Saturday, December 17, 2016

Tougher than Harvard. More demanding than MIT. Husband Training School is the last hope of wives Who Have Had It.



They love their husbands but...


Sissie Canholme had had it. Her pulse was racing. Her heart was pounding. Her anti-perspirant stopped working hours ago.
Jogging?
The treadmill?
A Zumba class?
Nope.
Sissie Canholme was comfortably seated in a quiet room. Soothing music wafted from high quality speakers and fragrant jasmine tea in small porcelain cups waited on the low, red lacquered table in front of her.
But why the stress and anxiety? Certainly not because she was over eight and a half months pregnant. Sissie was healthy, the baby was healthy. Everything was ready and completely prepared for the coming blessed event.
So what was the problem?
Brunette, hazel eyes, age 36, California-born, California-bred, Sissie was on the executive floor in a sleek, ultra-modern office tower located in Chengwai, China. She was waiting for a decision from Ling Yun, Weibo Digital’s CEO that would affect her future—and, in turn, the baby’s future.
Sissie was in China to negotiate a manufacturing deal with Weibo Digital for her employer, California’s tech titan, xWorks. If Ling Yun’s response was positive, Sissie’s status at xWorks would rise. So would her paycheck, and she would move up another step in the company’s hierarchy.
Meanwhile, her hair smelled of Chinese cigarettes. Her eyes were dry and scratchy from too many late nights at the office and too many trans-Pacific flights. Her makeup was melted, her hairstyle collapsed, her shoulders slumped.
She had to pee. Her eyelids were drooping. She wanted to sleep. The baby was kicking up almighty hell. She was so tired she almost didn’t care any more when the door to the conference room opened. Ling Yun, elegantly attired in a hand-tailored Savile Row suit, gestured to her.
“Come in,” he said. “We’ve considered your proposal.”
His tone betrayed nothing nor did his expression. This was, after all, the inscrutable Orient.
Sissie, her armpits soggy, her stomach in knots, her bladder about to burst, the baby kicking up almighty hell, followed him into the conference room. She listened to the terms of Weibo Digital’s counter-offer, her expression neutral. (Ling Yun wasn’t the only one who could be inscrutable.)
When he finished, Sissie managed the polite bow mandatory for doing business in Asia. She thanked Ling Yun for his consideration and said she would have to discuss his response with her manager before she could reply.
Exhausted, Sissie barely remembered leaving Weibo Digital, going to the airport and boarding the plane. She was looking forward to seeing the nursery her husband, Gordo, had prepared for little Sissie Jr.
The baby furniture would be in place, and so would the pink scatter rug and pink-and-white gingham curtains she had picked out. Picturing her beautiful baby and the picture-perfect, fully furnished, freshly painted nursery that was waiting, Sissie smiled to herself.
She was looking forward to spending the few days before giving birth in an atmosphere of beauty, harmony and tranquillity. As the plane climbed to altitude and crossed the Pacific, she relaxed for the first time since arriving in China and fell into a deep, refreshing sleep.
* * *
Except when Sissie got home, the IKEA furniture—the bassinet, changing table and storage unit—was still in the garage, still packed in shipping cartons. The crib had been partially unpacked but not built. Slats and protective wrapping material were strewn over the cement floor, and a hammer and screw driver were abandoned somewhere in the chaos.
When Sissie went into the house, she saw that the nursery—it was the unused second bedroom—was unpainted. The rug was rolled up and shoved into a corner, the windows grimy, the curtains unhung.
Gordo, who had a freelance business maintaining the web sites and twitter accounts of on-line athletic wear and equipment retailers, was on his computer filling out the roster of his fantasy football team. His Joe-college good looks were untroubled, his blue eyes tranquil. He hadn’t had time to get to the crib yet, he said.
“You have time for fantasy football but you haven’t had time for the baby’s crib?” Sissie said, doing her best to keep her voice at a reasonable pitch. Still, the sarcasm leaked out. “You work at home. You’re here all day.”
“I wasn’t home all day,” said Gordo, completely missing the edge to her tone. “I was playing golf.”
Golf?” Sissie snapped. “You were playing golf?”
“Jeff called,” said Gordo, referring to his college roommate. “He had the day off and asked if I could join him in a round or two.”
“You thought golf was more important than the baby we’re having in a week?”
“I don’t know why you’re so upset,” said Gordo, a bewildered expression crossing his face. “I’ll get the furniture put together. I promise.”
Angry tears stung Sissie’s eyes. “You’ve been promising for six months and that furniture is still in the garage,” she said. “In shipping cartons. You haven’t even opened them."
“I opened the crib."
“Only halfway. The slats are all over the floor."
“I just said I’d get to it, didn’t I?” said Gordo, now sounding pouty and aggrieved. “I don’t know why you’re so angry."
“You don’t know WHY I’M ANGRY?” Sissie shouted, her pretty features screwed up in rage. “What’s wrong with you? You act like all this isn’t happening. Well, it is happening. We’re having a baby and, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m the size of a whale. My job is half killing me and I have two baby showers this week. Where am I supposed to put the baby stuff?” she asked. Then she burst into tears. “Where am I supposed to put the baby?”
“Now I understand,” said Gordo. He reached out in an attempt to soothe her. “You’re upset. It’s the hormones."
With that, Sissie pushed him away and homicide entered her mind. She was going to kill him, she thought. She was going to go to the garage and get the hammer and bash his brains in. She was going to pick up a slat and beat him into a mass of bloody, splintered bone and mangled tissue.
Then, memories of movies and TV shows elbowed into her consciousness—a tormented scream, the cold, hard bars of a cell door, the harsh rasp of a sadistic guard—and her murderous fantasies screeched to a halt.
Without another word, she marched into their bedroom and slammed the door so hard plaster rained down from the ceiling.
She picked up the phone and, blinking away tears of fury, she dialed the number one of the women in her Lamaze class had given her.
* * *
“I need an application form,” Sissie said, relaying her cell phone number and email address. “It’s an emergency.”
Former Marine Corps Drill Instructor Robin Aguirre sighed.
She had heard it all before from other wives who phoned Husband Training School.
It was always the same and it was always an emergency.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Sometimes you need a goat.

Early morning at the Kihali animal orphanage in Africa

A poor, brave little rhino named Zuri (Swahili for “beautiful”) has been rescued from poachers but her recovery is not going well. She is depressed and listless, she has nightmares and lies in her stall crying for her cruelly murdered mother.
None of the medical interventions have helped, and Zuri, who associates humans with the killers who took her mother’s horn, refuses to nurse. Her sad bleating and quivering body are clear signs that she is still in deep mourning.
Why, wonders Renny Kudrow, Director of the Kihali animal orphanage, hasn’t she started to recover? What if she doesn’t get better and they lose her?
He’d be to blame, he thinks. Not the Kenyan rhino experts, tall, skinny Jomo and strong, burly Muthengi. And certainly not the vet. Dr. Starlite Higgins has done everything medically possible.
Feeling guilty and disconsolate, Renny’s thoughts drift to Starlite’s idea. Her impressive work on a DNA database will make Kihali a leader in the conservation of endangered species, but just because her latest idea was unconventional and untested, didn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying, did it?
Renny doesn’t know, but he is in charge, the responsibility is his and he feels its weight. Time is growing short for Zuri, he knows, and he is running out of options. He must make a decision.
Stretching his long legs, Renny gets up, abandons his tea, still hot in its battered tin mug, and leaves the veranda. He jogs across Kihali’s yard as the African sun begins to rise and doesn’t stop until he reaches the laundry line that, suspended between two poles, runs behind the kitchen. There, in her usual spot, tethered by a fraying rope, is Boozie.
The moment she sees him, she does what she always does. She jumps up and greets him the way she greets everyone.
She stands on his toes and kisses him.
***

A Goat Named Boozie

She has a black face, white ears and an inquisitive manner. Like most of her kind, she is intelligent and affectionate but, like most of her kind, she also has a propensity for creating mischief.
She’d earned her name when she’d gotten into the left-over drinks after a cocktail party on the veranda, over-imbibed, and fell off the low porch into the petunia bed where she passed out and slept it off. Since then, adult beverages have been carefully kept away from the adventuresome and irrepressible young goat named Boozie who, following Renny, bounds across the courtyard to Zuri’s stall.
Leading Boozie, he enters the stall wordlessly. Starlite and Muthengi both raise their eyebrows, glance at each other, but say nothing.
As Renny supervises and Starlite and Muthengi watch, Boozie introduces herself to Zuri with a kiss.
Mewling softly under her blanket, poor, depressed Zuri seems not to notice.
Boozie, undaunted by the lack of response, explores Zuri’s head and ears with dainty tastes and gentle nibbles. Then, ever curious, she investigates the short, stubby legs and, from there, moves down to the padded three-toed feet.
“Mouthing and chewing are the ways goats explore the world around them,” mutters Renny in his professorial way, not looking at Starlite even though he is standing next to her.
“You sound like you think I didn’t know,” Starlite replies with a slight edge, looking straight at him as Boozie continues her affectionate explorations. “Wasn’t my suggestion the reason you decided to introduce them?”
Renny isn’t about to give her all the credit. “One of the reasons.”
Starlite isn’t in the mood to back off, either. “So maybe I had a good idea after all.”
“Possibly,” he says and shrugs slightly, keeping his eyes on Zuri and Boozie and assiduously refusing to acknowledge Starlite. “Let’s see what happens.”
Starlite leaves her tart retort unspoken when she notices that Zuri’s quivering has subsided. She turns to Muthengi. “Zuri seems almost relaxed for the first time since coming to Kihali.”
“Rhinos have thick hides but sensitive skin,” Muthengi says. “They love to be touched.”
“And goats love to do the touching,” Starlite adds.
Renny, watching, suppresses a smile and makes no comment as Zuri, turning her head to favor her right eye, looks to see who is paying so much attention to her.
Seeming to conclude that the friendly young goat offers no threat, Zuri takes a deep breath and clumsily struggles to her feet. She is weak from lack of exercise and her short, stubby legs wobble and offer unstable support.
She takes a few hesitant steps, then stumbles and falls. She cries out in distress and remains on the floor of her stall. She seems defeated and ready to give up.
Boozie, undeterred, scampers over and kisses her ear. Zuri turns toward her new friend and, encouraged, she takes a deep breath and rests for a moment; then, gathering her will, she uses her chin to help support herself while she gets up. She teeters for a moment, then finds her balance and arranges her feet squarely on the ground beneath her.
She turns toward Boozie, who urges her on with another enthusiastic kiss. Zuri looks up at her new acquaintance and even seems to smile.
The two quadrupeds stand side by side, one slim and sprightly, the other low-slung and rounded, a mismatched couple if there ever was one. Still, they are at peace, comfortable with each other, comfortable with themselves.
Wordlessly, Renny turns to Starlite and she sees that his eyes are filmed with tears. For so long, she has felt the sting of his disapproval and she, too, is moved. Impulsively, she reaches out and, wordlessly, briefly grazes his hand with hers.
“They’ll do well together,” she says.
“Yes,” he replies, his voice thick. “I do believe they will.”

Kindle | iBooks | GooglePlay | Nook | Kobo








Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Like books by writers like Rona Jaffe, Judith Michael and Barbara Taylor Bradford?


DECADES, Book #1 in the Park Avenue Series was originally published in hard cover by Simon & Schuster. Now FREE at all ebook vendors.


THREE WOMEN. THREE DECADES.

Spanning the years from the optimistic post-War 1940s to the Mad Men 1950s and rebellious Make Love, Not War 1960s, DECADES is about three generations of women who must confront the radical changes and upended expectations presented by the turbulent decades in which they lived.

Evelyn, talented but insecure, faithful to the traditional values she grew up with, is a loyal and loving wife whose marriage means everything to her.
Nick, handsome and ambitious, a chameleon who changes with the changing times, is her successful but restless husband.
Joy, their daughter, coming of age at a time of anger and rebellion, needs them both but is torn between them.
Barbara is the other woman. Younger than Evelyn, accomplished but alone, she wonders if she can have everything--including another woman's husband.

But can she? Is she willing to pay the price? And how will Evelyn handle her rebellious daughter, her straying husband and the threat to her marriage?

DECADES, sweeping in scope yet intimate in detail, is the emotional, compelling story of family and marriage, betrayal and healing.

“A brilliant book. Three generations of women are succinctly capsuled in this novel by a writer who has all the intellect of Mary McCarthy, all the insight of Joan Didion. Rarely have attitudes been so probingly examined—tough, trenchant, chic and ultra-sophisticated, Ms. Harris recreates the decades in which her heroines lived, from zoot suits and Sammy Kaye, through Eisenhower, Elvis and poodle-cut hairdos to moon walks, Mick Jagger and micro-minis. Readers will be entertained and few will be able to forget what Decades has to say about men and women and the games people play.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Ruth Harris has re-created both the style and substance of three decades of American life—from the bobby socks and innocence of the 1940s, to the crinolines and caution of the 1950s, to the bra-less T-shirts and alienation of the 1960s.” —Book-of-the-Month Club

Powerful. A gripping novel that depicts the lives and loves of three generations of women.” —Women Today Book Club




Sunday, October 16, 2016

A new trilogy. PERIL: THE WIZARD'S JOURNEY


book cover
Kindle
THEY HATED HIM AND TRIED TO KILL HIM.

Justin Rakka knows from an early age that he is different but he doesn’t understand why. An only child and heir to a large fortune, he is shunted aside by his parents and viciously bullied at school. Lonely and misunderstood, he cannot find his place in the world until a distinguished presence from a secret sphere reaches out to him.



Book Cover
Kindle
ACCUSED!

Justin is accused of a vicious crime and the police, convinced of his guilt, hound him without mercy. 



Kindle

LIFE? OR DEATH?

With Juliet’s freedom at stake and Justin’s own life in the balance, can he defeat the vicious demon sworn to steal his powers and destroy them both?

Monday, October 10, 2016

How To Fix The Novel That Fizzled

Janice Hardy tells how to fix the novel that fizzled.


The Wrong Protagonist?

The Wrong Story?

The Wrong Point of View?

What Conflict?

Stakes—What Stakes?

Lack of Credibility?


Janice asks the questions and gives the answers at Anne R. Allen's blog.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Self-sabotage And The Fear Of Success



Midnight In Paris: The Impossible Dream?

Fear of Success vs. Fear of Failure
5 Ways Writers Block Success
The 4 Irrational Fears That Hold Writers Back


Fantasy and reality, illusion and disillusion, and the invisible traps writers set for themselves explained at Anne R. Allen.


Monday, September 26, 2016

First Drafts: Sticking Points And Solutions

First drafts can be like mazes. The way through is never a straight line.


That delightful, delicious, d*mn first draft!

Love it? Leave it? Or is there something in between?
I found out how other writers from David Hewson to Nora Roberts solve the first draft.
Learn what I discovered in my report at Anne R. Allen's blog.
Join the fun! Share your sticking points and solutions in the comments!

Monday, August 29, 2016

How to write compelling characters.

Audrey Hepburn's Little Black Dress

Clothing and appearance, scent and sensibility provide powerful metaphors for a character’s inner life


Joan Crawford’s shoulder pads.

Harry Potter's wand.

James Bond's Beretta.

Mark Zuckerberg's hoodie.

Dragon Lady red lips.

Summer in the city.

A leather-upholstered Rolls-Royce in Hong Kong.

Sexy, man-trap perfume.

Audrey Hepburn's Little Black Dress.


They all have something in common. What is it?
Anne and Ruth know—and they tell. :-)


Thursday, August 4, 2016

She's getting older, but is she getting better?



DOWNHILL (OR, NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE)


From carbon paper to carbon emissions.

From Edward R. Murrow to Bill O’Reilly.

From Audrey Hepburn to Lady Gaga.

From Julia Child to Rachael Ray.

From Ernest Hemingway to EL James.

From Dr. Freud to Dr. Phil.

From I Like Ike to Le Donald.

No wonder I’m so p*ssed off. Not just because I’m about to turn sixty and not just today, but just about all the time and just about everywhere.

On line at the supermarket where I have to bring my own bag and pack my own groceries.

At the gas station where I have to pump my own gas.

On hold listening to the robot telling me my call is important.

At the twenty minutes of trailers and commercials that precede every movie.

At splash ads on the internet.

At cellphones and their rude, clueless users.

At Metro cards that don’t work on first swipe, at double length buses that make Manhattan’s terrible traffic worse.

You name it, it bugs me.

And, right now, you can add Ralph to the list.

Just because we’d been married since about forever did he really have to go on a diet, start exercising, and buy a fancy new wardrobe?

Was he having a mid-life crisis? Or was he having an affair?

For the answer to this question + more, read The Chanel Caper, Book #1 in the Strong, Savvy Women Series.

Available for your Kindle.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Mom's recipe for old-fashioned blueberry cobbler

Summer is still here. So are blueberries—and Blueberry Cobbler!



My Mom was a proud New Englander and an excellent cook. Her recipe for blueberry cobbler is quick, easy and delicious, perfect to share with friends, family or to eat standing up in the kitchen as it comes fresh from the oven!

1 quart blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place in buttered oven-proof casserole.

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Moisten with 1/2 cup milk. Spread over berry mixture and bake in 400 oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

Et voilà!

Enjoy with or without ice cream.
Alone or with someone you love.
Morning, noon or night. :-)







Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A woman of a certain age: She had clothes she had owned since Carrie went to the prom but did she need bikini boot camp, a face lift, a Brazilian wax?

I remember college like it was yesterday...

and our first apartment, a fourth floor walkup in a neighborhood so crummy local gang members were afraid to hang out on the corner. I remember my first job at Click magazine and the day Ralph retired from the NYPD. I remember when and why George Profett, the city’s most neurotic billionaire, hired Ralph to be Profett Media’s Vice President in charge of Security.

I remember all those things—and more—but the more important question is, why don’t I remember how I got to be almost sixty?

What happened to all those years between college and now? How did they go by so fast? What was I doing? Why didn’t I notice?

When, exactly, did I become invisible?

When did empty taxis start passing me by and when did the feral perfume ladies in Bloomingdale’s no longer bother to assault me with a spritz?

When, exactly, did people stop listening to me—even when I knew more about the subject at hand than anyone else in the room?

When did my shoe size go from 7 to 8 and my bra size from 34 to 36 even though I hadn’t gained any weight (well, not much, anyway)?

When did I stop reading Vogue and start sleeping in flannel pajamas all year because our apartment was cold in the winter and Ralph blasted the air conditioner in the summer?

Was I one of those women who had let herself go?

Was I about to get dumped for someone newer and younger?

Did I need bikini boot camp, a face lift, a Brazilian wax?

Would a new hair color, a different shade of lipstick or a pair of crotchless panties get Ralph to pay attention to me?

As it turned out, what it took was none of those things. Instead what made the difference was a murder in Shanghai, a dire threat from George delivered in a cheapo Vietnamese restaurant, a gung-ho war correspondent with a humongous pair of 36 Double D’s, a washed-up Martha Stewart wannabe trying to make a come back and a showdown with a one-eyed, one-lagged Afghan warlord who didn’t speak a word of English.

It all began the day I bought a fake Chanel bag from a sidewalk vendor on East Fifty-third Street. I was thrilled with my purchase and knew Ralph, a label snob, would be impressed. Anxious to show off my new bag, I headed for the office, moving faster than I had in years.

So fast, I didn’t notice I was being followed.

Kindle
Read FREE on KU

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

She's a no-BS American woman of a certain age—face to face with an Afghan war lord.



Deep in the wilds of Afghanistan, murderous war lord Hadjji Jalali Gullamdullah
was holding my DH, Ralph, prisoner.

He—Gullamdullah, not Ralph—stood six feet seven and then some. Weighed 350 pounds and then some. Had one eye (the left) and one leg (the right). A beard halfway down his chest. Wore traditional Afghan clothing—kameez shalwar—the loose tunic-like top over baggy pants. Topped off with a black turban and accessorized with an AK-47 and a dozen glowering Uzi-toting bodyguards.

He was accustomed to rabid Taliban fundamentalists, Qu'ran-spouting Al Qaeda fighters, thuggish poppy-growers and murderous drug smugglers but not to the fury of a menobleeped American female in the clutches of the worst mood swing in the history of the post-HRT era.

“Ralph better be all right,” I threatened.

Gullamdullah reached out and grabbed for my iPhone with his huge paw but I stepped back, danced out of his reach and hid the object of his desire deep in the folds of my burqa.

“I want to see him,” I snarled. “Now.”

With that, Gullamdullah took a step toward me. He didn’t care about Ralph, he didn’t care about me, all he wanted was the goddamn iPhone.

He reached for his AK-47. Pointed it straight at me.

Then he pulled the trigger.

Find out what happens next in The Chanel Caper.


Kindle
Read FREE on KU

Monday, June 13, 2016

She remembers Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters

Blake Weston is a smart, savvy, no BS New Yorker.
Her husband, Ralph Marino, is a très James Bond ex-cop.


When Blake and Ralph, facing sixty, are forced by Ralph’s über-neurotic billionaire boss to work together to solve a murder—and save Ralph’s job—a minor skirmish turns into a major battle. And then...Well, let Blake tell you what happens next.

I left the apartment—with a slammed door for emphasis—and made my way to Julia’s. She’d been spending most of her time in her new fling’s downtown loft so I knew her apartment was empty. I let myself in with the key she had given me years before.

I flipped on the TV. Flipped it off. Wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge, inventoried the lo-cal, no cholesterol, zero trans-fat, gluten-free offerings and realized I wasn’t hungry. Considered breaking into Julia’s Ketel One but concluded that in my agitated state booze was the last thing I needed.

I went to the bedroom, thought about getting into bed but I was too angry with Ralph to sleep. If I were feeling generous (which I wasn’t) I suppose I could blame his NYPD training but being kept out of the loop and being treated on a “need to know” basis was getting old—and getting old was something I already knew too much about.

I was old enough for night sweats and morning stiffness. For Metamucil and Centrum Silver. For colonoscopies and cholesterol counts. For junk mail offering estate planning advice and good deals on burial plots.

I was old enough to remember the Pan Am Building, Bendel’s when it was at 10 West 57th Street, cash registers, getting up and crossing the room to change the channel, Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters.

I could even remember when “latte” was Italian for milk—not American for coffee.

I had survived blizzards and blackouts, subway series and subway strikes, Ronald Perelman and Ronald Reagan. I had reached the stage when I forgot names and phone numbers, book and movie titles, where I’d left my glasses, why I’d entered a room and what I was going to say next.

But I wasn’t that old.

I had kept up enough to know I was living in an age of e*trade and eharmony, podcasts and tweets, fuel cells, stem cells, sleeper cells and fat cells. I still had my marbles, my eyesight and my determination. I could conduct a conversation without drooling and get into the bathtub without a LifeAlert.

I also knew enough to ask for input when I needed it, so I called Julia.

“Working with Ralph is not going well,” I told her.

read FREE at KU
Kindle

Monday, June 6, 2016

Women Over Fifty: Smart, Sexy Stylish or Invisible?

50+ women are usually perceived as

smart, sexy, stylish.

T or F?


At the age of 56 women become invisible. T or F?

Wearing clothes she's owned since Carrie went to the prom makes a woman sexy and stylish. T or F?

Poised somewhere between hip and a hip replacement, she is looking forward to her golden years with serenity. (Not Serenity.) T or F

A miniskirt, a red balconette bra and stilettos are the keys to reviving a fading TV career as a gourmet chef. T or F?

In Afghanistan what women want matters. T or F?

A knowledge of proofreading/copyediting can help solve a crime. T or F?

You can buy a genuine Chanel bag from a NYC sidewalk vendor. T or F?



Read FREE at KU






Tuesday, May 31, 2016


How To Write A Cozy Mystery Set In The Big Apple
Impossible!
Not at all.


Life in the city that never sleeps (population 8 million) is more like living in a small town than you might imagine. Lived at sidewalk level, the Big A is a series of neighborhoods with all the elements of everyday small-town life—including lovable and not-so-lovable quirky characters.

There are the almost-daily surprise meetings. Guess who I bumped into today?

Casual encounters occur regularly as you run into friends, colleagues past and present, and people you know less well but who qualify as more-than-just-acquaintances. There are the neighbors with whom you exchange small talk, the woman who works at the dry cleaner and knows which blouse is yours without having to look at the ticket, and your favorite checkout clerk at the nearest supermarket. Don't forget all the other familiar faces—the neighborhood doormen, nannies, joggers and dog walkers.

Add in: the advertising guru you met once at a party or the local politician you've run into two or three times at the hair stylist.

Among the Big Apple's 8 million citizens, suspects abound and the opportunities for meeting quirky characters expands accordingly.

Like:
Axl, the well-dressed friendly neighborhood drunk who sees—and remembers—more than you might imagine.

George Profett, the hypochondriac, billionaire-in-waiting who won't leave home without his hand sanitizer and blood pressure machine.

Renay Kennan, resplendent in red marabou and gold lamé, a girl from the back of beyond who made it all the way to Park Avenue and who might—or might not—have killed her about-to-be-ex-husband, the Wall Street banker who was in deep doo-doo with the feds.

The book is called MANHATTAN MADNESS and it's coming soon.

Meanwhile, for another Big Apple cozy:
Read FREE on KU
Buy at Amazon.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

e-Prescriptions: A lousy idea whose time has come.


New York State recently passed a law requiring ePrescriptions. In a display of commendable restraint, I will refrain from commenting on the number of our law makers currently under investigation and/or headed for jail. Instead, I will tell you what happened to me when I went mano a mano with the new system.

On Friday morning my doctor's office e'd a prescription for eyedrops in advance of minor eye surgery.

The assistant handling the paperwork wanted to know which drugstore I wanted to use. I wanted to use the least expensive one since I know from experience that in my neighborhood there can be a price difference of as much as 50% between pharmacies for the same drug. When I asked how much these drugs cost, she told me that she didn't know. She insisted I provide a pharmacy number so I had to take a guess.

Did I make a lucky guess? Or not?

I don't know because it is now Sunday and the pharmacy has neither called to alert me to pick up nor delivered the prescription. Was the prescription received? Was there an error in the doctor's office? A mix up at the pharmacy? Was there a computer glitch?

Calling seems to offer an opportunity for confusion since my name is a common one and I wasn't told the name of the eyedrops (or whether several different kinds of eyedrops were prescribed). Instead, I will call the doctor's office on Monday morning, find out what drugs were prescribed and, armed with a bit of information, contact the pharmacy.

What would happen if this Rx were urgent? Which, fortunately, it's not. Still, I have to wonder what would happen to a patient facing an urgent situation.

The proponents of e-prescribing contend that it prevents errors. Really? I have never once had an error in a prescription handed to me by a doctor and taken by me to a drugstore. No friend or family member has ever mentioned a prescription error and I have never read a newspaper, magazine or internet story about the scourge of prescription errors.

E-prescriptions are slower than written or printed prescriptions. I can't remember ever not receiving an Rx the same day I handed it to a pharmacist.

E-prescriptions infantilize the patient who is deprived of information and control. Kept in the dark by this opaque system, we are not clued in to the name of the drug, the number of different drugs if relevant, and, since we don't see the Rx, we have no way of knowing if the prescription delivered to us is, in fact, ours or has been correctly filled.

We have no way to compare prices and do not know how much the drug(s) will cost until we get the bill. Then and only then—surprise! surprise!—will we be allowed to participate in our own health care.

I have learned my lesson. The next time I need a prescription, I will insist the doctor write down the name(s) of the drug. I would advise other patients to take the same precaution.

How patients will be able find out the price of a drug before designating a pharmacy is a significant unaddressed issue. When did anyone anywhere in the world ever buy something without knowing the price in advance?

Welcome to medicine, twenty-first-century-style.

If all patients are forced into this system, why aren't all pharmacies forced to charge identical prices? Where were patient advocates and consumer advocates when New York State passed this inefficient and potentially health-threatening law? Where is the company like Amazon that will disrupt this entire system by offering transparent prices and quick, reliable delivery?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Who Loves You, Baby?
You're Sure?


There are people who do what they say they’re going to do and people who don’t. The first are gems and you will forgive their cranky moments, lousy taste in clothes/music/tv/movies and inability to tell Warhol from Watteau because they are reliable and you know you can count on them.

Headache? They’re there with the aspirin.
Bad breakup? They’re the shoulder you cry on.
Fired, laid off, downsized? They’re there with comfort and contacts who will help you find the job you need.


Then there are The You-Know-Who's They love you, love your book, wouldn’t miss your opening/party/reading for anything, promise to write a glowing review, will call their best friends Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian who are just dying to help promote your book/movie/groovy new line of kitchen utensils.

But.

Don’t hold your breath because they are not gonna do whatever it is they promised on the Bible/the Qu'ran/their favorite pair of Nikes to do. They’re the love-you-and-leave-you-in-the-lurch buddies, the bff’s we all know and even like—but know we can’t depend on.


When was the last time you were let down by someone you thought you knew? Or have you learned to separate the Do-ers from the You-Know-Who's?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Dept of Never Too Late

Hundred-and-six-year-old woman dances with the Pres.
Hundred-year-old teaches math.
Ninety-one year old beats Rock ’n' Roll marathon record in California. 

So what does that have to do with our eighty year old Uncle Robert?


Uncle Robert was a college professor who taught a subject so esoteric no one in the family could figure out what the hell it was even about. Underneath his dignified professorial exterior, Robert had always dreamed of being a writer, a dream he never abandoned despite decades of rejection. No publisher existed who had failed to reject Robert’s efforts—at least once and usually more than once.

Until, at eighty, Robert sold a novel set in the American South. Old trees dripping with Spanish moss, languid days and even more languid nights, steamy weather and steamy sex. Voilà, after decades of trying (and failing), Robert had a publisher. He was thrilled in his professorial way. Even more thrilled when his book took off and sold—and the publisher signed him up for more.

“I have to have a couple of glasses of wine before I can write the sex scenes,” he confided, letting me in on the secret techniques of a successful author.

Everyone was happy but the question was, what would Aunt Fanny, Robert’s hundred-year-old mother think?

Worried about the delicate sensibilities of an elderly woman, everyone tip-toed around the subject until, finally, Aunt Fanny herself spoke up and cleared away the confusion: “Thank God he’s finally making some money."

Conclusion #1: Think different. Forget stereotypes.
Conclusion #2: Never, ever give up.

Have you ever been surprised by someone you thought you knew well? Were you indulging in stereotypes? Have you ever given up on something—or someone? Do you regret it? Or not? Do share!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dumb Career Moves


DUMB CAREER MOVES

My editor, M, was bright and talented but also somewhat off-putting. At least to me. To show you how clueless I can be, M and I were having lunch at Four Seasons (where else?) after my first hard cover novel, Decades, was so successful—a NYT bestseller in hard cover, major paperback sale and worldwide foreign and translation sales.

"Your next book should be about my affair," M told me—he was married to wife #1 at the time—whereupon he proceeded to fill me in on the lurid details.

Did I take notes? Nope.
Did I write my next book about M's affair? Nope.

For one thing, Decades was about a married man having a hot affair (which might be one of the reasons M “loved it” in the first place) so I was sort of burned out on the subject.

For another, M rode his horse every morning before coming into the office and wore his riding boots—and horsy smell—to work. He dyed his hair several shades of blonde and conducted meetings lying flat on the floor of his office—"bad back." His efforts to turn himself into a fascinating character, I suspect, but hardly my idea of a hunky sex object who would energize a novelist in search of an inspiring new subject for her next book.

Had I written the book M wanted, he would almost certainly have promoted the hell out of it and I would most likely have had two major bestsellers, one right after another, and a different trajectory to my career. But I didn’t. Boy, was I dumb.

Or am I being too hard on myself?

What I realize in retrospect is #1, I allowed my subjective response to M to overly influence me. #2, even though I was now officially “successful,” I didn’t yet have enough experience to be confident in my creativity. After all, there are said to be only six or seven plots. M’s story would have been different from the story I’d just written: different people, different settings, different outcomes.

Am I the only one to have missed a good opportunity? Or the only one to look back and see an earlier turning point through a different lens? Please share. I’m interested in your experience.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blake Weston is a strong, savvy, no BS New Yorker. 

Her husband, Ralph Marino, is a très James Bond ex-cop and head of security for a large international corporation. When Blake and Ralph, facing sixty, are forced by Ralph’s über-neurotic billionaire boss to work together to solve a murder—and save Ralph’s job—their partnership doesn’t always go so well. When one minor skirmish turns into a battle…well, let Blake tell you what happens next:

I left the apartment—with a slammed door for emphasis—and made my way to Julia’s. She’d been spending most of her time in her new fling’s downtown loft so I knew her apartment was empty. I let myself in with the key she had given me years before.
I flipped on the TV. Flipped it off. Wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge, inventoried the lo-cal, no cholesterol, zero trans-fat, gluten-free offerings and realized I wasn’t hungry. Considered breaking into Julia’s Ketel One but concluded that in my agitated state booze was the last thing I needed.
I went to the bedroom, thought about getting into bed but I was too angry with Ralph to sleep. If I were feeling generous (which I wasn’t) I suppose I could blame his NYPD training but being kept out of the loop and being treated on a “need to know” basis was getting old—and getting old was something I already knew too much about.
I was old enough for night sweats and morning stiffness. For Metamucil and Centrum Silver. For colonoscopies and cholesterol counts. For junk mail offering estate planning advice and good deals on burial plots.
I was old enough to remember the Pan Am Building, Bendel’s when it was at 10 West 57th Street, cash registers, getting up and crossing the room to change the channel, Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters.
I could even remember when “latte” was Italian for milk—not American for coffee.
I had survived blizzards and blackouts, subway series and subway strikes, Ronald Perelman and Ronald Reagan. I had reached the stage when I forgot names and phone numbers, book and movie titles, where I’d left my glasses, why I’d entered a room and what I was going to say next.
But I wasn’t that old.
I had kept up enough to know I was living in an age of e*trade and eharmony, podcasts and tweets, fuel cells, stem cells, sleeper cells and fat cells. I still had my marbles, my eyesight and my determination. I could conduct a conversation without drooling and get into the bathtub without a LifeAlert.
I also knew enough to ask for input when I needed it so I called Julia.
“Working with Ralph is not going well,” I told her.


So, my Boomer buddies, do you remember what Blake remembers? What do you remember that she's left out? And what do you forget? Do tell! :-)


If you relate to this, you'll relate to The Chanel Caper.
New dimensions in the cozy mystery!

Read FREE at KU!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Flirty After Fifty. Sexy After Sixty.

We remember the Fonz and Archie Bunker.
We remember when LBJ meant the President (Lyndon B Johnson) and not a basketball player (LeBron James).
We remember the California Raisins, Louis the Lizard and the Budweiser Frogs.
We remember Polaroids and Suzy Chapstick. 
We remember pin curls and garter belts, answering machines and floppy disks.
We remember Dick & Pat, Jack & Jackie, Ronnie & Nancy, Jimmy & Roslyn, Bonnie & Clyde, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Ken & Barbie.
We remember when you had to get up & cross the room to change the channel.
We remember gas station attendants.
We remember when Amazon was a river in South America, not a store on the internet.
We remember streakers, est and transcendental meditation.
We remember consciousness raising, encounter groups and the Manson Family.
We remember Bullitt, The Godfather, and The French Connection.
We remember Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and Marvin Gaye.
We remember Sergeant Pepper, Tricky Dick and Flower Power.
We remember the Bouffant, the Beehive, the Shag, the D.A, The Wet Look, The Dry Look and Greasy Kid Stuff.
We remember Joy, "the most expensive perfume in the world" and "Modess...because"
We remember the Atkins Diet, the Scarsdale diet and the Beverly Hills diet.
We remember Pan Am and TWA.
We remember disco and Donna Summer, hula hoops and Rubik's cubes.

Me, too.
I remember lots but I can't remember what I had for dinner last night, where I put my glasses, why I went into the kitchen and what I meant to do there.

So, my Boomer buddies, do you remember what I remember? What do you remember that I've left out? And what do you forget? Do tell! :-)

If you relate to this, you'll relate to The Chanel Caper.


James Bond meets Nora Ephron. Or is it the other way around? A savvy female sleuth solves the crime and answers two of the most important questions of our time: 1) Is sixty the new forty? 2) Is there sex after marriage? “A totally fabulous, LMAO adventure with some of the best one-liners I've ever read!!!”





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

11 Tips For The Care And Feeding Of Your Muse:
A Guide For Writers And Everyone Who Wants To Be More Creative

The muse (also referred to as intuition, instinct, the subconscious, a superpower, the Spidey sense) is generally a friendly and cooperative breed. By nature, the muse tends to be bright eyed, curious and energetic. However, ignored or poorly-treated the muse can be become depressed and mopey and will not function effectively.
The rules for its care and feeding are simple. Obeying them will keep your muse—and you—creative, productive and in top operating condition.

1) Do offer your muse a lavish buffet of experiences.
Muses have adventuresome palates and perk up at the opportunity to try something new and/or different. Be sure to share all the interesting, offbeat, repellent, lurid, provocative and enlightening content that rushes past in a torrent every day.
Your muse will love you for your everyday reading habits. Reading in your genre and out, fiction and non-fiction, newspapers and magazines — will keep your muse happy and healthy. Nourished on a solid stream of input, your muse will be able to connect unrelated ideas into dazzling new plots and twists.

2) Don’t put your muse on a diet.  
Paleo? No way. Low carb? Uh-uh.  Muses get cranky when they’re hungry and behave badly. All they can think about is food and their next meal. They are too preoccupied with thoughts of pasta, chocolate and a good, thick steak to pay attention to you and your book. Deprived of regular feeding, your muse will have no energy for the heavy lifting needed for creative work.
Besides, diets don’t work. Not for people. Not for muses.

3) Don’t bore your muse.
Muses hate getting stuck in a rut. For optimum health, your muse needs to be challenged and stimulated. Gallery hopping and channel surfing, brushing up your high school Spanish and learning to lindy, roller skate and enjoy hot dogs and a beer in bleacher seats at the ballgame—each offers your muse new and different experience.
  • A summer vacation at the shore might inspire the next Jaws.
  • A visit to a natural history museum might result in Jurassic Park.
  • An hour or two with the food channel might trigger a new cozy set in a bakery or restaurant. Or what about a new horror novel starring a demented, knife-wielding chef, TV cooking-show host or obnoxious restaurant-owner?
  • Even the supermarket can inspire your muse—think of The Stepford Wives. Visit Whole Foods for the organic, more upscale version.
  • Binge viewing The Sopranos or House of Cards could lead you to create the next Godfather or All The President’s Men.

4) Do learn to interpret communiqués from your muse.
Muses, although generally reliable, communicate in unpredictable ways. Sometimes they shout. Sometimes they whisper.
  • The story you can’t get out of your mind, the one that wakes you up at night and intrudes when you’re otherwise occupied? That’s a shout. Your muse is giving you no option except to pay attention.
  • The chapter you’re bogged down on and hate writing? Your muse might be telling you you’re on the wrong track and need to figure out where you’ve made your mistake.
  • The balky character that lays there like a herring and won’t come to life? Your muse is telling you you need to shape up and do a better job.
  • The idea that flashes through your mind so fast it almost disappears the moment it becomes conscious? That’s a whisper.
 Whispers are gold and must be gathered and protected, ergo, the notebook.

5) Do keep a notebook—or several.
Whether digital or paper, the notebook is indispensable.  Any writer who doesn’t have a note book—paper or electronic—should have his or her computer impounded.
Evernote, Microsoft OneNote and WorkFlowy all work as excellent electronic note keepers.
Paper notebooks should be everywhere you are.  There are notebooks on my night table, in the kitchen, on the dining room table, in the living room, next to my desk (obviously!) and in my purse. There is even a notebook in the bathroom for those nights I wake up with a "brilliant" idea I absolutely have to write down. In the dark. So as not to disturb my DH who already knows all too much about what it's like to live with a writer.
Notebook Stories will give you lots of other choices to consider and for pens to write with, check out the Pen Addict.

6) Do obey the golden rule and treat your muse as you would want to be treated.
Muses tend to be patient and understanding but they don’t like to be hurried, harried or harassed. They respond better to the kiss than the whip and will go MIA if you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control and stressed out.
If your muse has gone AWOL, look for him/her at your nearest yoga class. In fact, it might be a good idea to pull up a mat and join your muse in a tree pose and downward dog.
A well-chosen yoga tape or some time out for meditation and/or deep breathing calm you and help get you and your muse back in primo working condition.

7) Don’t ignore your muse’s bio-rhythms.
Your muse will not react well when tired, sleepy or barely-awake. Some muses work better in the morning, others perform at their best later in the day or at night. Synch your work habits with those of your muse and you will find your work goes smoother and inspiration comes more easily.
Don’t expect your night owl muse to be perky and creative early in the AM.
Don’t ask your crack-of-dawn muse to come to your rescue at midnight.

8) Do give your free-range muse room to roam.
  • Stilettos or clogs? Polos or Tees? Grunge or business casual? Black tie or white shoe? Fashion magazines, style blogs and catalogs are filled with photos and descriptions of clothing. Check them out and your muse will find new ways for you to describe your character’s clothing and wardrobe in ways that brings them alive and makes them real to the reader.
  • Good hair day or bad plastic surgery? Muffin top or too rich and too thin? Beauty and grooming sites are filled with photos and comment, some of it snarky, some of it sincere, about exactly one subject: how people look. With their help, you and your muse can turn your descriptions from insipid to inspired.
  • The business pages are a source for occupations and careers: your characters have to make a living, don’t they? The tabs are an endless wellspring of sex and scandal and niche magazines or blogs—bass fishing, ice climbing, stamp collecting, arctic biology—will open new dictionaries for the alert writer and his or her muse.
  • Success and failure, triumph and tragedy. Go to the sports pages. Seriously. Almost every story is basically about how an athlete, talented or otherwise, overcomes—or doesn’t—golden-boy good looks, a reputation for dogging it, a lousy attitude in the clubhouse, jail time, drugs, booze, injury, scandal, depression, poor parenting, mean and/or incompetent coaching.
  • Besides, it’s not just the drama and the schmaltz, it’s also about the language: sports are all about action and sports writers are great with verbs.

9) Do treat your muse to input from experts like choreographer, Twyla Tharp.
Her guidebook, The Creative Habit, is practical, down to earth and inspiring. Using a wide-ranging set of examples ranging from Homer to Proust, from Ulysses S Grand to Ludwig Wittgenstein and Pope LeoX, from Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine to Ansel Adams, Raymond Chandler, Mozart and Yogi Berra, she offers a detailed road map  to defining your creative identity based on her own experience.
Ms. Tharp explains the importance of routine, ritual and setting goals, how to know the difference between a good idea and a bad idea, how to recognize ruts when you’re in one and she offers explicit guidelines about how to get out of them.

10) Don’t ignore your gut feelings and learn how to train your muse.
Susan Kaye Quinn is a scientist—a rocket scientist, to be exact—and author of the bestselling Mindjack series. Susan refers to her muse as a superpower and in this must-read article she tells how to tap your subconscious, how to train your muse and why you should pay attention to your gut feelings.
You will find more from Susan about increasing your productivity and amping up your creativity in her post at David Gaughran’s blog.

11) Do learn to trust your muse—even when you don’t know exactly why.

Your intuition aka your muse is that sense of knowing without knowing and Steve Jobs called it “ more powerful than intellect.” From dealing with negative thoughts, to paying attention to your dreams, and making time for solitude Carolyn Gregoire lists 10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently.


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