Be a Memory Maker

While driving home from Winn Dixie the other day, a familiar old song niggled my brain and I couldn’t hold it in. In the passenger seat, hubby joined in and we sang it to the end. Hubs smiled and said, “Did I harmonate good with you?”

I had to laugh. Jim has a gift for butchering the English language by slightly altering or making up totally new words on the fly. But, this gift—if you could call it that—didn’t develop by accident. Nope. It was passed down in his genes from his mother.

My mother-in-law passed away over twenty years ago, yet I think of her often, especially on her birthday, which would have been today. She was a special lady, and sometimes the sweet memories of her becomes a nostalgic lump in my throat, making it hard to swallow. Tears brim my eyes, and I’ll admit to sometimes letting them fall unashamedly. Love does that, and when you think about it, it’s a beautiful thing.

Speaking of the linguistic gift… Most people pour oil into their car’s engine. Not my mother-in-law. She used earl. Remember way back when we used to buy film for our cameras? Mom bought fill-um for hers. Oh, and here’s some sage advice from my MIL:  don’t ever put a plastic bag over your head. Know why? You’ll smothercate!

Little things etched themselves deep in my heart. When my first child was born, my mother-in-law held him close, her eyes misting, and said, “Thank you for giving me a grandson.” It was a sweet and tender moment between us.

Mom had a little problem with her weight, but kept a candy stash in her dresser drawer, away from my father-in-law’s watchful eye. She shared her secret with my daughter and they would sneak a private snack together with shushes and giggles.

My little girl loved miniature tea sets, and Mom made it a point to present her with gifts to add to her collection. Ever thoughtful, she seemed to know exactly how to make a child smile.

Most of all, I’ll remember my mother-in-law’s hearty, infectious laugh forever. She threw back her head and laughed with her whole being. I loved it. Once, she and my father-in-law came to visit when my youngest son, Jesse, was about four years old. My dad was present also. We were standing outside talking when Jesse looked up and said, “How ‘bout that. Two grandpas and a lady grandpa.” My mother-in-law had a good, long belly-laugh that set off a chain reaction. Good times.

I hope when I’m long gone my memory will be the lump in my loved ones’ throats. That I will have made a difference and my presence will be missed.

Yay, I’ve launched my first audiobook!

Most of us like to dip our toes into the water before diving in. We want to feel it out and see if we’re comfortable with what lies ahead before making the committment.

It was no different for me with diving into a new venture of producing audiobook versions of my existing repertoire of novels, etc. For my toe-dipping experience I chose a novelette titled, One and Only. I’m super excited about it and am glad I took the plunge.

Here you go. I hope you like it. Have a listen, then click the audiobook cover to visit ONE AND ONLY on audible.com (Also available on Amazon.)

The cat that came for a nap

Let me preface by telling you that we own two cats and this guy isn’t one of them.

Hubby and I were standing in the carport when a cat strolled toward us and began weaving between our ankles and rubbing against our legs. Not only was he affectionate, but also very vocal with kitty trills, singsong meows, and a host of other cat conversation.

When hubs opened the door to go inside, the cat zoomed past him and walked around the house as if he owned the place. He ate a bit of our cats’ food, found their litter pan, and used the “facilities.” After exploring the whole house from one end to the other, he decided a nap was in order.

Judging by his clean and ultra-soft coat, this kitty was loved and well-taken care of. He wore a red collar with a little bell hanging from it, but didn’t have any kind of identification tag. I uploaded his photo on the NextDoor app and hoped his owner would see it. Also, I decided to bring him to a local vet and see if he was chipped.

Turns out, Simba was indeed chipped! But no one responded to the phone number associated with the chip. I had no choice but to take the cat back home with me, which was okay. I needed a nap and Simba did too. He cuddled with me as if we were long-lost buddies.

Lo and behold, someone recognized Simba’s photo on the NextDoor app, notified the owner, and the pair were reunited. I kidded the young lady who came to pick Simba up and told her the cat had cheated on her and slept with me. We had a good laugh, and Simba went home where he belonged.

Simba, claiming the top spot on the cat tree.

Dear Edward…

Don’t you love getting handwritten letters? Especially from someone who piques your romantic interest? Such was the case for Special Forces lieutenant Edward Giordano in the romance novel, A Soldier Finds His Way.

After saving the the heroine’s life, then being separated from her for a period of time, he receives a sweet note, inviting him to her family’s home for a meal on Easter Sunday. Her tenderness and sincerity – not to mention, beauty – intrigues him. But, having guarded his heart for so long, the gruff and tough soldier has a hard time dealing with the softer emotions that swirl through his entire being as he reads…

I think of you often. I would like to see you. The words bounced around his head. He couldn’t turn them off. Our laughter echoes through… He stopped and pulled the letter out of his pocket and searched for the line. Our laughter echoes through my mind and makes me happy all over again.

Bottom line? He’d be a bonehead not to go, even if opening his heart might lead to pain and disillusionment.


A Soldier Finds His Way is book one in the Forever a Soldier Series.

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

A Soldier Finds His Way – regularly priced $3.99.

ON SALE for .99 Sept. 1-6, 2020


Do you enjoy reading sweet romance novels? Great! Click HERE or on the image below to check out some sweet deals. Are you a Kindle Unlimited subscriber? Even better, as all of these books are enrolled in the program. Enjoy.

Pulling the Plug on Social Media

It’s official. I’m out of Facebook and Twitter for good.

Why?

When I landed book deals with a couple of publishers several years ago, they recommended I join some social media sites to a) get my name out there, b) interact with readers/fans, and c) promote my work. There were no real instructions as to how to accomplish those three tasks once my accounts were set up, and for me, vague recommendations just don’t cut it.

I’ll admit, I did enjoy the cat videos, Forrest Gump memes, and the occasional Chuck Norris jokes (Before going to bed, the Boogie Man checks the closet for Chuck Norris…). Photos of friend’s gardens, their grandchildren, and pets sleeping in crazy positions made me smile. But the bombardment of political opinions and re-posts of un-researched and un-true news, quotes, and quasi “facts” more than tipped the scale in the opposite direction.

Most of all, for ME, social media was a vortex that sucked large quantities of time and gave little in return. If I was writing and the muse just wasn’t tickling my creative side, I’d pop over to FB to…to…to…I dunno. Certainly not to find inspiration. It had become an addiction, plain and simple. A go-to place to relieve boredom and veg out.

I judge no one. If you’re happy with social media, wonderful. I’m glad you enjoy it. Really.

I’ll still be here. Hanging out at the house. Writing. You know… Living large. (LOL)

Until next time…

Irene

The Traveler

A traveler came through a small country town and brought with him news from around the globe. Citizens gathered in the courthouse square to listen as the man spoke for hours about events occurring in places they would never visit and people they would never meet.

From morning to evening, the traveler painted a bleak picture of the world. Wars, pestilences, fires, floods, injustices, political corruption; the endless tales brought great anxiety and heaviness of heart to those in the peaceful village.

Dusk settled like a shroud of gloom. The visitor glanced at the clock tower, ended his talk, and descended the steps from the courthouse portico.

“Sir.” The village elder rose from a bench and hobbled through the crowd toward the traveler. “You’ve distressed us greatly with your discourse. May I ask you a few questions?”

“Of course.” With a slight nod, the man confirmed his assent.

“These things of which you speak… Are they true?”

“According to those who sent me, yes. I suppose them to be so.”

“But, have you confirmed, beyond reasonable doubt, these things are true?”

“Well, I—”

“Tell me about the people who sent you. Do they have a reputation for being truthful? Are they virtuous, trustworthy, and honest?”

The traveler hooked a finger in his collar and pulled it from his bobbing Adam’s apple. “I don’t actually know them on a personal level, but I assume they are.”

“Assume?” Clutching a walking cane, his legs unsteady, the gray-haired man shook his head. “By your own admission, you know little to nothing about the character and motives of those who sent you on this journey. The stories you shared may be true, false, or a twisted blend of both, which renders them questionable.”

“It’s getting late, and I must move on to the next town.” With great haste, the man packed the papers with his many notes into his valise.

The crowd parted and made a path for the man’s exit.

“Tell me,” the old man called out to the traveler’s back. “Did you expect us to take action based upon news that was built on a foundation of suppositions and assumptions?”

Turning, the traveler snarled and cursed the old man. “Stay uninformed, all of you.” He spat on the ground, pivoted, and stormed away.

Murmurs rose from the crowd, and the people gathered around the elder.

He silenced them with a raised palm. “It has been said that to be misinformed is often worse than being uninformed. We can act only upon that which we know is true. To do otherwise is to propagate lies or misinformation.”

A young man stepped forward. “Are we to do nothing, then? If, indeed, there is any truth in the things the stranger has said, ought we not do what we can to help remedy these things?”

“First seek the whole truth. Make it your sure foundation. Then act upon it.”

The moral of the story:

  • Information is only as reliable as its source
  • Before spreading a story, practice due diligence and make sure it is true.
  • Don’t be an unreliable source.

 

Something to do during quarantine.

Hello again!

Everybody doing okay? Hanging in there with all this “social distancing” and everything else that’s going on? It’s a stressful time for some folks. Understandably so. I hope you and your loved ones have been physically untouched by COVID-19 even if the world is turned a bit upside down.

To help during this time, my dear author friends, Beatrice Fishback, Dana K. Ray, and Linda Robinson, and I, have decided to run a 99¢ sale on a few of our books. All are available in Kindle Unlimited as well. We hope you enjoy them.

So, here we go…

99¢ for a limited time (April 21-27)

Check it out!

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Here’s one for young adults.

Faith and Family Series, book 1

Set in 1987 on a Southern plantation in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Natalie’s Choices depicts teen angst, family relationships, and the consequences of both right and wrong choices. Can Natalie and Tori’s friendship endure the endless trials life throws at them?

Click HERE or on the book cover to learn more.

~***~

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No matter how hard you try…

There’s No Reasoning with Love

In their teens and deeply in love, India Jackson and Vince Mancini are torn apart by a lie concocted by their fathers that separates and takes them down two diverse paths.

But then LIFE happens and their journeys are set on a collision course. Love is complicated. Sometimes, no reasoning to it at all.

Click HERE or on the book cover to learn more.

~***~

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How do you love someone who’s totally absorbed in themself?

Shelley Auburn, executive for Universal Station, a competitive website designed to take over every major worldwide web, will stop at nothing to become the primary shareholder. The best course of action is marrying the heir apparent, Patrick Malloy. Will Shelley marry Patrick for his wealth and finally have everything she has labored for, or will unexpected circumstances open her eyes to a world of unimaginable love that plunge her headlong into its embrace?

Click HERE or on the book cover to learn more.

~***~

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Loyalty to the family is all that matters.

Brothers, Antony and Sonny Luciano grew up knowing exactly what their lives would hold.

Antony, driven by power and money, is prepared to take over the streets his father runs. Sonny reluctantly surrenders to a similar fate until their mother’s fresh talk about her faith births in him a hope of a better future.

One bullet changed their destinies forever.

~***~

Click HERE or on the book cover to learn more.

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A small-town romance with all the big-time feels.

Rachel Valentino’s life is turned upside down…by a tornado.

Things only get worse when her sister dumps her pre-teen daughter on Rachel then disappears for months on end.

Click HERE or on the book cover to learn more.

The Preacher and the Shopkeeper

It’s here! Get your Kindle copy for 99¢ for a limited time.

Here’s the back-cover synopsis:

Industrial City, Ava Starling’s hometown, is struggling to survive with businesses and industries closing and jobs at a minimum. She’s desperately trying to help assist the needy through the thrift store she owns and operates, but homelessness is on the rise. Ava doubts the recent assignment of the young and handsome Brandon Sparks as senior pastor of the defunct Union Street Church can breathe hope into empty hearts. 

When Ava and Brandon meet, sparks fly but misunderstandings and trust issues ensue. Only Ava’s mother knows the true reason behind her daughter’s resistance to the new pastor, but it’s only a matter of time before Brandon discovers why Ava holds animosity toward him. Will she learn to accept his offers of help or continue to resist his hand of friendship? Working together to meet the needs of the community might forever change both their lives more than either can ever anticipate.


Somebody “Un-Liked” me!

In this day and age, it’s easy to get caught up in “likes” and “un-likes” on social media.

Here’s the thing. Your self-worth isn’t determined by whether someone likes you or not.

It’s like Junior High.

“So-and-so likes me.” Or… “I don’t think so-and-so likes me.”

Does it matter?

Whose approval are you going for? Those who truly love you, or some like-likers, like-unlikers, like, un-like, but like again-ers? Oh, my! It’s enough to make one’s head spin.

Yes, once you make your name public, whether you’re an author, actor, singer, musician, WHATEVER, you make yourself a target of Like or Un-Likers.

People are fickle. They like you until…

They find you’re not like them, politically.

They find you’re not like them, religiously.

They find you’re not like them… um… Italian-ly, Irish-ly, Black-ly, White-ly, I-like-big-dogs VS small-dogs-ly, or cat VS dog-ly.

SO WHAT!!!

Take a deep breath.

It’s “social” media, folks.

Which, may or not, by definition,  be SOCIAL at all.

Rant over.

Hotdogs and Beans

 

A silly tale of childhood woes…

shopping cart
Shopping cart, AKA, “the wheeler.”

When I was a kid, we ate hotdogs and beans for supper every single Thursday night. It was a ritual. Mom would come home from work, we’d eat our quick meal, and then she, my two brothers and I, would go grocery shopping at the A&P on 149th Street near St. Ann’s Avenue.

We lived on the fourth floor of a South Bronx apartment building, and the A&P was two and a half blocks away. We’d drag our empty “wheeler” to the store and drag it back, full to the brim. Six brown paper bagfuls of groceries sat snuggly in the basket with the top two sticking over the brim. Often, one or two of us would have to carry additional bags.

One of the problems with our Thursday pilgrimage to A&P was that we had to pass a couple of buildings where several boys from my school lived. I dreaded it. To top it off, I had a major crush on one of them.

My junior-high self was extremely self-conscious. It stressed me out. Oh, the things that went through my mind. Was I walking funny? Should I say hi or pretend I didn’t see them? Had I put on enough Clearasil to hide my blemishes? Were they talking about me behind my back after I passed, or were they simply carrying on with their conversations?

commode-2028556_1280.pngThen, one Thursday, it happed. Yes, IT.  The thing I feared most… To be laughed at and humiliated. By my crush and his cohorts. The source of my humiliation and torment? Toilet paper. A huge package.  Smack-dab on the top of the wheeler, sticking out of a paper bag for all the world to see.

cat-1816646_1920.jpgPoint and laugh. The boys went full-bore junior-high on me, and it didn’t stop on the street that day. For them, there was something insanely funny about toilet paper. I was mortified. They knew. I was outed. The cat was out of the proverbial bag. My family and I… gulp… used toilet paper.

It made perfect sense – back then, when personal things were, well…personal.  Back then, things like “lady” products were wrapped with brown paper, anything that had to do with “the bedroom” was kept behind the pharmacy counter or at least hidden on a remote aisle, and TV commercials didn’t flaunt remedies for people’s personal problems.

Can I be perfectly honest? For many years – yes, into my adulthood – I wouldn’t throw a package of toilet paper into my shopping cart unless I already had enough items to bury it under. And, I wouldn’t grab a package off the shelf if anyone else was in the same aisle.

There is no moral to this story.

I still buy toilet paper, and it doesn’t embarrass me any more.

As for eating hotdogs and beans? Yeah. Okay. Once in a while.

But never on a Thursday.