Marvel's Next Female Superhero

1947, October 20, Congress Investigates ‘Communists’ in Hollywood

  "On October 20, 1947, the notorious Red Scare kicked into high gear in Washington, as a congressional committee began investigating communist influence in one of the world’s richest and most glamorous communities: Hollywood. After World War II, the Cold War began to heat up between the world’s two superpowers—the United States and the communist-controlled Soviet Union. In Washington, conservative watchdogs worked to 'out' communists in government before setting their sights on alleged “Reds” in the famously liberal movie industry. In an investigation that began in October 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) grilled a number of prominent witnesses, asking … [Read more...]

What is the Real?

  I'm sure other writers will identify with this---planning a book launch while in the throes of personal circumstances that cannot be circumvented. When Cooking for Ghosts was released, we had just bought a house in a rural area where the usual economical options for internet connection were non-existent, and spotty cell phone service is the norm. We sorted all that out over time, but that first week my first novel came out, I remember sitting in the showroom of a Lowes where my husband was ordering a washing machine, trying desperately to answer emails about book events and appearances, using their store wifi. And when Spells & Oregano came out, we had house guests--my stepson … [Read more...]

Dive In?

I like to go to the pool at the sports club late in the afternoon because it's usually just me there at that time of the day, and I can focus on getting laps done without being distracted by socializing. But yesterday afternoon there was a very young girl there with her father. She was tiny, and had the swimming thingees on her arms--I can't remember what those are called--but her speaking skills were impressive, so, it's hard to guess how old she might have been. But it was obvious it was one of the first times she'd been swimming, because she was hesitant about going into the pool. Dad was coaxing her, and it went like this: Dad: You want to come in? I can hold you. Girl: I dunno know, … [Read more...]

No One Should Read This. I’m just Whinging

  All my devices are hopelessly outdated. I like working on Windows 7, for example. I even bought a backup refurbished laptop with that system just in case this one hit the skids. But I was just scolded by Microsoft: "No longer going to be supporting this. Upgrade, or else." My expensive iPad is "too old" for the OS system to update to the current one. As a result, programs are no longer working. There's not a thing wrong with it, other than Apple loves to make these things obsolete as quickly as possible. I lost Skype credits because Skype won't work anymore on it, either. Nor my Kindle app. Instagram is only allowing three of my library photos to upload. And I won't even embarrass … [Read more...]


  As a five-feet-two-inch, baby-boomer female, born in the United States of a Sicilian-immigrant, I've experienced, at various times in my life: parents who believed girls shouldn't go away to college, teachers who felt threatened if I asked a question they couldn't answer an ex who believed in 'women's work' and 'men's work' bosses who said I was "too pushy" men who didn't like my "attitude" women (and their husbands) who thought I was "setting a bad example" fashion designers who tell me what a 60-year-old woman "shouldn't" wear doctors who assume because I'm over fifty, I'm taking medications strangers who ask me if my father was in the mafia a helluva lot of … [Read more...]

The Characters in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy

  Reading The Secret Spice Cafe Book Series? Below is a fun chart that illustrates who each character is in relation to the others. If you click on it, it 'should' enlarge, but if not, and you'd like your own full-size printable diagram for easy reference, email  and we'll send you your own, free copy. Happy Reading!      … [Read more...]

Cow, Lovely Cow

We use the idiomatic expression "sacred cow," and sometimes don't know what it means. It comes from a literal sacred cow or sacred bull, which is an actual cow or bull that's treated with unprecedented respect. In certain religions, a cow is considered so holy that it must never be harmed. What this means is that in some instances, people who adhere to this belief will starve to death rather than kill a sacred cow to eat its meat. Imagine believing in the sanctity of a cow so much, that you're willing to die for it. Imagine readily allowing your own children to starve to death rather than killing and eating a sacred cow. Photos abound of starving men, women, and children, their bones … [Read more...]

On the Mistreatment of Nora Roberts

  You’ll rarely hear me complain about the publishing industry on social media platforms. Don’t get me wrong—my family and fellow writers hear plenty, but that’s private. I figure, if I don’t want to hear you complain about work, you don’t want to hear me. It’s like author Tim Chizmar said, “You’re the one who wanted to come to the party. Don’t gripe about the hors d’oeuvres.” But I’m breaking my no-complaint rule today, because I think book lovers should be aware of something that’s taking place in the writing world right now, that isn’t just a plate of lousy hors d’oeuvres, to use Tim’s metaphor, but a plate of dog droppings that many authors are being handed. And this ‘plate’ is … [Read more...]

A Loving Parent, A Tormented Child

I was just thinking about how many grown people I know who are still being emotionally manipulated by their parents. Not only young adults, either—I know people with more than half their lives over who are still having their strings pulled and their buttons pushed by the people who brought them into this world. I’m not talking abusive parents, I mean parents who love their children, but who expect certain behavior from these adult children. They don’t demand the behavior— they blackmail the behavior out of their kids. And by blackmail I mean they hold the love their children feel for them hostage to their demands. There’s an unsaid subtext of demand in every invitation, every request: "If … [Read more...]

A Pot of Flowers

There was a time when I lived a very unhappy life, that, for a number of reasons I knew I'd be stuck living for a while. I know this is true for many of us. We're stuck, not because we're afraid to make a change, but because there are factors that don't allow us to make a change right away. When I was in this situation, the easiest thing would have been to be miserable every day--marking off one unhappy day after another until I could, for lack of a better word, "escape." I refused to do that. I refused to let my unhappy situation drain every bit of joy from my existence. So, instead, I concentrated on short moments and small things, all scattered throughout my days that gave me tiny … [Read more...]