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A Writer Revived


It’s been a while. If you read my blog, The Yellow Dress, it may have touched your heart. You may have also suffered a loss that shifted your whole being for a time. If so, I empathize.

Writing has always helped me through a hard time. If I wrote about it, the words seemed to steal away some of the sting. But grief-stricken words couldn’t remove the pain of losing my sister. It took time to change the nature of the pain enough to move on.

I was in the middle of writing the third book in the Knoll Cottage trilogy when my sister died. Now, over a year later, I wanted to go back to writing Dear Bella, but when I began to work on it, it was clear I wasn’t quite ready. Instead, my wonderful critique partner and some great friends worked with me to revise and update a book I had written earlier, A Marriage to Die For.

I am going to publish that book in about two weeks. I am going to offer it as a free eBook on Amazon for a period of time. It’s a story that is all over the news today. My book is about a battered wife who plans to escape from her husband. He, though, is a DEA special agent with exceptional recourses at hand to find her.

It’s difficult to understand why it’s so hard for someone to escape a situation of abuse. It’s counterintuitive, why not just go? Get a restraining order, pack up, and leave. But there are emotional reasons, love may still exist, certainly fear, there could be financial issues, or children involved.

How hard would it be to walk away from every single aspect of your life right now? What if your very life depended on it?

I’ll send out a quick blog when the eBook is available. I love writing those words. I’m back!



The Yellow Dress


If you’ve read either novel in my Knoll Cottage Series, you know I’ve included a bit of mystic. In fact, there may be a ghostie in that sun porch. I do believe there are angels and spirits all around us.
My sister, Pat, died in November.
She was a devout Catholic, and had a magnificent voice. Singing mostly classical religious works was her passion. And she sang in every Catholic Church choir she could.
Pat didn’t worry about my far flung beliefs in many religions. She never doubted me when I told her my cardinal’s message story or other spiritual events in my life. She loved me dearly and I her.
The summer Missing Emily was launched, Pat and her husband came to Cape Cod to attend the book launch party some dear friends gave for me. Pat and I had coordinated our outfits for the party, but it turned out to be a killer hot day. Instead of the lined eyelet dress I’d planned, I wore a deep pink, print sundress. My sister came up the stairs in a bright yellow sleeveless dress. “It was too hot to wear the other one,” she told me. We laughed about both of us changing our minds.
I have a wonderful close-up picture of her in that yellow dress. The expression on her face is pensive, neither happy nor sad. It has an element of listening to something important. Since she was always smiling and laughing, when I saw that intriguing picture, I printed it out and framed it.
Just yesterday, I asked my brother-in-law if I could have that yellow dress. I want to hang it in my closet so she’s with me every day.
And then, this happened.
It was Easter and I hadn’t gone to Mass for some time. Most of our family knew how much Pat loved the church, and wanted us lost souls to return. I couldn’t yet. On the best of days, hymns make me emotional, and I knew if I went to church and heard the music, I would cry. But it was Easter, so my husband and I went to church.
I enjoy watching all the children dressed up in their Easter finery; one little girl with a wide brimmed hat made everyone smile. At one quiet moment, I looked over at a beautiful domestic scene. A Dad was tying the bow on the back of his daughter’s dress. Her dress was bright yellow and sleeveless. Her mother wore a bright yellow, sleeveless dress, also, with a deep pink sweater over her shoulders.
It took me a few seconds to realize, my sister was letting me know she was there. I cried in church!
My Dad died several years ago. I often think of them together in heaven. So you see, the tying of the dress bow was doubly significant.
In case I had any doubt about my sister’s presence, she drove the message home. As we lined up for Communion, two women went before me in bright yellow sweaters. Guess what the female Eucharistic minister was wearing. A bright yellow jacket.
Pat wanted to be sure I got her message. I did dear sister…


Throw the book out?

I am revising one of my earlier novels with the plan to publish it as an eBook. It’s the story of a woman married to a DEA agent, who is abusive. How can she leave a DEA agent, who has endless resources, so he can never find her?

If you’ve read either of my published books, you know emotion is strong in my stories.

As I revise A Marriage to Die for, I don’t feel the inTENSE emotion I’d like to portray. I rewrote one of my protagonist’s (Jane) scenes using the first person, present TENSE, and sent it to my critique partner, author Sandra Fontana. She really liked the effect.

Valiant and daring as I am, I plan to write all of Jane’s scenes this way. The reader will be right in the moment with her, be in the throes of her TENSE situations, share her deep emotions.

On the other hand, I want some distance from the DEA Ace, Brock. Although, I’d like the reader to know what he’s up to—to know things Jane does not. All of his scenes will be in the third person, past TENSE. As will other characters in the story.

Wish me luck. I may be breaking some rules here. Since I’m planning to offer the book free on Amazon for a limited time, read it, and let me know what you think in a review. I’m aiming for a few months. Sign up on my website:, and I’ll send you a newsletter when A Marriage to Die for is available. Then I will blog on your responses.


Do You Believe?

Do You Believe?

I have to admit, every time I open a fortune cookie, I am waiting for those words a writer longs for. Something like: Your book will be a best seller, or: Your novel will skyrocket on Amazon. Even: You will be a great success; good things are coming your way. Right? Of course, you shake your head and smile, but when you get a good one, you slip that slip of paper into your pocket, pat it, and later put it on your bulletin board. Guilty as charged!
Last evening we went to a Chinese buffet with friends. An enormous buffet. On my last pass, I took advantage of the dessert assortment of ice cream, cookies, pastries, pudding, and fruit. Later, more than sated, we sat and chatted with our friends, sipping the last of our tea. The server came and brought the bill, along with four fortune cookies. Too full to think about eating one, I did focus on the possibility that one of those cookies contained the fate of my novel writing. I waited for someone to hand me a cookie. It wouldn’t work if I chose my own. Finally, my husband placed a cookie in front of me. I ate the cookie—yes I did—as full as I was, then unfurled the bit of paper.
Anyone who cared enough to research the origin of Fortune Cookies would have found the cookie is not a tradition in China. Several theories exist on how they became a staple in Chinese restaurants, but most likely they are based on a Japanese cookie—with a fortune inside. But who cares where it came from. Some of the numbers on the back of the fortune have been lottery winners. So, we all agree, the fortunes are true also.
This fortune was different from any I’ve seen before. A special message to everyone. As a writer, I love when my words come together to draw an emotion from my reader, so I particularly loved this fortune. All four of us felt it. Here’s what it said: Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.
Those lovely words are on my bulletin board. I am thinking of playing the lottery!

A Writer’s Thanks Giving

Bitter Berries

Bitter Berries

It is the beginning of the Happy Holidays. When we eat bad food that tastes good; get together with distant family; go to parties and catch up with friends. Happy. But when bad things happen, these holidays make the pain worse.

I am always so grateful for my writing. I know I share this gratitude with other writers. The work of writing a novel is not about becoming famous, but for the ability to string together an entertaining book. The added gift of telling stories is the control you have over the lives of your characters. I am able to turn a bad diagnosis to a healing; send an abuser to prison for life; allow a poverty-stricken life to change with a lottery win. I’ve even been known to remove a bad person permanently from a good person’s life.

For those who have sorrow or worry on their plate, take heart in this quote from Kahlil Gibran:

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

On Women: Girlfriends

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If you are lucky enough to have girlfriends, in this case, not the romantic kind, but good female friends, you are lucky! A true girlfriend:
• Lends you her clothes or even shoes
• Goes to lunch or a movie with you
• Plays Canasta with you for hours
• Listens to your problems, with her eyes wide open, for as long as it takes; then she helps you solve them.
• Seals the grout in your new kitchen floor
• Tells you you do look fat in those pants
• Reads your first draft manuscript, and your second, and your fortieth
• Lets you win at tennis once and a while
• Can work seamlessly in the same kitchen with you
• Forgives you
• Holds you when you cry
• Stands by you when you’re in trouble
You do the same for her. In short, you love each other in a special way that’s found in no other relationship. I am lucky enough to have had much-loved girlfriends throughout my life. Relationships don’t always stand up to long distances, but there are always fond memories of your time together. Some may go bad, and those you regret.
One way I celebrate these relationships is to include girlfriends in my novels. I can’t imagine a book without one.
I hope you are lucky in your female friendships, too!

Publishing and Tractors

Oh No Slow Go

Oh No Slow Go

Life can slow you down
When you’re rushing into town
And fast you’ll lose control
Cause a tractor full of petrol
Makes you crawl

You’re full of frustration
Hey, life’s not a vacation
Your foot is riding the brake
You’re surely going to be late
Go with the flow

Publishing is like a trip
Along the way the road might dip
Still hold the dream you have inside
The future book you see with pride
You’ll get there!

Gone Girl: A Novel. Let’s Talk

Gone Girl: A Novel on Kindle

Gone Girl: A Novel on Kindle

Let me start by saying how great I think the book is. As a writer, I mean. The way the surprises emerge, stealthily, sneakily, is quite brilliant. The premise is quite brilliant. Not contrived, and slightly unbelievable, but addictive. Once you get past the beginning.
Gone Girl broke rules, and no agent would take on this book, except that it was brilliant. I read for a while before I realized I didn’t like either of the main characters. I couldn’t relate to them, couldn’t sympathize with them, and in time, I actively disliked them. Rule-breaker. But when a book grabs your interest and hooks you, it can be a grand success, even if it breaks the rules—or maybe because it breaks the rules.
Now, the ending. One friend told me she thought it was a love story. I sure didn’t think that . . . but then, was it? An unhealthy love? Or was it a case of psychotic codependence? Or was is about a parent’s protective instinct?
The end of the book made me mad. I felt frustrated, and if I had Gillian Flynn’s phone number, I would have called her and asked a dozen questions. And tell her I think she’s brilliant.
This book is an author’s dream. It’s provocative and stimulates conversation.
So, if you read the book, please tell me what you think about it. Even if you only saw the movie, because it was very close to the novel, you can join in.
Gillian Flynn currently has another best seller on the New York Times list, Dark Places. Will you read it? Darn it, I will!