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Archive for the ‘Elizabeth’ Category

The last time I blogged, we were bracing for Hurricane Sandy, and some people, who shall remain nameless, thought I was going a little overboard in my preparations.  I’ll say this–they later thanked me for stocking up on canned goods and water!   Anyway, I hope everyone fared well during the storm.  Aside from no power, minor damage, and a household of sick people, we made out okay.

Since I had been so prepared, my Nook was fully charged, and I had batteries in my book-light.   I read several books and I’m here to reveal some of my favorites.  First, I read The Witness by Nora Roberts.  It’s a romantic suspense of four hundred and eighty-eight pages.  The heroine witnesses an event that changes her life forever.  I have never read a book of Nora’s that I didn’t like, and this one was no exception.   Then I read a couple of more books that were mediocre until I dived into Lisa Scottoline’s Daddy’s Girl.  Lisa spoke at a New Jersey Romance Writers Conference a few years back and I had bought this book.  Since then, I have read others of hers that I truly enjoyed, but I must have forgotten about this one.  Anyway, Daddy’s Girl was the best thriller I’ve read in ages.  The main character, Nat, is a law professor who happens to visit a prison on the day a riot breaks out and someone dies.  She becomes suspect number one and spends most of the book trying to prove her innocence.  Loved it!

After the storm and all the devastation, I’m not sure what possessed me, but I started to purge and organize my house.  Maybe because so people lost everything, I decided my family has entire too much stuff.  So I attacked my To-Be-Read piles of books.  First, I pulled out several I knew I would probably never read.  In addition to some books I had already decided needed to be donated, I made a separate bag of other books and gave them to a friend.  She is an avid and quick reader, so I asked her to return to me any books that she designated spectacular-must-reads.

Next, I searched for holiday themed books and found three.  I read Holiday Hideout, a collection of novellas, the common thread being a rental cabin that seems to spark romances between couples.  Vicki Lewis Thompson wrote about Thanksgiving, Jill Shalvis, about Christmas, and Julie Kenner about New Year’s.  All were enjoyable, cute and sexy stories.

Now my immediate reading list plan includes the two holiday romances I found buried in my piles, Robin Carr’s Bring Me Home for Christmas and Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs, and newer titles Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom for my bookclub, Take Me Home by Nancy Herkness, and Jane Porter’s The Good Woman.  This novel is part of the Brennan Sisters Trilogy.

I’m so looking forward to reading all these selections under the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays,

Elizabeth

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“Is the sky falling?”

Hurricane Sandy is on her way!  According to all the reports, this approaching storm is like no other we have seen here on the East Coast.  At least it’s one we haven’t experienced for decades.

Now my husband and I have completely different philosophies about such matters.  My motto is, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”  His is, “Don’t fix it unless it’s broken.”

Sometimes I wonder how we’ve been married so long.  I’m not obsessive; I mean I don’t own gas masks and have a stash of Cipro in my cabinet.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, by the way.)  But he’s watching the news, and yelling at the TV, “Wolf, wolf, wolf.”  You know, I swear, if it weren’t for me, he’d be the old guy with the beard you see on TV who’s determined to ride out the storm when everyone else has evacuated because he believes all the meteorologists are crying, “Wolf!”

Last year, during Hurricane Irene, my town became an island and we lost power for days.  It was horrible!  People’s homes were condemned.   So I don’t think I’m overreacting in the least.

Even though he thinks I’m a worry wart, he agreed to do a food shop.  He also agreed it was time to invest in a generator.  Of course, by the time this revelation hit, no generators were left.  Also disturbing was the fact that the grocery store was out of water.

Not to be defeated, I searched three more stores and got the last two cases of water.  Just before me, an elderly man had gotten three cases with the help of some woman.  Otherwise, I would have taken the last five cases.  I have a house full of people and this water will only last a few days.  All the while, there was this guy there staring at the elderly man and myself like we were crazy.  As I looked at his sparsely filled cart, I wanted to shout at him, “Why are you looking at us like we’re certifiable?  Haven’t you heard about this storm coming?”  Then I secretly wondered if he and my husband were in cahoots with each other.

I got home, checked for batteries, flashlights, and candles, and put water in the tub.  We’ve cooked food, put away lawn furniture, and I feel we’ve prepared as best as we can.  So now, I’m sitting at home, writing, reading, wishing for the best, and secretly hoping my husband is right.

Fondly,

Elizabeth

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Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m addicted to television.  Not all television, mind you, mostly just reality shows, crime dramas, true crime shows, and a sprinkle of others.  In fact, I’m a big fan of several reality TV shows, including Survivor, the Bachelor/Bachelorette, and Jerseylicious.  I’m particularly obsessed with the Real Housewives shows.  Which one, you ask?  All of them.  Now I imagine many people are rolling their eyes at me.

First, you say, reality? Puh-lease!  Then, you say, why, when there are so many other great shows out there?

True, there are, and yes, I do watch some of them like Once Upon A Time and Downton Abbey.  I’m also known to be a movie junkie.  I write romantic suspense, so crime shows draw me in for obvious reasons.

But it’s the “reality shows” I find fascinating.  It amazes me how people allow cameras to follow them in their daily lives and reveal intimate details.  Back in college, sociology was one of my favorite courses.  How groups of people react and live together always fascinated me.  So when I watch reality shows, it’s not to see who wins the prize, if there is one, but how they plan, manipulate, lie, befriend, and make alliances to get their goals.

All this television watching helps me with my writing.  Similar to people-watching in restaurants or at the park, studying how people behave in certain situations, whether it’s true reality or a manufactured set-up, still makes for interesting conflict.  And let’s not forget all the various characters!  It’s a candy store for writers!  My creative juices flow and I jot down my own ideas in a journal.  We writers all get our ideas from somewhere, and something about these shows keeps my mind sharp on remembering motivation, goal, and conflict.

I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I feel if I’m stuck, it’s because something’s not working, and my TV obsession sometimes helps.  Not only can it trigger ideas for a new novel, it can help with current projects.  The other day I was watching one of the true crime shows and the situation described was similar to a situation in the latest book I’m working on.  I was questioning my character’s motivation and back story, and there it was on one of those ID shows—a woman had experienced a comparable circumstance.  It validated my storyline and increased my confidence in pursuing the direction my character was heading.

The new fall line up has begun.  I have to be diligent in my selection because television watching can be a major time suck.  And it can cause one to become a couch potato.  So the DVR is my friend.  I pick, choose, and limit my time in front of the screen.

I had a stressful day at work yesterday, and on the drive home a little burst of excitement brightened my otherwise miserable day.  I had not one, but two Real Housewives shows to watch that evening.  I had the NJ Housewives taped on my DVR and a new NYC episode was airing that night.  From the teaser clips I knew I was in for a treat!

So when people scoff at my choice of television shows, I just smile and skim through my journal full of ideas and character sketches.  Hmm, I think it’s time to buy another journal.

 

Fondly,

Elizabeth

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Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  My family and I recently went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  The Egyptian section was one of my favorites.  I also loved the Old Masters.  My husband wanted to see the American exhibit and my brother wished to visit the Greek section.  After awhile my daughter and I broke away from our group and raced to the Prada fashion exhibit.  While my daughter and I looked at the gorgeous shoes and clothes with other fashionistas, the rest of our party found other artwork that held their interest.  At times we all enjoyed the same exhibits and at times we each had different favorite artwork.  There was so much to see!

 

After the museum, we visited Central Park where we discovered more beautiful scenery.  Besides the usual park activities, I saw lots of people reading, writing, and painting. I’m sure each one had a different perspective of what they saw that day and incorporated it into their experiences as well.

 

While we watched toy motorized boats cruising on the lake I started thinking about what I like to read and write.  My friends and I always share our latest book reads and what we are writing.  Sometimes we read the same book, but usually we don’t.  Some of my writer friends write in the same genre, but others don’t.  This sounds simplistic; of course we all have different tastes.  However, the visit to the museum reminded me that what one person thinks is art, another might not.  And that’s what so exciting.

 

There are infinite possibilities of what artists can create, and there’s plenty of room for various opinions.   As I write my stories I know not everyone who reads them will think they’re as fabulous as I do, but that’s okay.  I have to believe in my work as I’m sure the Old Masters believed in theirs.

 

Fondly,

Elizabeth

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This past week we went to look at a college for my daughter.  It was a picturesque day, sunny, and not too hot.  People flocked to meet the school’s different department heads under a large tent.  Two of my favorites were the ones that explained the extracurricular activities and the studying abroad program.

            While my daughter walked off with a friend to check on something, I found a shaded bench centered in the park-like setting.  I sat and read all the materials I had just collected.  Excitement bubbled within me as I perused the sororities and clubs.  Whether they were academic or social, it didn’t matter.  What mattered was that there were so many choices!  This was a wonderful time in my daughter’s life.  She could choose so many different paths.

Then I ran my fingers over the glossy pages of the study abroad catalogs.  That’s right.  I said catalogs in the plural form.  From Australia to Asia to Europe–there was an abundance of choices!

            As I clutched the materials in my hands and got strange looks from my husband, I realized it had been a long time since I’ve felt that way.  Under years of raising children, keeping a home, and building upon a career, I guess I had buried those interests that made me…well, me.

I’m not thinking of moving into a dorm or leaving my family to study abroad, but now that my children are grown and are almost independent, I realized with more freedom, I could do things that I’ve had to put on hold for years out of necessity.

Of course, it’s not exactly the same as when I was eighteen, but I’ve reached another stage in my life.  Now I can travel more or take that evening art class I’ve been interested in.

            Although it was her day, and I was so proud to share the joyful experience with my family, the idea dawned on me that my life was about to change for the positive once again.  It was an unexpected, but welcomed gift.

Fondly, Elizabeth

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Ah, the Jersey Shore.  I enjoy it all year round, but now that summer’s here it feels like I’ve traveled to a great destination when in actually it’s only a short distance.  The white sandy beaches, the boardwalks, mini-golf places, and friendly faces are testaments that I’ve escaped to “Vacationland”, and the best part is I don’t have to dig out my passport!

Since I do feel so relaxed here, it comes as no surprise to me that I write more when I’m at the shore.  Whether it’s for the day or a week, my mind becomes free of worry the minute I see the water.  My muscles loosen, my heart beats at an easy pace, and a long sigh escapes from my throat.

 

I get up early and walk the beach before the crowds.  Everyone says hello, from joggers to fishermen.  We all have the same knowing look.  Yes, we silently say to each other, we’re lucky to be here and it’s a beautiful day in paradise.

 

This might sound strange, but I swear dogs feel it, too.  I think my dog smells the ocean or the sand way before we arrive and starts wagging his tail in the car.  He struts proudly as we walk along the beach town’s streets.

On the beach, while others are chatting, sunbathing, or swimming, I’m people-watching and taking notes.  Some of the interesting details that I observe will help to flesh out the characters in my books.  In particular, I like the way the cackling, tattooed woman in front of me wears her cowboy hat as she entertains her posse.  The teenage lovers a few feet away sneak kisses on a blanket when they think their chaperoning adults aren’t looking.  Especially sweet is the elderly couple who hold hands as they stroll along.

 

Later, I leave the beach with pages of notes.  With a cool drink and a content dog at my feet, I find a quiet spot and plug away at my laptop working on my novel as I listen to the nearby sounds of circling seagulls and rhythmic crashing waves.

The Jersey Shore is a wondrous, peaceful place.  I look forward to many relaxing, sun-filled, and productive writing days this summer.

 

Fondly,

Elizabeth

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Every once in a while when my life seems hectic or not going the way I’d like, I take a moment to reflect on why things are not going as I had planned.  Now I know there are some things that are out of my control so I don’t dwell on those.  However, when I feel as if my life is in chaos, it’s usually because I’m stressed, overwhelmed with too many commitments, and in particular, not making time for my life goals.

That’s when I realize it has to be back to the basics for me.

For instance, I’m a stress eater.  When life gets crazy, I don’t have time to food shop or cook.  So what do I do?  Eat crap.  The more I eat of the bad stuff, the more I crave.  Not good.  Of course eating poorly goes hand-in-hand with not having time to exercise.  All this leads to weight gain, feeling gross, eating more, and moving less.   The dreaded vicious cycle.

The good news is that I’m at the point in my life where I recognize this sooner than later.  I begin to simplify.  I force myself to drink more water, cut back on unhealthy carbs, and lay off sugar.  Instead of doing a big food shop, which I never have time to do, I run in for a few items instead.  This works better for me during those hectic crunch times.  I also keep my foods simple but healthy when I don’t have time to plan meals.  Veggies, salads, fruits, nuts, yogurt, chicken, and fish are easy for me to cook or to grab and go.   Last, but not least, I remember to move.  I take my dog Max for walks around the neighborhood, and we are both happier when we return.

This leads me to another one of my goals that goes astray when I’m not paying attention, and that is to keep my house organized.  Writer friends of mine would say it’s okay to have dust bunnies and dishes piling up if that what’s necessary to find the time to write.  I’ve tried this approach.  Over the years I have lowered my neatness standards.  I had to if I wanted to stay married to my wonderful, but messy, husband.

However, when the dishes pile up, or my office is a sty, it actually harms my writing process.  For me, clutter causes chaos, whereas a clean house leads to a clear mind.   I admit to creating  piles that consist of papers, folded clothes, books, magazines-you get the idea, which can be found in various locations throughout my house.  So now what?  Back to the basics.  I attack the dishes.  If the sink is clear, I can breathe easier.  I try to spend a few minutes each day to clear some of the piles.  They still need work, but at least they’re going down.

All this leads to my next goal–writing every day.  I have to write each day or as close to each day as possible.  I wake up at five thirty so I can get in at least forty-five minutes to an hour of writing time before my day job.  This helps keep me in my story.  If I can find other tidbits of time, fabulous.  If not, I have to wait for the weekend to write in bigger blocks of time.  Also, with my back to basics approach, I try to read industry news and writing magazines that I subscribe to but tossed aside in a pile.  I forget that they’re loaded with good information!  Although I love the Internet, all this social media and networking stuff is daunting to me.  I have to step back and remember my goal is to write a great book and not keep up with the latest Internet fad.

When I feel out of sorts, it’s usually because one or all of my goals have been pushed aside, and going back to the basics helps to ground me.

What do you do when your goals take a back seat?  I’d love to know.

Fondly,

Elizabeth

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