Category Archives: Wandering thoughts

Madison Public Library ~ Self-Publishing Workshop


Last Saturday I was invited to join a panel at my local library on self-publishing. The workshop took place at our newly remodeled central library in downtown Madison. They have all kinds of fun things happening and I discovered some unique things while I was there.

Here’s the entry way.


I’m not sure what this car is doing in the middle of the library, but it was very cool.


Imagine my delight when I discovered a chocolate shoppe in the middle of the library!


Check this out. It’s pieces of firewood stacked tightly.


They found a way to recycle/reuse all those old book ends.

2013-12-14_15-58-29_629  And I forgot to mention, they have lots of books! But not mine. I’m working on that. If you don’t find my books at your local library, just ask and they can order them.

What’s Up Wednesday – My Life as a Writer

I’m terrible at blogging. I think of things to blog about at random times and then totally forget them an hour later. So rather than try to come up with some snappy little story to tell, I thought I’d let you know what I’m up to.

  • Today I’m working on what I affectionately, and boringly, call Garrett’s book. It has a working title, but I no longer like it, and my publisher doesn’t like any of the new titles I’ve suggested. So until further notice, it’s Garrett’s book. As of now it’s about 50,000 words, which is really good, except that it’s very, very, very rough. So lots of work and about 20,000 more words before I turn it in next Spring.
  • My next book, Royally Lost, releases on May 6, 2014. It’s available for pre-sale on Amazon now. I’m working with a publicist to help get the world out. So starting the first of the year, you can start expecting sneak peeks and excerpts. It’s a really fun book, and I’m so excited for readers to see it. It’ll be my first new book out in about 18 months! Yikes! Can’t let that happen again.
Releases May 6, 2014!

Releases May 6, 2014!

  • I’ve been seeing lots of new reviews for Rock and a Hard Place and Snowed Over. Thank you! A positive review on Amazon is one of the best ways you can support an author. The other is to tell everyone you know to read the author’s books!
  • Last week I did my first school visit to East High School in Madison. The students were really nice, and considering I was flying by the seat of my pants, I think it went well. My daughter informed me that next time I should bring candy to give away. Great idea. I’m not above bribing people.
  • This Saturday I’ll be participating on a self-publishing panel at our new library in downtown Madison. I’ve meant to get there and check it out, but it’s so cold out, 7 degrees, that I haven’t wanted to go out. I’ve never done a workshop like this before, so lots of new experiences.

That’s it for now. Thanks for stopping by!


Love Locks, Love Stories, & Prague

Last year I was in Prague and came across this bridge covered with locks. Our tour guide explained that they are called Love Locks. Of course, I knew immediately that I wanted to include Love Locks in my next book, Royally Lost. It involves an American girl on vacation with her family to Europe, and you guessed it, she meets someone royal. That’s all I’ll say about that for now, but you can expect lots of teasers when the release grows near.

Love Locks in Prague

Here’s how it works. People write their names or initial on a lock, secure it to the railing and throw the key into the canal. The legend goes that if a lock is placed by two people in love, their love will be forever locked.

I’ve done a little bit of research on Love Locks, also referred to as Love Padlocks, and it turns out they appear in locations all over Europe. Some of the locations include Rome, Paris, Cologne, Florence and Dublin. In some cities there are great controversies over whether or not to remove them, as some  consider the myriad of locks an eye sore. But to me, they are a romantic gesture of love.Love Locks

So when Royally Lost  comes out, you can look forward to a romantic scene over the Vltava in Prague.

Sister Envy

I grew up out in the country with two older brothers and no sisters. My brothers were older and had each other, their mini bikes, and later cars to keep themselves entertained. I had my imagination.

But I also had city cousins! There were six kids and four were girls. My cousin Denise and I are less than a month apart in age, so we bonded. I was hungry for friendship, and I think she was hungry to  have some individuality, being from such a large family. Plus, she is incredibly funny and a ton of fun. One of my favorite memories is of Denise and I sitting in my brother Pat’s soupped-up car and listening to Simon and Garfunkel. We cranked his power speakers and screamed along to “I am a rock.” Later my brother got mad that we drained his car battery, but it was worth it.

A couple weeks ago, Denise invited all her sisters, her mom, and a couple of friends for a girls weekend at an awesome resort in North Carolina.

Grove Park Inn

I don’t think Denise has any idea how much this invitation meant to me. It was an amazing fun-filled weekend! Aside from all the great meals together, a day at the spa, and sitting around the pool in the warm autumn sun, I found myself a voyeur on the dynamics of sisterhood. All four sisters were there. They joked and teased and lovingly swore at each other. All four are very different from each other, yet share a sisterly bond that I found myself envious of, yet honored to get a close peek at.

I used to say my mom was the closest thing I had to a sister, but she passed away five years ago. My brother Pat died suddenly shortly after that. I find myself feeling almost like an orphan sometimes. That weekend getaway with all that family and all those sisters, brought so much love and joy to my heart.

So to all of you with sisters, embrace the glory of having someone who will always be there for you through good and bad. You can’t divorce a sister. And to those of you like me, who don’t have sisters, cherish your girlfriends and never let them go.

New York – Ah, the Weekend!

Friday arrived along with one of my best friends and a whirlwind weekend. I left my rent a room and moved to my four star hotel. Ah, what luxury in the form of a teeny, tiny room. We ditched out digs and had a leisurely lunch at the Brandt Park Cafe, a gorgeous outdoor restaurant I’ve always wanted to try.

Brandt Park Cafe

Afterward we when looking for a washroom, we used the public washroom in the park. Check it out. It’s this ancient old building. Inside was this huge bouquet of fresh flowers. Only in New York. 🙂

Park Bathroom2013-09-20_16-08-47_257








Later we went to the TKTS line for show tickets and instead of the two hour wait of the day before, we were through in twenty minutes! And scored tickets to Big Fish. It’s a show that hasn’t even opened yet, which confuses me. How can a show not be open and yet sell tickets and put on a show? The show was fun, lots of fun production stuff, but pretty mellow.





The next day we lunched at Carmine’s, an Italian restaurant that serves huge platters of food to share. We loved the chicken marsala.



Rock of Ages

We rocked out the afternoon at Rock of Ages, one of my all time favorite shows. A fun surprise was one of the band members (the band performs on stage as part of the show). Angus, from Trans-siberian Orchestra was in the band! I’ve seen Trans-siberian Orchestra many times, so it was really fun to see Angus in Rock of Ages!


After that we took the subway to the World Trade Center Memorial site. It was enormous, beautiful and a very moving site to see.


For dinner we took the subway again (and I was getting pretty good at it, but I did keep a watch out for rats). We went to Little Italy. O.M.G. Is Little Italy ever awesome! I had no idea. It was all street booths and outdoor restaurants. Colored lights were strung across the street setting a gorgeous atmosphere for the huge throngs of people. The subway back to our hotel was packed tight with people and had a real party atmosphere. See, I finally got the hang of the subway.

Little Italy

The next day, my last, we walked many dozen blocks up to and through Central Park.

Central Park

By this time I’ve realized that New York has every kind of person. Every ethnicity, age, and income level who live and work in New York as well as tourists from around the globe. And everyone was tossed together like a colorful, perfect salad.



New York City, Harper Collins, and my Aching Feet – Day 2

I’m tired. That sums it all up. Navigating this city, facing the big scary subway and walking for miles when my feet are used to being up is exhausting.

My day started with a visit to my publisher, HarperCollins. What an entrance!


I met an amazing team of women who are all working hard to get my books out. One might think it would be intimidating to sit in a meeting with seven publishing professionals, but not for me. Nope. I start blabbing about my near death experience on the subway, facing my first rat and they knew I was one tough cookie. Okay, maybe they figured out that I was a total fruit loop. Anyway, they laughed. I hope it was with me and not at me, but one never knows for sure.

And for those of you wondering where my next book is, I found it! Ta da! I think it needs a little more work before it hits the shelves.

Harper book

After I left the hardworking HarperCollins ladies behind I snuck into a restroom, changed out of my dress and heels, and into jeans and sport sandals. Problem is, my fancy shoes had rubbed my heel raw, so I readjusted the sandal strap so I was walking on it. That was fine for the first half mile, but after that my whole foot hurt and it was only 2 pm. I gimped through my tour of the majestic New York Public Library and then the ten blocks to the TKTS line to buy tickets for another show.

The ticket line was long, how long? How about two hours long! On my sore aching feet. But a bit of a miracle happened while I was in that line. A friend found me. And not just any friend. A fabulous woman from Australia, who I  know from a Facebook group, and had never met in person, author Karly Blakemore-Mowle. We knew we’d both be in the city at the same time, but what are the odds that we actually found each other and in Times Square!

Karly & me

After a nice visit and a great show,

Jersey Boys

I hopped in a cab for a quick roller coaster ride back to my rent a room. But there’s one little thing about cabs. They want the address you’re going to. Hmm, kind of forgot that. I’m renting a room, not staying a hotel. I knew it was 27th Avenue and 6th Street. Or is it 6th Avenue and 27th Street? Which was the avenue and which was the street? I told him to drive south, but he didn’t seem happy about it. It’s on the corner by a Starbucks. Gee, that didn’t help either.


After a quick call to my lovely hostess, I was able to give him an exact address and poof I’m back. With my feet up!

New York and Pushing My Edges – Day 1

When I planned this trip, I thought I’d find a great deal on a hotel through, but nope. I picked one of the busiest weeks in NYC. Apparently there some huge U.N. thing going on. So, in my first act of pushing my edges and living outside my comfort zone, I booked a room in someone’s apartment. Yup. Sounds crazy. I agree. But a crazy friend of mine suggested it, (ahem, Killian McRae) and I checked it out.

So after waking at 4 am I landed on the doorstep of a lovely young Russian woman. At least I think she’s Russian, based on the books on her bookshelf that I can’t begin to decipher. She has a gorgeous apartment in midtown and the view from the rooftop is spectacular!

NY skyline

After debating whether to walk or cab to my lunch meeting with my agent, I opted for the ease of a cab. Heck, I was wearing a dress with a spanxy kind of slip underneath and a pair of low heels. Both these items are foreign to me. My normal attire consists of faded brown capri pants and whatever t-shirt my hands land on first. Anyway, my agent, Jane Dystel, was fabulous as were her colleagues who joined us. I truly believe I hit the jackpot with Jane and her team.

When our lunch was over, I snuck over to Union Square where an outdoor farmers’ market was going on and slipped  sport sandals out of my over-sized handbag. It didn’t look classy, but I could walk comfortably. Except that my spanxy slip kept riding up my legs and threatened to hike up my hips. I was continually scooching it down on my mile plus walk back to my rented room at the apartment.

After a well deserved nap and a short wait in the TKTS line, I scored a ticket to Pippin! When I watched the Tony’s I was mesmerized by the lead guy’s voice. OMG! Seriously, this guy has stage presence and a voice that melts, well, anything. The show was amazing, unique and different than anything I’d seen. It’s definitely in the “I recommend it” file.

Now the big dilema. It’s 11:00 pm in New York City and I’m on 45th Street. I need to get to 28th Street. I’m feeling kind of cheap after two cab rides in one day already. So I ask three of New  York’s finest if I’m safe to face the terror of the big city subway. While they wouldn’t guarantee  that I’d live, they assured me it was generally as safe as crossing a city street. Again. I’m in New York City! Hello! People! Let me catch you up.

My first half dozen experiences in NYC while wonderful, happened long ago when the city wasn’t like walking into Disney land. While my friends and I never had a mishap, I saw more than my share of drug dealers, pimps, homeless people, and prostitutes. That was a very long time ago, but I have been scarred for life.

Well, tonight I took those cops advice and decided to follow the crowds to the subway station and push the edges of my comfort zone. Boy did I ever. I already had my Metro card and I didn’t embarrass myself sliding it through the slot. I smoothly entered the subway car and sat down only to look up and realize that I was on a line that didn’t stop at 28th street, my stop. Oh shit!

It’s after 11 pm and I’ll have to walk seven blocks alone in the big scary city by myself! So I get off at the next stop and decide not to panic. I realize that I can wait for the next subway train and  it’ll stop at 28th. Great. There are a couple other women waiting, so I feel sort of safe. Then I look across the track and see a sign taped to the wall about treating for rats in the subway. Ha! Isn’t that funny? You always hear about rats in New York, but thank God they don’t exist. Thank god they treated to get rid of them.

Rat sign NYC

But as I stood waiting that long ten minutes for the next subway train, I glanced down, and A RAT SCURRIED DOWN THE TRACKS!!!!! O.M.G.!!!!! I really did want to run the last seven blocks to my cute little room with the pretty view in some lovely Russian woman’s home. But I didn’t. Because I figured in the subway, they might stay down by the tracks, but up on the street they might run out in front of me. Eek!

Long story short. I lived. No one mugged or killed me. I am safe in my bed listening to the traffic, horns and sirens out my window and hoping I don’t dream of rats.

I love New York.

I ♥ NY

I heart NY

Next week I’ll be traveling to New York City to meet with my agent one day and with my team at HarperCollins on the next. I’m so excited as I’ve been working with people I’ve never met and I always feel that knowing someone in person is best.

New York City is one of my favorite places. When I was seventeen I spent a summer with my friend Sue who lived nearby in Parsippany, New Jersey. Her mom took us to the city several times that summer and more specifically to Broadway.

Sue, a girl from the show, and me!

Sue, a girl from the show, and me!

My first Broadway shows that summer were A Chorus Line and 42nd Street. After the shows we raced to the stage door like Midwest fan girls, took pictures and begged for autographs. It remains a favorite memory.

42nd Street playbill

Over the years I occasionally dig those programs out and take a peek. While I haven’t saved all my programs, here is a lovely selection. Even though there are duplicate programs, they are all from separate viewings.


Clearly, I love Broadway shows. I’ve compiled a list of the shows I’ve seen. At least the ones I remember. These shows were all either on Broadway or Broadway touring casts in Chicago or Madison.

  • 42nd Street (Starring Jerry Orbach, he’s known as the dad in Dirty Dancing)
  • A Chorus Line
  • Annie
  • Avenue Q
  • Book of Mormon
  • book of morman
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Cats
  • Death Trap
  • Evita
  • Godspell (Starring Hunter Parrish! And Telly Leung)

    Me after waiting in the cold 30 minutes & Hunter Parrish

    Me after waiting in the cold 30 minutes & Hunter Parrish

  • Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (Eric McCormack, James Earl Jones, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette and Angela Landsbury)
  • Guys and Dolls (Starring Nathan Lane, Peter Gallagher and Faith Prince)
  • How to Success in Business (Starring Daniel Radcliff and John Larroquette)
  • Jersey Boys
  • Jesus Christ Super Star
  • Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat (Starring Donny Osmond)
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman
  • Les Miserables
  • Lion King
  • Mama Mia
  • Mary Poppins
  • Miss Saigon
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • Rent (Starring TV Carpio, Frenchie Davis & Telly Leung)
  • Rock of Ages (Love this show!!)
  • Rock of Ages
  • Spamalot
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
  • Wicked (Ana Gasteyer from SNL fame, Telly Leung)

I love to try to figure out if I’ve seen the same actors in lots of shows. Turns out I’ve seen John Larroquette in two shows and Telly Leung in three. I saw Telly as Boc in Wicked – Chicago, in Rent, and in Godspell. Telly has also appeared on Glee.

So what do I want to see when I go to NY? Everything! Actually I’d love to see Pippin, Newsies and maybe Once. Repeats I’d like to see? Definitely Rock of Ages.