Thanks for checking into my blog!

As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Expression of Hope

   You probably have a desk that looks just like it, I bet. Piled high with a stack or two of papers, books, post-its all over, pens and pencils hidden by random sheets of paper, the library book I was looking forward to reading, my Phanatic doll. Don’t forget the Rolodex, to-do lists, and calendar. In the midst of this creative physics project (yes, some piles are that high), I found an assignment I did for Carol Smalley’s class at this time last year. She had us make a battle plan for writing, or set goals for writing in the new year. It was interesting to see what I thought about only 4 months into a writing career, what I thought was important at that time. It gave me time to see where I was, where I am, and to think about where I’m going. There’s something about the Christmas and New Year’s holidays that bring out the goal setter in all of us.

   On my list last year were items that got done and others that are still in the works. Yes, a few haven’t been “accomplished”. This is a good place to start for 2012.

   Reflect first. What have I done? Here it is:

  • Joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators -Without that group, I would not have met my critique group buddies. I’ve learned so much from them.

  • Went to a SCBWI sponsored conference – Yes, I went to an Author’s Book Club event where I met Carol Millward and read her debut novel Star in the Middle. I also went to the Tri-Regional Conference in Gettysburg, Pa. I got so much inspiration, met so many great people, sat in the presence of so many accomplished writers and illustrators. It was a great weekend. And the ghost tour Saturday night, marrying two loves – ghost hunting and history – well, what could be better?

  • I am wearing out my library card. No longer do I go to the kid’s section and get looked at as if I’m a stalker. They know I’m reading for research.

  • I’m reading more. This year I read the entire Captain Underpants series, finished up the last “Wimpy Kid” book Cabin Fever, read books in the Magic Schoolbus series, Step into reading series and more. All this I did as research for how and what I want to write.

  • I read for me too. I’m almost finished with Lisa Scottoline’s list of novels and just starting on Janet Evanovich’s and Julie Hyzy’s novels. I’ll work on that list after I finish Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism.

  • On my list was to get an agent and start submitting by July, 2011. Well, I don’t have the agent, but I did submit a picture book to the MeeGenius contest this past fall. I didn’t win, but right now the last of the finalists haven’t been selected. So who knows? At any rate, I put my work out there for all to see and I have gotten some positive feedback on it. Maybe it will make it to bookstores and PetSmarts around the country. It is a non-fiction picture book on dog safety for kids, after all.

  • On a personal note, I also got more involved in my parish activities. I helped more with our Bereavement ministry’s funeral luncheon group.  Got to use my Home Ec Teacher acquired knowledge in the catering field, too. Now I’ve got a connection with Julie Hyzy’s Ollie Paras character in the White House mysteries series. So maybe St. Joseph’s Church kitchen isn’t the White House, but a commercial kitchen is a commercial kitchen. And I found the giant iron skillet!

   I didn’t get some of the list done. On it were things like, lose 30 pounds (only got off about 15 so far), get healthier habits (yes, I’m eating better and exercising more – until I hurt my knee), complete a first draft of Esther Bunny Moves Away (only 3 chapters done so far). Guess you have to set high goals and see if you can meet them. Besides, if I did everything I set out to do when I wanted to do it, I’d be perfect. And perfect people are perfectly boring and nauseating. We all need something to shoot for in life. Now is the time to make my 2012 list of goals.

   Let’s see…professional goals for 2012:

  • Attend more Author Book Club events in my SCBWI region.

  • Attend more workshops and/or conferences.

  • Keep working on articles to the Arden Newsbuoy, my community newsletter. Thanks, Andrew, for giving me a by-line with my “View from the Passenger Seat” articles.

  • Keep on working on the parish newsletter as content and layout editor.

  • Finish Esther Bunny’s manuscript.

  • Finish the sequel to “Hi, Doggie!” my entry in the MeeGenius contest.

  • Get into the idea folder and get drafts of at least 3 more ideas.

  • Keep meeting my critique group!! They keep me on task with deadlines.

  • Get rid of the last 15 pounds – or more. This one is doctor’s orders.

  • Keep researching the 1st through 5th grade market. Focus on boy readers.

  • Start working on the travel bucket list with my husband. We have a list of historical sites with want to visit. We both want to get into the history of these towns.

  • Blog more often than just twice a month.

  • Get something published ??????

   I’m sure there are plenty more items to add to this list. Isn’t that what a goal setting exercise is supposed to be, a fluid document, subject to change? At any rate, here’s off to another year of adventure. This is the year we honor the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking and find out if the Mayan calendar is all it’s cracked up to be. And 2012 is another Presidential election year, too. The campaign already started! Should I start writing editorials?

   How about sharing your goals for the new year?

   Let’s celebrate the holidays first!

   Have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a very happy and safe New Year.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Interesting word, gratitude. It means being grateful or thankful for the things you have. It’s definitely an attitude, or a way of approaching your life events.

We recently celebrated Thanksgiving. It’s the one time we are supposed to stop and give thanks. Many families incorporate this into the pre-meal toast or grace.  Those present offer their reasons to be thankful on that one day. We didn’t do that as part of our celebration this past week, but I want to list some things now:

  • I’m glad I was born, when I was. It was a simpler time, but things became more complex as I grew older. I got to learn how to change with the times. Now when things change, I just say, “Oh, (insert cuss word of choice here)! Keep on moving.”
  • I’m grateful for my Catholic faith. It’s been under the microscope lately, as is the whole “church participation” thing.  I’m glad I continue to participate actively, and that I live in a country that allows me to choose my own path toward God.
  • I thank God each day for my family. I’d be nothing without my husband, my kids, in-laws, grandkid, siblings, etc. On second thought, I would be something - very lonely. Not good for anyone.
  • I am grateful for my ability to think for myself. I worked in a few “corporate America” positions. I’ve seen what that mindset does to creativity and how those who really do “think out of the box”, like they say they want you to do, are not appreciated. I’m glad and thankful that I’m not part of that any longer.
  • I thank heaven for the opportunities I’ve had, that I’ve taken, and those yet to come. No matter what the talking heads on TV may say, I believe the best is yet to come. Will there be speed bumps on this road of life? Sure, but they don’t have to break you down. Be ready.
  • I’m very grateful for my health. I’ve tried to take care of myself. It may not look like I’ve been successful on the surface, but I am in pretty good shape. No I don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Nor do I want to. I want to enjoy life, and I can’t do that if I have to conform to a misguided view of “normal”.
  • I’m thankful for my ability to trust. Yes, I watch the evening news and the garbage they lead off the broadcasts. Yet I still trust in the basic good of humanity. It’s there somewhere, under I-Pods, tablets, 6 inches of make-up, stiletto heels, Armani suits, bonuses, Occupy signs, and all that. You just have to dig for it. I’m still digging with a lot of people.

 If I continue to list, the items will begin to repeat. Let’s just suffice to say that I am grateful for everything in my life, even the negative stuff. Hey, if there wasn’t any negativity, how would we know when things are going well?

I hope this attitude of gratitude shows to all I meet. Life is a great gift. Thank you, Lord, for everything.