Vintners Daugher photo

If you’ve craved a self-possessed, level-headed heroine who is intelligent, skilled and interested in more than just finding “true love”, then THE VINTNER’S DAUGHTER by Kristen Harnisch is for you. The writing is thoughtful and engaging and I enjoyed meeting the heroine, Sara, as she journeyed from French wine country to Napa. Her eventual love interest, Philippe, is handsome and charming but, I think, what I enjoyed most about the two of them together is, beyond their mutual attraction, they made perfect sense. There was much more (love of winemaking, similar humor, independence and creativity) that brought them together.

Plus, Sara is so smart and self-directed, you get the feeling she could survive alone (though less happily) without Philippe. This gives us a reason to care about Sara for herself and I really liked that. In addition, it was fun learning about growing grapes and wine-making, coupled with vivid descriptions that make me want to visit these locales ASAP.

Glad I gave this book, the first of its series, a try. Also, you might want to have a few bottles of your favorite vintage on hand for this reading. With all the wonderful descriptions, it’ll make you thirsty.

Everywhere a Jeffrey

Jeffrey imageJeffrey Taylor was a public relations intern at the same time I was. He was about 22, trim and handsome, with dark hair, dark eyes and aristocratic features. He sported crisp suits that were obviously purchased by an affluent parent. I think he graduated from an upscale college somewhere in our state, Michigan, and I heard that his Dad was a big-time executive at one of the auto companies.

I hated him.

Or rather, I was insanely jealous of him. At 24 I was getting a very late start in PR. I had almost no professional clothes (except the outdated hand-me-downs an aunt had given me), no money and I was waitressing at night to get by. I was exhausted all the time and, most of all, really, really scared that I didn’t have what it took to be successful.

Jeffrey, on the other hand, seemed to glide around the office spouting corporate-speak as if it was a first language. He worked buzzwords like “synergy” and “leverage” into casual conversation, while I was still trying to figure out how to use “per” in emails. At night, in my tiny apartment, when I would try to decide which of my three outfits to wear the next day, I would think of him, probably still sitting at a glossy dining room table with his dad, who was undoubtedly walking him through the fine points of how to get a full-time time gig in PR.

My dad was missing, and probably standing on a street corner somewhere in Detroit, trying to score.

Why did Jeffrey have it so easy? It was as if his success was pre-arranged. I could see every locked door swinging open at his touch, while I wandered lost in a maze without a map.

And, as expected, within a month or so, he landed a full-time job at a global PR firm based in Detroit and they quickly decided he was such an up-and-comer, they moved him to their Washington D.C. office. They paid all the moving costs and even set him up in a shared apartment with another employee. Welcome back to Easy Street, Jeffrey.

The months went by and I kept blundering through work, trying to learn how to write press releases and place stories. I was terrible at it and still just barely covering my bills. I began to wonder if maybe I should just cash out, waitress full-time and leave the corporate world to guys like Jeffrey.

Then one night, I had drinks with a friend who knew him. When I asked about Jeffrey, he raised his eyebrows and said: “Oh, he’s out. Way out.”

“What? What happened?” I asked.

“Well, they got him there, all set up, and assigned him to a project team at the firm. But after a few weeks he realized he wasn’t getting invited to some of the confidential team meetings. He was outraged, did a little more digging and found he wasn’t being copied on a few emails too. So, one night, after everyone went home, he snuck into his boss’s office, logged onto her computer and sent emails to the administrator and a few others stating: ‘Jeffrey needs to be added henceforth to all future correspondence and meetings’. The next morning he came in and the general manager was waiting for him. ‘You’re finished,’ he said. Then they had security escort him out. He’s done.”

It was the best news I’d ever heard. I laughed in extreme relief; feeling shivers down my arms and blew the rest of the week’s allowance on another beer. That night I walked around in an elated fog. There was justice in the world – and no matter what advantages Jeffrey had, we were all equalized by our own stupidity anyway.

And that meant I still had a shot at the life I wanted.

And I was right. The years passed and slowly (sometimes painfully) I gained experience and skill. Jobs and promotions came and went. I moved from my tiny apartment to a bigger apartment and built a respectable wardrobe and eventually a respectable life. Today you could even mistake me for a Jeffrey.

But I don’t feel like one.

I forget who I am and all I’ve achieved. I look at the people around me, and see Jeffreys, talking on cell phones, stepping out of expensive cars and into beautiful homes. They skip here and there, looking like they’ve got it all figured out. I become my old self, falling prey to the lie that some people have an immutable advantage. But then I think of Jeffrey; being escorted out of that office with a flummoxed look on his face. He doesn’t have it all figured out. Neither do I. Neither do you.

And that’s where justice lies.

Be This, Not That


Observations on attending writer’s conferences; #WDC15


The Teddy Bear: Almost everyone at a writer’s conference is feeling insecure in one way or another. Are my ideas as bad as my breath? Did that person just roll their eyes at me? Why am I wearing jeans? Am I the oldest/youngest/stupidest/fattest/ugliest one here? Is that my EX??

 So just be nice for, as they say, everyone is fighting a hard battle of their own. I find that the best way is to smile at people, be encouraging and extra polite. Feel free to strike up conversations, freely share what you know (without being intrusive) and just project an overall aura of warmth. Everyone is as lost as you.


The Stenographer: Yes, I know. You just dropped $400 on the conference and another $600 on travel. You want your money’s worth – but do you have to crack open that laptop in every session? This isn’t a deposition. Plus, we all hear you. Clickety-click-click. Clickety-click. Clickety-clickety-clickety. Next time, just bring a small notepad, K? My favorite’s a little black Moleskine. It fits in my purse and best of all, it’s silent.

The Thief: So the presenter in this session has really good material. There’s tips on accounting, copyright, sales – but do you have to hold up your giant iPad and take a pic of every single slide? Did you know that’s their copyrighted material? Pro tip: If you loved the session, approach and thank the speaker afterward and politely inquire if they would share their slides or a summary/handout. It’ll give you a chance to make a connection (and not get sued later for plagiarism or infringement).

The Muncher: Skipped lunch but didn’t want to miss the session? How about stepping outside the room to fuss with that extra-resistant bag of chips? That way you can avoid all the crinkle noise and can hork it back noisily with no one noticing the crumbs falling down your chin (or onto my lap). No one to judge you in the hallway, friend. Least of all me.

BRING THIS (My handy list of items):

Empty plastic water bottle: Because: Hotels, convention centers are dry places and you’re walking around, talking to people all day. Plus, it’s cheaper than buying bottled water. You don’t really think a couple days of tap water will kill you, do you? I picked up a Rubbermaid bottle at Target for a couple bucks. It fits nicely in the side pocket of my backpack and I’m never thirsty.

Empty Altoids tin: Because: It can double as a wallet or mini-survival kit. I put my credit cards, room key and cash in mine. It’s low profile, lightweight and fits anywhere.

Nice-looking athletic shoes: Because: I used to run a major conference event that took place over a three-week period, requiring me to practically live at a convention center. One year, as I walked from one end of it to the other, wearing the wrong shoes, I ruptured a disc in my lower back, requiring surgery six months later. Outcome: I choose my footwear very carefully and I always pack a cute pair of sneakers (my current pair are all-black Nikes with a white sole and pink swoosh). People don’t judge me. If anything, I get compliments.

Lip balm, hand cream, sanitizer: Because: See reasons above, plus with all the handshaking you’ll do as The Teddy Bear, and touching strange doorknobs and handles, you’ll need to keep the copious conference germs out of your system.

Mints: Because: Fresh breath is friendly breath, Teddy. Plus, in these conditions, you are likely going to be standing closer, and talking louder, to be heard over the din of others doing the same. Pro tip: If you take a swig from your handy water bottle, you’ll likely clear out your sinuses too.

Tissues: Because: Is the toilet paper out in this stall? Where’d my napkin go? Oh no, I’m going to sneeze all over the guy sitting in front of me. These handy paper items are nearly universal in use. I never attend a conference, or travel, without them.


Gum – What?! I can’t hear you over all the chomping and smacking you’re making.

Low-cut or revealing clothing – Those are nice boobs but I’d rather look at your face.

High heels – Are you going to dinner or to “Building Your Social Media Presence?”

What would you bring/do at your next conference?

You wanna write? Here’s my fail-safe to-do list

Bird on TongueOk, so you want to write? Excellent. Here’s what you do: First, get a pen and… Oh, that’s a little obvious, I guess. Let’s see, we’ll start with something a little more intentional (I had a boss once who loved that word). I suggest shutting yourself in a room, setting a timer and forcing yourself to write for two straight hours. Now do that at least four times a week. Topic can be anything: short story, essay, letter to you congressman in ancient Valerian.

Oh, and lock the door while you’re writing.

If someone bangs on it and asks: “What you’re up to in there? say: “I’m writing.”

If they gasp and ask, “You? Writing? Why??” Respond: “Because I want to. Go away. I’ll talk to you after two hours.” Set aside $20 for a small gift to make up for the “Go away” part.

After fourth day when they ask, “Just how long are you going to keep this up?” Say: “Until I write the next Great American Novel.”

Ok, maybe that’s a little too much for right now. What’s important, however, is not to be truthful with anyone at this stage, least of all yourself. In fact, I would advise that lying to yourself daily about how much you want to write, how good you’ll be at it and how much the world wants/needs your material is key. You’ll have to do this when it’s eventually time to pitch agents or publishers anyway.

If, during this time of writing two hours at a clip at least four times a week, you decide you want to write an actual story, please do so. Then keep writing until you finish it. No, the quality is not important. Keep writing your crappy story until it’s done. That’s it. Very good. You get a pat on the head. Put a period on the last iffy sentence.

Now exhale a big sigh of relief and go get a favorite beverage. Then go and tell the person with whom you live that you’re finally done. They’ll give you a bewildered smile and turn back to Breaking Bad or Halo, mumbling something like, “I’m glad, hon.” Then they’ll probably ask: “So, are you done done with writing? We can finally get back to normal now?”

At this, laugh (Bwa-ha-ha. You’re a writer for God’s sake!) and turn with a flourish and go get yourself another beverage and toast again, this time by yourself. You’ll have to get used to this too. Writing’s a solo gig, after all.

Good morning! It’s the next day so go ahead drive to your day job. Whoops, you took the wrong way to work because your head is still mush from all last night’s work. Arrive, sit at your desk and see with fresh but bloodshot eyes how pointless it all is. Emails, meetings? Who cares. Don’t these people know you’re a writer? Clearly not; they keep asking for your TPS report.

Welcome home! Now, grab yourself a slice (or two. Fine, make it three) of cold pizza and head upstairs to edit your piece. Aren’t you excited? Yeah, this won’t be fun. But have at it. Just keep editing and editing until you sort of, kind of, maybe like the story – or it’s a shade of its former self. Or it screams in agony, “Stop already! No more!!” Then you’re done for real (until, of course, two years later you come back to it and see that it could really be much better and decide to go for broke on another full edit. But let’s not get hung up on that now.)

Anywho… it’s done! Don’t you feel special? Now send it to a few people for their opinion. Since this is your first story, most of these will be friends and family. Wow, those crickets are loud aren’t they? Oh, but look, one person responded. Wow, that’s a terrifyingly vague comment. They thought it was “touching”? Good thing you wrote about a drug deal gone bad. Did they even read it?

Anyway, go get yourself a treat and lie some more – about how your talent isn’t understood, they aren’t the right audience and someone (somewhere?) will appreciate your work. We all do this. It’s cool. Write in your journal a bit and then cry yourself to sleep. Have a few dreams about that teacher in grade school who hated you. Wake up the next morning and go back to your day job. When you’re tired of working, surf the Internet and find some cool photos to go with your story. Now, choose a place to publish the thing (your blog? Amazon?). Whatever.

Ok, now publish it. Yes, I mean it. Yeah, hit the button. The one, right there. No, I’m not kidding! Ok, good. Well done. Now go get yourself another drink and toast to the downy nature of your cajones. Fall asleep in exhaustion; hoping you did the right thing.

Good morning! Welcome back. Now, go back to the beginning. Don’t forget: write, lie, edit, cry (repeat). You’re a writer.

For Dear Life

Andersen's fairy tales by William Heath Robinson

“I’m not going!” I say, stamping my foot on the linoleum floor.

“Yes, you are,” my mother replies calmly from where she stands in the middle of our kitchen. Both hands are on her hips, her eyes unwavering.

“We’re not even friends!”

“It doesn’t matter. His mother died and he’s in your class. You’re going to pay your respects. That’s the end of it.”

I can’t believe she’s making me do this. David Gilbert is one of those extremely average boys who blend into the sea of faces in the hallway at our middle school. I think maybe he mouthed off to me to once during gym, but I can’t be sure if I mistook him for some other boy. He’s that forgettable.

But me, with my big mouth, had to mention how his mom died of cancer earlier that week and now my mom is insisting I attend the viewing at the nearby funeral home, Sullivan & Sons.

She’s got that tight expression she gets when she’s adamant I do something difficult and I can already feel I’m going to lose this one. Other kids get to enjoy the thrills of disobedience – screaming, slamming doors, tossing things – but, for me, when my mom’s like this, I have no choice but to obey.

So I guess it’s not all that surprising that about an hour later I’m packed into the passenger’s side of our old Chevy Impala, arms crossed and angrily staring out the window at a glorious 75-degree day. School is going to be out soon and I can’t believe this is how I’m spending one of the first days of summer.

“Honey, you’re going to have to learn to do things like this,” she says with a sigh. We’re three blocks away and I’m still trying desperately to think of a way out of this. “Funerals are part of life and it’s important you get used to going to them and supporting people when they need you.”

“I don’t even know him,” I repeat under my breath.

“You do.” Both her hands are gripping the wheel at ten and two o’clock. “He deserves to have a friend there.”

None of it makes any sense but we pull into the parking lot anyway and she stops the car.

I scooch over, put my hand on the door latch but notice, out of the corner of my eye, that her hands haven’t moved.

“Aren’t you coming in?” I ask, feeling an uneasy flutter creep into my gut.

“No. You’re doing this yourself.”


“Honey, I mean it.”

“I’m not going in there alone.” The panic rings in my voice. Why is she doing this to me?

“You are.” she turns, staring me down. “I’ll be right here when you come out. It doesn’t take a lot to show others you care, Elizabeth. Now, open that door and get in there.”

There’s nothing left to say and I can see she’s getting really pissed – which is not good. I’m so angry myself, I can’t even speak. But, as usual, I do what she says.

Just those few steps up to the front door with the heat on my shoulders and the cornflower blue sky above makes me wish again I was doing anything but this. I pull open the heavy glass door and the dread hits as I enter and adjust to the gloom and perpetual hush of the funeral home. Somewhat fortunately, I know my way around. This is where my family has all our services. The last one was my great-grandmother, Mary, who lived all the way to 98. The next one will be my uncle, my mother’s brother, Rich, who is presently wasting away from Lou Gehrig’s disease in an upstairs room at my grandmother’s house. Hastily, I shove the ugly thought away and hang a right down a hallway.

On the left, just outside one of the viewing rooms, is a sign for the Gilbert family. I look inside and see there’s no one anywhere and all is completely quiet. I would gladly turn on my heel and skip back outside to tell mom they’re closed, but I know she wouldn’t have any problem marching me right back in here to make sure no one’s available before taking me home.

I take a few tentative steps in and say, “Hello?” And then again, ”Um, hello?” It still looks vacant but then I see him, sitting in the front pew by himself. He turns, recognizes me immediately and stands up self-consciously, raising a hand. He’s a skinny kid with light freckles and sandy brown hair, wearing a pair of carefully pressed khaki trousers along with a crisp short-sleeved white dress shirt and even a tie.

I grind my teeth and curse my luck.

I wave back and plod toward him. When I get there, I say Hi and then he says Hi and then nothing else comes out of either of us. It’s a stupefied staring contest as we both try to figure out, with mounting alarm, what to say or do next.

With experience, adults get good at developing a protective and exhaustive battery of acceptable exchanges, especially during funerals, like: “How are you faring? How is your family doing? How are the kids handling it? Do you need anything? Is there anything we can do?”

But David and I don’t have any of that – or even classes, sports or friends.

Finally, he shrugs his shoulders and says shyly, “Um, well, would you like to see her?”

Surprisingly enough, I’m so focused on him and being tongue-tied that I don’t even realize the coffin is just over against the wall. However, now that I see it, I know the last thing I want is to see her. Still, I nod and sickly follow as he leads me over.

He gives me the prime spot and takes a place at my right. We look down on her together – and everything gets very quiet as if someone turned the volume way low on the whole world.

The fist thing I notice is she looks too old to be a mom. Her face is thin and taught and withered and the dark hair that frames her face is dull and brittle. Though it’s clear someone with a deft hand applied makeup, her sallow skin stands out against the pretty blue polka-dot silk dress they put her in, which is buttoned up to her neck and tied with a bow.

My uncle, Rich, pops to mind again. He already looks like this now: someone who is waging war against a badass disease and is about to lose, just like she did.

My throat is hurting. I swallow and feel a painful lump there but my eyes are still glued on her. I feel David standing sadly next to me. He is utterly still. In desperation to say something normal, I squeak, “She was sick?” which I immediately regret, but the words are already gone.

He nods, never taking his eyes off her, and whispers, “Yeah. She was real sick.”

And then my throat closes up for good as I start to see her through his eyes: Mom. With her smile, her rules, hugs and kisses. On good days and bad days. At Christmas and Easter, BBQs and beaches. She’s gone and he’s never getting her back.


What did she do to deserve this? Was there a reason for anything?

I’m still fighting the tears with all I have, swallowing, blinking, but they’re coming on like a freight train or a tidal wave and I can’t get out of the way. I’ve got to stay mute because, if I say anything else at this point, I know I’m going to completely fall apart, sobbing uncontrollably and making a fool of myself in front of this boy I don’t even know and over a mother that isn’t even mine.

Worst of all, I hurt so badly for David. I feel my heart just breaking apart right there. I can’t believe he had to deal with this alone. I can’t believe this happens to people all the time.

But I already know that, don’t I?

Rich had been sick my entire childhood and I never really knew him when he was well. Apparently, he’d been funny, charismatic, and a successful lawyer who had just married when he first came down with Lou Gehrig’s – a disease that slowly disables your muscles and motor functions. In the first few years, when his illness was somewhat manageable, he stayed with his wife and actually had a couple of kids. But pretty quickly, they couldn’t handle it all on their own and my grandparents suggested Rich come home and live with them where he could be cared for full time. At this point, he was losing his mobility and his speech was slurring.

When he first came home, I didn’t fully understand what was wrong with him. After all, to a seven year-old, a man who is tottering around and jumps (and then laughs) when you scare him is funny. Plus there was all the stuff that came with him: the strange upright wheel chair with the headrest, the white chair that always stayed in the shower and the high-tech Mr. Spell thingy that spoke robotic words after you typed them in on the keyboard.

However, the fascination didn’t last. My family took him to clinics and special treatment centers with tense but hopeful smiles on their faces that were gone by the time they returned, carrying his nearly-limp body back in the house.

One day I saw the wheel chair in a neglected corner of the living room and it seemed to stay there for months. Then it was gone altogether and Rich stopped leaving his bedroom. My mother, aunts and uncles kept trying to get me to come and visit him, like the rest of them did, to read or watch basketball, but I found every time I walked in and had to face his skeletal body and his hollow moans, I wanted to run away as fast as I could – and usually did. He couldn’t even speak, for God’s sake. He was dying and in the worst way I could imagine: unable to talk or cry or even laugh with the people he loved.

Was there a worse nightmare?

But, despite all this, after seven years, my family was still fighting alongside Rich. By now they all could translate his moans without Mr. Spell or feed him without making a mess. Strangest of all, none of them ever seemed repulsed or scared. They just kept on kissing, hugging and laughing with him, as if nothing were really wrong. Maybe it was their way of hanging on to him.

“Death is a part of life,” I would hear one or more of them murmur at any given time. Sometimes it was something about “God’s will”. If only I could accept it as placidly as they did. Part of me was quietly waiting for someone to finally break, maybe smash a coffee cup into the wall or shriek hatefully at God for smiting Rich so cruelly. It’s what I wanted to do, besides just wanting him to die already so the shame would go away.

But now, standing with David Gilbert, in front of his mom’s coffin, I’ve got nowhere to run.

I have to face that bad things happen – and that they will happen to me and the people I love.

I have to face that life is just not fair.

I have to face that I’m going to hurt someday.

That I’m going to die someday.

That there are no answers.

This is the tidal wave I’ve been running from.

Just as I feel whatever self-control finally crumbling and the tears rolling down my face, I feel it: David’s hand on my shoulder.

“It’s Ok,” he says. “It’s gonna be alright…”

And that kicks open the floodgates for real. Sobs, snot, the works start pouring out – and not a tissue in sight.

But he keeps patting my shoulder, inching in a little closer, leaning his head in compassionately, repeating softly again and again that things are going to be Ok. Really they will be.

I turn to him and see he’s smiling reassuringly and I want to shake my head and tell him nothing will ever be good again. But he stays with it, repeating calmly that it’ll be all right. I want to hide my face so he doesn’t see how hideous I look crying all over myself, but he doesn’t seem bothered at all by my looks or hysterics. Is this what my family’s been doing for Rich all along? How can he be so calm when I’m such a mess?

After a while, a man and women, who are clearly part of David’s family, enter the room and we awkwardly break apart. This gives me a chance to brush away my tears and say goodbye to David, who is still smiling softly. I run to the parking lot – still crying – and jump in my mom’s car, which is idling at the front steps.

“I’m proud of you, honey,” she says as we pull away. “I know that wasn’t easy but I’m glad you did it.”

I’m still hating her, refusing to speak but, in the years that followed, I’ve had a lot of time to think about why she sent me in there alone.

Looking back at her, I see a woman who had already faced a few tidal waves. The sun is glittering off her short red curls as she slowly turns the wheel and heads down our street, toward the little red house she bought for my sister and I. She’s just over forty and there’s a first child, a girl, she gave up for adoption and a divorce from my dad in her rear-view. Next up is the death of her dear brother, and coming on quickly. Sitting in the passenger seat is me, sensitive and intense, and just entering my teens, with a lot of life and even more surprises ahead.

Was she trying to temper me against the future by making me face what I had been avoiding for so long? Did she need me to somehow understand what she was going through? I don’t really know.

Whatever I learned, it’s David that probably taught me the most that day.

In my mind, I go back and see him again, standing in the viewing room, with his hand on my shoulder. I look into his soft green eyes over a smattering of early-summer freckles and, inside them, I see the future, but I also see my mother and our family coming together around Rich, around me.

I know there’s no cure for what’s coming and no way to side step the tidal wave. All you can do is hold on to one another, for comfort, for dear life.

Andersen's fairy tales by William Heath Robinson

I won the Liebster Award! And 11 other wacky things.

Wow, this is such a shock. I’m so overwhelmed but, first…

I’d like to thank the Academy-

Ok, cut. Start over. Just what exactly is the Liebster award anyway? Is it the award for having the blog with the fewest readers? Because, if it’s that, I win!

No? It’s the award that bloggers give to one another so we can answer goofy questions about ourselves and try to be entertaining or meaningful (or not, in my case)? Awesome. I am so IN.

So here’s how it works:

  1. I post 11 random facts about myself.
  2. I answer the 11 questions my nominator selected for me
  3. I nominate 11 other bloggers to do the same
  4. I tell them which 11 questions I want them to answer
  5. You, as a non-participant, ask yourself, “Why am I reading this?”

Random facts about Ms. Wynter:

  1. I saw the Easter Bunny when I was nine. It was glowing ball of white mist in the neighbor’s yard that was shaped just like a giant rabbit, sitting on its hind legs. My mom even saw it too, after I frantically screamed for her to come to my room. People think I’m crazy, but I don’t care. It was the Easter Bunny and I got to see him. So there.
  2. One of my favorite sandwiches in the whole world is peanut butter, mayonnaise and cucumber (with salt and pepper) on wheat bread (with a side of potato chips). Yeah, I know. But some people eat crickets and swear they’re awesome, so go figure.
  3. I’m a fifth-generation Detroiter and my great-grandmother, Mary, was one of the first ladies to drive a car here. People thought she was nuts. It runs in the family.
  4. I defeated a bully when I was twelve at the park across the street from my house with both sixth grade classes watching (and screaming). She had been harassing me for months and I finally challenged her and won – it redefined who I thought I was.
  5. I learned to recite Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s, “The Psalm of Life” when I was seven and I’ve been reciting it ever since (especially when I’m feeling low). Like fine wine, my appreciation for it has evolved and improved with the years.
  6. My favorite animals are: cats, pugs, llamas, pangolins, sloths, pygmy marmosets and sea otters. So far, all I’ve got is a cat and a pug (he doesn’t count as a dog) so it’s clear I’ve got to get started on that zoo I’ve been meaning to build…
  7. I love bees of all kinds and I even wrote a middle-grade fantasy about them (coming soon)
  8. One of my favorite cocktails is an Eighteen-Wheeler – that’s half Jägermeister, half Bailey’s served over ice – a fiery, creamy concoction that goes particularly well with a side of Guinness, buttered popcorn and a Disney movie.
  9. If I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life writing, I’d open a pizza and bagel shop. In the morning, you’d stop by for your bagel and coffee and, in the evening on the way home, you’d pick up a pizza. Carbs forever!
  10. My heritage is mixed western European but, I swear to you, my taste buds are Mediterranean – because that’s most of the food I crave (plus bagels and popcorn and Eighteen-Wheelers and Guinness).
  11. I’m a distant descendent of Mary, Queen of Scots. (Kidding! I couldn’t resist.)

Eleven questions from my nominator, Ms. Megan Cutler:

  1. What is one thing you have done that you never thought you’d do? Get to live a creative life and write the stories I want.
  2. What is your favorite book or series of books? Impossible question! Ok, fine. Let’s see… Probably Lord of the Rings, if we’re talking series, and Lonesome Dove for a single title.
  3. If money were no object and you could live anywhere, where would you choose? Miami in the winter and Martha’s Vineyard in the summer. I’m like an East-coaster who actually grew up in the Midwest.
  4. If you could meet any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? Julia Child. I want to eat and drink (too much) with her in Paris and laugh at the folly of life.
  5. How do you find motivation on your off days? I remind myself that if I only wrote on my so-called “motivated days” that would be twice a year. Books get written on the days you don’t want to write.
  6. What is your favorite type of music and/or band/performer? The Pixies.
  7. If a genie were to grant you one wish, what would you wish for? To write a New York Times bestseller.
  8. What is your favorite way to spend your free time? Watching Disney and eating popcorn, with the occasional Eighteen-Wheeler.
  9. Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Gus McCray of Lonesome Dove – one of the most heroic, funny and relatable heroes that ever lived. Wish I could hug and kiss him.
  10. What is one thing are you most proud of? Writing my first book. It’s unpublished but that doesn’t matter. It proved I can do almost anything.
  11. What is your favorite piece of advice either that you have received or that you wish to pass on? I don’t believe writers are born, I believe they’re willed. Plus, while our talents and results may vary, the average guy or gal on the street has the same immutable right to tell his/her story as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Owning that right is the first step to allowing yourself to pursue the writing path you desire.

Now, the hammer falls!… Er, or rather, I nominate eleven other bloggers

Here are your questions, bloggers! Pretty much the same as I was asked above. Follow the steps I listed above (except, hopefully, #5) and you’re on your way. No deadline and no pressure on participating.

  1. What is one thing you have done that you never thought you’d do?
  2. What is your favorite book or series of books?
  3. If money were no object and you could live anywhere, where would you choose?
  4. If you could meet any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
  5. How do you find motivation on your off days?
  6. What is your favorite movie or TV series?
  7. If a genie were to grant you one wish, what would you wish for?
  8. What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
  9. Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
  10. What is one thing are you most proud of?
  11. What is your favorite piece of advice either that you have received or that you wish to pass on?

The Believer


Close your eyes. Now, I want you to imagine yourself at home, switching the laundry, when you hear your cell phone ring. You go to it and answer it.

“Hello, this is Stacy Tyler, of Tyler Literary,” a woman’s voice says. “I’m calling about your query letter.”

“Oh?” you say, feeling your heart pick up.

“That’s a great piece you sent us. Can you send the whole manuscript right away?”

You agree (of course!), promise to send it all immediately, end the call and feel elated. They liked it.

Here’s my question: Does it still bother you that those close to you never read your stuff or weren’t more supportive while you were writing? Continue reading