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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Book Cover is In!

Hi Readers:

Not to sound like Steve Martin in The Jerk when he ran through the street with the White Pages yelling, "The new phone books are here!  The new phone books are here!", but I've just gotten the cover for my novel from the designer and I like it. 

This book is a romantic comedy/chick lit/inspirational, but the next one I plan to release will be a Christmas story called A Shepherd's Song.  Since that will be an entirely different genre, I thought that perhaps blocking the title and my name and carrying that over to my other books will tie them all together.  I'll probably change the colors and fonts to suit the book though.   

Here is my cover.  What do you think of it?  I'm shooting for a release date of July 26, which if you didn't know it is St. Anne's Day.  St. Anne We learned this prayer in high school and it figures in the book:

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

I went to an all girls, Catholic school and some of the girls needed prom dates.  Sr. Jane Frances taught the class this prayer, and all the girls got dates for the prom.  St. Anne is the patron of single women. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some Great Feedback & Praise for Second Set of Eyes

Well, I'm progressing with the publication of my novel, St. Anne's Day.  All the experts recommend having your manuscript professionally edited before publishing.  I searched for an editor and found one with impeccable credentials and experience.  Plus her website has the same template that I used for a former website--I figured she had good taste like me (ha ha).  The editor was Cynthia Sherwood at


I sent her my first chapter to evaluate it for an estimate and was I pleasantly surprised to get this message from her:

However, and I should preface this by saying I've never said this to a potential client before, you need to decide whether it's necessary to hire someone. Though it's possible the rest isn't as clean as the first chapter, it really does look like it's in great shape. I hate for you to spend money on something that may be only marginally helpful. But, of course, if you decide to go ahead with it, I would love to take you on as a client. Let me know what you think.

Not only does she have great credentials, she has integrity!  What a gem I found.  I'm ecstatic that the novel is in such good shape and doubly pleased to find someone with such depth of character that she would actually advise me that I don't really need her services. 

You can bet I will be consulting her in the future for any editing projects I may have.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Six Line Sunday

This is a scene from St. Anne's Day, my soon-to-be published novel, when Anne, the main character, and Gerry, her love interest, take to the dance floor during a wedding they attend. 

Little by little, Anne melted into Gerry’s body until there was no longer any distance between them. The stiletto heels made her taller, elevating her head so that it came to his chest. She rested it next to his heart, closed her eyes, and inhaled his intoxicating cologne. She could feel the strength of his muscles beneath the gabardine suit as he held her tightly. The heat from his body penetrated her and fused them together. She would be content to spend eternity like this.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Daddy of a Plan Redux

Great news! The people I interviewed for an article last year called to say that the editors at Woman's World magazine saw my article online and are interested on doing another article on them. They are thrilled and so am I! This is one of my favorite articles that I've written. It's a beautiful story.  

In case you missed it in Northern Connection magazine last June, here it is again.  Keep the tissues handy!

A Daddy of a Plan 

Like most new fathers, Bruce Russell beams with pride when he talks about his daughter, Julie. What’s different is that Russell, of Ross Twp., is 61 and it took nearly 40 years to meet his child.

In 1971, when he was heading into his senior year at Slippery Rock University, his former girlfriend, who had broken up with him the month before, called to tell him she was pregnant with his child. After much consideration, they decided it would be best to give the baby up for adoption. The child was a girl and Bruce never got to see her. “That was something I really regretted,” he said.

Bruce resumed his life and eventually married his wife Karen when they were both in their forties. “I’ve known about the baby since our third date,” Karen said. “When we started dating, we both sensed that this relationship was going to be lasting, and Bruce confided in me about her.” Besides Karen the only others who knew about the baby were Bruce’s parents. “My brother was in the service at that time, and we decided that he didn’t need anything else to worry about,” Bruce said.

Then last August everything changed. “I picked up the phone and it was the Pittsburgh Children’s Home” Karen said. “I assumed it was one of Bruce’s clients. When I asked if I could help, the woman said they could only speak to Bruce. I immediately called him at work.”

When Karen told him the Pittsburgh Children’s Home was looking for him, he knew exactly why. “I’d never stopped thinking about or loving my baby, and I had always had this gut feeling that if she is like me at all, she’ll contact me,” Bruce said. After Bruce called them back and verified that he was the Bruce Russell they were looking for, he remembers telling the woman, “You don’t know what good news this is.”

His daughter, Julie Morse, a professional bassoonist and music teacher who is married with two children and lives in Phoenix, then contacted him by e-mail. In the initial message she told Bruce about her life, and the similarities between hers and Bruce’s are uncanny. Julie related that she had been placed with loving parents who lived in the Pittsburgh area until she was five. Her family then moved to Baltimore. She told Bruce that she was athletic and loved music and had to decide between the two when she entered Ithaca College. “What was amazing is that I always loved athletics and music too. I’m a phys ed major. I grew up near Albany and moved to Pittsburgh. She was born in Pittsburgh and attended college in Ithaca and lived near Albany for a while and even chose to work in the Catskills just as I had,” Bruce said. “She wrote that she often thought of becoming a marine biologist, and I don’t know how many times I’ve told Karen that if I had my life to do over, I think I’d be a marine biologist.”

Another similarity is their sense of humor. In one of the paragraphs Julie told Bruce that she often fantasized that her biological father had been a member of the rock band Rush. “I burst out laughing, and realized that like me she often resorts to humor,” Bruce said.

They e-mailed each other every day for a month and then exchanged photos. And the similarities between the photos they swapped are enough to induce chills. Although the relationship was developing smoothly, both moved cautiously. They were both conscious of not slighting Julie’s adoptive parents whom Bruce feels he owes a debt of gratitude. “When I heard about all her accomplishments and the things her parents had done for her, I knew we’d made the right decision. I could have never given her the wonderful life that they did.” Bruce has written her parents a letter expressing his appreciation.

Then Bruce and Karen began to tell family and friends about their new-found daughter and her family. When asked how difficult that was, Bruce said: “I was so happy, I told anyone who had a pulse. I swear I was beaming so much Karen was suffering scorch marks.” His only regret is that his parents will never know their granddaughter. His father passed away a few years ago and his mother has Alzheimer’s disease. “After the adoption, my parents never mentioned it ever again. I think if they had, it would have made it real, and they would have missed her too much.”

This past January Bruce and Karen flew to Phoenix to meet Julie; her husband, Saul; son Ian, 11; and daughter Evelyn, 8. They were met at the airport. “The first time I saw her, I looked into her eyes, and it was like I saw myself looking back at me,” Bruce said.

“I had planned to video the meeting,” Karen said with a laugh, “but I started crying and the video is a disaster. All you see is feet and hear everyone sniffling and crying.”

The Russells spent four days with Julie and her family doing things that fathers and grandparents do. “I hate to make it sound like it was all rainbows and roses, but it was,” said Karen. Bruce was mindful of how this was affecting Karen too. “I’m now sharing him with someone else,” Karen said, “but he’s kept me in the loop on everything, showing me every e-mail. Bruce has changed. There’s a side of him I’ve never seen before. He seems much more at peace.”

There was a moment during their visit to Phoenix that stands out with Bruce. “Julie and I stood in front of a mirror and looked at ourselves together, and I just felt complete. My heart got bigger.” In addition to e-mails, they talk every Sunday and the calls last for over an hour.

This month Julie and her family are coming to Baltimore to visit with her parents, and the Russells are traveling there too. They hope that in the future Julie will come to Pittsburgh because family, friends and neighbors would love to meet her.

In one of her e-mails to Bruce, Julie referred to herself as a mistake. Bruce forbade her to ever say that again. “I told her that she may not have been in my plans, but you certainly were in God’s.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 

Letitia took Gerry’s name and address. When she asked for his insurance card, he stood, holding the towel to his hand, and tried to reach into his pants pocket to extract his wallet but couldn’t.

“Anne, could you get into my pants?”

Anne’s eyes grew wide. “Pardon me?”

“Hell,” Letitia mumbled. “Now that is what I’d call one of them ‘offers you can’t refuse.’”

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Depositing Regularly 

Last month I wrote about wisely investing your trust. Not to belabor the financial metaphor, but this month I want to discuss something related to investing—that is the need for making regular deposits. In November, the Penn State sexual abuse scandal blasted onto the stage, unfolding like a Shakespearean tragedy. I must qualify myself as biased. I didn’t attend Penn State but my husband, son-in-law, nephew, and numerous friends and relatives have. Currently, my youngest son is a sophomore there. During the last 32 years, I’ve visited State College numerous times and have had nothing but wonderful times there with the Penn Staters I have met. It truly has been Happy Valley for me.

While the “Penn State family” has been horrified by the child abuse that allegedly took place there, many were also saddened that Joe Paterno, who passed away on January 22, was consequently fired. During the holidays, the scandal naturally was a hot topic. A clear divide emerged about the justification for firing Paterno. Those in the “Penn State family” most frequently offered the opinion that if Joe knew something and didn’t do it, he should have been fired, but they just couldn’t imagine him not doing the right thing. Those who were not Penn States were less inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Why is that?

I think the Penn Staters’ view goes beyond school loyalty—to something important--that if we were wise, we would all do. And that is to make regular deposits into your integrity account. The truth will either vindicate or indict Paterno. However, for those of us who are Penn Staters, we’ve studied Paterno, knew his deeds and have admired him not only for his success on the field but also for his integrity. He regularly made significant deposits into his integrity account. Joe Posnanski, a journalist with Sports Illustrated, moved to State College last fall to objectively study Paterno for a book he is writing about him. Posnanski wrote this blog in November that helps to explain the feelings of Penn Staters:

I have thought about Joe Paterno, his strengths, his flaws, his triumphs, his failures, his core, pretty much nonstop for months now. I have talked to hundreds of people about him in all walks of life. I have read 25 or 30 books about him, countless articles. I’m not saying I know Joe Paterno. I’m saying I know a whole lot about him. And what I know is complicated. But, beyond complications — and I really believe this with all my heart — there’s this, and this is exclusively my opinion: Joe Paterno has lived a profoundly decent life. 

He has improved the lives of countless people. I know — I’ve talked to hundreds of them. Almost every day I walk by the library that he and his wife, Sue, built. I walk by the religious center that tries to bring people together, and his name is on the list of major donors. I hear the stories, the countless stories, of the kindnesses that came naturally to him, of the way he stuck with people in their worst moments, of the belief he had that everybody could do a little bit better — as a football player, as a student, as a human being. I’m not going to tell you these stories now, because you can’t hear them. Nobody can hear them in the howling.

Clearly, Paterno has made countless deposits into his integrity account. What about you and me? Do we have a healthy integrity account? If someone were to accuse you of a misdeed, would you have enough good will in reserve to preserve your reputation and provoke people to say, “They would never do that!” I hope I do.

I tried to recall if there had ever been a time when I was accused of something and what had happened. While this may seem inconsequential to you, to me it was important—it must have been; this interlude happened more than 30 years ago.

During the last week of my senior year of high school at Saint Benedict Academy in 1978, we girls were suffering with spring fever and severe senioritis. Undoubtedly, this led to the students becoming a bit rowdy as we neared graduation. One afternoon during the change of classes, things got very loud as only a hallway packed with 250 teenage girls could get. Someone was wailing, and our principal, Sr. Kathleen, thought I was the one responsible. “Janice,” she scolded, “settle down and stop screaming.” Not one to be assertive, I uncharacteristically defended myself. “It wasn’t me, Sister,” I said. “I wasn’t screaming.” (Truly, I wasn’t.) She looked dubiously at me while I headed off to class.

What happened next left a deep impression on me. Later that afternoon, as I was sitting at my lunch table, Sister Kathleen came to me. “I want to apologize for reprimanding you before,” she said. “If you say, you weren’t screaming, I believe you.”

I took Trigonomety and Calculus in senior year, and if pressed today, I could not remember how to solve a Trig problem for the life of me, but her trusting my integrity I remember. My admiration of her for having the humility and forthrightness to come to me not only greatly increased but this experience also taught me the value of regularly making deposits into your integrity account.

Six months ago, would you have dreamed Paterno would die under these circumstances? Who knows what you or I may some day face? Build up your integrity account now with good deeds and exemplary behavior; you never know when there may be a run on your bank.