Author photos taken by Robert Abrams in Paris, France.



THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY - Rebecca Buckley's Blog
Hello, I'm Rebecca Buckley, and I write books! Welcome to my blog. Here I'll talk about almost anything. Depends on the mood of the day. I'll also talk about publishing, writing techniques, and editing ... subjects close to my heart. So today, anytime you feel like it, feel free to jump in ... click on the COMMENTS link at the end of a post and give your opinion. If you sign in "anonymous" to comment, it's easier, just be sure you say who you are in the content of your comment.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

HOW DO YOU PUBLISH YOUR BOOK? WHAT DOES IT COST?

Have been asked the questions "How do I publish my book, what does it cost?"  Well, here are FIVE ways to get published ...

1. If you do-it-yourself and self-publish on Createspace.com or Lulu.com, it costs you nothing, basically depending on what kind of distribution you want. You do have to format the book to certain specifications (size) and design your own cover ... then convert them to PDF formats. AND of course it will be produced and printed exactly as you upload it to both websites. So you must know what you're doing as far as design goes, and have flawless edits. If you want it only to appear in Lulu's bookstore (not needing an ISBN number) it will cost you zero. They both have price packages if you wish to have someone else do your covers, however. And to get it on Amazon.com, and in other major bookstores, the book must have an ISBN.  Both will do that for you, but will charge you for the number.  You can also buy your own ISBN at  isbn-us.com or at bowker.com.

2. You can submit your manuscript to PublishAmerica.com for their acceptance, costs you nothing. If they accept it (they usually accept most) they will assign it an ISBN and you're in like flint. One of their editors will do a spell and punctuation check, minor edits, that you will approve. They will also design the cover. All at no cost. If you want more in-depth edits, you'll have to pay for that (which I would encourage). Then after a year, your book will be published, and will be available to all bookstores and online stores. Again, at no cost to you.

3. You can submit your manuscript to either independent publishers or major publishers, or both. These you can find online through publisher searches and you will follow their manuscript submission guidelines. Check out who published other books similar to yours and submit to them. These are traditional publishers when they do not charge you, but they are very selective. Ninrty-nine times out of a hundred you'll be rejected as an unknown writer unless of course you have a product that grabs the editor's attention, is well-written, and guarantees to be a good seller. These are the publishers from which writers talk about getting all the rejection letters, wall-papering their walls with them.

4. You can go to iUniverse, Outskirts Press, Xlibris and other self-publishers who charge you up front to design and print your book for you. Will usually run anywhere from $199 to $4000, depending on who you select. Tons of them out there. You are the publisher of your own book and will be listed as such. They will also get it out there to all the online bookstores. It'll be available to onland bookstores through their distributors, same as all the above.

5. Now if all else fails, find an agent and hand the ball of wax over to him/her.  Let him do all the frustrating legwork.   Then start writing your next book.


Good Luck!


My publishing company (R. J. Buckley Publishing) falls into the third category. During the months of Jan-Mar we accept queries. Submission guidelines are posted on the website www.rjbuckleypublishing.com .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AM I CRAZY, OR WHAT?

I must be possessed!  Whatever gave me the idea that I could broadcast a radio show?  I must be a masochist! Ludicrous!  

What is it that's in me nudging me into these things?  If anyone was ever insecure and full of stage fright when it comes to talking in front of the general public ... THAT'S ME!!!!!  Funny how I can sing before people, but can't talk.  I get tongue-tied and my neck and chest get big red blotches all over.  My brain stops working.  But time and time again, I put myself into this friggin' position.  And here I am, doing it again.

Tomorrow night at 6 p.m. I start a regular show on Blogtalkradio.  And not only one night a week, I've two shows a week ... one every Thursday, one every Sunday.  6 p.m. both days.   I must be mad!

I've spent the past two days trying to figure out how to use a damn headset and mic rather than holding the phone through the entire show.  You see, I dial in and conduct the show in that manner.  Up to five people can call in and join my repartee (dictionary says that's conversation or speech characterized by quick, witty comments - although I'm not very witty on the spot.  So I'll have to depend on callers for the wit), so please please please call in and save me from stammering and stepping all over my words or having dead moments.  Oh gawd!

What I need is a co-host.  Yes, that's what I need.  Any volunteers?

So, tomorrow, on Thursday it's LET'S TALK ABOUT BOOKS.  Just like this blog.  We can talk about my books, your books, anybody's books, I don't care.  And in case no one calls,  I'll just slit my throat and be done with it.  

I know, I'll talk about LITERATI, that's what I'll do.  A magazine I'm launching in December.   Then I'll talk about my novel series - about the settings, about Rachel O'Neill, about New Year's Eves (my favorites).  I could talk about other authors' books I'm publishing at RJBP, authors and the books.  Maybe some will take pity and call in, if I could be so lucky!!!! 

Do I seem a bit nervous about this to you?   Hummmmm.

I remember when I was to give a talk at a book festival, once.  Yes, once.  I was scared out of my ever lovin' pants.  Up on a stage at a podium in front of live people staring at me, wanting to hear something clever or humorous or at least intelligent.  My talk was to be 20 minutes. 

So I prepared and prepared, I rehearsed and rehearsed.  First I made notes, index cards for prompting, which didn't work.  I couldn't remember anything that wasn't written on the cards.  So if I was going to rely on my notes, my talk would have been over in less than a minute, composed of one-line short phrases.

Then I wrote out the entire talk on my laptop, decided to have it up there with me, open and ready to rescue.  I timed the talk - 20 minutes.  Everytime I did it, it came out to 20 minutes exactly.  I drew from past speech class techniques in the composition of it.   I was satisfied, had written all the incredients of an entertaining, enlightening talk - introduction, speech, summation.

When I arrived at the book festival, I was told that I was to be the speaker before the keynote.  So that meant when I was finished, she would be introduced and would come to the stage and give her talk.  J. A. Jance - New York Times best-selling mystery writer.  Know her?  Intimidating.

WELL ... the time came and I began my speech.  Thank god I had the laptop to refer to, what a moment of brilliant decision-making that was!   Soooooo ... I was tooling along, did my introduction, told a little about me, my bio, etc., my personal irregularities with a bit of humor, and began what I call the meat of the meal.  I'm scanning the audience as I was speaking, looking from one side to the other, saw J. A. Jance standing, waiting in line to do her presentation, when I see the host of the event sitting on the first row of bleachers (the event was in a college gym), and he was doing the slice the throat, time's up, cut, kind of gesture.

What?  I knew I couldn't be more than 10 minutes into the thing ... what the hell was he doing?   Then he spoke up, interruped me.

"Uh, Rebecca, I'm sorry, but Ms. Jance is here early and she needs to get on with her segment because she has to leave."

Now.  Tell me.  Could you summate at that point when you hadn't even gone into what you are covering in the summation?   Hell no!   But I did.  Fast-forwarded and did the blasted summation and hurried off the stage.  The talk made no sense at all.

AND ... to add injury to insult ... a man, who had been sitting on the front row near the door, met me half way to my seat and handed me a summons to court in front of all those people.   YES!!!!   I KID YOU NOT!  An old debt from ten years back, a medical debt.

So, even today, the thought of public speaking gives me palpatations, hives, blotches, and diahreahea.  Not a pretty picture.

But, here I am ... still jumping in over my head.  Guess I'll never learn.

Join me if you dare ... http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rebecca-buckley ... on Thursdays and Sundays at 6 p.m.

Or just call in:   (347) 945-7175

Friday, August 20, 2010

QUEEN ELIZABETH THE FIRST

So, I have had an obsession with Queen Elizabeth the First, since I don't know when.  To begin with we share the same Virgo birthday. Secondly I have most of the books written about her and her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as all the films made depicting them. To me both are the epitome of a misunderstood, caring, strong-willed woman. Both raised the bar on female intelligence during their time and as far as I'm concerned ... up to the present, barring none.

But it's Elizabeth that astounds and captivates me more.  For a long time during my youth, I felt I was Elizabeth incarnated. I don't know where that came from, call it idiotic wishing if you want, but I can't explain the feeling, it just appeared one day and has been in my mind ever since.  Call it my own childish desire, dreaming, or what have you. Nevertheless, it weighs on my mind. 

All my adult life I've been drawn to England and all it purports to be.  I've studied it, have traveled it, married an Englishman at one point, lived there, have written about it, have intentions of living there again one day - in Cornwall.  In fact all my novels are partially set in England, mostly in Cornwall.  Love British authors, British films, British mini-series. I'm sure my family and friends tire of hearing about it.

But what I've come to believe over the years is that I was there in a past life, maybe more than one, and most likely during the reign of Elizabeth I, which was 1558-1603.  My imagination runs wild at times as I wonder who I could have been.  Was I Elizabeth? (If I'm going to pick and choose, may as well shoot for the moon!)  Was I a lady of the court?  Was I a servant? Was I a man? A cook? A teacher?  Was I a paramour?  Well!  Now that's a fun thought, a paramour?

Regardless of who I was, reaching back to that time in my dreams, thoughts, study, and writing brings me closer to the revelation.  And in all of this, my urge to write the story has begun. 

Yes, I'm writing a half-and-half story, present day and Elizabethan.  Now how exciting is that?  

Friday, August 13, 2010

The N-word and Other Offensive Words

Should we as writers censor our words?  Or do we have a responsibility to our reading public to stay true to our characters? 

In my opinion, I believe it is up to the writer and depends upon his own preferences. 

As for me ... I would never use the N-word in one of my books; haven't and won't.  The word isn't even in my vocabulary or my thoughts. It's offensive to me and offensive to some of my friends. But then I don't write the novels that contain the character who would use the word in his dialog.  If you are writing a crime novel with drug dealers and murderers, or some red-neck SOB and the lot, a southern slave-period tale ... then most likely you will be writing someone who is ignorant and foul enough to use the word.  So in that case, for authenticity, it'll be in your writing and rightly so. 

Now I have written the F word and damn words, and most all the other vile words that low-level crass and evil people use (high-level, too, are just as offensive). But I use them only to show the type of character I'm writing.  If a guy is beating the hell out of his wife or girlfriend, he certainly isn't saying nice things to her.  He's calling her all types of names and using the worst of the worst words, as in real life.

I guess it's because I believe in writing real life that I will allow the character to be true to who he is and say the things I know he would say.

So, again, I feel it's up to the writer, and what he's trying to convey about the scene and the characters in the scene.  I mean there's nothing worse than reading a murder mystery with no offensive language in today's time.  It just doesn't ring true.  You're saying who would even attempt writing such unreal characters?  Well, believe it or not, one such manuscript came across my desk and the writer explained that her beliefs kept her from writing vile words or bloody scenes.  This was a cop novel. I suggested she change her genre.  It wasn't working.

And again, no matter what, I would never use the N-word.  I can't think of any other word I would never use.  Only that one, and maybe other slang insults against a race.  And I will avoid and step away from any person who uses it within my hearing distance.  Just not acceptable. This includes joke tellers.

But ... if a writer has a valid reason to use the offensive words in a character's dialog, well ... just as it's used in songs ... we must take it as it's meant to be taken and if we're to dislike someone, dislike the character rather than the writer. 

Just my take on it ...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chapter One of MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW

MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW


Chapter One
Rachel O’Neill swiped the tears from her eyes in protest and blinked back the next wave that threatened to follow. She couldn’t understand why the crying jags kept coming. It had been nearly a year since Pete had been killed. This was ridiculous. She should be able to deal with it by now. The proverbial ‘should vs. would vs. will’. Okay, she would—WILL deal with it.

She grabbed the wad of paper towel she’d used to wipe her mouth after devouring her toast, opened it and blew her nose. She had to stop letting her emotions take over like this.

“That’s it! No more crying! I’m done with it!” She scrunched up the towel again and threw it at the table. It bounced off and landed on the grass. For a moment she stared down at it lying in its spiked green nest. A sigh escaped her lips before she bent over and picked up the towel, placing it on the table.

She drew in a deep breath and inhaled the cool, crisp June morning air that smelled of the sea and flora surrounding her, then leaned back in her garden chair and gazed out across Mount’s Bay towards Saint Michael’s Mount.

Saint Michael’s, sitting majestically atop a rocky mound off the coast of Marazion, was once a Benedictine monastery granted to the famous Mont St. Michel in France. But in all its treasures of its past life, and since the Seventeenth Century, the medieval castle belonged to the St. Aubyn family of Cornwall.

Her thoughts shifted to her friend Margaret St. Aubyn, one of the descendents, who had recently married a Spanish nobleman and who still owned and managed the Godolphin Arms in Marazion where Rachel had first met her. From the Godolphin restaurant the view of Saint Michael’s was perfect across the causeway.

As it turned out Margaret and Rachel shared a belief in reincarnation; they both felt strongly that they were connected in a past life. They both felt they were part of a group traveling together from one lifetime to another, Pete included. When they first met, a strong familiarity existed between them. Rachel had felt the same familiarity with Pete who had also been a believer of the past life theory.

Since she moved to Cornwall, Rachel had spent many hours traveling and visiting the towns and villages in the south of England, from the west to the east coast, meeting the people with whom she felt a previous connection. She truly believed she had lived in Cornwall in the Seventeenth Century. Even her dreams hinted at it, as well as investigations confirming it.

Sounds of a distant car horn broke her train of thought.

She stood and moved to a nearby stone wall where she kept several of her favorite potted plants and lifted a small pot of hyacinths to her nose. A decorative pot she’d forgotten to place on the white wrought-iron table that morning as she had her morning coffee and slices of toast. She was all about setting the scene as beautiful as possible, whether she was alone or had guests.

The sweet aroma of the hyacinths soothed her as usual. Smelling flowers always made her feel better. Lifted her spirits.

When Rachel first traveled to England, she immediately fell in love with the abundant gardens. So she worked diligently to create her own blossom-filled space in her own little corner of England.

Her garden was picturesque with the milky-white magnolia blossoms on the tree branches above her, emerald grass and multi-colored flower beds stretching to the edge of the bluff … the blues of the sea and sky beyond … the fishing boats bobbing in Newlyn Harbor below … her own picture-perfect world. She liked it that way.

Rachel loved Newlyn. It was a charming town at the southwestern tip of Britain claiming to have the largest fishing port in England, where winters are wild and raging, summers are mildly engaging - she’d written the rhyming description of Cornwall in one of her feeble attempts at writing poetry.

She wondered if Birch had ever painted Newlyn Harbor. He must have, he’d painted thousands of pictures of Cornwall. She knew he had been in Newlyn early on in his career when Newlyn was known as an artist colony. His painting of Mount St. Michaels was hanging in her dining room. It had been a priceless find one day as she rummaged through a quasi antique shop that was mostly filled with cast-offs nobody wanted. A view of the Mount from a hill in Marazion. She’d found the exact spot from where he must’ve sketched the scene. She loved his use of muted shades of golds, browns, blues, and greens and often thought if she were a painter she would capture all of Cornwall’s glory on canvas just as he had. Samuel John Lamorna Birch. He’d taken on the name of Lamorna, the village where he lived when he returned to Cornwall after a year of study in Paris. The assumed name was to set himself apart from another painter called Birch. She could understand why he would return to England to live out his life.

It had been seven years when Rachel had first seen Cornwall’s seacoast with her good friend, Ethan Philips. During the Christmas holidays. Several years before his tragic death.

Two deaths in three years.

Dammit! Here it comes again!

She muffled the thoughts in her head by singing at the top of her lungs, “Oh what a beautiful morning … oh what a beautiful day … I’ve got a beautiful feeling … everything’s going my way.”

It worked. She hoped no one had heard her outburst. But it definitely worked this time.

She poured another cup of coffee from the Cafetiere that sat on the table, hoping the coffee would still be warm. While sipping she let memories of that first trip to Cornwall slip back into her conscious mind. The good memories.

She and Ethan had arrived during one of the most violent storms that had hit the region in five years. It pounded the Penzance coastline the entire week before Christmas and continued on through New Year’s Day.

Rachel loved the romance and drama of stormy weather - the high seas, the waves crashing over the granite boulders and pebble-strewn beach up onto the coastal road. Philip hated it. He wanted to go back to London and spend the holidays with his sister and mother.

But Rachel couldn’t pull herself away from the Cornwall coast, she was drawn to it. It felt good. So she remained at the Queen Hotel in Penzance and he returned to London. It had been one of the best Christmas Eve’s as well as New Year’s Eves she’d spent up to that point in her life. Both with the locals at the Ship Inn pub in the tiny village of Mousehole.

Now seven years later she was living just two miles from Mousehole and one mile from Penzance – in between the two towns, in Newlyn. Her dreams had come true, literally. This was where she belonged. She knew it the moment she first arrived seven years ago with Ethan.

Her reverie was momentarily interrupted by sounds of lines beating and clanging against the pleasure boat masts below in Newlyn Harbor. The winds were picking up. Sounds of squawking seagulls as they pillaged for food filled the atmosphere, mingling with the returning memories of that first visit and of Ethan. She didn’t know why she was thinking of him so much lately, but at that moment she could still see his face as he lay in the hospital morgue.

Dammit!

She lifted the bottom edge of her chambray shirt and wiped emerging tears from her eyes.

Stop it now!

Every once in a while voices and laughter would waft up the steep slope to Rachel’s ears, interrupting her daydreams, distracting her. Right now she was grateful for the intrusion.

The voices steered her imagination to visions of the Mayflower pulling into the harbor for fresh water as it had centuries before.

This was how her mind worked … jumping from one topic to another, from one imagination to another. She’d given up trying to tame her fleeting thoughts, it wasn’t conceivable or even plausible.

Again she poured coffee in her cup as she thought about the historic Mayflower when it had anchored in Newlyn to take on water because the supply in Plymouth was contaminated. She’d read that the journey from Plymouth, England to Plymouth in Cape Cod Bay on the eastern coast of North America took two months.

She visualized Captain John Smith and John Alden—of the Priscilla Mullins and Miles Standish love triangle. Alden had been a member of the crew on the Mayflower, a barrel-maker. Priscilla was seventeen years old when she boarded the ship. Being the military advisor of the new colony in Plymouth, it was said that Miles Standish’s unrequited love for Priscilla never came to fruition. According to Longfellow’s famous poem, whether it was true or not, it was Standish who convinced Alden to propose to Priscilla for him, only to have Priscilla tell Alden to speak up for himself. As it turned out, John and Priscilla were the third couple to be married in Plymouth and they had ten children.

In Rachel’s imagination she saw the story and history unfold that had begun right there in the bay below. She saw the men, women, and children on the ship. She saw John Alden and all the eager, hopeful faces starring up at the hills and cliffs of the bay around them, not realizing the dangers ahead on the long and grueling journey they were about to take. They lost two lives at sea and more than half of the remaining settlers that first year while anchored in Cape Cod.

Sighing once again, she set her Lady Carlisle china cup in the saucer and stood up, stretching her arms, reaching for the sky. Then she bent over and touched her toes. She put her hands on her hips and turned from side to side to the count of twenty. One of the hardest things for her was to take time away from writing to do exercises. She loved gardening and walking, but that wasn’t enough to keep her in shape after spending such long hours, thinking and writing. Her thought processes were as much a part of her writing as the actual physical act of putting pen to page. Her imaginings played a big part in the concepts.

She walked to the edge of the cliff and did more stretching and bending.

Because it was a clear day, she could see all the way to the horizon where the sea and the sky merged into one, and she could see the silhouette of a passing ocean liner. She wondered about the stories of the people on the ship, where they were going, who they were.

Might be a good story there.

Her cell phone rang and she hurried back to the table.

“Hello?” She sat in the garden chair.

“Rachel, it’s me, Maxim!”

“Oh my goodness, how are you? What are you doing?”

“I’m calling you, of course.”

Rachel took a deep breath. “So, are you in Brussels or Moscow?”

“I’m in London on business and I thought I might come down to see you afterwards, if you don’t mind? Do you?”

“When?” She stood up and began pacing, running her hand through her hair, panicking.

“I can be there tomorrow, if that is all right with you.”

“Oh. Sure. That’ll be all right.”

“Good! Then I will call you early in the morning to let you know when I will arrive by train.”

“Okay.” This was catching her off guard.

“I’ll call you in the morning then. Bye.”

She couldn’t believe that Maxim Balanchine was coming to Cornwall. They’d met the previous New Year’s Eve in Brussels; Maxim a widower, Rachel in the throes of her own grief. She’d spent the holidays in Brussels with her friends, Mandy and Richard Miller.

She couldn’t believe Maxim was coming to visit.

Oh God! I need to make a list.

She went to the table and picked up her pen and notebook. Quickly she sat and jotted down what she needed from the market and what she needed to do in preparation for his arrival. As soon as the grocery opened that morning, she’d go.

That done she leaned back and closed her eyes, trying to calm herself and relax. Visualizing a color with her eyes closed was a good trick. She’d think of a color until all she saw behind her eyelids was that color, bright and sparkly. The concentration would eradicate all thoughts. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

It wasn’t working.

Sighing, she shielded the ocean’s glare from her eyes as she looked out at the panoramic view of the sea stretching from Mousehole to the right and Saint Micheal’s Mount to the left.

A school of sailing boats were hugging the shore, making their way to the east side of Mount’s Bay, past Penzance towards the Mount.

Again she stood up, this time heading towards her cottage. She stopped and pinched off a few stalks of tiny, pink rose buds from a climbing vine, inhaling the handful of fragrance as she passed through the open French doors that led into the master bedroom of her small, cozy cottage.

It had been four years since Pete had discovered the cottage and told Rachel about it in an email while she was in Montana.

Four years.

She plopped down onto her pink satin bedspread, lying face down, crossways, her nose breathing the bunch of roses. Her bedroom walls were covered with wallpaper of pink and pale yellow rosebuds, chintz draperies to match, lacy curtains covering the window panes. Her room was clad in pink and crème hues. Pete had called it Rachel’s cotton candy world.

Yes, four years since her dear mother had died. Four years since Rachel had gone to the Blackfoot Indian reservation for the service honoring her mother and the contributions she’d made to her native Indian nation.

Rachel was half Blackfoot and half Irish, her father being the O’Neill side of the family which explained her auburn hair. Her olive skin inherited from her mother.

Both of them dead.

Okay, you win!

She yanked the locks of her mind and the thoughts flowed over the dam. There they were, all the loved ones she’d lost in the past eight years: first her father, then her mother, Ethan, and her adorable fiancé Pete Bell. The love of her life. Her soulmate.

Since Pete died, she had the same recurring nightmare of dead bodies piled up in a heap. In the nightmare she would tug and pull at each of them, trying to separate them for proper burial, to no avail.

The nightmare began the night she’d received the news that Pete had been shot and killed in Brazil by poachers. He had been there on assignment to collect plant life for the Eden Project, his dream. He and Rachel were to be married that Christmas in Paris, her dream.

Now it was almost a year after his tragic murder and all the deaths seemed to be tied together; one sparked by the memory of the other, layer upon layer of heart hurt. Dead bodies on a heap.

She squeezed her head with both hands, trying to rid herself of the visuals and emotion, trying to remove it once and for all.

She jumped from the bed and hurried into the dressing room to splash cold water on her face. She stared into the mirror. Who was this haggard, red-eyed, red-nosed, sad-looking creature standing before her? Whatever happened to the happy-go-lucky Rachel, the one who could suppress her feelings, always showing a bright smile and a happy face, no matter what? That had always been her claim to fame. Where was she? She was looking old.

That had to be it. Her age. She was approaching 50.

Maybe her problem was the proverbial change of life, the chemical changes that were going on in her body.

Oh gawd! Get over it, will you?

She wiped her eyes and nose with her shirt tail, grabbed the bunch of roses on the bed, and went into the kitchen to get a vase.

The kitchen wall- phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hi. What are you doing?” Belinda Newland asked.

“Taking a break from writing, putting some roses in a vase. How about you?” She sniffed and blotted her nose on her sleeve.

“Are you crying?”

“No, I just had a sneeze attack.”

“Well, I was thinking maybe you’d like to go to an early lunch with us in Penzance? Mama’s visiting, she’s at home with the boys, so we thought we’d take advantage and go into town for some R & R. What do you think?” Belinda grinned at her husband, Paul, who was standing on the bottom stair of their workshop galleries in Mousehole, his gallery upstairs, hers downstairs.

Cradling the phone against her shoulder, Rachel ran water into the vase. “Sure. Sounds good to me. When are you going?”

“We’ll pick you up at half past eleven.”

“Okay, works for me.” Rachel looked at her watch. “I’ll be ready.”

She put the roses in the vase and set them on the country French kitchen table. Resting her hands on the back of a chair, she remembered when she and Pete had found the white-washed table at an antique shop in St. Ives, along with a wall mirror with the same fanciful carvings. Pete had hung it on the wall next to one of the heavy pine ceiling-to-floor bookcases that he had built for her.

Rachel turned and darted to her bedroom.

She changed into a clean pair of faded blue jeans, black sandals and a black T-shirt. Decided that the chambray shirt she had been wearing and had used as a handkerchief all morning just wouldn’t do. She tossed it into the wicker hamper.

After splashing more cool water on her face, she brushed her reddish-brown hair straight back from her face.

I can’t believe Maxim is coming.

She searched through her drawer of scrunchies, grabbed a black and blue plaid one and fastened the pony tail at the nape of her neck.

Maxim is coming tomorrow?

For the final touch she added a touch of orange frost lipstick. It never took her long to get dressed and put on her minimalist makeup.

She went back out to the garden, cleared the table, and grabbed the shopping list she’d made. After plopping the Cafetiere and the dishes into the sink to soak, she headed for her car in the small detached garage near the lane. She drove the walkable distance to the Newlyn market to stock up on the provisions she figured she’d need for the weekend, and then returned to the cottage—total trip thirty minutes.

While she was waiting for her best friends, she straightened the living room, returned books to bookshelves, restacked magazines, and fluffed the pillow cushions on the floral chairs and sofas.

She’d just finished vacuuming when she heard a car coming up the lane, so she grabbed her bag and out the door she flew. She was exhausted. It had been a grueling morning.

What Difference Does it Make?

What difference does it make whether you are a Catholic, a Mormon, a Baptist, a Christian Scientist, a Nazarine, a Presbyterian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, or whatever?   What difference does it make to anyone but you?  It doesn't matter to me what organized religion you practice. And it doesn't matter to most others, either.  So what are these advertisements all about on the social networks:   "I am a ......." .  Oh, really!

I feel what happens is when one begins pushing one's beliefs on others, then that's when the trouble starts. When they start getting in your face when you're not the least bit interested, that's a problem.  Do you care if someone is any of the above?  

A problem that I see about organized religion is that the rules are man-made rules and are usually published in a book of some sort for that specific religion, and of course the words are inspired. Of course. But your rules might not be right for someone else, in another culture, another people, another time and place. 

I have my beliefs, was raised a Christian, later became more of a spiritual person, believing that "God" or the "Higher Power" is within me, is me, that I am in charge of my destiny.  However, I enjoy the atmosphere in a Catholic church probably more than any other, get goosebumps when I'm there.  But I was taught in the Baptist church to believe the Catholics were heathen.  Now that's a laugh, isn't it?  Now I know how ignorant that was.  I've learned for myself about the various religions.  I mean at one time or another the churches are in the news for this or that scandal. Not the religion, the human factor. 

All religions are unique unto themselves, set up for the people who believe in them, but none are the one true faith above all others.  But they still have their special places in lives.  A belief in a higher power is better than none.

Now I don't go around pushing my beliefs on anyone else, trying to win them over. It's for me alone to put into practice in my life what I believe.   And that's what I do.

So what does this have to do with anything? 

Just let me say ... the same goes for politics.  One party and one candidate is just as good or bad as the other in our politics.   What good does it do to argue politics with others?   You can read and you can vote, can't you?  That's all you need to be able to do.  But I do understand the process of winning others over to your political views, I do.  It's part of our political agenda, that's how political parties win, so there's no argument there. Politics is a game, unlike religion.  A game, actually, more than anything else. A win or lose proposition.  Strategy as in a chess game or any other game. That's politics.  I don't go there at all.

So what about sexual preference?  Is your choice of sexual preference anybody's business?  Hell no!  It isn't!  And it should not even be brought up in a discussion about you, or be considered as a part of your CV.  Sexual preference is a biological trait, a right, has nothing to do with anything else, not with religion, not with politics. 

So ... your religion, your politics, nor your sexual preference are your nomenclature, are not to be listed next to your name in introduction, discussion, or by association.  They may help to define who you are, but are not designates.  And it's only your business, your choices.

It goes without saying that race and gender are also included in this anti-prejudice semi-rant of mine.

That's all I have to say today ... was provoked ...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Holidays in Cape May & a Cook Book

One of the most charming Thanksgivings I ever had was in Philadelphia at Judy's home, followed by the weekend in Cape May at Susan's ... a beautiful Victorian B&B in one quaint seashore village I'll never forget.  Just take a look at the incredible B&B offerings in Cape May, New Jersey ... have you ever seen so many in one locale?  I mean they're all over the neighborhood bidding you to come in.  Here's a link to some of them:  http://www.capemay.com/capemaybedandbreakfasts.html

After our delicious and grandiose Thanksgiving dinner in Philly, and Judy's APPLE PANCAKES the next day and also famous Philly cheese steaks that night, we all drove to Mainstay Inn in Cape May on Saturday.  Here's a link to the Mainstay Inn. http://www.mainstayinn.com/   (Judy gave me the recipe to the yummy Apple Pancakes.)

Now I won't even try to delve into describing the elegant old-world decor of the Mainstay Inn, you can see some of it on the website, but you can bet I loved it as most of you know how much I love all that stuff, and I would go back there in a split second, I would, and I may.  A great place for the holidays. 

And since it was during the holidays the entire town was bedecked in yuletide glory, even a huge Christmas tree in the parlor of the Mainstay with all its Victorian ornaments and lights greeting us. While shopping in the village at one of the unique shops, I found an oversize glass ornament to give to my hosts as a thank you for their gracious hospitality.   Yes, there are tons of shops and boutiques there, too, some terrific restaurants, and even a community theatre.  On Saturday night we dined at the best Italian dinner house and went to the cozy theatre to see a Christmas play.  What a delightful evening!

Now one of the reasons I'm mentioning all this is there is a cook book on the market of favorite recipes from Cape May's Mainstay Inn. And since I'm all about books, I want to tell you about it. It's called "Breakfast at Nine, Tea at Four".  ISBN 978-1-8965110-8-5 .  Our hosts David and Susan McCrae gave me the book that was compiled and written by Sue Carroll, published by Callawind Publications, Inc, Montreal, Canada. http://www.callawind.com/

But first let me say that Cape May is known for its hundreds of restored Victorian houses that are National Historic Landmark designated, the Mainstay being one of them. The Mainstay was built in 1872. First it was a gentlemen's club, catered to gamblers and to gentlemen who wanted to smoke, drink and talk politics. For men only.  Next it was a summer residence of a wealthy Philladelphia family and went through a few more transistions before in 1976 it became the home of Tom and Sue Carroll - our cookbook author - and they converted it into an Inn, completely restoring it to its Victorian hay day.  Now the Inn belongs to Floridians David and Susan McCrae, my grandson Sam's aunt and uncle.

Okay ... the cook book ...

Now just take a look at this list of fruit dishes, you aren't going to believe this ...

Broiled Grapefruit
Hot Fruit Compote
Spiced Fruit Compote
Hot Cranberry-Apple Compote
Baked Bananas
Baked Pineapple
Banana-Pineapple Crisp
Speedy Cranberry Pears
Poached Apples
Poached Pears with Brandied Cranberries
Ginger-Glazed Fruit
Tropical Fruit with Mango Sauce
Frozen Fruit Cup
Fruit Kabobs
Fruit Pizza
Dreamsicle Oranges
Creamy Pineapple
Heavenly Bananas
Banana-Blueberry Delight
Minted Melon
St. Paddy's Day Fruit Medley
Peach and Vanilla Yogurt Parfait

UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!! These are but a few of Sue's favorite recipes that she would serve intermittenly over the years at the Inn.  Of course the above fruit list in its entirety is not on the menu every day, heavens no. That would be impossible.  But you will find some of them available when you're there.  And of course, the book is available with all the recipes.  Incredible recipes. 

There are also sections on:

SPECIALTIES OF THE HOUSE
BREADS, BISCUITS & MUFFINS
COFFEE CAKES
SANDWICHES, SAVORIES, & SPREADS
DROP COOKIES & BAR COOKIES
SQUARES & CUPCAKES
SEASONAL & HOLIDAY MENUS
TIPS FOR COOKING & ENTERTAINMENT

This cookbook is putting me in the mood for the holidays, although I've been in the mood for a week or so now. In fact in preparing for the placement of my tall Christmas Tree, I moved furniture yesterday to accommodate it easily when the time comes. 

And I pulled out cookbooks, including this one, to select recipes I'm going to use for my Christmas guests from England while they're here that week.  The EASY MINIATURE CORN MUFFINS are definitely a must:  eggs, vegetable oil, can creamed corn, sour cream, flour, bacon bits, minced dried onion, grated cheddar cheese .... Yum Yum ... very unhealthy, but tasty.  And I already have the miniature muffin pan, so bring 'em on.   The muffins will be perfect to go along with my Christmas Eve Supper.   I love to do either a fish stew or beef stew on Christmas Eve with my own Christmas Salad.  Simple supper.

So you see, I'm already in the spirit, and fond memories of that holiday in Philly and Cape May a few years back have put me in the mood even more.

AND YES!  I'm writing a cookbook, too.  Yes, I am.   Quik Cook  is the working title, putting in all my own recipes and variances on my favorites. 

Have you or are you writing a cook book?  Have you published a cook book?  Who are some cook book publishers?  I've named one above for you ... it's in Canada and New York

Friday, August 6, 2010

Karaoke in Miami?

KARAOKE IN MIAMI! We’re not talkin’ Miami, Florida, folks. We’re talkin’ the other Miami.  The one in Arizona.

Now I know this post isn't about a book ... but this little town of Miami is in my novel MIDNIGHT IN BRUSSELS. So, you see, I was there doing research when I learned all this stuff. 

Located nearly 60 miles east of Phoenix is the copper mining town of Miami, established in the middle to late 1800s. Population 2000, Miami is situated in the Tonto National Forest between the town of Superior and the county seat, Globe. The area is generally referred to as Globe-Miami.

(By the way, Joe Castro, the jazz pianist and the actor Jack Elam were born in this remote Miami no where near the ocean.)

The downtown area consists mostly of boarded up buildings, shacks, and dozens of antique stores. Although a collector’s paradise, Miami is not a culinary haven. In the four-block-square original downtown area, you’ll find an art gallery coffee shop on Sullivan Street, and an outdoor bar crammed between two antique shops on Miami Avenue. Your dining choices are on the two-lane highway (I-60), either Judy’s Cook House nearer Globe, or the Mexican restaurants between Miami and Globe, and a couple of cafes in Globe.

But take heart! There is KARAOKE at the Shamrock Bar & Lounge in Miami - Thu/Fri/Sat. To make it to the Nashville Star annual competition is the dream of most Miami’s karaoke hopefuls. Others warble for fun, others just enjoy.

I love to find fun places to go.  Miami is now on my list.