Do this, don’t do that!

I’ll bet you’re expecting me to talk about writing. Though there’s nothing I like better than talking about writing, today I’m talking about the amount of health information that we are being inundated with from every which way. I’m talking about the endless stream of articles, websites and magazines that pull us in a thousand different directions in search of perfect health. What to eat, what not to eat, what to drink, what not to drink, take these vitamins not these vitamins, to yoga or not to yoga….the list goes on and on.

With the big 5-0 closing in on me, I’ve found myself concerned about my health and how to keep it. Though I could easily hit my local library and look for the newest releases on health, I’ll confess that I’ve been surfing the net. And frankly it’s making me, and everyone who lives with me, crazy.

For instance, on a popular talk show the personal trainer advised the audience to walk 10,000 steps a day. 10,000? Was that a lot? How would one know. Fast forward to a few days of sheer hell as I clamped on a pedometer only to find that even on my most active days I only hovered at about 8,000 steps. I even wore it during my power walk.

I walk a good brisk pace. After all, the point of power walking is to raise one’s heart rate and get a good cardio workout, something I’m especially conscious of. I couldn’t wait to yank that sucker off. Needless to say my heart sank when I read the numbers 1723. What? I walked a mile, literally. I became so obsessed I jumped in my car to verify whether the route I walk was indeed a mile. To find out it was just one tenth shy of a full mile. Grrrr.

Stay away from meat; substitute chicken and turkey. Then I read an article saying that chicken is too high in Omega 6 when we should be in hot pursuit of Omega 3. Pasta is a great way to go meatless but it’s bad if you’re trying not to consume too many carbs. For those of us concerned about bone density getting twenty minutes of sun a day is the best way to get your Vitamin D – but if you’re predisposed to skin cancer not so much. So there’s always sunblock, right? And yet another link led me to an article about how too much sunblock can actually CAUSE some cancers. Did you know that Australia, home to Milton Blake inventor of sunscreen, has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world? Stay away from sugar, says one popular health website, while another well-known website says your brain must have enough glucose to function properly and survive. This after coming ever so close to completely giving up sugar LOL.

Why the obsession with my health? I think it started with the whole 10,000 steps a day concept. Sedentary. I had never thought of myself as a sedentary person. I had always considered myself an active, busy mom and writer. But as the kids get older and do their own thing, I’m finding that I spend more time sitting than before. When your hobby (reading) and your occupation (writing) make you realize that one of the tools of your trade is your bottom, you start to think. In my case, a little too much.

So after much frustration, aggravation and a whole lot of steps, I’ve narrowed it down to a plan. I start my day with my power walk, end my day with my power walk and in between….well, I’m more willing to give up sugar than sitting at my keyboard or curling up with a good book. And I’ll tell you what I’m really going to give up – reading anything else about what to do or not do about my health.

How about yourself? What ‘steps’ do you take to stay healthy? And for my writer friends, how do you make sure you get enough ‘activity’ in your daily life?

And with that I’m up and running – time to get my errands done!





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How Did I Miss These?

Totally shocked! How did I miss these? I’ve been an avid stationery store lurker since way back when. Matter of fact, just the other day I found a small 3 page paper booklet titled ‘How to Write a Short Story’ dated 1988. Yup. I can even recall the stationery store where I bought it for $2.00. Not the name, but I remember the oversized warehouse style building where I spent many a lunch hour back in the day when I worked full-time as a legal secretary. That was just one of my writerly haunts I would visit during those memorable hours.

So when a writer friend mentioned Moleskin journals in a blog post months ago, I made a note of it. And then promptly forgot to look into them. Until a recent visit to Target when my daughter said she needed a new notebook.  Being a notebook-aholic I was all too happy to follow her down that aisle. Just in case I needed another notebook to add to my collection of several dozen 😀 And while scanning the shelves the word ‘Moleskin’ jumped out at me.

Again, because it bears repeating, how did I miss these? Moleskin journals come in a variety of sizes and colors. Some journals have a specific use like the wine journal or the travel journal. There are reporter notebooks, story board notebooks and sketch books. Now as a notebook junkie I almost wondered what the thrill was. Until I caressed that soft leather cover, opened it up and found a small paper insert with the history of the Moleskin journal.

It seems the Moleskin is fashioned after a simple black rectangle notebook with rounded corners and elastic page holder that the likes of Hemingway, Chatwin, Picasso and van Gogh used. Bruce Chatwin was actually the one who dubbed these notebooks Moleskin. By the 1980s these sturdy, elegant notebooks became increasingly scarce until 1997, when a small Milanese publisher revived these legendary notebooks. One characteristic of the Moleskin that you will not get with any spiral or hard cover notebook is the expandable pocket at the back, perfect for little notes that most writers need to store somewhere safe for future reference.

After getting over sticker shock, for these notebooks do not go for a few measly dollars, I knew I had to have at least one. Depending on which Moleskin you go with, size, purpose and such, you can expect to pay anywhere from $9.99 to $20. Now as someone who is used to buying handfuls of notebooks at the dollar store, I had to practically pull that $20 out from my toes. But oh it is so worth it. Moleskins have sturdy hard covers that make them durable for toting around in oversized pocket books that already include everything but the kitchen sink. It may be all in my head, but the ink just seems to flow as I write in my bright orange Moleskin. Love it, love it, love it!

If you’re a writer, or just someone who likes notebooks for whatever you use it for, check them out at Let me  know what you think….and which one you ordered for yourself. And if like me you prefer to touch and drool over your notebooks before you bring them home, you can find a limited collection at Target and a good selection at Barnes & Noble.






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Something New for a New Year

No more numbers. I started this blog with the intention of counting down the days until I got that first book contract. Besides the fact that that train has long since fallen off the track, I realize that with the huge changes the publishing industry is experiencing, that contract could take much longer than I anticipated. Perhaps my earlier thinking was due to the fact that I came from the world of nonfiction, writing features for magazines and newspapers, where gratification was realized within months, sometimes weeks, of getting your words down.

So I’ve decided to keep the title as I will still, in my head, be counting down the days until I obtain that somewhat elusive book contract. But because I can’t always update this blog in a timely matter consistent with a ‘countdown style’, this year I will simply try to update consistently. After all, when it comes to writing being consistent is just one of the necessary traits a would be author needs.

The novella that I had submitted to a publisher back in December was rejected. On the upside, the rejection letter was very helpful as the editor took the time to point out why the story didn’t work for him. Knowing how busy editors today are, I was not only grateful but hopeful that this story has potential. I just need to start rewriting it, taking this editor’s comments into consideration. And I will.

The critique group I am a part of, called Group 10 as that was the number we were given after finishing a training with our chapter, is a wonderful bonus in my writing life. These wonderfully talented writers not only help point out the good and bad in my story, but they are the pat on the back every writer needs on those days when you’re just not sure whether you can keep writing. Currently they are critiquing the novella for me and my goal is to send it out again by early spring.

Being the new VP-Programs of the RWA-WF chapter of the RWA is a learning experience. I am enjoying working with my fellow board members as we plan our chapter’s mini conference that will take place during the RWA national conference in July in Anaheim, California. Funny, but one of my goals in addition to a book contract was to attend nationals for the first time this year. I had no inkling at that time that I would be playing a part in putting the conference together – at least the conference activities for my chapter.

I recently became one of the blogging bunch for another chapter, the LIRW (Long Island Romance Writers). My second blog will be up on February 5. You can check the blog out at This chapter consists of a great group of women who I was lucky enough to meet during their annual Agent/Editor Luncheon. This year in addition to blogging for LIRW I have joined the planning committee for the 2012 agent/editor luncheon. I’m looking forward to another great day of networking.

I’ve jumped into 2012 with both feet, juggling both my writing goals and my volunteer commitments. It’s my hope that they will fuel one another and keep me moving forward. And if I work consistently, just maybe one day this year I’ll be able to let you know that my countdown has ended – at least for my first book.

What  goals will you be juggling in 2012?

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Day 39…or I blinked and it’s Christmas

Just thinking about how long ago I started this blog, and the fact that I am only on Day 39, tells me that it’s time to use titles for each post. My good intentions of blogging daily fell to the wayside for a myriad of reasons, some good and some just plain excuses. It’s been over a month since I’ve posted and I’m not sure where to begin.

Though I was not blogging, I was busy writing. A few projects came up that took me away from the world of fiction. A handful of articles, some website content and SEO work that, though I dread, keeps me in the green. I even managed to submit a short story to a magazine that actually buys short romances. Fingers crossed. I will, of course, let you know what comes of that. Aside from writing, life just seemed to go a bit off track. No, very off track.

My daughter started her first job and within a week became very ill. During Thanksgiving week my family endured a tragedy as my 47-year-old cousin, Michael, died unexpectedly from a heart attack. It’s difficult to even type those words and I’ve had to back up and correct mistakes as my hands trembled while typing them. Just as I thought my daughter was getting well, she had a relapse and I was diagnosed with Pneumonia last Saturday. Thank God after only being sick 3 days my intuition (which I’ve trusted numerous times before) told me I needed to go see the doctor. Thank God for a wise doctor who immediately suspected this was not just a cold or upper respiratory. And finally, a first for me, thanks to the pharmaceutical world for a potent drug that seems to be working miracles.

On the up side, I have submitted my novella to a publisher. I know it’s competitive out there but I’ll keep thinking good thoughts. Whether they like it or not, as a writer it’s a giant step sending your work out there. And I’ve done it!  Looking for the good things that have occurred during this last month or so, I have found a wonderful critique group. These three women have been an amazing source of inspiration, knowledge and, with this illness taking me by surprise, warm support. With their help, I hope to submit my novel early next year. I’ve actually been surprised not only that they are enjoying my chapters but that they ‘get’ what I was trying to accomplish in this novel.

Last but not least, effective January 1, 2012 I will be the VP-Programs for RWA-WF, the women’s fiction chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I have always wanted to get more involved in this wonderful, supportive organization. I only hope I can fill the very large shoes of my predecessor.

It seems like I blinked and we went from Halloween to Christmas. Where does the time go? As writers we can let the rapid passing of time pressure us into hurrying in our writing, hurrying to send it out into the world. Or we can decide to slow down, enjoy the journey and acknowledge that every little step we take is an accomplishment in itself.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you the most important gifts of all – peace, health and happiness!






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Day 38

My days here are all scrabbled, as my original intention was to post a blog every day. Though that every day goal has dwindled down to every week or so, thankfully my thoughts and writing are not scrabbled.

Today is the first day of Finish the Book’s, a sub-chapter of the online chapter Faith, Hope & Love, BIAW or Book In a Week challenge. My goal to write 1000 words has been recorded in the group’s data base. Today I wrote 1374, exceeding that goal. This story has veered away from my original plans and for the better. Though I’ve got a half filled notebook of notes, character sketches and scenes, I love just letting whatever comes to me flow onto the page. Or, in this case, the computer screen. I’m pleased with my first few pages but realistic. Starting is always easy. It’s the staying that’s tough. But if this week’s challenge isn’t enough to keep me on track, I have the Nanowrimo challenge on its heels to keep me going. After a break neck month of writing in September, I’ve enjoyed filling the well with books, trade magazines and lots of blog reading. Now I’m ready to go.

And since I’ll be writing every day for the next month, I’ll try to keep my original goal and post something here every day. Might just get me back on track.

Happy Halloween and happy writing!









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Day 37

It’s about time I made my way over to this blog and posted an update. After spending two weeks in a frenzy, writing and editing a novella for a writing contest, I felt the need to just…well to just not write. I was spent. There’s no other word to describe it. I had spilled it all out on the page and was exhausted, both mentally and physically. Who would have thought your wrists could ache so much after writing thousands of words a day for ten days straight?LOL. But during my break from writing I was still working. I spent the last several weeks catching up on reading writing magazines, writing books, inspirational books, business how-to’s and, of course, fiction. Lots of fiction. I just can’t read novels when I’m writing.

Here we are almost mid-October and I’m ready to get back to writing. Perfect timing too because one of the most charming group of writers I know is holding another BIAW (Book In a Week) challenge starting on October 31! Spooky fun! And since I have a notebook with some notes for another novel just itching to be written, I’ve decided to plunge back in for the challenge and write it. Of course I’ve learned a few things after completing a novel and novella these last few months. Though I keep a notebook for each novel I write ( I know I’ve shared that in a prior blog), this time around I’m doing a little more ground work. Thanks to writer friend Julie Jarnagin (, I’ve got a plotting worksheet to work with. I’m getting my research done ahead of time so I won’t find myself surfing the net in the middle of what should be my writing time. Yup, I’m excited to get started on a story that I’m targeting for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. And what luck that Nano is right on the heels of the BIAW.

For writers, Nanowrimo, or National Writing Month, is a great way to get that novel written. Briefly, it’s a challenge to write a 50K novel in 30 days. It’s a ‘take no hostages’ approach to writing that encourages you to  get those words written without the ever-present internal editor harping at you. For more about Nano visit What I love about Nanowrimo is the camaraderie. There’s nothing like having a little company along with you during a challenge. And for anyone who has always said ‘someday when I have the time I’m going to write a book’ Nano is the kick in the seat of the pants you probably need. Because no one knows what the future holds and someday may never come. What better way to check off that novel-writing goal on your bucket list than joining in with thousands of other people from around the world who want to do the same?

I’ve been taking part in Nano every year since 2005 but only met the 50K goal in 30 days during the 2006 challenge. After that, life just seemed to get in the way and  I let my novel fall to the wayside.Then of course there were those people who would say how foolish it was to waste time on a ‘hobby’ that couldn’t possibly lead to a living. It was impossible to get a book published unless you knew someone.  What could you possibly write about that someone would pay money to read? A friend recently even said to me that years ago she had loved to write and then realized she needed to do something that she actually could make a living doing.

So I let all those years go by without even blinking when I dropped out of those Nano challenges. It was so much easier to quit and walk away then stay on and push myself to the end. When I would lament here and there to a friend they would nod their head sympathetically and say “Well, it’s no big deal. Not everyone can write a book. There’s nothing wrong with just getting a job like everyone else.”  Then last Wednesday, while commiserating with a writer friend about how tough writing fiction can be, I heard about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ passing. Years ago I had printed a copy of his 2005 commencement address to the graduating class at Stanford. I skimmed it then but with his passing pulled it back out and really read it. There are just too many great tidbits to post here but one paragraph summed it all up for me and I share it with you:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

The clock of life is ticking and there’s no time to waste. It’s time to follow your dreams, whatever they may be, and ignore what other people say. Forget about next year or when you retire or when the kids grow up. Don’t settle for less. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. The time is right and the time is now. Do it for Steve Jobs, a man who never let anything or anyone stop him.









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Day 36

S.U.B.M.I.T.T.E.D! Almost a week to the day I posted about completing my novella I am shouting my good news! Though I actually submitted my completed entry in the novella writing contest on Saturday the 17th, it’s been a busy few days. This is the first chance I’ve had to get here and blog about it. Just thinking about hitting that submit button still brings goosebumps to my arms. I’ve never been more excited or proud of myself. At least not since the day an article I wrote on women’s health took the first place award in its category from the Society of professional Journalists. Writing articles comes easy to me; fiction seems to be a struggle. So you can imagine how proud of myself I am. Whether I win or not doesn’t matter. I know I’ve said that before but I mean it.

The best prize of all for me was the fact that I started the novella, finished it, edited it and submitted it before the deadline of the contest. I’ve never had a problem meeting deadlines. As a journalist you live, eat and breathe deadlines. Give me a subject for an article and I can run with it from research to a completed draft that is copy ready. But when it comes to fiction I’m all over the place. I still can’t figure out if I should research first or research as I go along. I try to figure it out as the individual project calls for it. This novella was like nothing else I’ve ever written. The idea just came to me out of thin air (which never happens!) and I ran with it. It took me all of ten days to write the first draft. After that, for me, it was just a matter of editing on a schedule.

Though my plan was to edit one half to a full chapter a day for two weeks, the words just seemed to fall into place. I ended up ending two chapters minimum and on the final day, because I’m driven by nature, I edited the last three chapters. Now I’m a tough critic. I have no problem killing my darlings, as they say. Cutting, slashing or whatever you want to call it is not a problem. But this story seemed to not need any major surgery. It was more of a fine tuning, of getting the sentences polished to a shine, as my friend likes to say. Once those sentences were sparkling and I was happy with the story, I knew I could safely say ‘it’s as good as it’s going to get’ and send it on its way.  I found myself laughing and thoroughly enjoying the story during the editing stage as much as I enjoyed writing it. This was my first experience writing a romantic comedy and I have to say I’m eager to give it another go.

So with the novella contest behind me I’m eager to start writing again. Now my only problem is deciding whether I want to go back to my second novel, Garden Variety, or try my hand at something completely new. I feel like I’ve lost my momentum with the story so if I do go back to it I know I’ll need to sit down and reread it. But I think I’m itching to write another sweet romance….a funny story that’s been waiting for me to scratch its surface. Maybe, just maybe…but for now I have a quick writing assignment to do for a former corporate client. But you can bet the minute I hit ‘send’ on that corporate assignment I’ll be pulling out a fresh novel notebook and jotting down what I hope will become yet another completed work for me. 2011 is turning out to be quite a productive year!

How about you? It’s already mid September. This year is just flying by…what have you accomplished so far?








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