Amazon Author Page

Monday, November 23, 2015

Breakfast of Champions Not

Looking at this picture makes me giggle and makes me hungry. It also reminds me that I am not only failing my character Mallory (last seen at the Waffle House - if curious check earlier posts) my very own breakfast of champions is  . . . well, pathetic.

I don't cook. I used to bring in things to zap in the microwave. And, at one time I purchased frozen Jimmy Dean breakfast bowls that gave the illusion I was eating a real breakfast. Now, I pop some pills, drink my coffee, and start the day checking on Facebook posts and Pinterest. Those two sites are my morning companions. My virtual friends. I leave comments and it seems like a conversation to me.

Of course, there are the dogs. I talk to them every morning as I teeter about, trying to get my balance, that hip that still needs surgery keeping me from my normal activities. Although, I have to ask myself these days, What is normal for me? I've been dealing with hip issues for over a year.

The six-pack of hounds are my constant companions. I talk to them, they wag their tails, then they stare, wanting to be fed. I actually get more of a response on Facebook, folks liking my pithy comments, than I get from hungry dogs who are just thinking about themselves.

The dogs have learned the meaning of brunch. BS (before surgery) I got up at seven am and all the dogs ran down the hall, anxious for breakfast. I couldn't feed them fast enough. Now AS (after surgery and another big BS, as I have to have the other hip done sometime after the first of the year) I barely teeter down the hallway. The dogs run out. I refresh their water bowl. They run back in expecting food. They are greeted with a handful of biscuits. You have to wait, I tell them. I can't move. I pop a pain pill, grab my coffee and head to the computer. I have to get myself together before I can start serving their breakfast. Six bowls in six different locations. Each has to be lowered with a grip as I can't bend to reach the floor.

I read somewhere in a dog manual that the one who controls the food controls the pack. And the alpha eats first. That be me. Even if only coffee, pills, and maybe something to nibble on, they see I am getting something, they are not. The hounds are very very respectful of me these days. They do get treats before meals and they have learned to like that. Even my old sick gal, Annabelle, perks up, waiting to see what treats come her way. She is hanging with me a little longer to see how much rotisserie chicken she can gulp down in her remaining days. The dogs love to eat. It is the biggest part of their day.

Let's face it, I love to eat, too. As much as the dogs do. And I don't have to wait for someone to feed me. But, I don't like to prepare food. When my husband was alive, I did cook breakfast. Every. Single. Morning.  We had a trade off. He cooked dinner. Every. Single. Night.

On my own I have reverted back to my old ways. How I was before we met. So many years ago. I life-time ago. Never cooking, eating out, or bringing in take out. My idea of breakfast was a left-over cold pizza slice. Yum. (I do have a small pizza in the freezer. Perhaps I will upgrade today. After all, it's not delivery. It's DiGiorno! That almost seems home cooked.)

I rallied for a bit after my hip surgery in May.  I learned to love cereal and milk again. In the hospital.  I carried that breakfast theme over to my return home and the next two months. Little single bowls of cereal that I could add my milk and plastic spoon and make it to the computer to have a healthier, simple breakfast with my friends on Facebook and Pinterest. A few bones tossed at the hounds and we were all good for thirty minutes or more.

I am addicted to certain rituals for short periods of time.  It depends how much I was influenced by them at first meeting. Hospital food was . . . well, you know, hospital food. Cereal, milk, and fruit was refreshing in comparison to an unknown egg mixture with strange potatoes that were fried, I think, but could not be certain.  Coming home I continued the cereal tradition.

This was not my first addiction to breakfast with cereal. In 1988 (some of you may not have been born then. Argh to you.) my mother and I went to England. She was a recent widow and wanted to travel. We stayed at a very small hotel off Trafalgar Square in London. Their breakfast included milk (in a silver pitcher), small boxes of cereal so we could choose our favorites, fresh apricots, and toast with tiny packets of lovely jams. The table cloth was a thick white cotton, the utensils were real silver, cloth napkins, and a bud vase with a rose. Upon returning home, I had that breakfast for months. There was no table, no cloth, no silver, but there were real apricots. OMG. I lived for breakfast. The memories were happy and strong. So much so, that my little fictional novel, Danger In Her Words, included the same description for a breakfast as one of the characters loved her English breakfast and kept the tradition going upon return to her home. (Write what you know. I know cereal, milk, and apricots!)

My recent cereal experience fell short of exciting within a few months after my surgery. Nothing tasted good to me. Perhaps it was the pain meds. (Cliff hanger! More on that in another post.) I no longer eat cereal. Coffee, pills, and maybe a muffin. But that's how I roll at the moment.  (Look, almost a pun . . . muffin, roll . . naw, I agree with you. Sadly unexciting.)

Living alone (if you can call living with six dogs alone - let's rephrase that to living without a human companion in the house) has shaped how I do things. It's just me and the dogs, and as I've mentioned, they have to wait for my next move to see when food comes their way. Surprisingly, they have learned to be fine with that. When I head back to bed to get my energy level up to for the day and to let any meds do their magic, they jump in with me. Food has taken a back seat to snuggling on the bed.

Somehow this silly lifestyle of mine agrees with me. I plan to find a better way to do things, sooner or later, but most probably after my next surgery. My non-surgery hip is very uncomfortable most mornings. I have to ease into my day, limber up, and then move on. I am blessed with so many wonderful friends. When I do head out, I eat out. With my friends. Sometimes brunch, sometimes lunch, and most times dinner. Sometimes two meals a day out with different friends. I love that. Not so much the food, but the company.

In fact, I love it so much, I may have a new title for myself.  Social Diner. But that is the subject for another post!

I have a frozen pizza waiting for me to zap it! Oh, and the dogs are getting impatient with me. I've taken way too long to feed them this morning.



Friday, November 20, 2015

A Very Sick Dog With A Great Attitude


Annabelle and I have long chats in the car to and from the vet.
 Our most wonderful vet!

Once again I am learning lessons from my dogs. Annabelle is a very sick girl, but she is moving along, enjoying the moment, and teaching me to live in the now.  

     Recently diagnosed with Lymphoma she will not be with the pack much longer. I say that and find it hard to believe. Do I sound accepting of this fact? Not really. I am more in denial that she is so ill. She is a trooper. Now on prednisone, her symptoms are masked, and she is quite content for her remaining days. However many there are. I don’t have a clue, no one does. The fact she is with me now, happy, pain-free, and enjoying her time here is good enough for me. I chose not to put her through extended treatments. She is old. It would not buy her enough time to make that time so unpleasant for her.

     Her age is a mystery, too. Her owners lied about it to animal control. Perhaps with a good intention out of a bad act. As a younger dog she might find a home. She came to me in late April 2009, when I was on my dog adopting frenzy. She was number two. The folks with animal rescue pulled her from DeKalb Animal Control. Her owners turned her in, giving her age as five years old. A quick run by the vet brought up many guesses as to her real age. Anywhere from 8 to 10, based on her teeth and overall health and appearance. She had puppies at one time, maybe lots of them, her belly sagging low as she walked. Her teeth were a mess, and shame on me, they still are. Annabelle had a few teeth pulled but the rest are still in her mouth. Her breath could knock you over. Yet, she gives kisses freely, even now, and her breath? Well love conquers all.

      Annabelle had her chapter, Someone New In My Bed, in my widow memoir. Her first night in her new house - my house, our house, and the doghouse, where the numbers were growing -  told me all I needed to know about her. She got up on my bed and curled next to me. I rolled on my side, slipped my arm over her chubby tan frame, and slept the best sleep since my husband had died the year before. She had come in for a trial run but I knew she was mine forever.

      She could put the cartoon character Maxine to shame. Annabelle can be a curmudgeon, a cantankerous old lady, or a sweetheart.  She looks like an old school marm on days and on other days she smiles her partially-toothless grin that is infectious. She is a heartbreaker, no doubt about that, and soon will be breaking my heart.

     Our time now is fun. I treat Annabelle as a princess. Of course, all my dogs are spoiled; she is just getting a bit more attention and a bit of special food. I tuck her meds in hunks of rotisserie chicken. She inhales the bits so quickly she has no clue what is inside. Her eyes are bright as she does a happy dance.

      Trips to the vet include a stop along the ride home. A bit of Chick-fil-A sandwich, a small cup of low-fat yogurt from Brusters (free to dog visitors) and plenty of treats tucked in my pocket to keep her entertained on the short drive.

      Her arrival back home is that of a rock-star. Five dogs sniff her butt, saying Welcome Home. Rascal licks Annabelle’s face, a caring gesture that happens often and I have yet to figure out why. I wonder if they know.

     I do not count her days. I count my blessings. I am lucky to have this time with her and with all my dogs. Each day is a miracle. For her, for me, for you. None of us, canine or human, know how many days or years we have left. The gift is to live those days full of love and compassion. Perhaps a dog enjoying her remaining time teaches a lesson for all of us. My old gal Annabelle is full of grace and beauty, and yes, rotisserie chicken. She won’t let me forget the chicken . . .
More chicken, please!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Failing NaNoWriMo I Will Post Here For 30 Days

I am failing quicker than I am writing. NaNoWriMo inspired me that I could sit down and write. I started November 1st with a plan to knock out a 50,000 word novel.  I am now, on day 19, still at just over 5,000 words. My main character stopped for coffee at the Waffle House and never left. As I sit here and sip my steaming hot cup of java, so does Mallory. She must be on a high now, sixteen days in a row drinking coffee. I think I left her with a plate of waffles, too, if I remember correctly. Since fictional writers say their characters take on a life of their own, perhaps Mallory has done that and ordered more food. Eggs, bacon, and in the evening hours, I hope she had a burger, well done with all the works, to keep her strength up.

It was going to be an romance novel, not steamy hot, but a kind look at a woman trying to rebuild her life. I'd like to think that while I have failed Mallory, the Waffle House has not. Is she sitting at the Formica top table with a handsome cowboy? Yeah, yeah, the old cowboy hook. But she is in Florida and there is horse country around her. Far off, actually. She is by the beach. Cowboys like the beach, too, don't they? Romance at the Waffle House is quite possible. And if you steal that as the title for your next book, I'm coming to find you.

I have a list of reasons why I haven't written more. If only they were exciting reasons. But I am a slug in a void about writing. I don't even want to label it writer's block. It may come down to this, fiction is difficult for me. I like non-fiction, short essays, and with my crazy life with dogs, I like to write about  . . . . me!

It isn't that I missed Lesson 94. I haven't gotten there yet. I think I am wallowing more around lesson # 32. And truly, it isn't all about me. But writing about my life and the things around me, help me sort out dealing with life's big issues and perhaps my little missives hit a nerve with someone else, someone who can relate to what I am saying.

My reason for writing in the first place was to learn how to cope with the loss of my husband. A year's essays turned into my memoir The Unfaithful Widow. That book connected me to others who had a loss and I made friends, friends I've never met in person but feel as close to them as if I had.

Non-fiction, no matter how deep or silly it gets when I start hitting the keyboard, is my way of connecting to people. I am a social gal and sharing my thoughts with others when I write is as good as sitting and having a margarita with friends. Except I don't have to wear makeup, can stay in my PJ's and frankly, sad as this is, I can't drink at the moment, still on a few pain meds for my hip.

Aha, a flash. Pain meds and margaritas . . . maybe I can get Mallory out of the Waffle House. Probably not. She, we, us - well, it's a big menu. I'll just drop in and have dinner with her. In my PJs because she is just a fictional character. . .

In lieu of a novel writing month, which is a tad past halfway over, I've pledged to myself to write on this blog for the next 30 days. We'll see how that goes. Time will tell if I am good for my word, or just a procrastinator who wants to be a writer.

For now I am signing off and heading out for breakfast. All that talk of the Waffle House has made me hungry. Perhaps a bit of bacon and an omelet (who am I kidding, and a big fat waffle full of butter and syrup) will inspire me to figure out what Mallory would do next.

I've a heard a sugar high can get you going, too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Remembering To Count The Dogs

There are many quotes about counting;  counting your blessings, counting sheep to sleep at night, counting days or hours until . . . whatever that is you are waiting for happens, counting money, counting the stars at night, counting the words you are writing for your novel, especially if you are participating in NaNoWriMo this month! There are many more fine examples, but in counting my brain cells this evening, they seem fewer than normal, so I'll stop with this list above.
I have a special count I make each time I let my dogs into the yard. I count them as they come back in. Each body that wiggles or races or drags through my kitchen door is numbered. One, two, three, four, five, six! Once I have reached six  I can close the door and go about my business. Sometimes, I forget to count and just assume six dogs have come back in. Especially challenging, when only half the pack goes out, trying to count who is still in and who is reentering.  Sometimes I mess up. A dog gets left outdoors. While most dogs love to be out, my pack loves to be in. When a dog is left unaccounted for, well, there is a price for me to pay. No dog wants to be outside alone. Not in the heat of a summer day, certainly not in a rain storm, but as I found out a few minutes ago, not in the dark of night.
Four hours ago I fed the hounds. I opened the back door to my large fenced yard, well lit by lights around the premises, and dogs ran, in many directions. Dogs ran into the yard, dogs ran into the sunroom, and dogs ran into the living room. I assume they had a game afoot, romping and playing with each other. Of course, the purpose of the open door was for the dogs to go out for their last evening run to pee. All the dogs came safely back to the sunroom and settled in, or so I thought. I'd forgotten to count.
Pounding away on my keyboard (sounds like I am really knocking out my NaNoWriMo novel, doesn't it?) I heard a howl from my back yard. A high pitched howl that seemed to come from the far side so I had to think, is this my dog or a neighbors? The howl came again and I knew who it was. (don't you know the sound each of your pups makes? an individual sound like no other dog, the dog's voice as I like to call it) and swung around. Five dogs were sound asleep. Rascal was missing.
I looked at the clock at the bottom of my monitor screen. Holy cripes, it was almost eleven-thirty. And my dog was outside making a hideous sound, one my closest neighbor on the other side of the stone wall, would most likely hear. We have a truce - I keep the hounds quiet after ten.
Barefoot and in my PJs, I dashed to the kitchen and ran out. Loudly, but quietly as I could, I called out into the night, "Rascal".  What a perfect name for a little thirty-five pound butterball of a dog who gets in trouble more often than not! I called again, my voice a little louder, "Rascal!"
Across the yard, from the far corner by the right-of-way, my butterball came running. She sprung into the kitchen and came to a sliding halt. Then she looked at me with a bit of disdain. If I could have read her mind, she might have been saying, you left me outside for four hours!
I looked at her and wondered what she had been up to for that time. Her howls only surfaced in the last few minutes. There was a smudge of dirt over her brow, or was that one of her markings? She is a colorful gal. All pinky white, one blue-eye and one brown. Her back looks like a brindle sweater, and her tummy is full of polka dots. My little clown dog. I grabbed a few biscuits and fed her. Smiling, happy she was back inside, although honestly, I had no clue she was missing. Safe in the yard, but missing from her usual spot on the couch.
Yes, I count my blessings. And among my blessings are six dogs that make me happy to be a member of the pack. Just shame on me! I must remember to count my dogs when I close my doors. One, two, three, four, five, six. Oh good, now I can relax.
It's exhausting having an adventure!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Borrowing From Elizabeth Gilbert

October 28, 2015. Sharing this post as part of a book blog hop. Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: 

I have an imaginary relationship with Elizabeth Gilbert. It started with my widow book. I had never heard of Ms. Gilbert before and then about the time my book was finished there was a huge hoopla about her book Eat, Pray, Love.  She was trying to find herself after a divorce. I was trying to find myself as a new widow. She spoke to God. I wrote short quirky notes to God. I saw similarities in our stories, small ones, and wondered why my book didn't become a best seller. I was very na├»ve then. So humor me with my ignorance! I wasn't sure I liked her when I started reading her book. Then I saw a TED talk where she spoke on your elusive, creative genius. I watched in awe and from that moment on I have respected her and probably wanted to be her! But not for her fame - for her grace and eloquence. This past week she blew me away again with her writing. I had to borrow her post from Facebook and share it here. In the face of tragedy she has nailed it. I don't know.  Every day we are flooded with horrific news both on the national and personal level. What do you say? What can you do?  I don't know. Elizabeth Gilbert writes just that. I don't know. . . . but I will sit here with you through this.

Those words may become my mantra.  I do know her post reminded me of my first year as a widow, when I was lost. My friends did not offer advice, they sat with me, they made me get out of the house, they showed their love by being there for me in my darkest hours. They were there for me as I worked back into the light.

Elizabeth Gilbert, once again you have wowed me with your words and insight. Thank you for your beautiful post.

Dear Ones -
I woke up yesterday in joy, and went to bed in sorrow.
I woke up yesterday to the delightful news that my book was a #1 bestseller, and went to bed heartbroken and shaken by the awful news of yet another mass-shooting in America.
I won't be writing a political message here today. The internet is filled with outraged people arguing with each other this morning, and I can't bring myself to contribute more argument to the world right now.
This morning, I'm just writing to say: I don't know.
My heart is broken, and I don't know what to do about it — in the same way that I don't know what to do about the plight of the Syrian refugees, or the rise of ISIS, or the deterioration of the Sudan, or the stubborn endurance of racism, or the onslaught of climate change.
I don't know. I don't know how to fix any of it.
I do know this, though: I know that great joy and great sorrow have something in common, which is: they both cause us to overflow. Joy and sorrow are emotions that make us SPILL — because they are too big for us to contain.
I always know what to do with my overflow of joy — that's easy: You dance it out, you laugh it out, you celebrate, you cheer, you pop the champagne.
I don't always know what to do with my overflow of sorrow. Last night, alone in a hotel room, I lay awake for hours, overflowing in too much sadness to handle. I found myself saying again and again to God, "I don't know what any of this is for, but please help us."
I also found myself thinking about a beautiful young woman at one of my speaking events recently, who asked me how — after a recent devastating personal loss — she is meant to go on. She asked me what God intends, by making her suffer so much? I don't know what her loss was, but I could see by her face, it was very bad.
What was that loss FOR?
The answer is: I don't know.
I don't know what suffering and sorrow and injustice and brutality and loss are FOR.
It's so easy to know what joy and happiness and love and grace are FOR — they are to be celebrated and shared. Joy and good fortune seem to be proof of our divine blessings — proof that God is smiling upon you, proof that you are being looked after, proof that your angels are protecting you, proof that life is fair.
But what is suffering for?
I always hate the simple, reductive answers people often offer up about suffering — because I feel like those answers sometimes only bring more sorrow to those who are in pain.
To blithely say that "This is God's will," in the face of terrible events, seems cruel to me. (Or worse, to say "This is God's punishment!" — Lord help us, what a brutal and inhumane statement.)
To tell a mother whose child has died, "God must have wanted another angel," is almost too awful to bear.
To say, "Well, that must be karma", is also terrible and dismissive. You might as well just shrug at someone's unbearable pain and say, "Hey, shit happens, man."
To say, "Someday this will make you stronger," to someone who is at their weakest? No. Don't ever say that.
To say, "Maybe this tragedy will open up people's eyes about what's going on, and so your child's death won't have been in vain!" is to use another human's life as a political tool. Which is just monstrous.
To say to someone who is being asked to endure the worst sorrow of their lives: "God never gives us more than we can handle!" is so outrageously hurtful, I don't know how anyone ever got to the end of that sentence without being punched in the face.
People seem awfully confident at times, speaking on behalf of God's agenda.
I don't where people get their confidence, to say that they know what God is up to. I don't make such presumptions. In the face of outrageous sorrow, I can only say, "I don't know."
And once we have said that — "I don't know" — then we have reached the end of ourselves. Then, maybe all we can do is sit in silence with the person who is suffering, or with the people who are suffering, and just say, "I will stay here with you."
That's easier to do on the intimate scale than the global scale, but I feel like that's what the great compassionate souls have always done. They say to a sorrowful world: "I don't know why this is happening. But I will stay here with you. I will sit beside you. I see your pain, and although I don't know how to solve it, I will be here with you."
The great compassionate souls always take their overflow of sorrow and turn it into love.
I don't have any answers for anyone today. This is one of those days for me when the world overwhelms, and I feel very small.
But when the world starts to feel overwhelming in its sorrows, I always ask myself to look around me — to narrow down my focus — and to notice somebody who is nearby me, who is suffering. I can't help the millions, but maybe I can help one. You never have to look very far to find a suffering soul. Life is hard; there is always someone going through great pain. I tell myself: Go sit with that person today for a while. Don't try to solve their life, or answer for God, or offer dismissive "reasons", or try fix the whole world. Just say, "I don't know. But I will sit with you through this."
Turn your overflow of sorrow into love. That's the only thing I know how to do sometimes.
Love and blessings,

Addendum 10/28/2015 More Inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert.

I am currently reading her new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear . Awesomeness! It's a collection of very short essays on different topics, divided into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. The perfect inspiration for artists but especially so for writers. Oh, Elizabeth, I do so want to be you!

Remember this post is part of Julie Valerie's Book Blog Hop. Visit other posts

Have a wonderful creative and fun day! Share what you are working on in comments and what is inspiring you!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Percocet and Peaches

Last spring when I had my hip replacement surgery I was dosed up on pain meds. From the first IV drip to the final prescription for pills as I was wheeled out the front door of the hospital to head home, I was told, keep the pain from getting out of control so you can do your physical therapy.

Being a smart ass, I told my nurses and therapists I would throw a twelve-step party when I felt better. I dreamed of writing a Southern Gothic novel called Percocet and Peaches (if you steal my title, remember I know where you are!)

The pills worked. No, I am not addicted to pain meds. And no, I am not making light of those that are. I still take hydrocodone daily and I'd like to say the vision above was me - working to a frenzy - writing my next novel or memoir. But the reality is, the meds have slowed me down.

Writer's block. Maybe. Perhaps they have given me, along with my surgery, permission to chill and figure out what's next in my life.

To answer an unasked question - why am I still on pills?  My surgery hip is great - but my other hip may be facing a repeat performance. The pills are for that pain, so I can move around without a walker and regain my life!

I am working to go pill free - and since the only addiction I have is to dogs, books, and antiques, I feel safe I am almost there.

Looking back on my work I realized a health situation spurred me on to produce everything I've written. My widow memoir was penned after my husband's death (a final health issue if there ever was one). My slightly naughty novel was shot up to Amazon three days before my hysterical hysterectomy in 2013, and my dog picture book published a few days before my hip surgery in May. Last December I pulled together a 31 author Christmas anthology (with proceeds going to First Book, a children's literacy charity) while housebound with a pulled muscle in my knee.

This begs me to ask myself - can I write under ordinary circumstances? At least if a reader finds typos in my work, I can play the health card and get out of jail free, for a moment anyway.

My brain stays scrambled with things I want to write - not with the drugs. Surgery has slowed me down on some fronts, but when I look at my author page on Amazon, I realize for every hit I've taken physically I have something to show for it. Not too bad. Although, I am looking for the day I write from pure joy and not from pain! On so many levels!

That said, what makes you sit down and write? We are all challenged by the things life throws at us yet are productive with what is important to us. What triggers your artistic side to come through. . . would love for you to share!

This post is part of a blog hop. Want to read more? Not by me, but by other wonderful writers, then join in. To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here:


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?