Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Movie Time + Update #1

by Maggie Sefton

Wedding Prep Update #1----I sent out Bridal Shower invitations last week.  Daughter Serena asked me if I would arrange a bridal shower in Northern Virginia for all our friends and relatives in the DC/Northern VA/MD area.  Her Houston friends will handle a bridal shower in that area.  I picked one of my favorite local (non-chain) cafes in Vienna, Virginia where I've been dining with friends for years.  Next, I'll be discussing menus with the chef via email.

I  suddenly realized I hadn't done a movie update since November, and I've seen a LOT of new movies since then.  So I figured I'd do several Movie Time updates this last week of January and in February, in between other posts.  And Wedding Prep updates, of course.  :)

THE HUNGER GAMES---MOCKINGJAY Part I-----Jennifer Lawrence returns as the courageous heroine in the 3rd episode of this gripping series.  She's leading the resistance to the tyrannical regime that rules the world she and her friends are fighting to save.  I still remember how mesmerized I was a few years ago when my 12 year old granddaughter excitedly told me the story of the Hunger Games trilogy.  I was hooked.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING---This is a fascinating movie because it follows the real life story of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.  British Actor Eddie Redmayne does a wonderful job of portraying this brilliant man who continued to explore physics and the universe even though he was gradually losing total control over his body due to the devastating disease ALS.  Life-affirming to say the least.

INTERSTELLAR---I absolutely love movies about Outer Space, whether they're Star Wars versions or  re-inventions of the classic TV show Star Trek stories, or the recent "space opera" Guardians of the Galaxy (which I thoroughly enjoyed).  :)   But Interstellar is a little different because the stakes are much higher, and the storyline is much more realistic.  Once it's been established that Earth is dying and the entire human race will too unless a new planetary home is found, it's off to the races for this storyline.  The hero Matthew McConaughey and co-stars blast off into outer space and on the hunt for a new home.  Realistically done in how the realities of space and time affect space travelers.  This is an intellectual space movie and very well done.  Recommend it highly.

Have you seen any of these movies?  How did you like them?

Monday, January 26, 2015


by Kate Collins

We have three winners in my poster contest, and here they are!
Kathy Grater Meik
Debbie A Glover
Mary Hall

CONGRATULATIONS, ladies!  You will each receive an autographed copy of A ROOT AWAKENING just as soon as my assistant can get them in the mail. You should have them a week before they appear on bookshelves.

Thanks to everyone who participated. In November I’ll have another poster contest for FLORIST GRUMP.  Watch for that announcement on Facebook, too.
A big thanks to my virtual assistant Jason Eberhardt (who happens to be my very talented son) for designing and executing the posters.  I really couldn’t decide which ones were my favorites but I was leaning toward “You Are My Sunshine,” which is Marco’s saying, or “Darkest Day – Meet Abby Knight,” which I think is so clever! They're all up on my Facebook page. But I really love them all. And today the newest one is up, which I also love, about the mysterious Rosa.

Winners – don’t give her away before the book is released! Remember, Mum’s the Word!

Just a quick plug for my assistant: If you are promoting anything and need help, Jason is amazing – and quite reasonable. You can email him for more info: jasonkarleberhardt@gmail.com. His website is under construction and should be up soon. It will list all his author/PR services with prices and packages.

Again, thanks to all of you who shared the posters and voted on your favorite. If you’d like to comment here which one you liked best, I’d love to read them.

It's almost time for
A ROOT AWAKENING. I’m so excited!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Kitten Moves

by Leann

Lynley, the tuxedo kitten I adopted a little more than a week ago, has sure made himself at home already. For a baby who hadn't really played with toys before, we only had to work on that for about a day before he was totally into everything. It was as if he wanted to play with all the toys at once.

The biggest surprise is how our dog has welcomed this guy. Lynley jumps all over Rosie, the labradoodle. He wraps his paws around her legs, jumps on her, bites her fur, plays with her tags and Rosie just lets him. This is the first cat she has ever accepted and actually played with. It's very funny to watch.

Wexford isn't keen on the new kitten yet. But he now stays in the room, watching carefully, and has even gotten within a foot of the interloper. But he is not happy and refused to eat for two days. Jealous much? Oh yeah. But that was expected. He'll get over it eventually.

The first four or five days Lynley stayed pretty close to me, but now he's everywhere. RUNNING everywhere. It's so cute to hear him race down the hall to the litter box like a pre-schooler who can't hold it any longer. He stays in the guest bathroom at night because, well, I can't trust him and Wexford needs that time alone with me. Wexford is still my sweet boy, but he will never be an alpha. Lynley has already shown that's his job. But getting a busy kitten into that bathroom at bedtime is getting to be more difficult each day. He's like a greased pig and lightning fast.

The other fun things are ones I haven't experienced in a long time:

1. The sideways walk
2. The butt wiggle
3. Gulping food like he hasn't eaten in a week rather than about an hour ago.
4. Instant sleep.
5. The snuggling on my chest.
6. Clumsy attempts to climb on stuff resulting in hilarious failure.

Yes, there has been a lot of laughter around here. What about you? What's the most fun thing about getting a new pet? 

Friday, January 23, 2015


by Mary Kennedy                                  
These days a lot of people have their hands out, eager to take your money. Have you heard of "crowdfunding?" Perfect strangers feel free to ask you to donate to whatever makes them happy. It could be plane tickets to take the family to Disney, a mere $500 to contribute to "the pot" so they can fork over 10 grand to a vanity press, or hotel and registration fees for a conference. They must think I'm the banker in Monopoly!
(In case you think this is too far-fetched, these are all real-life examples. I've been asked to "contribute" to all three "causes.") If you're astonished at the sheer nerve of the people begging, I was too! At first I thought it was a joke and then I realized it was true.
Writers are generous folks and most of us contribute to our favorite charities, whether they are animal shelters, literacy movements, shelters for abused women and so on. I thought it might useful to give a few tips on giving wisely.
1. You have to research where to put your money and where it will do the most good. One very important question is: how much of your donation is actually going to "the cause" and how much is going to the group doing the collecting. Charity Navigator will tell you exactly what percentage of your donation is going to the "cause" and what percentage is being eaten up by executive salaries. Charity Navigator is a good site to know about because they also suggest "alternative charities" that are devoted to the same cause but have a higher "rating."
2. Some police and firefighters often use "for-profit" fundraising services.  Be very careful of phone solicitations. I was disappointed to learn that some of these "for profit" groups keep almost ALL the money collected and the police and firefighting organizations only receive pennies on the dollar. Yes, pennies on the dollar!! When they call with their phone pitch, be careful and do some research. Don't just blindly give away your money to them.
3 An interesting site is GIVEWELL, which searches for well-organized, but underfunded charities that desperately need help. These are charities that are well established and have a proven track record.
4. Every little bit helps. Don't worry that the amount is too small, many charities operate on a shoestring and are desperate for money. One of our local animal shelters sent out an e-mail alert that they were completely out of canned cat food. That meant they couldn't medicate cats (because they need wet food to add the crushed pills to) and they couldn't feed sick cats with dental problems. I rushed over with my credit card. They literally needed the money right then and I couldn't stand to think of the animals going without their medication over the week-end.
5. If you can't donate money, think about donating your time. Many of my writer pals are animal lovers and routinely donate their time and talent by writing press releases for animal shelters, writing fund raising letters for animal charities and even writing speeches for shelter directors. This is another way of giving and I bet you can think of some special "talent" that you can donate.                            
6. This is a good time to organize your donations for 2015. If you can give a little to your favorite charity every month, that is very valuable. Charities need to know what their operating budgets are and having a steady source of donations really helps them.
Good luck and happy giving!
Mary Kennedy

It's all fish to me!

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Here in Western New York, we have a thing called the Friday Fish Fry. A lot of places have beer-batter fish fries, and it's no secret that my favorite place to go is in East Aurora, NY. A restaurant known as Tony Rome's Globe Hotel. OMG -- it's de-lish. (And it's available every day of the week!)  Google "Buffalo fish fry" and guess what?  One of my photos comes up. This one, in fact. (My favorite local watering hole, where the martinis come with sidecars, Bernard's Grove , has a pretty darn good fish fry, too.)  But most Friday's Mr. L makes the fish dinner.

My brother is going on some kind of screwy diet, but at least it says he should eat fish. So yesterday we went in search of fish to the Rochester Public Market.  I bought three HUGE slabs of cod for ten bucks.  Then we went to my favorite little market (Gates Big M) where I like to buy meat, and I bought more cod.  You see, the little guy sells cod for $5 a pound cheaper than our big local chain. (I love Wegmans, but man is their fish expensive.)  Guess what.  The $5 cheaper a pound fish tastes just as good. So we're good to go for the next couple of weeks.

(BTW, I've been in other parts of the state--and across the country--and the fish is dirt cheap.  What's with that?)

My former workmate, Jean C. (Hi, Jean!) was married to a chef at the same company where we worked.  She told me how her husband cooked fish.  "Just put come mayonnaise in a bowl, toss in some dill weed,  spread it over the fish, and bake. Then broil for the last minute or so." So with those minuscule instructions, Mr. L figured out how to make a wonderful Friday night dinner. We use cod, Sorry I don't have a real recipe.  Mr. L wings it about 35-40 weeks of the year. The other 10-12 weeks a year click this link and it's essentially the recipe.  Here's a video to show you how

Fish is supposed to be really good for you (and me!). What's your favorite fish recipe?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kicking the Bucket List

In the last couple of years, I’ve been keeping a bucket list. No doubt that all started on a gloomy day when I’d heard some bad news about a friend and it hit me that I might not have forever to get things done.  Time to pick up the pace!  What hadn’t I done? Where hadn’t I been? Get at it! Of course, the list was endless.  

There was a time when my goal was: write a book. That changed to get published.  And then, stay published.  I didn’t have any idea that when I was able to finally achieve those things (and a few more) that dozens of new ones would spring up to take their place.  Can’t a girl have a break?  I found my bucket list started to loom, taking away from the joy in everyday life.

Many people seem to have fifty things on their lists. When they cross one off (say, perch on the edge of a live volcano or zipline between New York skyscrapers), they still have 49 breathing down their necks.  Climb a mountain! Learn Mandarin!  Swim with the sharks! Where’s the fun in that?

I’ve decided to dump that list! Yes. I’m tipping over the bucket (not the same as kicking it).  There are things I’d like to do, sure.  I’ll take vacations, but I don’t want to feel that my vacations are tightly scheduled or scripted or there’s pressure to keep up with someone else’s idea of a good time. But there are not many things that I want to HAVE to do.

Looking back, I realize how many of the activities I take for granted would have seemed like impossible dreams many years back. After many years of juggling jobs, education, family and writing, I now work at home.  I have just one job and it’s one that I love.

Maybe I need a reverse bucket list to appreciate what I love about my life.   Something like this:
Writing the type of mysteries I like to read

Being married to a man who loves to books

Enjoying a supportive family
Spoiling beloved dogs

Getting to feed the birds

Having fun with my friends (all readers and many are writers too!)

Collaborating with my daughter

 Reading what I want, when I want to

Having a bit of time to ‘play’ in the kitchen

Knitting up a storm.

Puttering in the garden or fiddling with flowers

I could go on, but you get the picture. There may not be visits to Buckingham Palace or Dubai, Porches or a weekend place on the French Riviera, but I wouldn't change things for the world. Well, possibly winter.

Full disclosure: I left out the piles of crumpled paper, the early rejections, the heart-stopping deadlines, the fallen souffles and the chair legs gnawed by the beloved pets or any differences of opinion about the book collector mysteries. Forget all that.

 I don’t want to trade my life for pie in the sky.  There are only two things that I really have on my current ‘Must Do’ list and that’s to get a good shot of the gorgeous pair of cardinals that flit shyly though our backyard every week and to finish the current Work in Progress When I get them done, I’ll share the news with you.,

What about you? To ratchet up that bucket list or relax and live in the moment?  There’s no right answer but I’d like to know what works in your life and what makes you feel lucky and grateful.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I wish I were there!

I’ve been trying to get the forever shoebox of pictures in some kind of order. These are from back in the day when I actually had physical pictures to put in shoeboxes.

There are the usual pictures of the kids born, growing up, first day of school etc and then there are the pictures I inherited, stuff that happened before my time. Pictures are great, reminds us of what was but nothing beats actually being there.

There’s this picture of my parents wedding. I wish I could have been at the wedding. They look so young and happy and full of life.

And there’s a picture of grandpa Angelo’s store on Canal Street when we had canals in Cincy. Wish I could have shopped there...and ridden on a canal boat.

There’s a picture of my uncle coming home from WWII. I would have loved to been in NYC for that parade and been a part of the end of WWII. Maybe stand beside that sailor kissing the girl. Heck I would have love to be that girl! 

And what about when Mr. Hershey made his first kiss! He had to know that was a game-changer. 

There’s a clipping of the first moon landing. I sure would have been neat to be standing on the moon too. Then there’s that newspaper clipping of the Titanic. I’m glad I wasn’t there for that one!

I would have like to have been in the shop or whatever when Gutenberg printed his first something on the printing press. I bet they all held hands and did the Snoopy dance ‘cause they had to know they were really on to something.

I know I would have liked to witness firsthand the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Talk about some brave dudes. High treason is dangerous business.

So what about you? Is there something you would have liked to have witnessed up-close and personal? Something you wish you’d been a part of? Maybe Adam and Eve in the garden…pack your fig leaf? Maybe pet a dinosaur? Maybe watch Babe Ruth smack a homer to left field? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Molly Malone Returns

by Maggie Sefton

For those of you who’ve had a chance to meet Molly Malone,  the heroine-sleuth in my suspense novels DEADLY POLITICS and POISONED POLITICS, the third in the Washington, DC-based series is now out.  BLOODY POLITICS is available in trade paperback and E-book versions from bookstores and online retailers.  

Here’s a hint of what’s happening: 

The jogger’s throat was cut leaving a pool of blood on the pedestrian path. Molly Malone could tell by the neon yellow running shoe dangling off the end of the stretcher that the body belonged to her friend Natasha Jorgenson.

A junior congressional staffer, Natasha was on her way to meet with Molly to hand over important research on an international banking bill. Natasha was the third person who knew of the research to die. Molly fears she won’t be the last.

As she and her colleagues are targeted by break-ins, wiretaps, and harassment, Molly discovers that powerful players are working out a plan to change the course of history . . . and they will stop at nothing to make sure they succeed.