December is a season of countdowns this year. There is the usual countdown to Christmas...but this year there is the twist of a first Christmas in Florida.

There is the countdown to The Force Awakens on December 18th. Yes, of course I have my tickets!

And there is the countdown to hubby's podcast relaunching before the new year. This is a big deal, really, because in many ways it signifies a return to something close to normal life--whatever that is.

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Today, I'm kicking off my Ornament Countdown to Christmas! This little guy is from my friend Mike, who knows I love stars. The ornament is almost as old as our friendship, I think. So, close to 30 years old. He's a brother from another mother, the guy you can say anything to, he can suck down the contents of a hot sauce packet in a split second, knows how to make you feel better about yourself, can make you laugh no matter how determined you are not to, and it's really going to suck not being able to see The Force Awakens with him. He is also a tremendous storyteller, but allows spelling to get in his way. You've got to cut that out, Mike. Love ya!

Sent from my iPhone

Five kids with real empathy

So, I don't know what my eyeliner looks like right now, because the following link from SocialChive had me in tears: 

Five boys with real empathy

Because that's what reducing bullying is all about--just a bit of empathy. I hope you'll check out the video and I hope you'll wear a blue shirt tomorrow, Monday, October 5th, in honor of Stomp Out Bullying's World Day of Bullying Prevention!

My middle grade character, Ned the Ninja, a kid who is learning all about self acceptance and standing up for himself, has put on a blue gi top for the occasion!

Ned hig blue shirt


My Writing Nook

I hate to be this blunt about it, but ... moving sucks. Especially long distance. I mean, really. If I were to fill you in on all the little details about how much it sucked moving down to Florida, this would be a rather depressing post. So I'll just leave this right here as a hint of how much it sucked by way of the delivery that finally came ...


... and then I'll focus on the positive:


My writing nook is finally together and I love it! It's not huge, but it's cozy. It's full of things that inspire me (including some stuff that I had packed away for at least ten years). 

For example:


This guy was picked up in the tiny town of Cairo, New York, in an incredible little shop of oddities. It was one of those things I just had to have. My fiance (now husband) and I had ventured in on a whim and the store owner made us pick a small polished stone from a basket to keep. I forget what the one we picked meant, but it was something nice about the future. Still have that, too. Anyway, this guy was never packed away. He's an incense holder, and he reminds me of the beauty and mystery of upstate New York.


My hand-painted, hand-drawn cell of Sorcerer Mickey was given to me by my parents. Sorcerer Mickey is my favorite Disney character, narrowly beating Elliot the dragon. I appreciate this cell all the more these days since Disney got rid of my favorite icon ... the hat in Hollywood Studios and has now closed the Art of Animation building. In fact, the only way the Dis can do right by me is to replace it with a Star Wars emblem of some sort. We'll see what happens.


Desk lamp from my forever friend, Jen, who never forgets my love of dolphins. It as found at a Restoration Hardware, so who knows its past before coming to me.



 Krystonia! This is one of my favorites. 




It feels good to be back in the saddle--at least one part of my life feels homier now. It's time to get back to writing regularly, slinging words around, and contemplating the 'what ifs'. Time to get comfortable enough to allow my new surroundings to affect my prose. With views like this ...

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... I have hope!

Art Cafe: a Thing of Beauty

IMG_3400 (2)As a newbie living in Florida, I would like to know three things: 1) When is the moving truck finally
 going to arrive with my stuff? 2) Why has it rained and stormed every day since I got here? 3) Where, oh where, does a Floridian writer go to pound the keys and drink coffee in bliss and solace?

I've left a lot of things behind in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area: incomparable friends, a ridiculously-adorable godchild, a job I loved, two trees that stood apart at perfect 'hammock' distance, oh ... and my stuff--because after three weeks, it hasn't left New Jersey. Still, I'm summoning a stiff upper lip and trying to find my way around Florida with mind and heart open to new ideas and different places. For example, I'm the sort of writer/caffeine addict who falls in love with an eclectic cafe or coffee shop. Sometimes I just need to bolt from the home office and thrive on the energy of a place where people meet over caffeine, take a break, laugh with friends, or put their noses to the grindstone at a laptop. Will a Starbucks do? Sure, sometimes. But where do I find offbeat, creativity-charged cafes an hour outside Orlando in Sumter County? I'm on the prowl--yep, mind and heart open--but so far, no luck. (If you would like to make suggestions, please do!) In the meantime, I'll be reminiscing over Art Cafe in Nyack, New York. Would-be Floridian business-owners please take note:


Art Cafe: Be still my 'art! How I miss this place. Nestled along Broadway in an old Victorian sits a true haven for gathering with friends or hunkering over your laptop. Sit outdoors in the front garden surrounded by greenery, in-season blooms, and perhaps music from a local musician. Otherwise, find a cozy nook indoors where you'll enjoy the ever-changing work of local artists. But the art doesn't stop there: Order a latte or mochaccino (my favorite) and you'll spend your first few minutes with it marveling over the foam.

That said, any of their coffee beverages (made with organic Blue Bottle Coffee beans they roast themselves) are superb. And the teas? Their lavender brew puts me in such an 'all is right with the world' state that I wound up buying it loose to make at home before bed.

While I usually went for the coffee, the food is not to be missed if you enjoy Israeli-inspired dishes. If I try hard enough, I can still taste their Gruyere Toastini: fresh gruyere, fresh mozzarella, mushroom, and red onion on a pressed panini-style Israeli bagel (no hole!) covered in sesame seeds. And the dressing on the side salad? I never really asked what it was, but seriously, I am kissing my fingertips in a very Italian way right now and briefly wondering if they'll ship it--along with the toastini--frozen. Perhaps the hummus or tahini?

It's hard to push the coffee, tea, and yummage aside, yet the best part of Art Cafe was the soothing atmosphere that made writing a pleasure, but gathering with friends even better. How I miss my Wednesday evenings with Rebecca and Audie! Intelligent and fun conversations on kids, schooling, politics, family life, and the arts revived my spirit halfway through the week to get through the rest of it. The only bad part about that was how many times I lamented only meeting these ladies recently. Maybe I'll find a unique little cafe down here at some point, but the friends that went with it are irreplaceable!

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Announcing Ned the Ninja's "Power in Numbers"


So there's Ned, and we have a feeling he would be smiling even bigger if he wasn't so nervous over the lovely Adrianna to his left! But they are both pleased over this new story, which has Ned continuing to grow in many ways--but not without some hefty growing pains along the way. It doesn't help when your mysterious mentor isn't big on words and seems to like talking in code, either!

Power in Numbers is available in print and ebook on and in print on

Thanks so much to Ned's growing number of fans and to the schools who have had Kea and Melissa in for workshops and assemblies! We hope you enjoy Power in Numbers and look forward to your reactions. To review any of Ned's stories, you'll find easy links here.

Adventures of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

You know that feeling that comes over you in a flash when you are 'done' - body, mind, and soul? Maybe you have walked the mall or worked all day long, then ran errands, and now it's 98 degrees outside, 100% humidity, your feet are killing you and all you have to do is find your keys to make it through your front door so that you can fall onto the couch? One ... more ... step! Al ... most ... there!

Sometimes life in general just feels like that, doesn't it? Everything piles up, goes wrong, dumb little things roll into a growing snowball until you suddenly feel like Indiana Jones running from that monstrous boulder. I don't know about you, but I can't run that fast, I never have Indy's sort of luck on my side, and sometimes I just need a mental couch to fall onto before I scream loud enough for strangers to stare.

I had that couch, once a month, for about fourteen years. It was called canasta. I played the game with three friends -- and it was anything but a game for old ladies, thank you very much. (Old ladies could never handle our conversations.) We happily ate junk food, sometimes drank wine or sangria, had coffee, shared stories, advice, tears, and the sort of laughter that results in no sound coming out. In homage to the film, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, we called ourselves Ya-Yas, and at the end of every meeting, we pulled out our calendars to schedule the date and place for the next one. Pity the husband who dared to get out of watching the kids on a canasta night!

About one week before each meeting, we would call or text each other with phrases such as, "OMG ... thank God canasta is Friday", "I need a canasta! Now!", and "Is it Friday yet?" Because canasta was the couch to fall upon when operating on one last thread of energy and sanity. Only one ... more ... day ... to .... canasta!

Love my Ya-Yas always!

 Anyone have ideas on how to play cards over Skype? Seriously.

Northeast Girl in Florida ... say what?

FullSizeRender (2)Without going into the nitty-gritty details of how and why I got here, I became a Florida resident last week. And the truth is, no matter how much I hem and haw and wish I could find a super-fast wormhole back to New Jersey, I am lucky to have a place here. Now, I've heard horrible things about Central Florida, but coming from New Jersey--recently voted worst state in the country by some poll's account, thank you very much!--such negativity really shouldn't phase me. I have also heard great things, for example, about how friendly people are down here. Even though I can't say much for sure about what I like and what I don't like about my new home, I can certainly say that people are friendly. And I like that. I just hope they stay that way when my New York / New Jersey roots show themselves. So far, I've kept them safely tucked away.

What do I mean by that?

THEY SAY:                                 I SAY:                           BUT I'M REALLY THINKING:

All y'all from NJ?                       Yep.                                I can deal with the y'all just fine. I might even decide                                                                                                 to start using it some day. The all y'all means 'all of                                                                                                 you' twice and it makes me twitch.

Ah, it's going to be very            I'm sure.                       By different, are we talking heat? Are we talking 
different from the                      (Chuckle, chuckle)      politics? Because I really don't want to talk politics. 
Northeast for all y'all               I hope to get used       By different do you mean better? Because the 
down here.                                  to the heat soon!         Northeast is just fine with me. Hey guy ... step off 
(Chuckle, chuckle)                                                             the Northeast!

Bless you...                                  (smile)                           I didn't sneeze. And I didn't say anything to warrant                                                        Uh, you too!                a blessing such as, 'Hey I just solved world hunger,'                                                                                               either. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate any                                                                                               blessings that come my way, but despite being                                                                                               Christian, I really don't know how to respond to such                                                                                               an impromptu blessing outside of church. My bad,                                                                                               I'm sure. But still....

Yeah, I might have a slight paranoia going on, and I'm sure it's just going to take a while to get used to Florida as a resident rather than vacationer. No doubt, it won't be easy to find a place for this fan girl mom to fit in. (So I can't wait for Star Wars Weekends in Disney next year!) The friends I have back home are worth their combined weight in platinum, and if it weren't for unlimited calling plans and social media, I wouldn't be sane enough to function at the moment. In the meantime, I suppose new experiences that seem bad at first can have benefits. Yesterday, there was a thunderstorm. Looking up, I was shocked at how the storm stretched across such a wide expanse of sky. The dark clouds were actually rolling in. And it scared me ... but it was thrilling. Bolts of lightning stabbed down at the earth like a movie scene, and I thought, I might become one of those people who love to watch storms. I suppose I'll revisit that idea after my first Florida hurricane.

Any advice for a newbie in Florida? 

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Life Stories

I try to manipulate my life the same way I write: If I'm not happy with the way something is going, I want to edit it. Sometimes that's easy. Other times, it's impossible and nothing but a waste of mental energy. Truthfully, there is only so much we have control over in life--unlike the freedom of creating worlds and scenarios on paper. But chapter by chapter, we live our lives, knowing the end will come eventually--and hoping it's a happy, rather than tragic close. We want a good ending where, despite the sadness, we can label a life well-lived. 

My mother-in-law passed last week. We had been visiting her in at-home hospice, down in Florida, thinking she still had weeks left, but after one (very nice) day together, she slipped into unconsciousness overnight and was gone about 24 hours later. My father-in-law, who was heavily devastated, didn't want a wake, service, funeral--nothing. Supposedly, my MIL had wanted it that way, too. 

While my husband and FIL quickly set about getting rid of everything my MIL owned, I kept trying to find ways to celebrate her life. But nobody wanted me to organize a gathering at their retirement community game room. Nobody wanted me to do anything but help go through her clothing, bags, makeup, and the jewelry she had not already given to others. Suddenly, my daughter was faced with a box of everything she had made her grandmother through the years and asked if she wanted any of it back. As she looked at all the bead and Shrinky Dink jewelry, I don't think she really knew. She shrugged a bit, but couldn't clearly answer. I grabbed a couple of things in case, but when all was said and done, bags of stuff were dropped at Goodwill within three days of my MIL passing.


RIP Lilian

Everyone grieves and handles death in their own way. I fully realize there is no one right or wrong way. My FIL and husband needed to do it this way. So the issue is all me: I feel like the book of her life had the last few pages ripped off--no epilogue, no end chapter, no rounded-up conclusion. I hate going to wakes and funerals as much as the next person, but I really get the purpose now. They sort of become the epilogue: Friends, family, and acquaintances exchange stories, view pictures, say good-bye. Someone or many someones give wrap-up speeches whether they are religious or simply anecdotal in nature. Often, you find out something about the person you never knew in all that. Every time someone I knew had died in the past, there was some form of closure. So the absence of it is new for me.

So really, I feel like I just watched that horrible non-ending to the Sopranos all over again. Oh, how I want to fix it! It's the writer in me, I guess, and that need to futz with a story is a good thing and a curse at the same time. The need to edit her ending with a nice epilogue is making me nuts. My daughter, who is known to burst into tears over a crushed ladybug, is too quiet about it all.  I want a way to celebrate my MIL's life for my kids' sake--without stomping on the wishes of anyone else. Any ideas? 


How Things Work by Bill Kane

From time to time, I promote a book on my social media sites. This one:

Bill kane book

Last night I began re-reading it. Bill Kane was a friend, mentor, client at the dojo where I work, and father to a wonderful co-worker. He passed away a few days ago and was one of those people who will undoubtedly be missed. He was a student of life and was fascinated with exploring how people and the universe at large function. This books contains his theories on how it all works and it is nothing less than a fascinating read. It will get you thinking, guaranteed.

Let me know if you give it a try!

An Infinite Ink Authors Infinitely Awesome Birthday Giveaway!

It's been a whole year since nine wordsmiths joined forces to get the word out about their unique brands of YA Speculative Fiction. I'm proud to be one of them. I've loved reading and sharing everyone's work. I've been inspired by everyone's varied talents. However, the best thing about being part of this author co-op is the way everyone is so supportive of each other by way of advice, humor, sympathy, empathy, and respect for each other's ideas. This year has been brighter for me in my journey as a writer all because of my fellow Infinite Ink Authors

Help us celebrate our first anniversary by entering our

Birthday Extravaganza Giveaway on Oct 8 - 10th!

Our biggest prize? 

A Kindle Fire HD or Paperwhite!

Read on for details and to get to know us all....

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~ Treehugger ~
~ The Torturer’s Daughter ~ 
~ Contributor ~ 
~ Fevered Souls ~
~ The Breeders ~ 
~ The Scourge ~
~ Daynight ~ 
~ Virulent ~ 
Meet the Authors 
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~ Kea Alwang ~ 
~ Zoe Cannon ~
~ Nicole Ciacchella ~ 
~ SK Falls ~ 
~ Katie French ~ 
~ AG Henley ~
~ Ash Krafton ~
~ Megan Thomason ~ 
~ Shelbi Wescott ~ 
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • $10 Amazon gift card (INT)
  • Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Paperwhite (US only) or if winner is INT, winner’s choice of $119 PayPal Cash or Amazon gift card. 
Please note that Juniper Grove Book Solutions is not responsible for the handling/sending of the Kindle giveaway. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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