Friday, December 28, 2012

A New Year ~ A New Start

A New Year, a new beginning. January, the first month, is named after the Roman God Janus, God of gates, doors and beginnings. It is the fresh start of a new year. Coming close to a world celebration, people cheer and wish each other a Happy New Year. For some it is no more than a change of the calendar. For me it was the start of a second career, inspired when husband and I retired to Florida.
This photo taken seven years ago at a successful book signing at  the start of 2006.  Four Summers Waiting was my first novel published by Five Star/Gale.
Since then the years have held highs and lows in writing. The lows were when few people appeared at book signings, and I waited and waited for royalties  to come.  The highs were when friends, businesses, and libraries hosted cocktail party signings, Book Club luncheon signings, and library Book Talk signings. This past year when my local Venice library  hosted a celebration of the three books in my Maine Shore Chronicles series, with over fifty people in attendance, I was overwhelmed.
Long hours of writing, rewriting and living with characters in my head and in my heart has finally paid off. I have been fortunate to have all of my Five Star first editions given a second edition in Large Print by Thorndike Press.  With the submission of Book 4 in my series, I look forward to the New Year hopefully. It is a book my readers have asked for: It is Tante Margaret's story, the continuing character in my Chronicles series who has won the hearts of my readers. I have called it Tante Margaret~From the Heart.
When the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve may it open a book of opportunity to new young writers and continued success to my fellow published  writers. I end with a quote of Emily Miller: Then sing young hearts that are full of cheer.With never a thought of sorrow;The old goes out but the glad young year, Comes merrily in tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Perfect Presents by Jacqueline Seewald

 What are perfect presents—those that will be appreciated and remembered? How and where do we go about locating them?
Emerson wrote: “Gifts of one who loved me--Twas high time they came; When he ceased to love me, Time they stopped for shame.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson had some outspoken thoughts and opinions regarding gift-giving. Emerson, nineteenth century transcendental philosopher and theologian, observed in his essay entitled “Gifts” that flowers and fruits are always appropriate gifts “because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.” Emerson went on to observe that things of necessity are also appropriate gifts as well.
Emerson stated that the only true gift is a portion of ourselves. Something we create is of more significance than anything we could possibly buy in a store: “It is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy me something which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith’s.”
However, let’s face it, modern man is a materialistic creature, unlike Emerson. Maybe it’s too bad that more of us don’t read Emerson’s essays and aren’t influenced by his advice. But if we did, commerce as we know it would be seriously impacted.
To avoid mall madness, the crush of crowds, also possible violence, and still manage to give gifts that friends, family and fellow workers appreciate definitely takes time and thoughtful planning. Internet shopping is one approach never dreamed of in Emerson’s philosophy. More people than ever are turning to it.
     Books are in my opinion perfect gifts. There are books to suit every taste. Many men appreciate useful nonfiction how-to books. Many women like cookbooks. Young children enjoy picture books. Romance, mystery and thriller novels are always in demand. Ebooks are more popular than ever before and so convenient. There’s a huge selection and something for every taste. They also can cost much less than print versions.
     L&L Dreamspell has now published three of my Five Star/Gale hardcover novels in all ebook formats, the most recent being my Regency romance TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS. I’m delighted that this novel is now offered in a reasonably priced, affordable edition.
     L&L published THE INFERNO COLLECTION and THE DROWNING POOL, books one and two in the Kim Reynolds mystery series in all ebook formats as well.

Ebooks are also great gifts for teenagers. Teens actually do read for pleasure, not just for school assignments. My young adult novel STACY’S SONG also published by L&L Dreamspell is an uplifting coming of age/romance that ends at Christmas and would be a good gift for teenage girls ages 12 to 17, again available in all e-book formats.

     What would you recommend as perfect holiday presents? If books, which would you suggest?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Holidays!

There are many ways to celebrate the holiday season. I'm fascinated with how the different parts of the US celebrations, family traditions, and cultural traditions vary.

I work for a predominantly French company and I discovered that the Christmas tree and the Advent calendar are central to their traditional celebrations. From December 1-25 the children will find a treat in the box or pocket of the advent calendar to enjoy. We never had one of those in our family, but it sounds like a lot of fun for the kids. And the families all get together to celebrate over a luscious meal.

Many, if not most, family celebrations seem to include a meal. Our family is no different. We take turns going to one house or the other, depending on if mom feels up to all of us hanging out at her place. She no longer puts up a tree in her tiny house, instead she puts bows on a Christmas cactus and sets it on a stand, surrounding the bottom with gifts. The little ones get toys and clothing, while us big kids usually get Chex Mix (YUM) or Peanut Brittle (AWESOME) and a little cash, which always fits.
 Off and on we have made gifts over the years, quilts, afghans, scarves, or lately we purchase gift cards to our family member's favorite place to shop. My youngest grandson loves them, he feels like he has a credit card and can buy anything he wants. Very cool. My niece and sis love to make treats like tarts, truffles, decorated sugar cookies and the like. We usually make Sand Hill Plum jelly to share with the family. (It's on my list of things to do!) I love the gifts that are hand made, they are the most special ones because the person gave of their time - and that is something in short supply around here.

Over the years our traditional dinner of turkey or ham has changed depending on the mood of the host. The food is always good, whether it's BBQ, a big pot of veggie soup, or lasagne, and we all bring things to contribute. It's not the menu that really matters, it's the sharing of the bounty and thanking the maker for our family, good health, and abundance. (We are truly blessed!)
We also exchange Christmas cards. I put in the "White Christmas" DVD and usually finish up when it's over. Some of my cousins are really good about the "Christmas Letter" and one of my friends always writes a "Christmas Poem." Both are great ways to catch up on what is going on with the kids and grandkids. 

I'm really curious to learn about other family traditions. What does your family celebration usually consist of? Is there something you especially like about the way your family celebrates? Please share!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Last Call for Justice--The Next Joe Silva

Several years ago I started writing a new series about a young Indian American woman living in India, a country I have loved since I was a child. It was easy to get caught up in writing about Anita Ray in short stories; the short story format gave me a chance to explore facets of her personality and different locations in India. I had a great time, and soon had a full-length novel featuring Anita and her Auntie Meena and other characters I had come to know through the stories. There was only one problem. I set aside the Mellingham series featuring Chief of Police Joe Silva and I missed Joe.

When I began the Anita Ray series I had already written six Joe Silva novels, but only five had been published, three by Scribner and two by Five Star/Thorndike. I set aside the mss of the sixth book when I chose to work on the India series. I thought it would sit in my closet with the pages turning dry and brittle.

The sixth Joe Silva grew out of a question a reader asked me some years back. After a book signing, a woman said, "Why doesn't Joe ever talk about his family? What's the story there?" It seemed to bother her that Joe was so distant from his large birth family, which he clearly loved. He called his mother regularly and she had become friendly with his upstairs neighbor, Mrs. Alesandro. They were both elderly ladies who had much to share, and Joe was only part of that. Beyond being surprised at how much some readers cared about a series character's personal life, I didn't think much about the question. But it never went away. The reader and her question nagged at me, and I can still see her standing at the end of a row of chairs as the event was breaking up cradling a stack of books in her arms. "What about Joe's family?"

It took me several years to decide to answer the question, and I had to think long and hard about it. When I began writing about Joe back in the early 1990s, I had a pretty good idea who he was and what his family was like, but other than a few odd references here and there I left the family background out of everything. Now I had to go back and recall and reconstruct. It took a while, but the result was a story of our times, of a family bound by love and loyalty and yet beset with all the troubles of the modern world--a marriage gone bad through no fault of the wife, the oldest son dead and eternally young, the aging brothers and sisters who built lives and loved their families and would never think of not loving each and every one of their relatives, and the siblings who had moved away to live lives that would have worried Joe if they'd stayed in his area.

The aging patriarch is determined to bring his entire family together again for one last reunion. But his motivation is more than family togetherness--he wants to settle an old doubt, erase an old suspicion. Unfortunately, he sets in motion the circumstances for another crime.

I came to love Joe's family and now I think I want to visit them again in another Mellingham mystery. Until then, I hope fans of the earlier Mellingham books will enjoy the latest installment. Last Call for Justice answers all those questions about Joe's family--and tells readers a lot they didn't know about Joe. Gwen, Joe's longtime partner, discovers a few things too, and we get to know her better. I love this book partly for the door it opens into Joe's life, and partly because I came to love Joe's family, his Mae and Pae especially, and their staunch determination to make life work, to love their children and support them throughout their sometimes difficult lives. Even a murder won't tear this family apart.

Look for the new Joe Silva on and, soon, available for Nook. Just click on the link: Last Call for Justice: A Mellingham Mystery