calendar to drop by the Facebook party tonight which starts at 8.  All of the authors participating in the BBB will be there.   I'll be on a from 9-9:10, and I'm looking forward to meeting you in real time.  We are also giving away goodies!  So pour yourself a cold one, slather on the sunscreen, and move your beach chair over to the party tonight--best thing is no hangovers!

Nothing goes better with the beach than romance.  So let's talk some love!  This is an excerpt from St. Anne's Day when Peg asks Anne if she believes in true love.

Peg grabbed her arm, her grip surprisingly strong. “Don’t laugh. Say the prayer. Your day will come, Anne. Just wait. You’ll see. You’ll find your true love.” 

“True love? I think that went out of style years ago.” 

“Oh, no. It never goes out of style. What does St. Paul say—‘Love never fails.’” 

Anne wished she could be as sure as Peg, but she’d seen and experienced too much to believe in fairy tales anymore. 

“You believe in true love, don’t you, Honey?” 

She thought of her parents and how they seemed made for each other. “I guess I believe it can happen for some people. But today . . . I don’t know. Times have changed. It seems rather old-fashioned.” 

Like Peg, I have some questions for you:  Do you believe in true love?   If so, do you know of any examples?

See you at the FB party tonight, and don't forget to enter the raffle at the main BBB site, where we have a tidal wave of prizes, and to the right where you can register to win the St. Anne T-shirt.  

Remember, When it's St. Anne's Day, it's your day too!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beach Book Blast - Day 1

Welcome Beach Bunnies!


The Beach Book Blast is a great way to wring the summer of all its fun before we head into fall. I'm happy to share my romantic comedy, St. Anne's Day, with you.  I've been writing for a while, but St. Anne's Day is the first book that I've released.  I've already had some readers tell me that this is a great beach book.  So I hope you take advantage of the reduced price and select St. Anne' Day to read while you sink your toes in the sand and soak up those last rays of sunshine.   Links are to the right and will take you directly to either Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords to purchase it. Also, be sure to check out the other books featured at the Beach Blast too. 

A little bit about the title.  The inspiration for it and for the book comes from something that happened while I was in high school.  I went to an all-girls, Catholic high school, and when it came time for the prom, some of my classmates still needed dates.  When our social studies teacher heard us discussing who we could get to take them (brothers, male cousins and friends were targeted species), Sister suggested they say the St. Anne prayer.  We had never heard of it, but it goes like this:


Dear St. Anne, get me a man as fast as you can!

Well, we said this every day before class and every girl who wanted a date for the prom got one.   This must be one powerful prayer.  Recently, one of the readers I found on Twitter who volunteered to preview this book for me before I released it emailed me to tell me that she started to say the St. Anne prayer and has since found herself in a very happy relationship. 

In that vein, I would like to know if you have ever used any "secret weapon"--your world famous cookie recipe, that seductive perfume, padded bra?--to snag a significant other?   



******Also, don't forget to enter my raffle to win a St. Anne's Day T-shirt*****

Be sure to visit the Beach Book Blast site and those of my fellow authors, where the fun continues! 

  Remember, When it's St. Anne's Day, it's your day too!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Emotion Post Game Show

I don't know what your family is like, but after every event, my husband says my mom, my sister, and I give what he calls "the wrap-up."  It usually is a phone call to discuss what we think the other people at the event we just attended were thinking or feeling. The purpose of the wrap-up is not to be gossipy or catty, but to assess the emotional temperature of the others to make sure everything is OK.

Years of post-game emotional analysis have trained me well for being a writer.  To engage the reader, you must engage their emotions.  When I wrote St. Anne's Day, I was conscious of trying suck my readers into the story by appealing to their emotions. 

While my family and I are good at emotional analysis, Becca Puglisi is the master.  She and Angela Ackerman have written the book on emotions--literally.  Their book, The Emotion Thesaurus, explores emotions and their implications and is an indisensible aid for writers.




Today, I'm delighted to welcome Becca to The Writing Lane as a guest blogger.  Take it away, Becca.


Must-Have Emotions in a Story 

We all know that emotion is key in keeping the reader engaged. And for your readers to be emotionally engaged, they’ve got to empathize with the main character and feel what he’s feeling. When it comes to drawing readers in, all emotions aren’t created equal. I’ve found that certain emotions tug harder at my heart strings. These are the ones I want to make sure I include in every story.

1. Desire. Everybody wants something: love, wealth, an Olympic medal, a Red Ryder BB gun. Some people call these goals, but I prefer to call them desires. Goals are fleeting, easily set aside, and lacking in emotion. But desires are different. They’re emotion-driven. When we desire something, we crave it. We will go to great links to get the object of our desire, and when we’re thwarted--oh, the drama! Give your hero a desire so great that he pursues it the length of your novel, in every scene, with every decision, and I’ll be right there with him, hoping that he gets what he’s after.

2. Frustration (Desire’s Seriously Ticked-Off Cousin). If the hero achieves his desire by page 25, the story’s over because he’s gotten what he wanted, and so has the reader. Frustration creates tension, which creates serious reader angst. It’s one of the emotions that keep readers reading. Of course, nobody wants to be frustrated all the time. By all means, throw us a bone once in awhile. Make it seem like everything’s working out, then yank out the rug again. Utilize desire and frustration in tandem to suck your readers in to a story they will read to the very last word.

3. Doubt. Doubt works really well because it’s universal. Everyone doubts him or herself. Everyone struggles with insecurity. To see the main character experiencing self-doubt is just real. It changes him from the hero on the page to Regular Joe Who’s Just Like Me. And it’s another possible roadblock to him achieving his desire, which is always good.

4. Fear. I like fear in a novel because it’s primal. We all know that blood-pumping, heart-jumping, hyper-aware state where we’re not sure whether to run away or hit somebody really hard. Fear involves danger. No one wants to be in danger or to watch someone else encounter it. When your character expresses true fear, it registers with readers. It motivates them to keep reading to make sure he’s going to be okay.

5. Hope. If I invest in a character for 500 pages only to find a sad, depressing, or demoralizing ending, I am not a happy camper. Oh no, I am not. This doesn’t mean that I want rainbows and sunshine. I like realistic stories. I like unpredictable and gritty and oh-my-gosh-how-is-he--going-to-recover-from-this? But for me to be satisfied with a read, it has to, at some level, be hopeful. Some good has to come from the suffering. Some growth has to occur. Then, the frustration and doubt and fear are worthwhile. I have muscled through them to get to what motivates and speaks to all of us: hope.

When it comes to emotions that suck me into novels, this list doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. What about you? What emotions are must-haves in the stories you read?




 Becca Puglisi is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with 75 different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. The Emotion Thesaurus is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and the PDF can be purchased directly from her blog.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's Nice to Be Nice to the Nice

Hi Everyone,


In case you don't have access to Northern Connection magazine, here is my article for this month.


  Just a Thought: It’s Nice to be Nice to the Nice? 

A few weeks ago, you may have seen on the news the story about bus monitor Karen Klein, who was bullied mercilessly by the middle school students in her charge. The lack of empathy and height of cruelty from the teens on the bus was appalling, and it reminded me of something that happened when I was in grade school at St. Athanasius back in the late 1960s. 

There was a boy in our class who stuttered. I wasn’t aware of it, but, apparently, some of the other boys had been mocking him. That must have come to Sister’s attention because one afternoon, Sister sent the boy who stuttered to the office on an errand. After he left, Sister said she wanted to have a “little talk” with us. She then proceeded to call down the wrath of God onto the classroom. She chastised us for being so cruel, told us we were failing to live up to our Christian faith, asked us to put ourselves in the stutterer’s shoes and feel what he was feeling. 

Worst of all, told us that as the stutterer was a beloved child of God, we were belittling one of God’s own creatures. She also told us that if she ever heard any of us mock the stutterer again, or if any of us breathed a word of her “little talk” with us to the boy in question, we would be in big trouble not only with her, but with our parents and with God. General Sherman would have been proud of Sister; she took no prisoners. 
General Sherman

I had never made fun of the stutterer, but if I had any inclination to do so in the future, I dared not. Many people joke about Catholic guilt, but it can sometimes be a good thing! I can’t recall in which grade this happened, either first or second, but I can never forget how bad I felt and empathetic toward my stuttering classmate afterward. It must have made an impression on everyone else as well because until we graduated from eighth grade, I never, ever heard anyone make fun of him again. 

The Karen Klein situation brings to light a conundrum: Why should those teens, or anyone else for that matter, be kind to another human being? I can understand not promoting a specific religion in public schools, but when you take God or some moral code like the Ten Commandments out of the equation, what reason is there for being good? Because it feels good? Well, sometimes it feels really good to be bad. When you are angry, it feels much more satisfying to lash out than to hold your tongue. When you want something, it feels much better to satisfy that urge than to do deny yourself. When you don’t like someone, it feels much better to gossip about them or tells lies to make them look bad than to keep quiet. So being nice because it will make you feel good is at best a wishy-washy reason. 

For someone who doesn’t adhere to a moral code, the only reason is the Frank Burns reason from the TV series M.A.S.H.: It’s nice to be nice to the nice. That is a flimsy foundation. When you see people lie, cheat, abuse one another and still get ahead, being nice for no reason makes no sense, which explains something that I recently learned. 

Ten Commandments
Which of all faiths or religious philosophies has the worst record in the U.S. for retaining members? According to a report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (2008), the group that experiences the greatest loss of adherents is atheists, with only 30 percent of people born into that type of philosophy still believing that way when they are an adult. Surprisingly, Catholics retain 68 percent of its members, only bettered by Mormons at 70 percent, Greek Orthodox at 73 percent, Muslims and Jewish at 76 percent and Hindus at the top with 84 percent. Perhaps being nice for the hell of it just doesn’t sustain you over time and that’s why so many atheists renounce their ways. 

I’m not here to debate the merits of faith or disparage atheists, and I can understand atheists when they say they don’t believe in God because they have no hard evidence of His existence. But how are parents, administrators and the like to provide a reason to the bullies in the world like those who tormented Karen Klein for being good? When people still want to keep the commandments in schools, can atheists understand that to those of us who have a faith being nice just for the sake of being nice doesn’t make much sense to us either? 

*****************************************************

Update on St. Anne's Day:

I miss not being in touch with you on a daily basis, but I wanted to let you know the progress on the book.  To my delight, I'm getting great feedback.  

Also, Tom Pollard of the website www.popularpittsburgh.com, featured the book on the website and has made it available in his eMall.  If you haven't visited his site, you should.  It has lots of helpful and fun Pittsburgh information on it.  

Also, the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh kindly posted about me as well on their website  http://www.osbpgh.org/main_newsevents.html

The paperback version should be available on Amazon in a day or so.  I will keep you posted.