If You’re Feeling Depressed, Please Read This

  In light of recent heavily-publicised celebrity suicides, I'm concerned for some of my online friends and readers who I know deal with depression. Please remember that certain news outlets have become sensationalist in order to generate 'clicks.' Remember that your life is valuable. Remember that feeling depressed is nothing to be embarrassed by. Remember that there are those who care about you, and would want you to reach out. Life can change in a snap -- it can go from bad to good, good to bad, and back again. It's part of the human condition, and it can be confusing and stressful. We can't do much about the capricious natures of life and death, but we can do our best to combat … [Read more...]

The Same

Some people are hostile because they're afraid of everything and everyone that's not familiar. And some are hostile because they feel disenfranchised from the good things life has to offer, and must find someone to blame for that. Others feel a threat everywhere new they go, but they never seem to figure out where that threat's coming from, so they're suspicious and cautious where no suspicion or caution is necessary. It's people like these --- hostile people --- who seek their sole comfort in clans and enclaves, customs and rituals. The sameness of the faces, the language, the songs, the prayers, the viewpoints, the dogma, makes them feel recognized and understood. They need to be … [Read more...]

On Poker and Publishing

So, Hubs and I do this thing that I'm wondering if other couples do it too -- we allow each other to bore each other with our favorite subjects. I like to talk about publishing, and he likes to talk about poker, and no one besides ourselves wants to hear what we have to say about each of those subjects, because we go into minute detail that would make friends and other family members swallow poison, gladly, just to make it all to stop. "New amazon review rules ... blah", "the guy sitting next to me had two kings ... blah, blah," my publicist hasn't called back yet, and I need to ask her... blah, blah, blah," "Never got a bad beat like that in my life ... blah, blah, blah, blah." But we need … [Read more...]

I Remember the JABBERWOCKY. And Mrs. Marino

  A Post For Teacher Appreciation Day: Thank you to Mrs. Jill Vohringer Marino, wherever you are. You're the only person who believed in me, who was kind to me when I was a child. I never forgot you, nor how brilliantly you read "Jabberwocky" to us. Your 7th grade English was the only thing that got me through some dreadful times. You saved my life, and you don't know that. How I wish I could find you and tell you so. I doubt it's a coincidence that I became an English teacher too. And to my former pupils: Thank you to those of you who put up with my terrible teaching that first year. Okay, and admittedly, that second year too. Your patience and kindness made me determined to … [Read more...]

Just Say the Word

  In this old photo, I was about to marry my Greek husband, the one who inspired my memoir, Harlot's Sauce. Take a close look at my father's face, and you can see how he felt about my upcoming nuptials. Only two minutes before this photo was snapped, he and I were in the church vestibule, and he said, "It's not too late. I will take you out of here right now. Just say the word." How would you remember that moment if it happened to you? Would it be a humorous moment, or a nightmarish one? I chose to write it as humor. As one reviewer said about Harlot's Sauce, "So many horrible things happen to the protagonist, and yet I found myself doubled over in laughter at the same time I was … [Read more...]

Thank you, Readers and Reviewers!

My publicist (her name is Jane) asks me to please not read book reviews.  "Let me worry about those things," Jane says. That's a tough request to agree to, naturally. Although I'm doing my best to take Jane's advice, The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy are my debut novels, so I can't help but peek once in a while. Today, however, I got an email from her to which she attached the graphic above. "Go ahead and look," she wrote. Both Cooking for Ghosts and Spells and Oregano have achieved the above ratings, from real readers and reviewers -- not just, you know, from my favorite aunt or my best friend.  So, thank you. Thank you to those who are reading, for taking the time out of your busy life to … [Read more...]

A 13th Moon

Today is Friday, the 13th. According to the Bible, "13" represents all the governments created by men, and inspired by Satan, in his outright rebellion against the Eternal. The symbolism of the number "13" plays a significant role in all three books of The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy, as well. First of all, as many already know, Number 13 is the number of the airtight door aboard the Queen Mary where a crewman tragically lost his life when he was crushed to death. In all three books in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy, the only chapter heading that's not written out is the heading for Chapter 13. In the Readers Guide for each novel, there are always 13 questions. And in the final book, DEMONS, … [Read more...]

Writing, and the Flapdoodle That Goes With It: A Primer

Here's my philosophy about being a writer. I'm putting it down here because sometimes it helps me to remember it, and I think it holds true for most anyone who has a dream they wish to follow: 1) No one but you really cares that you "need" to do this. Your loving family and friends will support you emotionally and encourage you to a certain point, but after that point, if you don't have it in you to encourage and support yourself, you don't have it in you to persevere for the long haul. 2) If you're going to persevere, do your very best work. YOUR work, not some other writer's. Don't write "like" someone else. Write like YOU. Then rewrite it. Then rewrite it again. Then let an editor look … [Read more...]

Which COOKING FOR GHOSTS Character are You?

  If you've read COOKING FOR GHOSTS, you know that the characters are unique and diverse. So, which one do you share the most personality traits with: Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, Angela, or Cristiano?  Take this fun, free quiz to determine if you're a Vegas cocktail waitress, an Indian herbalist, a British chemistry professor, an Italian-American widow, or a cordon bleu chef who's done time for murder. Above is a screen shot of my result. I'm most like Cynthia--- bossy, emotional  and excitable. Yeah.  No surprise there.  What about you? Take the quiz to find out:  http://www.gotoquiz.com/which_cooking_for_ghosts_character_are_you_mo     … [Read more...]

Spells and Oregano: A Novel of Love Lost and Love Found

Ghosts are real. They are our past experiences that haunt us. Lost chances, lost loves, and all other heartbreaks remain with us, ethereal, yet tangible. Spells and Oregano: Book II in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy takes place ten years after the first in the series, Cooking for Ghosts, closes. Apart from a whole new story line which I hope will resonate with readers, it answers one big question: What happened to poor Sarita, who was left so unhappy in Book I? Spells and Oregano is a magical realism novel with a cast of characters we met in Cooking for Ghosts, but while the latter novel is primarily a novel of female friendships, redemption, and actualization (with a few sassy, nosy … [Read more...]

Yay! COOKING FOR GHOSTS Goodreads Giveaway

Starting February 10, 2018: Goodreads Giveaway: 100 copies of COOKING FOR GHOSTS … [Read more...]

Ssh! Don’t Say That Number Out Loud

The belief that the number 13 is unlucky is an ancient one. The Romans believed the number 13 was a symbol of death. Norse legends claim that the 13th guest at a banquet is the spirit of evil. Traditionally, there were 13 steps leading up the gallows. In Christianity, the idea that the number brings bad luck is believed to have come from "The Last Supper," when Jesus sat down with his 12 disciples --- making 13 people at the table. For this reason, some believe that the first person to leave a dinner table at which there were 13 diners will die before the end of the year.  And a coven of witches was once made up of exactly 13 members. The number "13" is a very significant number in all … [Read more...]

On Choosing to Be Alone for the Holidays

For too many of us, holidays are a trying time rather than a joyous one. Before I learned the profound difference between "honoring family" and "enduring horrifically dysfunctional gatherings with people who swim in my gene pool," it was every year, right about this time, that my sleepless nights and heart palpitations would begin. Nothing to do with the limited daylight hours, as I'd once assumed. No, it was because I knew in just a few days, I'd be subjecting myself to the loud bitterness, the jeering sarcasm, the barely-disguised envy, and the general passive-aggressive cruelty known in my circle as "Christmas Day." But luckily, for the past sixteen years, I've been spending my … [Read more...]