For a limited time Kindle Unlimited Members can read FRACTURED FACADE and THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE for free. Just click on the title!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My First (and Only?) $.99 Promo

In December I put both of my titles in Amazon's KDP Select program to see if I was "missing out" on anything. I was particularly interested in their lending program as both books would now be eligible to be borrowed. The royalty on borrows is not great, but hey, it's better than nothing.'s it going? Thus far, I am extremely disappointed. Since I don't have the time, or desire to promote endlessly, my sales have been zilch and the borrows I can count on one hand, on one finger. I really hate being exclusive to one retailer but some authors swear it's worth it. Maybe if you're a Romance writer or someone who has a series of books it is, but thus far I'm not seeing the benefits.

I have not used any of the "perks" of being in this exclusive lonely club so figured I better before my 90 day period runs out so I could determine if there are any real benefits, or not. So, without further adieu I offer my novel, Fractured Facade, normally $4.99, at the discount price of $.99...that's less than a cup of coffee. This promo will run for one week, the maximum 7 days I'm allowed, starting today, 1/21, and runs through 1/28, and will be available on Amazon US and Amazon UK. Naturally, Kindle Unlimited readers can still borrow it for free.

I will probably post the above pic on Facebook and Twitter once a day until the promo runs out. I didn't bother trying to get listed on all those sites that bring thousands of readers. Pssst...I can't afford them, so I am depending upon good old word of mouth. If you are a new reader and decide to download it, I do hope you enjoy it, and perhaps take the time to leave a review. Telling a friend would be cool too. Thanks to all of you for your support!

P.S. I plan on giving away my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse, for the five free days I'm allotted, probably on Valentine's Day and before, so keep an eye out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Country Dog in the Big City

Since my brother's destructo cats had gone to kitty heaven, my husband thought it would be fine to bring Bella with us on our visit to New York. This would be the first time she would be taking such a long a road trip. The longest she has ridden in a vehicle was about five minutes on her way to be groomed, or to the vet. Whereas my other dogs have loved to take a ride in the car, any time Bella goes in the car, she shakes uncontrollably. Besides her being a nervous Nelly, I was a little concerned at how she would do her business during the eight hours. Just putting a harness and leash on her puts her into freeze mode so I didn't know if she would understand the purpose of going for a walk. My husband kept telling me she'd be fine, so I relented.

We wouldn't be able to conduct our normal routine of stopping at Cracker Barrel for lunch, so I packed us a couple of sandwiches, a bag of treats for dog and human, and found a water bowl with a top on it for Bella. We took the mini-van and placed her in the back, blocking the front with a large cooler.

Before we even got on the highway, she squeezed her way around  the cooler and tried to get on Frank's lap as he was driving. Yeah, no! Instead of us crashing, I allowed her to sit on my lap, the entire time.

I consoled her by petting her and telling her everything was okay, and when she began looking out the window she finally stopped shaking.

Our first stop was at the West Virginia rest area and lo and behold, Bella actually walked on the leash and even did pee-pee. When we got back in the mini-van she wouldn't stay in the back so back she went on my lap. I knew she had to relieve herself when she started shaking, so we stopped two more times. We made it up to Brooklyn in record time.

When we got to the house she checked everything out and I introduced her to the backyard. She picked up on that's where she had to do her business very quickly. She really is a smart dog. The house is a two story and I was worried about her and the staircase which is steeper than most and has no rug. When I was in my room upstairs, I heard the unmistaken sound of her tumbling down the stairs. I rushed out to find her at the very bottom where my father had fallen and perished, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Luckily, unlike dad, she got up and shook it off. She seemed fine, but whenever I went upstairs I took to carrying her.

Although we had brought her bed she didn't stay in it much,

instead, she preferred sleeping with us at night, and during the day lounging on top of the couch.

She found the window, and whenever we left she would sit in it waiting for us. My brother said she would howl the saddest howl he ever heard, and his girlfriend said it sounded like she was calling for Mommy. They said it would go on for an hour before she would stop. Now, if only they would have come downstairs and comforted her like my kids do when she does that, she would have stopped immediately. But they didn't, so she cried and cried and cried. Poor little baby thought we were leaving her in the big city.

It was funny watching her when she was in the yard. Every time a plane would pass overhead she would stop and look at it. Sounds from the neighbors garage door opening would cause her to jump and rush back to the door. She seemed amazed at the buildings all around her. She looked for rocks but found none. She did find a tree stump that she would stand on and look out into the neighbor's backyard. I was worried she would jump the concrete wall so she wasn't allowed outside by herself.

Except for barking at my brother every time he came downstairs or through the door, "Who are you???!!!" she took to the new environment. My brother asked if she ever slept as it seemed like she hadn't since we arrived. Too much excitement I guess. At one point we had friends over and were playing a game, drinking, eating, laughing, etc. Bella decided to jump up on a chair and just sit there with us. She has never done that at home. It was so cute!

When it was time to go home, she was ready, and this time she didn't shake when she went into the mini-van. We rigged the cooler so that she couldn't jump on it or squeeze her way up front. When she discovered the back window she stayed.

Eventually, the dog that barely slept, crept into a gift box that held my husband's fleece shirt and got comfy. She slept most of the way home.

All in all, she seemed to adapt very well to the big city. My husband said we could now take her on vacations. Ummm, no, we can't. If her crying for Mommy for an hour is any indication, I don't think she's the type of dog that could be left alone in a hotel room. However, I have no problem taking her to New York City, as long as my husband is with us. When I go alone, she's staying home!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Patti Smith in 2014 - I Danced, I Sang, I Cried

I really don't have much on my bucket list, but one item I did have on it was to see Patti Smith perform live again. I never thought it would happen, but I always held out hope. Those of you who know me, know what a huge fan I am, and the rest of you now know. I've been with her from the beginning, and the last time I went to see her I was 19 years old...May 20th, 1978 when she was performing at the Palladium in New York City.

Unfortunately, I never made it to the show. Instead, I spent the night in a Brooklyn police station after a friend and I got beat up and robbed the moment we stepped on an N train on our way into the city, by a gang that was hopped up and heading back from Coney Island to their stomping grounds in Sunset Park.

At the time I still had the wrinkled ticket wedged tight in my back black jean's pocket, and although I was bruised and beaten, I still wanted to go catch the show. It never happened. I always regretted it. Shortly soon after, Patti met Fred Sonic Smith, they married, she moved to Michigan, and they started a family. Patti put performing on hold and, like many other mothers, focused her life on the children.

After the death of her husband, and by the time Patti re-emerged back in New York City I had gotten married, moved to Virginia, and put my life on hold to raise my children. I still listened to her music, bought every new cd, read all her books and usually capped the year by listening to her on Sirius as she performed a New Year's Eve show at the Bowery Ballroom.

I had gotten used to being alone on New Year's Eve with Patti, me dancing and singing, while the other members of my family hid, or left. One year I heard two friends scream my name during a lull in between songs, and I felt, for a second, I was in New York City. So it was a great disappointment when I discovered Patti was no longer being broadcast live on Sirius. Being far away from my friends and family in New York, never getting invited to any parties in Roanoke, made each New Year's Eve in Virginia a depressing date. This past New Year's Eve looked to be the worst one yet as both of my children wouldn't be spending it with us.

And then my cousin came to my rescue. The only person I know who is a bigger Patti fan than I am, he asked me if I wanted to see Patti Smith with him at Webster Hall on Patti's birthday, December 30. YES! So I set about arranging things so we could run up to New York right after Christmas, and if all went well, even spend New Year's Eve there amongst friends. By the time he went to get the tickets Patti's birthday show was sold out, but she was also performing the night before so he got tickets for that night.

I then heard that another band that I loved from back in the day, Television, would be playing at Irving Plaza the night before Patti played. Since he had bought me Patti tickets for Christmas, I told my cousin I would buy Television tickets for his Christmas present. When I received a notice that Gogol Bordello was also going to be playing in New York City on January 2nd I thought I hit the rock 'n roll trifecta! I figured this musical holiday trip would be my live performance swan song.

We drove into the city to see Television and congrats to former mayor Bloomberg to making the city, especially the lower east side, a place I no longer recognized, and one unfriendly to car drivers. Every avenue and street caters to bicyclists. Parking spots are even rarer than they were, and the lanes barely fit a vehicle. We almost got creamed on E. Houston Street, before the show, and I was so shaken up I had heart palpitations. Thank God my husband was driving because if it was me we probably wouldn't have made it to the show.

I can't remember the last time I was at Irving Plaza, but it was a time when I was younger, thinner, could stand for hours in a hot crowded place, and didn't pay $8 for a 12 ounce can of Budweiser. We stood way in the back and I could barely see Tom Verlaine. Too many tall people were blocking my view and we were stuck under red spotlights that made me feel like I was a piece of chicken being kept warm while sitting on a counter. The show was good, but cut short after Verlaine's hand cramped up while playing Marquee Moon. I felt so bad for him. You could see he wanted to go on, but his 60-something year old hand was making it impossible. Before this happened I was mesmerized by the way his guitar sang. His voice did not sing as well and I thought he might be fighting off a cold or something. By the time we left all three of us were complaining about our aching feet, back, parched throat, etc. My husband was glad he was staying home the next night. After taking an hour to find a parking spot back at the house, waking up sore after a restless sleep, I felt like staying home the next night too. But I couldn't, so I pushed myself, and told my cousin we would be taking the train into the city instead of driving. I hate driving the mini van in Roanoke, there was no way I was attempting it in the city, and driving around hours looking for a spot in Brooklyn was insane.

Just the mere thought of taking the subway to see Patti brought back horrible memories. I was working myself up into a near panic attack just waiting on the platform. I kept telling myself I was being ridiculous, but every gangsta that stepped onto the train I imagined would pull out a straight-edged razor and threaten me with it. As my pepper spray was illegal in NYC, I had taken a Binaca spray in its place -- thank you Elaine from Seinfeld -- and I hoped I only would have to use it to kill bad breath. When we finally arrived, my heart jumped when I saw the marquee...

My cuz

I dressed smarter for this show by wearing comfortable shoes that had a sole, a very light-weight shirt, a jacket I could tie around my waist, and I smuggled in a bottle of water. We found a spot to the left of the stage much closer than I thought we would have gotten. There was only one tall guy in front of me so I was able to see unobstructed as long as I tilted to the right. The crowd was electric and everyone was so nice. Way different than the night before where I had this one loose cannon near me muttering, "I feel like I gotta hurt somebody. I'm gonna go off, I can feel it!" as he became more and more drunk. He must have smuggled in his own booze! In front of me at Webster Hall, was a dad my age with his two teen-aged children. The only bad thing about where we stood was someone was letting out silent but deadly farts the entire show. Disgusting!

Anyway, I was surprised when Michael Stipe stepped out on the stage before Patti.

The one "big head" in my way. Stipe complained it was cold, but having sweated like a roasted chicken the previous night I was happy it wasn't stifling.

He said she had asked him to open up by reading poetry or performing or something. It had been eight years since he performed on a stage and he said he was nervous. He told us how he played Webster when it was the Ritz and knew REM had "made it" when they opened for Gang of Four. When he stood on that stage at that time he thought the Ritz was huge. Then as REM got bigger and bigger whenever he came back to town and went to the Ritz he thought it was tiny. Now, once again, after not singing for so long, looking out over the audience, he thought it was huge. His voice has changed, but he sounded great. He performed six songs, accompanied on piano by Patti's daughter Jesse which included New York, New York. Anyone can sing that song, and if you're a New Yorker, especially someone who moved out of New York, it will bring tears to your eyes and chills down your spine. "These little town blues are melting away..."

And then Patti stepped on stage and I was transported back to the seventies.

Her voice, her mannerisms, her back-and-forth with the audience was everything I remembered seeing her the dozens of times. Lenny Kaye and Jay Dee Dougherty were still right there with her. The band was tight, she was loose, and I felt young again. I danced, I sang, I cried. It was beautiful. I couldn't believe she was going to be 68 in a couple of hours. I didn't want the night to end. The only "disappointment" was when she said they wouldn't be performing anything from Horses as November 10, 2015 was the 40th anniversary of the album and they planned to perform it live in New York City on that date. Yes, I want to go!

Right before she ended the show she gave what I would call a pep speech, and when she ended it with stating we shouldn't fear, or never have fear, or show no fear, or something to that effect, I felt like she was talking directly to me. Fear is stifling. Fear stops you from living life to the fullest. I want to make 2015 the year of no fear.

As if to put it to the test, we got back on the subway around midnight and the train that pulled in was an N train. Not only did we take it, but we had to switch trains on 59th Street in Brooklyn, the very station where I was beaten and mugged. I stood there waiting on the empty platform for the R to come, and guess what, I felt no fear...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Time to Make the Stroufflers

You know what today is? Yes, it's Festivus for the rest of us, but it's also Christmas Eve Eve which means it's time to make the stroufflers! So without further adieu, here is the simple yet delicious recipe handed down by my Sicilian ancestors...

6 eggs
4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs Crisco

Mix flour, baking powder and sugar. Add Crisco. Make a well in the middle and put eggs into it. Mix together until smooth. Make long snakes, cut into pieces, then roll by hand into balls. Make them small -- they expand!

Fry them in tall pot in Crisco. Place cooked balls on a brown paper bag.

In a large pot heat a jar of honey, I use 12 ounces, with a 1/4 cup sugar. Stir until thin. Throw balls into them, mix with wooden spoon to cover all of the balls. Then plate and sprinkle with nonpareils.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Brooklyn Christmas Re-Post

Dyker Heights in Brooklyn has been getting a lot of airtime lately, so I thought I would share this post from 2010...Merry Christmas!

Meanwhile back in Brooklyn, all over the radio and internet people were buzzing about the live nativity being held at an old church built in 1828.

Living now in Roanoke, we're no strangers to live nativities but apparently it's a big deal to a lot of Brooklynites. After we saw what was being heralded as a "must see" we laughed. It was pretty pathetic. The wise Mexicans were about ten years old and freezing their butts off. The poor baby Jesus looked like he was bought at the 99cent store.

Later that evening we witnessed a more spectacular nativity that wasn't "live" but on someone's lawn...

as we ventured into the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn where the Christmas lights burst from the trees.

If you watch The Travel Channel you might recognize this house as the "Sausage Queen's."

Dyker Heights is about five avenues and might as well be a lifetime away from my modest Brooklyn home. Big money and a lot of Italians are up in those thar hills and they can afford to hire professional Christmas decorators.

I'm assuming this blow-up house didn't splurge on a decorator...

But this one definitely did...

I'd hate to live on one of these blocks during Christmas because the cars come from all over to view these homes and traffic is at a standstill. Being a "native" I knew to go early before the crowds came so we missed Santa giving out candy canes and Frosty shaking the kiddies hands and the Christmas carols blaring through the speakers on some homes. Some people think the whole thing is tacky, but I don't. This is what I grew up with and why we decorate our house like The Griswolds, although we pale next to these lights. At least the folks in Roanoke aren't as jaded as we are and they appreciate all our efforts as many people pull into out driveway, stop us by the mailbox or at the store and thank us.

My daughter, the photographer, loved Dyker Heights as well..."If I can't afford a place in Manhattan, I'm going to live here." Yeah, good luck with both of those choices!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and everything just looks more beautiful this time of the year...

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


When I was writing out a check this morning I realized it was 12/13/14. That's a date easily remembered, and had I been single, yet in a lengthy relationship, I probably would have considered that date to be a good date to get married on. It would be lucky, no? I wonder how many other people chose that date because it was special. I hope the ones that did have better luck than I did when choosing special wedding dates.

My first flop was in choosing Valentine's Day. I wasn't even really a romantic. Never had been a faithful fervent follower of the day of over-priced flowers, chocolates, jewelry and Hallmark hearts, yet that was the day I thought would be perfect for a wedding. And it was, for the wedding. The marriage? Not so much. It lasted 7 months.

I did take solace in the fact that I hadn't spend years of planning the perfect wedding. Mine was not a dream I had since I was a little girl. Mine was more of a yeah, why not, and let's do it on the perfect date, Valentine's Day, and so what that's less than two months away. I want that date. He'll/I'll never forget it. And I never have, but not in a good way. At least I got an idea for a short story out of it, "The Valentine's Day Curse." If you're a Kindle Unlimited member you can check it out for free.

This commercial was shot the day of my wedding. We couldn't get in on time because they were still shooting it, using my "special day" as backdrop. You think I would have gotten something off the pricy tab. This spot used to run for years and years on the local television channels, especially in the wee hours of the morning. My dear departed cousin JP would always call me when he would see it come on and we would crack up reminiscing about that crazy.

This is their most recent commercial from seven years ago.

They used the same background music for their spot as I did for my Valentine's Day Curse spot...uncanny!

The Valentine's Day Curse

Ok, so that was that special day. The next flop special day also involved a marriage. This time it was an even quicker turn-around, like three weeks. We did have 90 days to get married, but I thought 8-8-88 should be the date to use. He'll/I'll never forget it. 8 is a very lucky number, well, so say the Chinese. Turn those eights on their sides and it's the symbol for eternity. Our love would last forever. That marriage lasted 7 weeks. They have a reality series now on K-1 visa couples, so I probably could get at least a novella out of that failed one.

For the third, and hopefully, final marriage, I chose an ordinary day. It was the quickest decision yet, one week. In my then fiancé's eyes, it was the longest, years before I took the legal leap. But when I thought the time was right, and needed a weekend away in Atlantic City, I agreed to a quickie civil service in Staten Island. After all, it was the closest city hall in New York near the Garden State Parkway, the way to get to AC. Anyway, neither one of us forgets the date, so I guess even though it's ordinary to most folks, it's special to us.

And that brings us to today, to this special day - 12/13/14. I like the ring of it, the sound of it, it feels special, like you're in the middle of a holiday with the anticipation of something beautiful. And just as I typed that this song came on Pandora...Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah.

Beautiful. I think it's a beautiful day to get married too...all the best to those who chose today...hope you have better luck than I did. And if you did, and happen to stumble upon this post, please leave a comment and let us know.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kindles Unlimited Revisited

Just one measly sale of Fractured Facade on Smashwords was all it would have taken to keep The Valentine's Day Curse available everywhere. But after a year, it never happened. Oh sure, I got plenty of sample downloads of Fractured Facade, but I just couldn't make the sale, which is odd, because I still was getting sales on Amazon. No, not many, but at least I was thrown a bone once in a while. Nook readers, iPad people, Smashies, Kobo tablets, had no problem "buying" the free short story, but unless Smashwords was screwing up, they just wouldn't part with $4.99 for the novel. Also, not one of them left a review of the Valentine's Day Curse either. Hmmmm, so much for my grand plan!

My thinking was that if I made the short story free everywhere, Amazon would have to price match it as well, and they did. Great, right? Well, along the way, freebies on Amazon suddenly no longer had the same punch as they did once before. Why? The only thing I could figure out was that the new Amazon program, Kindle Unlimited, stopped not only downloads of freebies, but also sales of books. Kindle Unlimited is a program whereby a reader pays a yearly fee and can then borrow as many books on their kindle as they like (up to 10 at a time) instead of only one per month as in the past, for free. I figure readers aren't bothering with freebies any more as their thinking may be, why borrow something that's free when I could borrow something that would have cost me money.

In order to have a book in KDP select, which would then be part of the KU, the book had to be exclusive to Amazon. And that is the one thing that really bugged me. So, I said I would NEVER go into KDP Select. And now over a year later I am eating my words. I gave all the other outlets a shot and they all fell short. So I figure now is the time for me to try another tactic by putting The Valentine's Day Curse -- A short story back into KDP Select and price it once again at $.99.

My thinking last year was that folks will be getting Nooks, iPads, etc. and they will seek out the free story, download it, and then hopefully review it and/or seek out my novel and buy it. Never happened anywhere except on Amazon! So now the thinking this year is the same thing - that folks will be getting kindles for Christmas, only this time with each kindle they automatically get a free month of the Kindle Unlimited deal. My hope is that they borrow the Valentine's Day Curse which would translate to a higher royalty than if they bought it. Will this work? Who knows, but as an independent author I can change my mind and give it a shot. I'm still debating if I should pull Fractured Facade everywhere too and put that exclusively on Amazon as well.

Of course, the best way to sell books is to write more books, and I am doing just that...just not quickly.