Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reach for the Stars!

As I was standing outside this morning the sky was blue, yet gentle rain was falling on me. In my reflections of the past year, I couldn't help tear up thinking about the loss of my loved ones. I felt they heard me and their teardrops were falling from Heaven. It stopped my tears and made me smile.

Rather than wallow in sadness thinking about past memories, and future ones we'll never make together, I vow to honor my loved ones by dedicating each book I write to one of them. They've all touched me in special ways and each one contributed something to the person I am.

My story ideas feel like the horses at Belmont waiting for the bell to ring and the gate to go up so they could sprint down the track. This time getting to the finish line won't take three years, like it did with Fractured Facade. Although cathartic, it was painful to relive over and over again. I'm thankful to all the readers who have given me such positive feedback. It's validation that I haven't wasted my time.

Although I'm not a bestselling author, yet, I'm grateful I had the opportunity to share my story by self-publishing and chose not to kowtow to the "rules." I make my own rules, and if I fail, I have no one to blame but myself.

If 2011 taught me anything, it's to not listen to other people. Go with your instincts. Take chances. Don't be afraid to expose yourself. And if people don't support you, and don't bring anything positive to your table, cut them out of your life. They'll only fill you with self-doubt and bring you down.

My mantra for 2012 is Reach for the Stars! If you don't, you'll never know what you're capable of. My wish to all of you is to do the same...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Today my daughter turns 18. I've heard the countdown for weeks now. She's very excited because she said she can now do all the things she couldn't do before. When I asked exactly what that entailed, she responded with the following:

1. I can drive past midnight. (True, but she still has our midnight driving curfew!)

2. I can have more than one under 18 passenger.

3. I can stay at Valley View past 6:00pm.

4. I can play with the puppies at the mall.

5. I can carry pepper spray.

I can live with that list, and am thankful she didn't add, buy cigarettes, lottery tickets, or get a tattoo!

Anyone who reads this blog knows how proud I am of her. I am blessed to have a daughter like her. Happy Birthday matter how old you get, you're always going to be our little girl, but remember legally I'm no longer "responsible" for you, so here's some motherly advice:

Make sure your future decisions are wise and stay out of trouble with the law.

Listen to your inner voice. If something doesn't feel "right" it probably isn't.

Don't do anything just to "fit in." Be a leader, not a follower.

Not that I think you would, but never get a tattoo in a place where it would stop you from getting a good job. Remember they might look "cool" when you're young, but twenty years from now they won't. And if you do get one, make sure it's never a man's name! You'll feel stuck with him forever.

In fact, never, never make a man your center of attention.

Make sure you could always support yourself without any man's help.

Don't rush into having babies, especially to "keep a man." That never works, it's not fair to the children, and you will miss out on your life. When the time is right for you to become a mother, hopefully after you're well established and have done quite a bit of travelling, remember the children always come first.

If a man ever talks down to you, tries to stop you from seeing your family and friends, or dares to put his hands on you, run, don't walk away. And then call me and Daddy! No matter how old you get, we'll always be there for you, as long as you allow us to be part of your life.

Never let anyone tell you you can't do something. The stars are there for everyone, just don't expect to be handed one, reach for them!

Value true friendships, they're hard to come by, and deserve to be kept. But, if someone hurts you intentionally, move on. Their loss.

May the rest of your life be filled with smiles like the one you're sporting here...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Views

The view from my friend's apartment in Bay Ridge, the Verrazano Bridge.

The view from my house in Roanoke, the mountains.

So different, both beautiful. I'm fortunate I can straddle both...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No Free Ride Here

Well, our, I mean my daughter's, hopes for a full scholarship to Roanoke College were dashed when nestled amongst the Christmas cards was a Congratulations! letter informing the girl she had been awarded an additional $2,000. The professor who interviewed her wrote in his remarks that she was "a good person." I thought that was an odd thing to write. How would he know that after a five minute interview and her sitting quietly in his class? I snickered at that statement, she snickered at the amount. Then the girl rolled the letter into a telescope, held it to her eye, looked through it and said, "There goes Roanoke College...bye bye!"

Although the total award she would receive would amount to $20,000 per year, that is not nearly enough. That's less than half of what she would need. Writing those last two sentences hurt. Sorry, but no college is worth paying that amount of money per year. And one where her original broadcast, communications and/or graphic design major would have had to be replaced by history, it's doubly not worth it. Yeah, she's a history buff, and wanted to learn Italian, but what employment opportunities, besides teaching, which she's not interested in, would a $100,000+ degree in those two fields offer, and, be worth? Can you imagine paying full tuition for that? Well, I can't.

I would rather the girl attend Virginia Western for web & graphic design than saddle her with enormous student loans for a history degree. I would prefer spending my hard earned money setting her up in her own media business. I've seen her work, she's totally capable, and with more real-life experience, and not just a piece of paper telling the world she's "smart" can dominate the field. You might need that degree to get your foot in the door, but once you're in, it's not as important as excelling in your field. Heck, I never needed a degree, and I've accomplished more in my life than most people I know with degrees. But, I hear nowadays things are different, and we all want what's best for our children, so I won't stand in her way.

But, I think my plan is a better plan for her future. I've offered to buy her a Mac along with all the programs she'll need. It's expensive, but I feel it's a good investment in her, and a good opportunity for her. It's up to her to make it work. Meanwhile, with all the credits she already has from dual enrollment classes and passing AP exams, she'll have plenty of time to be able to take on a part time job as well.

Now, I know she was disappointed as she really liked Roanoke College's campus, and had she been granted enough money to attend without putting her in debt, she would have probably have gone there. What I liked most about it was that it was close to home. Frankly, I think it was more a "prestige" thing for her than anything else. I told her she should be proud of herself that she did get accepted, and not get down on herself just because she can't afford to go there. It took her about a day to lick her wounds, and I didn't let on that I was secretly glad her master plan had been thwarted. When she marched down the hall and informed me she was totally on board with this new plan, I just nodded my head. I always knew she'd be.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if it's meant to be, it will be, so Roanoke College wasn't meant to be. Besides, in our family we never get anything handed to us. We have to work for everything, but we're tough, we know how to adapt, and everything happens for a reason. In the end, she's probably going to wind up back in New York City anyway. The salaries, and shopping, are better there...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sample Sunday - Stroufflers & Memories

Since we've been talking about stroufflers and memories so much around here lately, I thought I'd make this a Sample Sunday and post a passage from my eBook Fractured Facade, covering both...

"When we got back to the “fake” home, Josephina brought over some home-baked Italian fig cookies. They reminded me of my mother. Nothing said Christmas more than the warm comforting smell of my mother’s cookies baking. One of the few times we didn’t fight was when we stood side by side mixing dough. My mother might not have taught me anything academically, but she taught me how to cook and bake. Our favorite Christmas tradition was making stroufflers together.

Mom would create a well in the center of six cups of flour, and crack six eggs into it saying, “If you don’t mix it by hand, it won’t come out right.” We’d take turns kneading the yellow dough until it became smooth and shiny. Fistfuls of dough were grabbed and rolled into long snakes on a cutting board. With a quick moving knife small pieces were cut. Each pillow mint shaped piece, hundreds of them, would be fashioned into a small ball and dropped into a huge pot of hot oil. They bobbed on top of the surface, tossed and turned by a slotted spoon, until they turned a light golden brown. A brown paper bag was the best way, and according to Mom the only way, to sop up the excess oil from each ball. Another huge pot filled with honey and sugar simmered on the stove. Each ball would be dumped into the honey, and with a wooden spoon my mother gently stirred. Once covered with honey, we’d ladle the balls into a huge glass bowl, one of the many bowls that had disappeared sometime after mom died, and sprinkle them with rainbow nonpareils. It would take all day to make one batch, which barely lasted through Christmas Day.

The last time my mother and I made stroufflers together was the year I discovered you shouldn’t put cold water into hot oil to clean the pot. The stains from the explosion remain on the kitchen ceiling. As I looked at the spotty ceiling, recalling my messy mistake, I remembered that day was also the last time I got hit with the wooden spoon, a honey-covered one. Whispers of red fuzz from my sweater had mingled with the colorful candies still left on the spoon. It hadn’t hurt physically -- it was more of a tap -- but the quick strike damaged our kitchen relationship. I swore I would never bake with my mother again. I never did. I wish I had."

Melancholy Christmas

The older I get, the sadder Christmas seems to become. The memories and traditions I used to treasure have become tortuous reminders of those loved ones I have lost. Baking, cooking, shopping, a television show, a movie, a song, a smell of the season -- joys in the past -- now merely fill me with nostalgic melancholy. I miss the people I once shared my traditions with. Frankly, it's painful.

So, what's one to do? Just bury the traditions along with our loved ones, or, do we honor our loved ones by keeping them going? Today, although I was gearing towards the former, in the end I chose the latter.

As I slid the March of the Wooden Soldiers DVD into the player I thanked my cousin JP for his gift. When I received two copies last Christmas, his was the one I opened. We watched it together 500 miles apart, and spent the next 77 minutes texting each other memorable lines. I longed to watch it with him again this year but knew if I texted him I would receive no response. Instead of sharing it with my dear cousin, my husband stepped up to the plate (no amount of cajoling could convince the kids to join me) and sat with me while I chose the black & white version.

As the opening credits rolled I said up to the sky with a toast of a glass, "I hope you're watching this with me. I'm gonna continue our tradition, so gimme a sign you're with me. Miss you." The opening credits came to a close and my phone rang. It was JP's sister. Message received.

The ending was always our favorite part. The cheesy effects were overlooked, and the over-the-top acting was actually enhanced, by the memorable music that gave us goosebumps, and today, tears to my eyes. If only we all had a wooden soldier locked away that could rescue us in what seems to be our most dire days. We do. We just got to let him out.

Maybe it's crazy, but it's the little things like this that save Christmas for me. And to think I had about given up on it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Strouffler Time

It's that time of the year to bring out the Strouffler everything except the brown paper bags...heading out again!

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 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!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Roanoke Rocks!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit worried that we would be able to pull off last night's NYC...Live in Roanoke! event. Having been around musicians most of my life I know they could sometimes be, ummmm, undependable. So as we got closer to the date and I heard reports that this one wouldn't be coming, and that one couldn't make it, I thought, what happens if no one shows up?!

Well, last night my fears were put to rest. Not only did musicians "show up" but they put on a phenomenal show to a packed, standing room only house. Now keep in mind many of these musicians, probably never heard of, or were even born when the songs I requested were written. But that didn't matter. They got it, and they brought it.

The highlight of the evening for me, besides having a positive response to two videos I produced back in the day, and hearing the audience sing along to "New York, New York" during a video my daughter produced, was when someone came up to me after the show and said, "Who are these bands, and where did you find them? I never heard of them before and had no idea Roanoke had such talent!"

Mission accomplished. My goal was not just to highlight Fractured Facade but to highlight other independent artists, and expose them to a wider audience than what they might normally attract. After hearing them last night, I know I'll be going to their shows, and I hope others who had no idea they "existed" will also.

So without further adieu, here was the rundown...

Daniel Francis Gardner & Mark Beskind. I think Daniel was relieved when I didn't hold him to sing Sid Vicious' version of "My Way!"

Ron Bergeron, putting down the video camera & singing Johnny Thunders' "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory"

Laker consisting of River Laker, Josa Wakes & Blaine Davis performing "Mother." The lovely Suzanne Fitzgerald swaying...

Josa Wakes performing Patti Smith's "Free Money" and Blondie's "Rip Her to Shreds."

Savannah Shoulders gave me chills when they performed Television's "See No Evil." They should add it to their repertoire! A big thank you for allowing the other musicians to use their equipment as well.

Madrone performed Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" and "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed. Now I know why my daughter goes to all their shows.

Keith Bowniece performing Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life." I was a little skeptical at first about an acoustic version, but when Keith's voice rang out, I was hooked.

HeeveHaVa performed two Ramone songs which is equal to one-half of a "normal" song...they nailed "Sniff Some Glue" and "Havana Affair."

I want to personally thank each and every one for sharing their talents. It takes a lot to impress a New Yorker and they did. Thank you to the sound guy as well! By the way, the artists' work will be on display at the library until the New Year, so check it out. There's some great stuff.

I especially want to thank the audience for being so receptive and positive, and River Laker for bringing out the best of Roanoke.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Roanoke's Punkapalooza

Script completed and videos delivered. Voice don't fail me now.

Yup, tomorrow night's celebration of independent aritists, and the release of my eBook Fractured Facade, is almost upon us, and the music line-up is amazing. I am so psyched to hear the following renditions...

"My Way" - Daniel Francis Gardener
"You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" - Ron Bergeron
"Mother" - Laker
"Free Money" - Josa Wakes
"Rip Her To Shreds" - Josa Wakes
"See No Evil" - Savannah Shoulders
"Psycho Killer" - Madrone
"Lust for Life" - Keith Bowniece
"Walk on the Wild Side" - Madrone
"Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" = HeeVaHaVa
"Christmas Lights" - Matthew John Mortimer
"Feed the World" - Everyone

Maybe instead of NYC...Live in Roanoke!, we should have called this event Roanoke's Punkapalooza!

The only artwork I've seen thus far (besides my photos) is Sam Hensley's "Empire State Building" constructed of VHS tapes, and it's something to behold. Looking forward to seeing other artists' work as well.

Just a couple of changes from what was reported in Mike Allen's Roanoke Times column -- Didn't have time to shoot the skit, there's only 9 bands, and you will be making your own egg creams.

***UPDATE*** - No, you will not be making egg creams, after all. Concerns were expressed, so ice cream from Maggie Moo's is replacing the NYC iconic beverage. That's is from NYC, and Maggie's is from Roanoke...yet, another bridge between the book's settings of Roanoke and New York.

I hope you come out and support Roanoke's independent (insert creative media here) scene. And please do not forget to support our community by bringing a Toy for a Tot and a non-perishable item for the Rescue Mission.

Check out my website for more details.

Too bad the band that was going to perform Fairytale of New York cannot do it...

"I could've been could anyone..."

Monday, December 12, 2011

If It's Free, Is It Really A Best Seller?

I've been reading some Kindle Community Boards to see how independent authors who have enrolled with the KDP Select program are faring. It seems to me the "big draw" of the program to many authors is that Amazon allows the book to go free for a couple of days before being put into the lending library. Authors are jumping up and down with joy at all the downloads they have received..."OMG, I can't believe I'm number xx on the (insert genre here) best seller list!!!"

My question can a FREE download put you on a best SELLER list? You haven't sold anything. Your book is free! I can't wrap my brain around that concept. I think it's a ploy, a scheme dreamed up by Amazon to feed the ego of a writer. I know a lot of indy authors disagree with me. They feel that by getting put on a best SELLER list, even if their book is FREE, validates their work. I think it just gives the author more exposure. Numbers are numbers after all. The author's book is brought out of the forest and onto Amazon's front page, instead of the dark woods where a book like Fractured Facade is hidden. And that's a good thing.

But, what happens after the freebie period is over? Now that the book is ranked way up there, does that cause readers to continue to rent it, or more importantly in my view, finally buy it? Do these authors have other books that are not free, that are now being sold because of the exposure? Do these authors charge more than $3.99 for their book, and get it? If so, then maybe their marketing strategy is working, and more power to them. But until the book is bought and winds up on a best SELLING list, I think it would be more accurate to say, "Yay!!! My book is number x on the MOST FREE DOWNLOADED list!!!"

Friday, December 9, 2011

KDP Select & Me Follow Up

Yesterday I wrote a post entitled, KDP Select and Me, which briefly covered independent authors opting into Amazon's Kindle Owners Lending Library.

As expected, message boards, twitter, facebook and blogs were all afire as to if this was the greatest thing since sliced bread to happen to independent authors, or, just another way for Amazon to flex its muscles. The independent community is split. After doing some more research on the program I know I will NOT be opting in.

As I stated yesterday, I have a real problem with the exclusivity clause. Amazon forbids the eBook to be sold anywhere else but with them. That edict not only includes other eRetailers but also on my own site. One of the main points in going independent was that I would have total control of my work. Why would I allow Amazon to dictate where I could offer my book?

Here's the clause..."When you include a Digital Book in KDP Select, you give us the exclusive right to sell and distribute your Digital Book in digital format while your book is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your Digital Book (or content that is reasonably likely to compete commercially with your Digital Book, diminish its value, or be confused with it), in digital format in any territory where you have rights.

See that bold portion? That pretty much insures that if I chose to write a series of books I would have to opt them all in. If I don't, Amazon could use that as an excuse not to pay. I hadn't even thought about that until another independent author's lawyer brought that to her attention. He advised her if she chose to go in, she'd best go all in.

Now here's the real kicker. It's my understanding, and please correct me if I'm wrong...traditional publishers do not have this exclusivity clause...only independents do!

Amazon whet the appetite of many authors by announcing it would allocate $500,000 for the month of December, and that there would be $6 million allocated for the 2012 year. Ummm, that's still $500,000 per month. Their formula is based upon how many books are opted in, and how many are checked out by Prime Members. First off, Amazon really has no idea how many people are going to opt in, so their dangling the $7,500 royalty if your book is checked out 1,500 times is insane. The more books in, the less the royalty rate will be. And if any independent thinks that someone is going to choose their 99 cent book over a $14.99 best seller, they're insane. Because there's one other major thing I discovered...Prime Members can only check out 12 books a year!!!

Now, isn't it logical that a reader is going to check out an expensive book vs. a cheap one? When that was brought up on different forums, some independent authors said, "People will buy your book then." Ummm, not necessarily. And isn't the whole point of being in this program, and giving up all your rights, is because you think your book will be checked out, and not bought? Others have said the promotion Amazon would give your book would be worth opting in. We'll see.

I had updated yesterday's post to include a post written by Mark Coker from Smashwords. It's worth reading again.

Apple vs. PC.
IPhone vs. Droid.
Kindle vs. Nook
Amazon vs. The World?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

KDP Select and Me

When I initially heard stirrings that Amazon would be allowing independent authors another way to introduce their books, via the Kindle's Owner Lending Library, thus far only containing a limited choice of ebooks, I thought, "What a great opportunity!" Besides getting more exposure, the authors would also get paid.

According to the press release , based on a monthly $500,000 fund, it works like this -- "The monthly royalty payment for each KDP Select book is based on that book's share of the total number of borrows of all participating KDP books in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. For example, if total borrows of all participating KDP Select books are 100,000 in December and an author's book was borrowed 1,500 times, they will earn $7,500 in additional royalties from KDP Select in December."

So what's the catch? The catch is in order to opt in, the author must give Amazon sole rights to their ebook for at least 90 days. Since Fractured Facade is in the Smashword Premium Catalogue, it's distributed to many other eRetailers. I've actually had more sales on Smashwords than Amazon, so I'm not keen on killing that audience. Maybe if I had a couple of novellas out there I'd give it a spin, but I don't. Besides, I'm still launching. Maybe in six months, I'll feel differently.

I'd register in a heartbeat, if I didn't have to hand over all my rights to Amazon. If Apple, Barnes & Noble, or any eRetailer, would offer something similar, without the same demands, I'd probably opt in.



Some thoughts from Smashword's Mark Coker - Amazon Shows Predatory Spots With KDP Select

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brother, Sister, Can You Spare a Review?

I had originally planned on having a video shown at the NYC...Live in Roanoke! event in which I show a day in the life of an independent author. I wrote the script, and although humorous and over-the-top, it has a ring of truth to it. Picture me wearing a sandwich board with my book's info on it, running up and down the streets of Roanoke, sped up ala Benny Hill, me ringing a bell ala Monty Python's "Bring Out Your Dead" begging people to buy my book. Exhausted, I would collapse on a bench and then a person would strike up a conversation with me debating if an eBook qualifies as a "real" book or not. It's funny stuff, if I do say so myself, but I just don't have the time to make it happen before next week. It's tongue-in-cheek, but in actuality, the scenario has a ring of truth. No, I'm not walking up and down the streets ringing a bell, but when you're an independent author, it's something you almost have to do in order to get recognized.

Besides writing an interesting book and pricing it fairly, marketing and promotion is one of the most important aspects in being a success. And the goal of marketing and promotion is being "discovered" in the virtual bookstores by people I don't know. I have my author pages. I have my Facebook page. I have my book trailer, which is right up there on Smashwords, but on Amazon, the trailer is only on the author page and not on the main site where Fractured Facade is offered, so it doesn't do much good there. So how does one get discovered on Amazon?

Unfortunately because of the title of my book, when you search for it three other books show up on the page, all of which are about the front of buildings. My "facade" is not about an actual building, but about the hidden nature of people who pretend to be someone they're not. So how would a potential reader know that? According to what I've read it's by the "tags" and reviews that are left on the site. The tags are one word descriptions of the book that people click on if they agree with it.

Most important are the reviews left. It's my understanding that at least ten reviews have to be left before the book gets put into search results. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what I heard. So far I have three five-star reviews, not too shabby, but well under the magical number of ten. So I am here today, ringing my bell, asking you for yet another favor...Brother, Sister, can you spare a review?

I know it's a pain in the butt, and frankly if I could just cut and paste some of the private messages I have received and posted them on Smashwords, Amazon & Barnes & Noble, I would. Here's just a couple...

"bought your book read it in one day, a first for me. last book i read was "summer of 42" in Mr. geneve's class at NUHS. i connected with much that you said, and spoke of..."

"...I have been wanting to write to you to tell you how much your book hit a nerve with me - so many of the situations were very close to home for me. Is it growing up in Brooklyn in an Italian family that makes so many things so similar? However, all the dysfunctional stuff that goes on in families - guess we all have our skeletons. There were so many things I can relate to - was a very emotional time for me as I read the book and discussed it with my husband and boys. I give you soooo much credit for writing it and don't know how you were able to get through it - truly a labor of love. You have so much to be proud of and I wish you much success in the future; you truly deserve to be published!..."

"...Just finished reading your book - wow!..."

"Bravo! I just finished Fractured Facade and must tell you that the entire time I was reading, I felt like a very good friend was telling me her story. The book is so alive I felt like the story of Marie was actually happening to me. You kept me guessing as to what was real and what might have been fiction. In the end, I surmised that it had all really happened to you and that you only had to change the names. Also, I cried at the end at your lamentations on wishing things could have been said or done differently with your parents. We all have those wishes. There are many lessons to be learned from your book. I like the cavalier way that you faced each situation dealing with the death. I like that you taught us to be careful because evil in people truly does exist when it comes to money. I hope you write another book because I will snap it up immediately..."

Those are just four...there are more, and every single one fills me with such gratitude. And I hate asking for more help, but if you are the author of those wonderful comments, please consider leaving them as a review on the site where you bought the book, whether it be Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, wherever. And if you would, click on the tags on Amazon as well as that would really help too.

As you might or might not know, I also have a small business for the last 16 years, and I quickly discovered that spending money on advertising was a waste of time. The best way to be successful is providing a good service, having a good product, and most importantly, word of mouth recommendations. Needless to say, I would be most grateful for your loud shouting! By the way, if you bought the book from Smashwords you can leave a review there and on Amazon. Copy and paste is your friend ;)

Thanks guys and dolls!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Birth Announcement

Remember last year when we found our four deer in rather compromising positions?

Well, it was a fruitful union...

Say hi to Baby Doe and Baby Buck...

The family grows...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You're With Me Always

"Grief starts to become indulgent, and it doesn't serve anyone, and it's painful. But if you transform it into remembrance, then you're magnifying the person you lost and also giving something of that person to other people, so they can experience something of that person." -- Patti Smith

With over 50 years of shared memories of my beloved cousin, it's hard to pull the best ones...they're all "the best ones." But I know John Paul would agree with me when I say music has always been one of our strongest bonds.

From Boris Karloff singing "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," through our bubblegum days of dancing to the Archies and Tommy James, through our first rock concerts -- The Who, Queen, Peter Frampton, The Stones -- whether sitting in the last row of Madison Square Garden, or sitting in the first row of the Bottom Line enthralled by Bruce Springsteen, or in a dank club on the Lower East Side, mesmerized by Television, Talking Heads, and Blondie, music was our life. When the 6'7" gentle giant took me to the floor to dance, whether it be squirming to Otis' The Worm, or pogoing to The Ramones, everyone cleared it for us. He was the best dance partner I ever had.

Together we discovered Patti Smith, who changed our lives, so I start this post with Patti's words and end it with two Patti songs...

to be
not anyone
this maze of being
to cry
not any cry
so mournful that
the dove just laughs
the steadfast gasps"

"and if there's one thing
could do for you
you'd be a wing
in heaven blue"

Godspeed John Paul, you're with me always. And if there's any comfort I can find from your death, it's in knowing you'll be there for me when it's my time...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rest in Peace John Paul

I lost my best friend yesterday. He happened to be my cousin, John Paul. He was two weeks older than me, the other black sheep of the family, and who everyone referred to as "my partner in crime." I'm at such a loss I don't know what to do. I always thought that when two people had a special bond, when one person left the earth, the other person would know it. I didn't. I felt sick the day before, worn out and depressed, but I just chalked it up to my own medical problems. I wasn't into decorating the Christmas tree, and when I picked up an old glass ornament that had been my mother's and found it shattered, it made me tear. Then my cellphone rang.

It was John Paul's sister. The moment I heard her voice I knew something was wrong. In between tears, she told me her brother had died that morning of a heart attack while in bed. His wife didn't even know it. She had spoken with him before getting up to make coffee and when she returned, he was gone. Just like that. The tears haven't stopped since that call.

The last time I spoke with him was a couple of days earlier. He sounded fine and said his doctor said he could finally get back to doing whatever he wanted to do. JP had been through so much this year, the year he had proudly claimed to me on January 1, 2011, "I got a good feeling about 2011...this is gonna be my year." "His year" began less than two weeks after that statement, with a horrible accident through glass shower doors resulting in the loss of feeling in a couple of his fingers, many surgeries, rehabs, and an almost $100,000 medical bill. He lost his job, and then his health insurance.

Through it all he kept up the best attitude he could, the last conversation telling me he wasn't depressed, but I could hear it in his voice. "My Wall Street days are over, and I can't even find a job as a security guard." He didn't own a computer, hadn't updated his resume since 1988, and felt like he had lost a couple of decades. It's hard to start over at our age. His obesity didn't help, and was most likely the cause of his heart attack.

We were best buddies since birth, and even when I picked up and moved to Virginia we kept in close contact. A week didn't go by without a phone call or a text message. We were so alike we would text each other stupid sayings that no one else would get, yet made perfect sense to us. His last couple of text messages to me was, "Poppies will put them to sleep...Yes poppies." and "Surrender Dorothy."

I texted him on Thanksgiving and was surprised I didn't get a response. I figured he was at his parent's house in PA and didn't want to call him because I haven't spoken to them since the betrayal at my father's funeral. I was going to wait until yesterday to call him as I thought he would be home by then. Now I'm sorry I waited. When I checked my phone I saw he never received, or, never opened my text so he didn't get my "Gobble, gobble" message. He also didn't know that I finished my book and that he was in it. I was waiting until Christmas to tell him. Now I'm sorry I waited.

At least I got to see him when I went up to New York earlier this year. This is how I will remember him...always smiling.

Rest in Peace, John Paul, you left a gaping hole in my heart. I love you, and will never forget you...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bright Friday

For some, the day after Thanksgiving is a day to spend in stores, shopping, shopping, shopping. Not this family. We don't refer to today as Black Friday, we refer to it as Bright Friday. For tonight, the dark, gloomy hilltop will be awash in bright lights. Motorists will be able to see what lies ahead around the turn and up the hill. The walkers will have their dangerous path lit. And the critters, well, now I'll be able to see what exactly has emerged from the rustling in the woods.

My husband lucked out. It's supposed to be in the 60's today and tomorrow. Usually his task is a three-day affair. With the possibility of a cold rain looming on Sunday I am urging him to take advantage of today and tomorrow. Every year we add a little something, and this year there will be a birth announcement. I'll wait until I can post a pic to elaborate.

While he's working on the outside, I'll be working inside. I already started yesterday with the cleaning and making the Goodwill box. After everything is dusted and polished I can begin the transformation. My son brought up the wooden Advent calendar yesterday. It's heavy, awkward, and needs to be put together. He is the master of the two screws. That is his contribution to Christmas decorating. Still, he says, "I feel like I just took this apart."

The girl always helps with the inside. But this year she might vary from the routine. She is helping, but it's by editing together a NYC Christmas Pic video over Sinatra's "New York, New York." "I wish I had video, and not just photos," she says. They're our photos, and hopefully she will feel creative and produce a piece in time for the "NYC...Live in Roanoke" event.

In my travels, I'll probably find gifts that I had bought last year and hid so well that I forgot to hand them out. I'll find the Memory Box and read through cards and notes of Christmas past by loved ones who are no longer with us. I will tear up and hold some of them to my heart, and just when I think I can't take it any more, I'll spy a letter from Santa Claus written in 1986 to my first baby, Alex. I'll read it aloud to him, as I stroke the golden Welsh Corgi ornament that sits in the special place on my tree, the front top.

Behind that letter, lies another one from Santa Claus to the replacement baby, Max.

Written when he was just a pup it's a funny letter telling him not to herd the boy, chew boots, or eat his own poo. Ten years later, he still does two out of those three things. My boots are safe.

This year, thanks to a mega clearance at Sears last year, I will be replacing my regular indoor lights with lcd's. I will give them a shot, but if they don't give me the warm, cozy, golden light that says Christmas, I'm taking them down.

Got a lot to do, so I'll catchya later.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Roanoke Thanksgiving Traditions

I love Thanksgiving. It's like Christmas without the stress of presents. It's the kick-off. It's when I find it acceptable to start listening to Christmas carols. It's when Christmas shows can be watched. It's when "March of the Wooden Soldiers" is supposed to air, like it did every Thanksgiving on WPIX in NYC. Here in Roanoke, VA, it never does. It doesn't matter anymore. My family got tired of hearing me complain about it, so now I own two dvd's of it, both colorized. I like the black and white version better.

March of the Wooden Soldiers Pictures, Images and Photos

Of course, I'll watch the parade in the background as I'm preparing the foodstuffs. I'll think back to the days I saw those balloons in person on my way to work at ABC News. It won't make me sad. I have Virginia traditions now. The transformation of the house will commence. In the sun room, my husband will watch the Cowboys. Instead of a beer in his hand, a string of broken Christmas lights to clothe a naked deer, will be. I'll time the dinner to begin before the game does. I will fail miserably, and the best my husband can hope for is halftime.

Friends will drift in and out. I'll cajole someone to stay for dinner. If we have enough folks, Pokeno will be played afterwards. Then dessert. Still haven't decided on that yet, but have been busy getting everything else in order. Two loaves of bread have been cut and placed in a huge glass bowl, waiting to get hard from the fresh air. I'll toss them every couple of hours. The peppers have been roasted and are awaiting to be peeled. The hard boiled eggs are to be deviled in the morning. The gravy stock vegetables will be cut up. The stuffing vegetables will be peeled and chopped. The rest will happen tomorrow.

I love Thanksgiving. It's the anticipation of Christmas.

Enjoy your traditions!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roanoke's Cool Quotient

Have you noticed lately that Roanoke's cool quotient has been rising? Maybe it's always been that way, but I was too ensconced in my little mommy bubble to realize it, but now that I feel like I'm "getting my life back" I'm excited to be part of it.

For instance...I had never listened to a podcast before, but when I saw that Tad Dickens of the Roanoke Times had interviewed punk/underground pioneer Marty Thau, who by the way is a Roanoke resident, I gave it a spin. It was a great interview and I was sorry I couldn't attend Marty's talk at another cool place, Bazaar Consignments. Located on Colonial Avenue it's the only place I know of where you can still find vinyl records. They bill themselves as having: Records, Art, Vintage & Antique, Clothes, Consignments and more...the more part is live music.

I had already made plans the night Marty was speaking to attend a special screening of This is Spinal Tap at The Shadowbox, Roanoke's community microcinema located on Kirk Street. According to their Facebook page, "We do cool shit." And they do. On December 2nd they'll be showing "I Shot Andy Warhol" which is going to kick off a multipart Andy Warhol exhibition.

Mike Allen of the Roanoke Times reported yesterday on the upcoming event called, "In The Event of Andy Warhol..."

"Roanoke College, Hollins University and Washington and Lee University all have received Warhol works from the foundation that will be shown as part of a three-part exhibition, "In the Event of Andy Warhol," that aims to demonstrate how the artist, who died in 1987, remains relevant today...

The offbeat theater (Shadowbox) will also be making video recordings of Warhol-style "screen tests," in which the subject looks at, speaks to or otherwise acts out in front of the camera, usually without accompanying sound.

The screen tests will play during the subsequent phases of the exhibition. Washington and Lee will open its show Jan. 9, Roanoke College's will open March 1, and the Hollins show will open May 31.

The collaboration "is a perfect example of local arts organizations working together to create something amazing," said Shadowbox owner Jason Garnett."

How cool is that?

Kirk Avenue Music Hall, located at the same address as the Shadowbox, is Roanoke’s premiere live music venue. According to their website, "Kirk Avenue Music Hall presents musical events in a relaxed, smoke-free setting with the focus on the stage. No frills, TVs or fusion menus. Just what matters at a music venue: exceptional music, clear sound, dedicated fans and not a bad seat in the house."

Laker, yes that would be River Laker, is appearing Friday night at 8:00pm. "Until 5 months ago River Laker had never been in a band nor written a song nor played any musical instruments. After seeing a Heevahava show at the Coffeepot in Roanoke, River knew where his destiny lay, and a new experiment was born: The Laker Experiment. Within a 6 month period River formed the band, “Laker”, wrote & recorded 10 songs, signed with the label The UNcommonwealth, released an EP, “Approaching Acceptability”, made a music video."

I will definitely be there.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention another cool upcoming event, on Thursday, December 15th at 6:00pm -- "NYC...Live in Roanoke!" Being held at the Roanoke Public Library Downtown, it will be a break from the conventional format of what one might expect from an author's book release this case, my eBook, Fractured Facade.

I won't be signing any books, but through vignettes I will be sharing my journey, and the stage, by creating a bridge between the tale's settings of Roanoke, VA and Brooklyn, NY through the talents of other independent artists. Inspired by a NYC theme, musicians will perform live, and visual artists will exhibit their work. Although the "official FB event invite hasn't been sent out, you can check out the above link to find out more info. When the musician info is posted, I hope you will be as impressed as I am.

I'm so thrilled that Roanoke has someone like River who has transformed the library from a place to just read books to a venue that allows Roanoke's creative community to be able to showcase their talents through unique events. Thank you River, thank you musicians, thank you artists, and thank you Roanoke for supporting the arts. Now if only there was a place to buy real Italian bread, cookies, pastries, and Breakstone Butter, I would never have to go back to Brooklyn.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Feeling Shondelli

Every once in a while I get to feeling very "Shondelli." It could be a note that I hear, a pic that I see, the smell of a chill in the air, and suddenly, I hear Tommy James and the Shondells playing in my head. I'm brought back to my warm blanket...a comfortable, cozy, bordering on the edge of excitement, but still innocent, time.

A Youtube commercial on FB, even if it wasn't the actual one, of a familiar belly-button-pushing, hair-growing doll named Velvet, probably was the nostalgic nudge.

I loved that creepy doll. She was my best friend, until the time I yanked her ponytail a little too hard. She hated me after that. No matter how many times I turned the plastic growth/knob sticking out of Velvet's back, her hair would not go back down inside her. After I cut the tail off, I quickly lost interest in her. Really can't do much with short hair. Seeing Velvet last night, after all these years, made me play with my own hair. With no button to push to make it grow again, I knew not to take a scissor to mine. Instead, I took a bottle and brush, and did the best I could with what I had to work with.

Afterwards, I went into the backyard. I don't think Velvet was the only thing that made me feel Shondelli today. Maybe it was the cold grey air outside, watching that brown leaf dance, that reminded me of the old oak tree in Brooklyn. I saw the roots bulging through the concrete, spinning a wheelie over that natural bicycle ramp. I felt the acorn flesh stuck under my fingernails from peeling them. I smelled the wet leaves stuck to my Keds. Clear as day. Another time in another place.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Visit to Roanoke College

Visitors to the Roanoke Valley, and in particular, those who came to Roanoke College on Monday, got to experience the beauty that is Southwest Virginia this time of the year. Yesterday, the first students who were semi-finalists for Roanoke College's Scholarship descended upon Salem to compete for the coveted awards. Yes, my daughter was one of them and we didn't have to travel as far as some of the folks I met had to.

I spoke with parents of students from Colorado, Connecticut and Maryland. Their kids, like my daughter, have had their mailboxes inundated with offers from across the country trying to entice them to attend their college. I literally have a Rubbermaid tub filled with brochures, papers and award letters. Marie could go to quite a few well-known universities, including NYU, free of charge. But she is smitten with Roanoke College.

She told me that many of the potential students she met, who lived out of state, wanted to go to Roanoke College, just so they could be far away from home. When they heard she lived only a couple of miles away, they thought she was "crazy" that she wanted to stay so close to home. I'm thrilled that she wants to stay "so close to home" even if she really wants to live on campus. She'll have plenty of time after she graduates to wind up in some far-away city. Of course, I hope she finds a good-paying job and chooses to remain right here in the Valley after she does graduate.

Anyway, yesterday's competition entailed writing an essay on the spot, listening to currently enrolled students, and then having a one-on-one interview with a professor. She was a little nervous, but thrilled when the professor she was interviewing with invited her to sit on his history class where they would be discussing the Holocaust. She is a history buff, and begged me to let her go. Even though Monday's are the day I take my chemo pills, and I was barely able to keep my head up, I would never deny her that opportunity, so naturally I encouraged her to sit in. I stayed at the library while she tasted her first college class.

When I saw her descending the stairs from the grand old building, folders in hand, the wind whipping her hair gently, I have to tell you I teared up. It looked like she belonged there. When she saw me waiting in the car, a huge smile spread across her face. She excitedly told me about the class and how interesting the professor was. "I'm definitely signing up for that class!" I hated to remind her, "if you go here."

Look, every time we go back to Roanoke College we love it more and more, and I don't want to burst her bubble, but I'm just being a realist. There are only 3 spots open for a full scholarship. Hundreds are applying. And although I truly believe she does deserve it, not only because of her academic performance, but for all she's had to deal with and overcome in her life, all the while never complaining and keeping a pure heart, things like a free scholarship just don't happen in our lives. We always have to work doubly hard for everything.

When I asked her if the interviewer saw all the scars on her legs from her operations, or if she mentioned that she would be the first female in her family to attend college, she rolled her eyes at me. "No, Mom, I can do this without playing the pity card. I'm pulling a 4.3 right now, did good on the SAT and pulled 4 & 5's on the AP exams. That's got to count for something!"

We'll see. I'm already proud of her for getting this far. Like I told her, if it's meant to be, it'll be...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Make Way for the New Punk

I have to give the Roanoke Times credit, not only for running my commentary which they gave a great headline to, "Make way for the new punk" on the front page of the Horizon section, but for running another commentary lamenting "Suddenly, everyone is a published writer" right next to mine.

The major difference in our attitudes is made clear in the first paragraph of Betsy's commentary when she writes..."In fact, my brother's book came out a week before mine. But don't buy his. Buy mine. It's funnier, or at least, the cover is. I haven't looked at the inside of his yet." I would never tell someone to not buy my brother's book, or that mine is "better," especially if I hadn't "looked at the inside of his yet!"

No, I'm of the mind set that independent anything...authors, artists, musicians, etc. should be celebrated, not only for their talent, but for having the tenacity to overcome all the negativity that is often thrown their way by people who think they're "better" than them.

That's why I am thrilled that so many musicians and artists have agreed to share the stage with me on December 15th, 6:00pm, at Roanoke's Main Library Downtown for an event called, "NYC...Live in Roanoke!" which not only celebrates the release of "Fractured Facade," but the re-emergence of the independent.

"In breaking away from the conventional format of what one might expect from an author’s book release event, Elena DeRosa, local author of the recently published eBook “Fractured Fa├žade,” and Roanoke Public Libraries, are collaborating to present “NYC...Live in Roanoke!”

The author won’t be signing any books, but through vignettes, will share her journey, and the stage. Rather than read a chapter or two from her book, the author endeavors to create a bridge between the tale’s settings of Roanoke, VA and Brooklyn, NY, through the talents of other independent artists. Inspired by a New York City theme, musicians will perform live and visual artists’ exhibit their work.

The evening, “NYC...Live in Roanoke!” promises to continue the tradition of Roanoke Public Libraries celebrating our creative community, showcasing talent through unique events that have become synonymous with the downtown library.

In the spirit of the holiday season, a request is made to bring an unwrapped new toy for Toys for Tots, as well as a non-perishable food item that would be donated to the Rescue Mission.

We're hoping that this event will be the pinnacle of events so far at Roanoke Main Library in terms of cultural creativity.

A big part of the inspiration for this event came from a recent blog post titled:
Independent Authors & Punk Rockers

Refreshments served - authentic NYC menu of course.


Just so you know, I'm damned proud of the written result of three years' worth of blood, sweat, and tears that I spilled on my keyboard to bring my tale to light, but I'm no better than anyone else...

Fractured Facade is available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all eReader stores. You can read a sample and see if it's worth $4.99 to you ;)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Neil Young

Thanks to Facebook I found out today is Neil Young's birthday. From the first moment I heard his voice, I became enchanted. It was in the early '70's, and up until then I was an ardent AM Radio fan. I spent whatever money I would find hidden in the couches on 45's at the local candy store. My prized possession was my friend's record of Peter St. Crispin's "Pied Piper." I would make her play it for me constantly. The day she wedged it in between her carpet and the wall, struck it with a clarinet, and broke it, was the day I began hating her.

After I got a job, and didn't have to scrounge in between the cushions for change, I began to shift away from 45's to full albums. The earliest ones I remember buying were The Beach Boys (from a bargain bin), Bette Midler (loved Fever) and Cat Stevens (he looked hot on the cover). Then somewhere, with someone, I heard Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Neil's voice immediately called out to me, and after I heard "Southern Man," I ran out and bought "After the Goldrush."

It was my album, and I didn't have to depend on the kindness of others to hear it, so I played it constantly. It's still my favorite Neil Young album. I was turned onto FM Radio, WNEW-FM, and that was the end of AM bubblegum music for me, so thank you Neil for plunging me into the world of rock 'n roll, and happy birthday!!!

I found this great version of "Helpless" today. Patti Smith does her own version on one of her albums, which I think is fantastic, and much better than her "Smells Like Teen Spirit" one. On this video she, and some other musicians, join Neil. Together they give me goosebumps...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Books - Old & New

I happened to be flipping through channels the other day when I landed on some sort of auction show. Up for bid were two old books. One was a history book that had John Hancock's signature, the other was a first edition of "The Great Gatsby." They each brought in a pretty penny and it got me thinking about my own antique book collection.

It's been quite a while since I dusted them, so figured now was the perfect opportunity to spruce them up, and check out the worth of some of them. I knew I had quite a few first editions, and a couple of books from the 1800's as well. I think the earliest one I have is from 1839, followed by a book of poems from 1863, written by an anti-slavery author. I used to have many more, but about a month after I first moved to Salem, Virginia, the Roanoke River flooded the basement of the house I was renting and destroyed not only my precious books, but all my leather clothing. The clothes wouldn't fit anymore anyway, but I still lament the loss of my antique tomes.

Anyhow, after checking on-line for the worth of some of these books I was quite surprised to find out they are pretty much worthless. I really imagined I was holding gold on my shelves. And maybe I am via the written words inside, but the books are so fragile that I don't want to read them in fear of destroying them.

Well, I won't have to worry about that with my eBook Fractured Facade. I finally received my "business cards" for them. They look cool, don't they...and they hardly take up any shelf space!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

On Mill Mountain

I must say, for someone who just had all four wisdom teeth removed, the girl looks pretty good. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the trees around Mill Mountain. Guess I waited too long to get up there and take some fall foliage shots...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Knocking on Heaven's Door

It would have been my father's 79th birthday today. People say it gets easier with time, but does it really?

Dad, I kept the promise you never heard. I did it. I told our story. I always knew I would dedicate my first book to you, but never dreamed it would be about you. Miss you...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"If Only It Was Available as a 'Real' Book"

Although I appreciate all the folks who have said, "Oh, I would definitely buy your book, if only it was available as a "real" book," once they saw what I would have to charge, I highly doubt they would put their money where their mouth is. And that, in a nutshell, is why I chose to only go the eBook route...cost!

I never bothered trying to attract a publishing house as I doubted my debut novel would attract the huge following that would ensure a hefty advance, a large first-run print edition, a prime space on the shelf of a Barnes & Noble bookstore, and an all expenses paid marketing campaign. Sure, I'm a dreamer, but I'm not delusional.

I could, as many others have, published my own "real" book that I could hold and caress, and sign for the throngs of readers who would surely show up at all the book signing events I would be afforded, if I only had a "real" book, by going through one of the many self-publishing companies out there. One of the most popular and most affordable is one called Createspace. Let's look at the start-up costs...

The cheapest package they offer is a mere $728.00, which includes a book cover, interior design, and an ISBN number. The next package costs $1,737.00 and adds one round of copy editing and LCCN assignment which allows the book to be eligible for sales to libraries. The advanced package comes in at $2,534.00 which includes all the above and adds a press release and creation of a book description. The final package is the Marketing Pro one which costs $4,853.00. The Pro package has all the features of the others but also includes another round of copy editing and a video book trailer.

I already have most of the components including the cover and book trailer, the only thing I am missing is the LCCN assignment and the press release (and that's only because I've been dragging my feet on it!) Maybe if I was a doctor, lawyer or some wealthy person who could afford to spend thousands I would, but I'm not, so let's say I went with the cheapest package. After you pay the start-up costs you only pay for the books you order, and you set the price.

My book in print would be approximately 347 pages. Let's say the trim size is 5.5 x 8.5, soft cover and I chose to charge $14.99 per book. For each book I sold on my royalty rate would be 53 cents. I would have to sell 1,374 copies to recoup the $728.00. If I wanted to get closer to my royalty rate on Smashwords I would have to charge $20.99 per book. I would have to sell 208 copies to break even. Other than some friends and family, maybe, I can't imagine anyone (except for me, when I bought other local author's books, books by the way, in genres I will never read, but still felt it was important to support a fellow author) paying almost $21.00 for a paperback novel. Just not gonna happen.

$4.99 is more affordable, so affordable in fact that one reader told me she first downloaded it onto her computer, read it, and then decided to buy another copy to download to her Ipad. I thanked her, but informed her that if she bought it from Smashwords she would be able to just download another copy to her Ipad without having to pay again. Not bad. One other perk for potential readers is they get to sample 15% of the book via Smashwords before deciding if they want to buy it or not. I know I'm not for everyone, but at least the opportunity to "try me" is out there.

So, just to recap you can get Fractured Facade here at Smashwords, or here at Amazon, or, at any other eRetailer now. What? You don't have an eReader??? Christmas is coming, and you can get a Kindle starting at $79!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lady Liberty

Today marks 125 years since the Statue of Liberty was unveiled.

According to the October 28, 1886 edition of the New York Times: “All day yesterday people came to the city in droves to participate in to-day’s celebration. Extra heavily loaded trains, much behind schedule time, were the rule on every railroad entering the city. Every hotel was crowded to its utmost capacity last night, and there was hardly one of the better known hotels which did not have to turn away hundreds of would be guests.”

She's always held a special place in my heart. Although I only visited her once, for most of my life I drove past her on my way into the city. If you look up from my parents' grave site there she stands.

Next May marks the 100th anniversary of my father's side of the family first arriving on Ellis Island. My grandfather was ten years old when he hit the shores of New York City. The first thing they did was change the "i" in his last name to an "e." Then they Americanized his first name from Gaetano to Tom.

My grandfather's first job was working in his parent's store. Then at 17 he became a chauffeur. For the rest of his life he worked for the MTA. When my father passed, I was going through papers and found my grandfather's past in a trunk. Besides all his unpatented inventions, unpublished short stories and screenplays, I found a letter of accommodation from the MTA.

My grandfather had saved someone's life by jumping from the platform onto the live subway tracks to rescue a man who had fallen. He never told me about his feat, but I do remember him telling me, "If you ever fall on the subway tracks make sure you lie flat in the middle of the two rails and face the direction of the oncoming train...if you don't, your clothes will billow from the wind and get stuck under the train and you will be dragged to your death." I would look at him like he was crazy, but the one time I almost fell onto the subway tracks after I passed out from the heat, that was the first thing that came into my mind.

For next year's 100th anniversary whoever is left from my father's side of the family plan to meet on Ellis Island. I want to be there.

"Lady Liberty, lend a hand to me..."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

College Costs Updated

Just a quick update to my last blog daughter just received a card informing her she has been selected as a semi-finaist for the Scholars Program! The competition is in November. Woo Hoo!

Congratulations baby!!! You are one determined little cookie. Maybe I should put the umbrella back in the closet!

congratulations Pictures, Images and Photos