“Haunted Tea and Cakes,” from the novel, COOKING FOR GHOSTS

                                  When I wrote Cooking for Ghosts, I had no idea it would inspire chef Carmen Shenk  to create (from scratch) her own versions of the fictitious recipes named in the novel. The story is about four diverse women who open The Secret Spice Cafe, a restaurant aboard the haunted RMS Queen Mary. The Mary is a real life, majestic ocean liner that was once the fastest on the seas, and now sits permanently docked in Long Beach, California, as a floating hotel and museum. The women in the novel are surrounded by ghosts of the figurative kind long before the step aboard … [Read more...]

Wonder Women Are Everywhere

So, Wonder Woman has been named Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Girls this month. On the one hand, I think this is a great thing---that little girls can look to female superheroes instead of princesses as role models. (Did you know that for the first time, ever, female superhero costumes are outselling princess costumes as girls' choice for Halloween?) On the other hand, could they not find a real life woman to be honorary ambassador? They're headed in the right direction--don't get me wrong. They've already invited Jessica Buchleitner and Siobhan Neilland to speak. And honestly, honestly, honestly---if you knew what these two women have been trying to do for the female … [Read more...]

Water the Flowers

Early this past week, I was hit like a sucker punch to the face by some business news. Ever get hit like that, when you don't expect it? Those are the worst, right? When you're not braced for it. In my case, the shock was doubly compounded by where it came from. It hurt, that hit, and left bruises that are just starting to turn color. I lost some sleep, too, feeling hurt, and debating what decisions I could make to do some damage control. Even after I put those decisions into action, I brooded about what had happened for most of the week. Until yesterday morning, when I got an email that lit up my whole inbox with its positivity. And that's when I remembered my own "true diva" hype: When … [Read more...]

The Black Sheep

Something I was working on yesterday got me thinking about the term, "black sheep." Webster's defines it as, "a disfavored or disreputable member of a family or group," and, "someone who does not fit in with the rest of the collective; often considered to be a troublemaker or an embarrassment." What that definition doesn't cover is why a person gets charged with this distinction. And there's not just one reason, is there? No, in fact, there are many. Here's one: (And this might be a terrible example, considering everything that's going on in the world today, but I'll risk it, for the purpose of the visual) Suppose someone --- let's say John Smythe --- climbs to the top of the town clock … [Read more...]

That Voice, That Voice. That Demon Voice

The next time you find yourself internally criticizing yourself, "I should be much further along in life by now," "I should be much thinner," and so on, stop for a minute and listen to that voice, that critical voice, the actual sound of it in your head. Whose voice is it? Because if you listen carefully, you'll notice that it's not your own voice. I'm serious. Really listen to it. I noticed this years ago, when I was in one of my self-ravaging states of mind. Something made me stop and truly listen to the sound of those words I was hearing in my head, and I realized it wasn't my own voice. I realized that I was listening to the combined sound of the voices of every person all through my … [Read more...]

Integrity Matters

I’m mad as hell and I have been for a while. In order for you to understand why, I need to take you back to 2010. That year, a bill called the James Zadroga 9-11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 was introduced to the Senate. It called for health benefits to be extended to 9-11 first responders who had developed terminal illnesses or debilitating ailments directly due to toxic exposure during their rescue efforts on September 11, 2001. When the Zadroga bill was introduced, the GOP filibustered for as long as they could, and when the bill finally came to a vote, 41 of 42 Republican senators voted against it. Sam Brownback of Kentucky abstained. Others who blocked this bill included John … [Read more...]

Hillary, Donald, and Other Candidates Pan “Cooking for Ghosts” (Heh)

[Read more...]

What Does World Chocolate Day Have to Do With Ghosts?

...Or more specifically, my upcoming novel, Cooking for Ghosts," due to be released  in October 2106. Well, it started with a recipe I found on YouTube today, as I was looking for a new one I could make to celebrate #WorldChocolateDay, aka International Chocolate Day.  I came across a super easy and delicious-looking one  for a Raspberry Chocolate Tart, as prepared by the lovely and vivacious Laura Vitale , of Laura in the Kitchen.  Hmm. What a coincidence. It just so happens that Ms. Vitale is an Italian-American, just like Angela Perotta, one of the main characters in my novel. And what is Angela's signature dessert which she makes in the fictitious Secret Spice Cafe?   Wouldn't you know … [Read more...]

Trigger Warning: Don’t Read if You Believe America Was Once “Great.”

Let's be honest. When some people say, "Make America great again," they're being nostalgic, which by its very definition means, "a sentimental or wistful affection for a past period with happy personal associations." Yeah. It's those "personal happy associations" we have to watch out for. Many people never had them. For example, the vintage photo above is from the article, "Ten Outrageous Reasons Black People Were Lynched in America."   They include things like "skipping a rock across a lake," and being "unpopular in the community." Now, there's a history lesson we were never taught in public school.  Today, lynchings have been replaced by police brutality in poorer Black neighborhoods. (I … [Read more...]

The Tiny Little Thief That Will Suck Out Your Life (An Important Read)

I'm sharing this post on behalf of one of the greatest millennial minds in the USA, and I implore you to read what she's written, below my initial note here. I have known this 23 year old, Columbia University graduate from the time of her birth. Her aunt is like a sister to me and her parents are two of the most extraordinary people you could ever meet. They raised their two bright and eager children to be hardworking and ambitious, while at the same time to be compassionate and to give back to the world. For her to have to write this makes my heart feel like there is a giant fist around it, crushing it, and if I feel this way, I can only imagine what those closest and dearest to her must … [Read more...]

Happy Father’s Day to The World’s Best (Misunderstood) Dad

On Father’s Day weekend here in the USA, the media loves to trot out the truly exceptional father and/or the truly revolting one. We’ll either get a story about the hero-of-epic-proportions dad who gave up both his kidneys to his twins who each needed one, or the horrid-Hannie-Lecter-psycho dad who sells his twins for their kidneys. You and I both know that most dads fall somewhere in the center of that bell curve, and they average from pretty darn good dads to not bad dads to dads who’ve helped you make your therapist rich. But the dad I wish to discuss today is the “Misunderstood Dad,” because he never gets any press, and that’s a shame, since my bet is that he’s the most common and the … [Read more...]

“M” is for May, and “May” is for Mental Health

The month of May is a month of celebration and a month of remembrance: May Day, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and more. But May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, and mental health is not something we like to discuss or even think about. It's for this reason that those suffering from mental illness are given a double whammy---not only do they have to deal with what can be a debilitating condition, they are taught to be secretive about it, for fear of turning off potential friends, lovers, employers. They're judged by it, as though they brought it upon themselves. As a result of that, they learn to be ashamed of it, too. Think about it: We can call in sick to work if we have the flu, but if … [Read more...]

Your Opinion Means More Than You Think. But Not in a Good Way.

  Opinion (NOUN)  1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.  2.a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.   The first thing I try to remember: My cultural, social, and financial environments formulate my view of the world. My age, sex, race, where I was born, who raised me, and who my inner circle is, formulate my view of the world. My education, my exposure to new and different things, or lack thereof, formulate my view of the world. My view of the world formulates my opinions. But, if there's a missing piece from my world view, I can't have an informed, intelligent opinion on it. So, for example, if I've never experienced the … [Read more...]