Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Writer Finds Her Voice and Story by Susan G. Weidener

I am so pleased to have author Susan G. Weidener on my blog today! Her post is part of her blog tour with WOW! Women On Writing which began on July 20th and runs through August 14. You can read her initial interview on The Muffin along with a list of places she has and will be visiting! I was excited she chose to talk about  finding her voice as a writer and a widow. I started writing after my husband died seven years ago and wanted to learn more about her journey and the life she has created for herself. Check it out below!

Wedding Photo

A Writer Finds Her Voice and Story

My trilogy inspired by and dedicated to my late husband, John M. Cavalieri, is finished. As I reflect over the five-year journey of writing our story – his and mine – many things come to mind, but mostly a sense of peace. For years, I dreamed of John’s memoir reaching the reading public. His memoir is enfolded in a fictionalized love story in A Portrait of Love and Honor, a Novel Based on a True Story. My husband called writing his memoir “scriptotherapy.”
As for me, not only did I find my voice as a writer and a widow coming to terms with grief and loss when I wrote my books, but I discovered answers along the way as to who Susan was. It had been 13 years since my husband’s death when I wrote Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again . . . but John had never really left my side. He was my dream come true. Could I write our story? 

When I started the project, my thought was to write about being widowed and dating again as a 40-something woman with two young sons. As the memoir progressed and I began to write about the narcissistic man I began dating a year after my husband’s death, the people who critiqued my memoir said, “We want more about John.” I realized they were right. The real story was meeting John, falling in love and our ordeal with cancer less than 10 years into our marriage. 
In writing that memoir and its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square, about reinvention and moving on after loss (and more dating!), I answered many questions. What happens when Prince Charming makes a dramatic and tragic exit? Does true love only come once? . . . and, if so, is that enough? Can loss offer renewal and unexpected gifts?
I also made peace with my own unique quirks and flaws, and the acceptance that there are no fairy tale endings or happily-ever-afters. You find the strength within yourself to go on. I like to think I found a little wisdom and a lot of healing through my writing. 
One of my hopes with my trilogy of stories is that others take away their own life lessons. The love story comes to a shining conclusion with the publication of A Portrait of Love and Honor . . . two people meet and find in each other their dreams come true – even if time is running out.
About The Book

Newly-divorced and on her own, 40-something Ava Stuart forges a new life. One day, at a signing in the local library for her novel, a tall, dark-haired man walks in and stands in the back of the room. Jay Scioli is a wanderer – a man who has said good-bye to innocence, the U. S. Army, and corporate America. His outlook on life having changed, his health shattered by illness, he writes a memoir. In his isolation, he searches for an editor to help him pick up the loose ends. Time may be running out. He is drawn to the striking and successful Ava. Facing one setback after another, their love embraces friendship, crisis, dignity, disillusionment. Their love story reflects a reason for living in the face of life’s unexpected events.Based on a true story, A Portrait of Love and Honor takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to a moving love story between two people destined to meet.
About The Author

 Susan G. Weidener
Susan G. Weidener is a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has interviewed a host of interesting people from all walks of life, including Guy Lombardo, Bob Hope, Leonard Nimoy, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Mary Pipher.  She left journalism in 2007 and after attending a women’s writing retreat, wrote and published her memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again, about being widowed at a young age. Two years later, she wrote and published its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square, a woman’s search for passion and renewal in middle age. Her novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, completes the trilogy, inspired by and dedicated to her late husband, John M. Cavalieri, on whose memoir the novel is based.  Susan earned a BA in Literature from American University and a master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania. An editor, writing coach and teacher of writing workshops, she founded the Women’s Writing Circle, a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia. She lives in Chester Springs, PA

Links: Website      Facebook          Twitter @Sweideheart               

Amazon Author Page       Amazon

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Dog Dreams of Paris Blog Tour

Bonjour. Welcome to my virtual blog tour with WOW! Women on Writing. Until I put all my dates in my diary, I've listed my stops here to remind me how much fun I had visiting so many lovely blogs. Diva Dog loves being the center of attention! And loves making new friends. Merci to all the folks who let me stop in and for all the charming reviews of my book.  Miss April in Paris

June 29 Link The Muffin WOW! Women on Writing Blog. Tour Launch Interview.

June 30 Link Bring On Lemons Review by 8-year old Carmen Otto
The book is interesting because it is written by a dog and has a lot of French words and places in it. The main idea of the book is to follow April's journey through the sites, sounds, and smells of Paris. A Dog Dreams of Paris takes place in Paris, France during current days. Because it takes place in Paris, reading it helps you learn about Paris and French things....

July 1 Link Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Book Excerpt:

Dear Diary, Making New Friends Abroad

I can’t wait to sniff some butt in Paris. You know, make new doggie friends. It is our universal language. You should see the butt sniffing here when one of us goes to the vet for a visit. It is a smelling frenzy afterwards. I will learn some French to use as I write in my diary. It is important to educate oneself to all cultures. Butt sniffing is for the dogs, but you never know who you will meet and most humans don’t like to have your nose in their private places. Arf! Arf! I will use my French with them.

July 6 Link Frog On A Blog Post Earmarking a Portion of Your Profits to Charity.

July 8 Link Building Bookshelves Review
What an unexpected book! I learned so much about Paris and having the story told through the eyes of a dog made for an unusual viewpoint. It’s amazing what a dog would notice about Paris!  All sorts of fascinating pieces of trivia are sprinkled throughout. There’s something for everyone…art, food, dogs, birds, fashion, flowers, writers and some very off the wall stuff (which most kids and adults will love) that I’m not going to share because I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

July 9 Link Words By Webb Interview The 5W's

July 10 Link Oh My Dog Interview

July 14 Link Writer With Dogs Blog Celebrating Bastille Day Doggie Style

 July 15 Link Hott Books Review
A Dog Dreams of Paris is an adorable book! I loved every word. Not only did I learn several new facts, but every page is filled with a fun verse, a bit of French, and plenty of amazing pictures.  This sweet little book is a perfect bedtime story for Paris lovers, dog lovers, and silly boys that like poo facts! :) Yes, we know who they are!

July 16 Link Margo L. Dill: Writer, Editor, Author Blog Post Why Every Home Should Have a Dog and review.
I read this book to my daughter, pictured here, who is 4. She loves dogs, so I knew this would be a great book for her. She laughed and pointed at the dog pictures. She said: “The book is funny.” When I asked her what her favorite part was, she said: “The page with all the dogs.” (She is holding it open in the photo.)

July 17 Link Renee's Pages Review 10 Things I Learned About Paris. Photo Renee's dogs.

July 24 Link M.C. Simon Writes Book Review

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Dog Dreams of Paris Release

Available on Amazon. Paperback only.
Part of book proceeds go to Animal Rescue.
A Dog Dreams of Paris is my dream come true! I've been missing in action for some months now. Hard at work finalizing my picture book and getting it up on Amazon before I went in for hip replacement surgery on May 12th. I am happy to report the book made my surgery deadline and I am six weeks out from surgery doing outpatient physical therapy and driving again. But this post is not about me, it is about Miss April in Paris, rescue dog turned diva. It is her diary of the places she would visit if she traveled to Paris the city of lights. From a shy rescue dog who could not find her place with the other dogs in my house to the star of her own picture book! I am happy to report, Miss April in Paris is taking her fame in stride.
April's story began in January 2010 when I brought her home to become the sixth dog in my house. The year started out with my adopting a mate of hers, Rascal, from a local shelter. I had seen April's photo online and it was a hard choice to make, which dog I wanted. A week after adopting Rascal I adopted April. She was a shy dog with dark brooding eyes that watched across the room as I wrote on the computer. Even though she had a ready made friend in Rascal, she held back, until one evening she walked up to me, bumped my elbow and help me delete my work. I looked at her solemn face and asked, "April, who are you?" I knew she needed to feel special so I renamed her Miss April in Paris and kissed her nose. Some days later I did a photo shoot of my dogs in hats. I placed a vintage pink chapeau with a huge silk rose on April's head. Expecting it would be tossed to the floor, I was surprised to see April held her head higher and posed for my camera.
The extra attention the hat and photo session gave her boosted her confidence to start to bloom into the outgoing dog she is today. I started a blog for April to tie in with the release of my memoir, The Unfaithful Widow. It was short lived, but so much fun.
April's story has always been close to my heart. I needed a project. The idea to make Miss April in Paris' diary into a picture book took form and with the help of my book designer PD King Design we made it happen.
A Dog Dreams of Paris is an amazingly beautiful full color picture book. It is not a children's book, but a book for dreamers of all ages. I used my original photos of April and my other dogs, along with many purchased stock photos, and vintage ephemera from my personal collection. I ran the photos through an online editing site, giving them the feel of watercolors, but not loosing the photographic quality. The text was written from a dog's point of view . . . only a dog would want to meet new friends by sniffing butt in Paris! I have to thank my designer (who is also my sister) for meeting my deadline and seeing my book in Technicolor. She has made April's story a classic!
While dreaming of traveling is fun, April realizes she would miss her friends in her forever home. My six dogs have their forever home. I hope the sale of A Dog Dreams of Paris will help other dogs find their forever homes, as a portion of all proceeds will go to my favorite dog rescue groups. In addition, A Dog Dreams of Paris is available at my wholesale price for groups to use for fundraising.
Next week starts my blog tour with Wow! Women on Writing. I will be posting our progress here!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Spoonful of Sugar - Antiques And A Book Discovery

 Jan 28th - Re-sharing this post as part of Julie Valerie's Hump Day Blog Hop.  Like to party? Hop along the Hump Day Blog Hop on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog. Click here to return to the Hump Day Blog Hop.
Mary Poppins sings: Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  While I am not a sugar addict, I am addicted to other things that help the medicine go down. I had a chance to re-discover this over the Christmas holidays. And what I learned about myself should not have come as a surprise, but more of a warm fuzzy - it came as both. Since closing my antique business the first part of 2014 - a formal closure - but one is never really out of the business when you love to look and buy treasures - I shied away fron all the things I love for many months. Until my breakthrough in December, where all the beauty I loved, kept me from my own personal breakdown!
It is not bad enough I am trying to work through getting a hip replacement, and I am on hold with that until I do more to be pro-active and healthy with my daily rituals, such as eating and exercise, but I popped something in the back of my knee right before all the festivities started. The knee more a problem than the hip, since I couldn't walk without pain. A trip to the doctor, a prescription for pain meds, a cane, and an MRI were my holiday gifts! I cancelled all the wonderful plans since I had to rest, per doctor's orders. It was a very quiet holiday, shared with my dog family, so you know, it was a loving one. On the verge of going stir-crazy I frequented Pinterest - okay, you know me, I am on Pinterest every day - looking a lovely cottage rooms. However, over the holidays I spent more time looking and dreaming. When agitated with my knee, the photos of old painted cupboards and farm tables had a calming effect I can't explain. Looking at rooms that were filled with fancies I adore, made me feel hopeful for the future. The knee was just a problem for now, as the hip will be later this year, but the beauty of timeworn antiques and the decorating possibilities of what I can work towards, bloomed like a lovely rose on a dismal day in winter. It amazed me that my love of houses, and filling them with things of beauty, is a constant that carries me through rough days. That is not to say my faith is not strong, this is simply a statement on my never ending affair with things from the past. I became an antique dealer when my own treasures outnumbered my rooms and rented storage units all those many years ago. I guess once in love with antiques, always in love with them. Taste changes, but the basic thrill of finding beauty never goes away.
I know I am not alone in that thought - how home and decorating brings healing and joy. I am reading a lovely book that reaffirms all I feel.
I found this treasure on Amazon digging around looking for gardening books, and knew it was just what I needed to read. An older book, copyright 2002, it is a gem.
For six years, House & Garden editor-in-chief Dominique Browning has written a monthly column that weaves together personal stories and tips about home decorating, gardening, and raising children with universal themes of domestic life. In Around the House and in the Garden, Browning adapts and expands these well-loved pieces, adding dozens of new essays, to create an insightful and moving narrative about the solace and sense of self that can be found through tending one's home.
As a writer I am asked what books do I read. Well, here is a fantastic example of what I love. I am not a big fiction reader, I prefer small intimate books, essays on life. That is also what I prefer to write and hope to do more of.
So, back to the antique side of this post. I am including photos below from Pinterest that brought me back to my senses. I am an antique addict, a decorator, and, while no photos here, a crazy dog lady. Not bad. My spoonful of sugar takes mighty sweet!
These are a few of my favorite things . . . what are yours?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How I Chose My Writer's Platform.


Writer With Dogs. Every writer needs a brand - so we are told.  My brand is six rescue dogs that rescued me. After the sixth dog came into my life and my house, and friends started to think being a widow had made me crazier than a loon, I needed to find an excuse that made sense to those who decided I'd tipped off the edge. It came to me one night sitting at the computer, scratching what I hoped was a mosquito bite, not a flea bite (With a house full of dogs - mosquitos are more desirable than fleas - right? You can swat a mosquito, with fleas . . . it's never ending, flea meds, pest control, and the most dreaded word of all  . . . infestation.) In the middle of trying to work on my widow memoir (back in the early days of being on my own) it came to me. I was a writer with dogs, too many according to some folks, but for me - a reason to live and love. My six foot seven husband, rest his soul, believed a household should only have one dog. I believe you can't put a limit on dog love. So that year I became Writer With Dogs. I bought the domain name ( and, can't be too careful) and 500 business cards with my new 'brand'. 

My first card with my dear Foxy Barth in the center, Annabelle in the lower corner, Bray in the top right corner. They looked so cute wanting in the house I photographed them. All three had chapters in my widow memoir.

I took it a step further too. A slogan. I love my Margaritas, but I live with a six-pack at home. I tossed that phrase around as I slurped my salt-rimmed drink at happy-hour.  It made its way to my website too.

Armed and dangerous, I waited for the next new person I met to give me the evil eye when I spoke of my dogs. It happened within a week. It was at a social hour at a local business meeting. People talked about their children, I spoke of my dogs. All went well until I was asked, "How many dogs do you have?"

"Six." I beamed.

That look again. Crazy lady. Not even, Crazy Dog Lady. I was prepared.

I whipped out my business card. Writer With Dogs. I smiled (perhaps a bit of a self- serving smile) and handed out my newly printed works of art.

In that instant it was clear to me, people understood writing about your dogs more than living with that many. The rest was easy-peasy.

Of course, my Margarita slogan was something I had to deal with a few years ago, when it was time for Foxy to move on to doggie heaven. In the middle of my grief I realized my six-pack now only held five dogs. That would not work. I found Bertha Barth on Facebook and quickly dashed to Animal Control to make her mine. I was in sync again.

I also needed a new business card - and went with whimsy this time.  I loved the stock image I found online.


I have too many dogs, just as I have too many websites, and too many blogs.  Sometimes I wonder if I should reel it in - one website, one blog, but then I know that's not me. I work best in multiples. Six dogs, four or five web domains, and an embarrassing amount of blogs. Writing blogs, antique blogs, house blogs, and blogs that feature books by other authors. The one commonality - I tweet it all under my twitter name, you guessed it @writerwithdogs.

Six dogs is really not too many. I know people who have more. It is a whopping amount of dogs for a single gal who lives alone.  I don't travel, I rarely have company,  getting sick is a nightmare, and I have yet to find a male who thinks it's great I have a six-pack at home. Beer yes, dogs no.  So for me my dogs are my platform, yes, but they have also defined how I live my life. A trade off I wouldn't trade for any other lifestyle.

Not to try to hog the limelight that I am the only writer with dogs. I am just the one who bought the Many other authors have dogs as their platform, or dogs that influence their writing, or just plain like to sit at the computer with friendly Fido close by. I have been blessed to meet so many great writers who are kindred dog spirits.

As my writing contacts grew, so did my big ideas. I decided to take my Writer With Dogs blog and turn it into a forum for writers to talk about their dogs.

Writer With Dogs blog - Share Your Stories
Of all my blogs, Writer With Dogs is my favorite. It is not about me, it is all about sharing dog stories and meeting new authors. Some of my favorite dog writers have been featured there.  I am always looking for new authors to post, so if you have a dog (sometimes a cat has wormed its way in) and write, you might be perfect for a guest spot.

I love dogs, I love books, I love meeting new authors. My brand covers all the bases for me.  It doesn't get any better than that for a gal who named herself Writer With Dogs as she worked on a widow memoir. One world closed and another opened up.

Contact me if you'd like to share your dog story!

This post is being shared on Julie Valerie's Blog Hop for the week of October 29 - Nov 5. Want to join the party and have some fun, meet new authors. Click on the link below the image and off you go!

Visit Hump Day Blog Hop by clicking here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Journal, New Sneakers, A New Lease On Life - Just In Time For My Birthday

My new journal

Update: 9/24/2014 Sharing this post today as part of Julie Valerie's Hump Day Blog Hop. Link here to join the fun and meet other authors!

Lately I've been grumpy. So unlike myself. I usually wake up to dogs rolling around on the bed next to me, trying to lick my face, as my arms and hands flail wildly in front of them, protecting my nose from assault. I've got that move down to a science.  Then I laugh and we all run down the hall so I can let them out and feed them.

They are deliriously happy their morning has begun at 6:45 am. No longer do my dogs sleep in late with me, they have trained me to get up as soon as that minute hand hits the correct time on their internal clocks and they want FOOD.

Fifteen minutes later we are all back in bed for another hour or two of sleep. Since I am the queen of late night - some nights not going to bed until 3 or 4 am, my sleep is non-existent. Some days you will find us napping mid day, basking in the sun coming through the sheer white curtains on my bedroom window, a breeze above from the ceiling fan, and the glorious pastel colors of my old paint cottage furniture shimmering before me as I drift off for a nap and dream.

So how does grumpy fit this scenario? It's taken me some time but I figured it out and I am fixing it NOW.

This year has been a health one for me. Nothing horrible, but one thing on top of another, that kept me from doing the things I wanted. Slowed me down, and I am a fast lane type of gal. I had a bucket list of things to accomplish when I turned sixty-five last year. Surgery, a naughty hip (not related to any surgery), and trouble walking from heaven knows what I did to my feet kept me from getting about like I like. 

A friend gave me a wake-up call this week. I hobbled in to a lovely little cafĂ© to meet her for lunch, grumbling how everything hurt. (Old lady talk I hate,  but indulged in). She smiled at me and gently said, "You haven't been quite yourself since your surgery in February."

I knew that. But when she said it a flood gate opened up. I think having someone take notice, made me sit up and take notice.  Those simple few words, said kindly, snapped me back to my own reality. I needed to take charge of my life again. Get busy on my bucket list.

I still have some doctor's appointments before my birthday next week. But I got a head start on feeling better! My flimsy girlie shoes got trashed for a pair of Dr. Scholl's comfy and trendy chic sneakers. I am walking on heaven and my feet are liking me again, as is my hip, and, yes, my attitude is now back to gratitude.

I also found this sweet pink journal at TJMaxx, where I found my shoes, at a big savings all around.

For someone who keeps an online journal, this book called out to me at the checkout counter, where it and many other items are so conveniently placed to make you spend more.

Today Will Be The Best Day Ever
Another message I needed to hear. I added the journal to my stash and whipped out my debit card. I saw 'grumpy' fade to pink as I punched in my pin.

My first entry was today:
Somehow I'd lost touch with my favorite word - POSSIBLIITES. I'm glad I found it again. I'm in the pink.  Every day I will post a word of gratitude for all the blessings I have and add to my bucket list for the coming year. My birthday is next week. Sixty-six. BRING. IT. ON. It's going to rock!
Update: September 24, 2014. Sharing this post on Julie Valerie's Book Blog as part of the Hump Day Blog Hop. Join in the fun and click on the link or the one below.

“On Hump Day About Books”

WEDNESDAY (Sept 24, 2014) to WEDNESDAY (Oct 1, 2014)

Like To party? Hop along the Hump Day Blog Hop on Julie Valerie's Book Blog. Click here to return to the Hump Day Blog Hop.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My David Austin Rose Is Blooming!

Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you. 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
(I hope you will enjoy my rose story. It was originally posted on The Cottage In My Mind blog on May 6, 2014. I wanted to include it here for Julie Valerie's Hump Day Blog Hop! Like to party? Hop along the Hump Day Blog Hop on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog. Click here to return to the Hump Day Blog Hop and see what others are writing about.
Nothing says cottage garden more than roses to me. I want old fashion English roses that look like the roses in magazines, climbing over arbors, twining through picket fences.
My wish came true today. In a small way. But big enough to fill my heart with the beauty I covet. And it is growing in my back yard.
My very own David Austin rose is in full regalia with blossoms and buds ready to burst open at any moment.
Now, if I were a true gardener, I could tell you the name of this rose. But I don't have a clue. It was purchased twenty years ago from a catalog. The photo was one of many that I had trouble deciding on. I knew pink was a must.
It took years to bloom. The rose is planted next to the back of the house. My late husband built a huge trellis for me. The vines took hold of the wood railings and started to climb high. But the rose never had a single flower.
Did you fertilize it? you might ask. My answer is no. I did nothing to help this English lady blossom.
I just waited.
And wondered.
Back when my husband was alive he was not happy with the bush. It reached out far into the yard with huge thick thorns that stuck him as he rode by on the lawnmower. There may not have been flowers, but the branches had a life of their own. He pruned it back a few times and tucked the  branches back on the trellis, hoping to contain it. Sometimes cutting it back further than he should at times when pruning was not recommended.
Still the rose bush held its own coming back each year. But no blooms.
The year after my husband died, I had to put a French drain in next to the foundation of the house. There was water in my basement. The trellis was moved. The rose stayed in place.
"Cut that rose bush when you dig the ditch and it is off with your heads!" I told my handyman and his crew as I wagged a finger in their faces.
The rose survived the French drain.
It bloomed the following year. And has had a rose or two on it each year since.
This year it is taking me by surprise.
Huge blooms. Many buds.
My rose bush. Neglected. Managed to grow despite adversity and is now a thing of beauty.
I know there is a life lesson there.
For now I'm just going to watch with awe.