Sunday, May 29, 2011


"Three Rules of Work: 
Out of clutter find simplicity; 
From discord find harmony; 
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." 
Albert Einstein (German theoretical physicist)
I’ve always been suspect of a person who has nothing on their desk. I remember sitting with an operations manager whose desk had a phone and desk blotter, nothing else, nada.

Not my desk. I have a blotter but that’s where the similarity ends. Being an empty nester, I waited about a year before I commandeered my daughter’s room, cleared out the last remains of her childhood, and made the room my own. It was fun to decorate just to please me. My design was simple, books. I surrounded myself with them, floor to ceiling. I did put in some necessities, a corner desk for the computer, printer, and a phone. I decided on a large library table, sitting catty corner, would be my work area. It seemed fitting with all the research and resource books I usually had stacked or scattered about.

My desk is usually covered with a small stack (or two or three) of paper/files for my different projects, research books (the ones I’m reading for pleasure are in a pile next to the sofa), a lamp (I hate using the overhead), pictures of the family, my favorite picture from the mound at Warwick Castle (for inspiration), and a bud vase with some tired lavender one of the kids brought back from a class trip (I did mention I’m an empty nester, a sentimental one). Then there’s the odd stuff that seems to magically appear, a news article my husband has left for me to read, a stress ball in the shape of a heart and my gold star paper weight for my first sale. It’s really a comfortable room.

I put things on the desk and eventually take the time to sift through it and put things in their proper place whether that’s filing, rearranging, or tossing it out all together.

I used to have a ‘clean as you go’ theory. Clean of edits that is. Whenever I picked up my writing I would read the story from the beginning, no matter how far along I was. I’d look for the weak words, put in the five senses, etc. I always found something to edit. One day I laughed out loud. I had over 125 pages written, if I started from the beginning each time I’d spend more time reading than writing. Geez, I’d never finish the story.  

Now I use my cluttered desk theory. Put it all down, then tackle the edits and rewrite.  I’m organized, to a point, but find myself putting the story down to get it written not really worrying about overused/weak words or verbs, using the five senses, tightening up sentences, making certain all the hooks are in place, reviewing and editing the Point-Of-View, combing through for show vs. tell, well the list goes on.

In essence, I’ve de-cluttered my desk as well as my writing. What does your desk look like? 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Letting Go

Good, bad, or indifferent, I’m a nurturer. Even though my children are all grown and on their own I suppose I will always be involved in their lives, by their design as much as from my desire. Our son is off cross country to California on an inter-office job interview. It’s a wonderful opportunity for him and one I wholeheartedly support. Like his older sisters, he is ready to strike out on his own. Perhaps it’s because he’s the youngest, the only boy, I don’t know the dynamic, whatever it is his separation seems to be the toughest. Our family constellation is small and thrives on our close relationships. When everyone’s together there’s lots of laughter, tumult, of course the family dinner, sometimes everyone sleeps over (at our house), and usually a delicious Sunday brunch.
Our son, like his sisters, is more than capable and ready to move on. It’s so difficult to let go but now is his time to shine, stand on his own, and show the world the stuff of which he’s made. As with each of my children, I look on with pride, and sometimes misty eyes, as they take the lead and move forward in their own adventure. They each know I am always here and ready to listen.
Is it any wonder I have the same problem letting go of my manuscript.
 I’ve tended it from conception through to completion. I nurtured and breathed life into each character crying with them, laughing with them, feeling their passion and disappointment. I’ve shaped the plot, delivered a cohesive story, while staying true to the values and ethics of my genre.
However, as ready as it was I hesitated sending it out. Just one more rewrite, one more edit. It had been a part of me for over a year, how could I let it go.
Finally, after some prodding from my dear writing friends, I sent it out and had great results. Now it’s in the very capable hands of my awesome editor, Denise Nielsen at Carina Press, getting ready for publication.
I feel the pride in my accomplishment and the excitement builds as I move toward the next step of my journey. When I speak to the kids I find eager ears listening as I recant plans and ideas, enthusiastic voices chiming in with encouragement and suggestions. My younger daughter startled me when she mentioned it was time for them to let me go. That they all watched on with pride at my drive, creativity, and accomplishments. She also said I make a mean brisket.
How do you feel about letting go? And let me know if you want a great brisket recipe!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Helping Hands

We have a guest blogger today, Allure Van Sanz. Allure writes erotic and romance novels, novellas, and short stories. She’s with us today for a personal reason. A sufferer of fibromyalgia, she is very active in the American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association. Realizing that there are many organizations that authors promote, she has developed MAP, the May Awareness Project, where she provides a platform for her fellow authors to tell you about the charities that are near and dear to them. Please see her blog at 
She has an awesome schedule planned. Many of the authors will be doing contests and give-aways. Everyone has their own reason for supporting a specific charity. Some have been touched themselves, some watch as close friends or family suffer, still others just feel a need to help. Here is Allure’s story in her own words.
What cause do you champion?
I remember my first migraine headache. I was around seven years old, give or take a year, and I thought for sure I was dying. I couldn't move, I couldn't eat, and I definitely couldn't sleep. I wanted Bumblebee, my stuffed bear with the big yellow ears, and I couldn't reach him. Thus started the years and years of secret pain. I couldn't remember a day of something not aching or hurting. I just assumed all humans were like this, and I was a complainer. LOL
Growing up, my stomach hurt all the time, whenever I ate anything, whenever I had plans--it felt like I would never be able to go anywhere without having to plan for the worse and prepare to come home. I had tests done, and they found nothing. Just nerves and anxiety due to a broken home, they'd said. Okay.
When I reached my later teens, I did a little better, but started to feel out of sorts. I still had pain all the time, and had upped that pain to muscle spasms at night with weird head twinges that would startle me awake. "Caffeine" my doctor said, "you're having an adverse reaction." Okay.
I moved out of state to be with my boyfriend, giving up all I'd known. After a few months, I felt like I was dying one night. I had an out of body experience while not dead or dying. LOL Weirdest thing ever. I still had pain and my stomach issues were back. "Panic attacks and IBS. Your anxiety makes you feel like you're in pain. Take these anti-depressants." When I couldn't feel any emotion (including stimulation of any kind) I couldn't handle the meds. They tried all kinds and eventually, I just talked myself through the panic attacks and anxiety. For years I had a really tough time, but struggled through. 
Then childbirth. My already out of whack body crashed. I had month long migraines, severe pain throughout my body and the medications for the migraines made me suicidal.
After about 3-4 years of struggling through, I was eventually given a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. A lot of doctors still don't like that diagnosis. So every time I get a new doctor or go to a specialist, the first thing they do is retest. I'm with my third neurologist. LOL One of my doctors retests me every six months for lupus. Another tests me every year for diabetes (as I had gestational diabetes while pregnant)...and every year I get another MRI or x-ray, etc. I started to research everything to understand what was going on. I became involved in the Fibro community, learning not just about Fibro, but a lot of other conditions. There are so many people out there suffering, living an alternative lifestyle to what many others consider normal. I wanted to DO something. I wanted to take what was going on with me, and turn it into something positive.
May 12th is Fibromyalgia Awareness day, but to bring attention to only my condition seems self-serving, so this year I've begun MAP, May Awareness Project, and with the help of my friends and fellow authors, we are highlighting, not just Fibromyalgia for Awareness, but many other conditions that affect our minds and bodies.
From May 6th-31st my blog at will highlight several great causes, and donating authors will be running contests for swag and free books for those who stop by and leave a comment. I do this because it feels right, and the donating authors have joined me because they're beautiful people, full of giving. Let's give a little of who we are in time, or money, to some very great causes.
And it starts with me. One lucky commenter will win their pick of my Noble Romance releases. Thank you for reading my story.
All my best to you and yours,
Allure Van Sanz

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Full Heart

It’s been a busy week for me. At my office, my project is in full swing with deliverables coming due. I have everything staged to make the June 1 deadlines on the internal communications and marketing materials needed. I’m fortunate. I love what I do.

It’s been a busy week at home too. Paul and I are practicing our cha-cha routine for our ballroom dance exhibition. It’s a group routine with five other couples. We started ballroom dancing in an adult education program in our town when our kids were still at home. It was one way to make certain we spent at least one night together and not running with the kids. We intermittently continued taking classes long after the kids could drive themselves. It’s something else I love to do.

My Mother’s Day celebration was today. I went into Manhattan for the New York RWA chapter’s annual May Luncheon. Our speaker was my good friend, the multi-published, twenty-five books I may add, author Caridad Pineiro. The food was good, the company was terrific, and Caridad was inspirational as always. I walked off out lunch with Caridad and Patt Mihailoff by walking the twenty-six blocks down 8th Avenue to Penn Station and went on back to New Jersey. I enjoyed lunch and renewing my writing battery. Patt and Caridad had both encouraged me to send my ms into Carina Press. They are just two of the writers who have encouraged me. I have found that the romance writing community is a supportive one where the rule of support and paying it forward is really embraced. In an industry where rejection is part of the deal, it’s wonderful to have a positive support network. In many ways, it soothes the pain. I love this too.

When I got home, the day only got better. Flowers for Mother’s Day arrived from my son who lives in Boston and wouldn’t be home. He always says the right thing to tug at my heart. My daughters both live nearby and came over with all the fixing for dinner. Paul had cleaned the deck and readied the grill. The day cooperated and we have a great bar-b-que. I got handmade gifts from the grandbabies (sorry, big girl and big boy), they played in the yard, we watched the Kentucky Derby, and feasted.  As they day wound down and the kids tired, we packed them off home with left overs. I waved good-bye to them with a soft smile. I love tumult and excitement when we all get together.

I remember when I was pregnant with my second child. My daughter how would she love her new sister. I told her all those years ago that her heart was very special. It just grew bigger to make more room for more love. So, dear reader, here is my wish for you this Mother’s Day. May your heart grow with love for you and yours. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy Beltane!

May 1st, Beltane (bright fire), is an ancient pagan festival marking the end of the winter half of the year in the Northern hemisphere. With the winter over, the lengthening of the days, and the first planting completed, farmers celebrated with great bonfires of purification and transition into the new growing season, all in hopes for a good harvest.

Beltane provides a gateway between our own Earth and the magical Earth of Faerie. The true inner powers of the Earth reveal themselves and the curtain between the worlds is especially thin during Beltane.  

The pagan rites, led by druids, the priests for their time, centered on protecting people, livestock and the land from the spirit world which they felt was particularly close at hand during this season and encouraging fertility. It was a call to awaken the body from its winter hibernation.

The turning points of the Celtic year were marked by four great “fire festivals, Beltane, along with Samhain (Nov. 1), Imbolc (Feb. 1), and Lughnassadh (Aug. 1). Ancient records tell us that all hearth fires, throughout the country, would be put out on Beltane eve. One by one the druid would re-ignite them from the “need fire,” one of a pair of bonfires on top of a hill lit on Beltane eve. The villagers would drive their cattle between the fires to purify them and bring good luck.  The villagers also passed between the two fires for purification and to ensure their own good fortune and fertility.   

Another custom associated with Beltane is the “bringing in the May.” Here the young people would gather in the neighboring fields and forests Beltane eve and gather flowers to adorn themselves, their families and their houses. They would proceed through the village and stop at each house leaving flowers in exchange for the best food and wine. As they went along, they would bless the flocks and fields of those who were generous and wish ill on those who did not.

Later on, the May Pole was added to the bringing in the May. It was a phallic symbol that represented fertility. The village revelers who went out in the fields and forest would cut down a tree, bring it back into the village, decorate it with flowers, and dance around the May Pole.

Over time the holiday, first associated with the farm laborers, became synonymous with International Worker’s Day and took on a political meaning with demonstrations and celebration of union workers and other groups. The May 1st demonstrations in Australia led by the Stonemasons Society in 1856 and the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886, eventually led to the adoption of the 8 hour work day. In addition, May 1st has long been associated with various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. May Day celebrations in communist countries feature elaborate military parades.  

Today, to Wiccans and those in other pagan circles, Beltane is a happy time filled with laughter that includes the May Pole, bringing in the May, and other activities symbolic of fertility.