Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

<---Walt Disney World dresses up for Halloween 2010 last year.

Happy Halloween, folks!
This day is much more than spooky haunted houses with gruesome characters running around with chainsaws and blood dripping. When we look back to see that his day was one of honoring our deceased ancestors and as a harvest festival, we can see how the signs and symbols have evolved into the present day.

Jack O'Lantern pumpkins are believed to have come from a Celtic tradition of carving out apples or small turnips to use as candle holders. It is doubtful that faces were carved in these small fruits, but because our American pumpkins are large enough to carve in that way, they are distinctively ours.

Trick-or-treating comes from the practice of going house to house during the Celtic holidays. Special food was left out for the family ancestors. The visitors came with a sense of revelry and fun and were offered food and drink. This practice evolved into the candy-begging that we know today.

If you want to add a little ancient flavor to your Halloween celebration this year, consider adding one of the following to your festivities:

1. Make an ancestral altar with pictures or mementos of family members who have passed on. This is a beautiful way to honor a loved-one's spirit.

2. Carve a jack o'lantern and save the seeds that you scrape out. Rinse the seeds and boil them in a pot of water. When done they will sink to bottom of pot. Drain and pat dry. Mix olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Mix seeds in. Preheat oven to 350. Spread single layer of seeds on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. If they turn brown they are overcooked. Allow to cool and enjoy.

3. Honor the harvest aspect of Halloween by eating some yummy pumpkin pie and giving thanks for your abundance.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Top Five Rides at Walt Disney World

While doing some tweaking to a Disney project I'm working on, I came up with this week's topic. Let me know if you agree with my favorites...or add your own!

5. Pirates of the Caribbean

With the latest improvements and an eerily accurate figure of Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow added, this classic ride is solidly in my top-five! It's not a fast ride yet it is thrilling. When Walt Disney built Disneyland, he wanted a place where all ages could have an enjoyable time and this ride epitomizes his vision.

4. Soarin'

The long lines during every visit are testimony to how great this attraction is. When I saw how the Imagineer who had designed this ride worked out the concept for this ride, I was blown away by its simplicity. You are brought into the movie and the multi-sensory experience is unlike anything I've ridden in the past.

3. Expedition: Everest

In my opinion the best themed attraction in both queue and ride itself, this is my favorite roller coaster. Joe Rohde captured the feel of the Himalayas and the area around Everest starting from the second you get to the entrance. The queue has tons of interesting items to look at and you do feel that you are getting ready to go on a thrilling expedition.

2. Spaceship Earth

My favorite ride in EPCOT. While I preferred the Jeremy Irons narration and the ending scenes that that version had, the new additions are still in keeping with the theme and message of reaching out to each other and the advances that have been made in communicating.

1. Haunted Mansion

Hands down, my must do attraction. A classic attraction with believable special effects (the dancing ghosts in the ballroom scene) it is just scary enough. I haven't seen the improved ghosts at the end of the ride yet, so I have to reserve judgment but this will always be my favorite way to get spooked!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Goal Posters

No Patriots football due to the Patriots bye week. :-(
Everyone needs a break from the work grind and I'm sure all of the players are enjoying their time. Still, it makes my Sunday that much less fun...
I've gotten a bit accomplished for myself this past week. It was a slow week so I was able to concentrate on items on my goal poster. Yes, I have a goal poster, a leftover habit from my time with Mary Kay Cosmetics. If there is ever a time that I have nothing to keep me occupied, I turn to the goal poster and start working on something that will bring me closer to completing a task. Interestingly enough the item on the goal poster that I thought was going to be the hardest to achieve was the one that was finished first.

Do you work from visual reminders of what you need to do or do you wing it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Bit of Disbelief

I have been reading everything that has been posted on Facebook about the downfall of Aspen Mountain Press. I am not an author there nor have I ever submitted to them, but it is certainly worth looking at if you are published by an e-publisher.
In a nutshell, authors stopped getting royalties and any communications with the owner (email, phone and certified letter) seemed to be ignored. It was found that the owner had been spending business funds on personal expenses, staff quit and everything was in limbo.
I couldn't believe what I read. Here is a link posted by one of the former staff (very long posting but goes into lots of detail)
My question to you, writers...does reading about this situation make you want to take control of your work and not rely on an e-publisher as a channel to sell your work?
Let us know what you think, folks!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ugly Win

This morning I have no voice left after the nailbiter Patriots game yesterday. My TV was hollered at for three hours of game-time.I often joke that sometimes the games are all big Maalox moments , but yesterday's was especially so.
I have a friend who was at the game and when we compared notes, the thing that we both agreed on was the sloppy playing done by the Patriots. Even though Tom Brady came through with a much-needed touchdown with twenty-two seconds left to play, this did nothing to make me forget about the game up to this point. Final score 20 to 16, Patriots over the Cowboys. UGLY WIN.
When I got up this morning, I checked my phone for Twitter updates and there was one from Patriots runningback BenJarvus Green-Ellis (The Law Firm). His quote is so true.
"I'll take the ugly win over a pretty loss."

In life, there is much to be said for the easy win, when things fall in your lap without having to do much work. There have been times I haven't had to rely on my wits to make things happen. I never seem to appreciate the easy gains. There's nothing to learn from.
Now, the ugly win is a learning experience. You're put in a place where you have to learn what not to do again. It calls upon every ounce of desire and need to propel you to the goal line.
The Ugly Win doesn't have much finesse; just the sense of falling forward to success.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writing Local

I wrote this article for RIRW's October Newsletter and posted it over on the group blog last week. Thought I would share with you all...

The old, beat-up white Cadillac rolled down 95 South, bouncing with each bump it traveled over, the result of having less-than-perfect shocks. The driver had his hands in the correct 10 and 2 position and a smoking cigar clenched between his lips. He traveled in the slow lane, setting his own pace, symbolically thumbing his nose at the other drivers who were in a hurry to go somewhere. He had an aura of invincibility. After all, who would mess with a man driving such a car with a license plate that spelled out MAFIA.
The man and car are real. They are just a couple of the many things I see as I travel the roads in the state. I have a notebook filled with whacky people I see throughout New England. Will they all end up in a story? Maybe. I think we certainly have interesting people in our region that can add extra zing to our character lists. From the lady who always wears her smock filled with pins at the dry cleaners to the Starbucks barista with Bible verses tattooed up his arm, that’s an awful lot of inspiration.
I love picking up a book and reading stories set in New England. Writers like Kristin Higgins and our own Annette Blair come to mind. The spirit of our area is captured and it feels like home as the story unfolds.
I was lucky enough to have a photographer friend who would love to day-trip and I was treated to many beautiful days in some of the nicest areas within driving distance of Providence. I wrote a scene (to be included in a future story) set on the breakwater near the Scituate Lighthouse in Massachusetts. I remember standing near the end of the jetty and looking back to the lighthouse and just knowing that I had to write something that captured this place.
I immortalized my moose watching in far Northern New Hampshire in my novella ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’. There was an April snow falling when I was there and as I stood on the porch of the cabin I stayed in, I could feel the romance of the place pulsing around me. Evan and Kayla were imagined on that trip and their adventures were thought up on the long drive home.
Then we have the foods that make our area unique. Clam cakes, coffee milk, Del’s lemonade, Maine Lobster rolls, Ocean Spray cranberries, maple sugar products. The list goes on. Adding these authentic details to a story set in the area makes it that much more real and makes people want to visit. Many moons ago in a small article I waxed poetic about a killer cannoli from Federal Hill. I had in friend in Connecticut actually drive up to try one. He loved it. Who knew a six sentence description of a pastry could have influenced someone in that way?
I believe when we write what we know, we write with passion. Have you considered writing local in your own works?

Monday, October 10, 2011

30 to 21...Vindication? Not By A Long Shot

At the end of last season, the Patriots lost to the Jets in the playoffs. At Gillette Stadium, their home field. Disgust and sadness filled the New England air. The die-hard fans among the screaming masses all chanted the same mantra, "We'll show 'em next time."
Next time came yesterday, again at Gillette Stadium. My Boys, wearing the red throwback jerseys, showed up to play and managed to win against our division rivals by a score of 30 to 21. Was it good stuff? Of course! BUT there were moments that every single doubt I have about the team came to mind and I walked away from the TV so I wouldn't see what was happening.
No doubt, the Fires of Vindication were burning in the guts of every Patriots player. They got the win, advanced to 4-1 while the Jets flounder at 2-3. The real vindication will happen in the Meadowlands in the coming weeks. A win in THEIR stadium is going to be so much sweeter.
I apply the lesson of rising up again after a fall to this game. We've all had times where the effort has fallen short, an impossible mission is in our face and we miss the goal completely. It's easy to have a pity-party and give up. It's hard to rise again and begin working.

Key ingredients?


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Final Photography Place

I'm not sure if I'm unique in this, but I enjoy visiting cemeteries. I especially love going to the older ones where thought and affection were put into the statues and monuments at the sites. The expression on the statue in this picture is one of peace and serenity. A stone sentinel to watch over a loved-one's grave.
I combine my love of photography and my love of cemeteries by capturing what I feel are the best of these monuments. Details and the conveyance of feeling are so important when it comes to catching my eye (and my lens)
I've been doing quite a bit of cemetery images locally, but my favorite place to visit was Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA. It is a destination unto itself, not just for visiting graves, but for birdwatching, walking and enjoying sumptuously gardened grounds. As an author, I enjoy knowing that writers as diverse as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and cookbook author Fannie Farmer are interred there.
I'm not sure if some would consider it morbid to be at such peace in these places that remind us of our mortality. I never have. They are places of memorial and beauty.

Stop by my site to see more of my cemetery monument images.

Monday, October 3, 2011

He Went and Did It Again

(picture credit The-Patriots Place on Facebook)

Two weeks ago, the New England Patriots' Vince Wilfork had his first career interception. Big Vince IS a big guy, over 300 pounds, so to see the way he ran that day, poised and quick, was amazing. Never let it be said that the men who play defense aren't in good shape.

The Patriots were in Oakland yesterday. It was a rough and tumble game as the Raiders are an aggressive team. Imagine my glee and delight when Big Vince had his second interception in two weeks! And he moved like the wind once more. I screamed in utter fan happiness.

Now Vince has spent a few years in the NFL and these accomplishments have come very close together. I wonder if Vince figured, "Hey, I did it once...I can do it again."

The great thing in life about accomplishing something is that once we reach a goal, we know we can do it again. Nothing is impossible. Football is like life. Preparation and achievement breed confidence.

Did you reach a big goal and then have the confidence to go back and do it again?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Friend Christine DePetrillo Is a Finalist in All Romance Ebooks Just One Bite Contest

Very proud to announce that my friend and fellow Rhode Island Romance Writer's member, Christine DePetrillo is a finalist in this contest!

Voting begins tomorrow for All Romance Ebooks Just One Bite Contest. Author Christine DePetrillo's story, Every Last Bite, is a finalist. She'd appreciate your vote. Visit to enjoy free reads and vote. You will have to create an account first.

You can also visit her website and learn some more about her!

Thank you for your support of my talented author friend!