Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ursula's Christmas Cabbage

So hard to believe that it's Christmas Eve. Growing up, that meant it was time for my mother's red cabbage. She would start cooking it first thing in the morning, and the aroma would fill the house for the whole day. We children were the official testers throughout the day. We'd attempt to sneak into the kitchen, undetected, and scoop up a spoonful from the pot into our mouths.

"Get out of the cabbage!" my mother would shout from the living room.  How ever did she know what we were up to? I guess that's why she always said that she needed to have eyes ... in the back of her head.

My mom passed away in 1989. Ever since, I've made Ursula's Christmas Cabbage on Christmas Eve. Of course, I've modified the recipe somewhat, using red wine where my mom used water. As I write, I hear it simmering on the stove and my writer's cottage is beginning to smell oh so good! Soon, I'll have to test it.

From my house to yours, I wish you Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, and a New Year filled with felicity!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Today, I'm just giving you the answer as a gift:  Footwear News and/or InStep Magazine

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

A New Clue!

The two books have the following ASIN numbers on Amazon: B004HFRJQC and B001NLL784.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today's Bookmas Clues

1.  This novel is about Madeleine Hanna, a dutiful English major, who is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

2. This book is about Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.
3.  This novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force.

Don't they all sound great?  Have fun!

A New Hashtag: #firstbookfriday

I woke up last night with an idea for a new Twitter hashtag: #firstbookfriday

Authors who have published their first book could use it to announce the happy news, and readers who want to discover new favorite authors could use it to search for debuts!  What do you think?

I'll start!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Day 6 of Bookmas!

Have you started playing yet?  Here's an explanation of the game:

Today's clues to the answers:

1) You would not be able to see this man.
2) The Bard of Avon thinks you'll like it :)

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Day Four of Bookmas!

The clue to today's first question is ...

The publisher of Walter Isaacson's book about Apple's late founder.

The clue to today's second question is ...

The agency sponsoring Bookmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Twelve Days of Bookmas: Today's Clue

In this book, one of the characters blows up into a blueberry from sneaking forbidden chewing gum!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dreams Come True?

It feels like forever since I left college!  And yet, I feel like a freshman at heart ... do we ever really feel grown-up?  I graduated from the University of Guelph and this year, was fortunate that Finding Felicity was included in the Campus Author Recognition Program.  The University's library even hosted a reception, but with my crazy schedule, I was not able to attend.  Still, I just received the plaque in honor of Finding Felicity's publication.  Here's a photo:

When I look back on my college days, I remember how full of dreams and hopes I was as new graduate.  To think, I thought I'd become a lawyer!  I changed my mind about that ... and then wasn't quite sure what I wanted to be when I grew up.  But always, in the furthest corner of my heart, I wanted to be an author.  Now, that dream has come true.  What about you?  Have your dreams come true since you left school?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Gift Horse

I've been so focused on the launch of Finding Felicity that I've been neglecting (terribly!) my WIP, The Gift Horse.  This week, I actually got some writing done and am excited about the progress I've made.  I also had a wonderful conversation with a writing coach who I've commissioned to help keep me on track and accountable, so you'll be seeing less of me here!  My goal is to have a polished MSS ready to send to my agent at the end of the year!  So no diversions ... except for the day job and going to the barn, my first and number one priority, after eating, is The Gift Horse!

I'll post an excerpt soon, but in the meantime, here's a photo that I plan to include, taken by a wonderful photographer and friend, Sheree Betts.  More of her work can be found at

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Interview on NBC's My Carolina Today show!

I'll let this interview speak for itself.  It was my first television appearance, so I was nervous!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Right Direction

The Triangle region of NC is about a two-hour drive from the coast, so those of us living here experienced only the outer fringe of the fringe of Hurricane Irene - blustery winds and periods of rain.  Grey skies prevailed instead of the normal expanse of clear Carolina blue.  Yesterday, a friend urged me to notice the clouds because they were going in the wrong direction, something that happens rarely in one's lifetime, if at all.  Even from hundreds of miles away, Irene's winds influenced the path of the clouds.

Now that Finding Felicity is published, I find myself thinking about my next book and what direction to take.  So many new ideas have sprung forward, and I feel caught between writing the book I think I should write, and writing the book that I want to write.  Of course, I want to write them all!  So much writing to do ... and so little time!  What direction should I take?  Watching the clouds, I realized that whatever direction I take is the perfect direction.  Publishing, tastes, and trends change like the winds.  Storm today.  Gone tomorrow.   Have faith, I tell myself.  Writing that comes from the heart will always be received and read in its perfect time.

In the meantime, let us turn our thoughts and prayers to all those on the East Coast as Irene treks on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finally ... Finding Felicity!

What a thrill it is to finally see Finding Felicity available!  As of today, it is available in ebook format.  Very soon, paperbacks will be available both online and to order in bookstores.  I've been busy requesting reviews and can't wait to start receiving them!  Provided, of course, that they're positive.  Of course, I recognize that writing is subjective; some will love the book, others ... not so much.  That goes with the territory of being an author. 

Right now, I'm just relishing that Finding Felicity is out there!  As to reviews, I'll quote one of my favorite heroines, Scarlett O'Hara: "I'll worry about that tomorrow!"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Letting Go ...

This week I finished the final proof of Finding Felicity, so the next time I see it, it will be in published form.  I have never worked so hard and I've never felt so satisifed.  I can hardly wait to come home to a box of paperbacks waiting to be opened - I'm tearing up a bit just thinking about holding a copy in my hand.  Sometimes, I find myself smiling and I'm sure people at the office are wondering what's happening.  Other times, I am seized by a fit of anxiety about reviews and how it will be received.  Will readers enjoy it?  How will people react to it?

Those are things that I can't control.  I wrote Finding Felicity a long time ago, and it is deeply rewarding to know that in a matter of days, it will released out into the world.  Now, the characters and the story will have their own life in the hands of readers. 

My task now is simply to breathe, surround it with love, and let it go.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Journal: Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With

I started reading Love the One You're With last Friday and found I couldn't stop reading, so I finished it on Sunday afternoon.  Of course, I should have been writing!  Still, having been so focused on my own writing of late, reading has been on the back burner, and I was eager to just relax and read.  Here's what I want to mention:
  • Whenever I read, I look for a Savory Sentence.  Alas, I couldn't find one here.  Please comment if you think I missed it.
  • Having moved to the South myself from Toronto via Los Angeles, I share Ellen's observations about Southern phrases.  Bless her heart!  It really does come across as insincere to those of us from other regions of the country.  What, exactly, does it mean?!
  • I loved so much about this book.  Mostly, I loved Leo.  With all his flaws and committment phobia, I found him to be the most authentic character in the story.  The most true to himself.  That he reminds me of an ex-boyfriend might have something to do with my affection for him.  I don't think I could be friends with Ellen; even now, I am not convinced that this is a woman who knows herself and what she really wants.  Having lost my own mother too soon, I could definitely relate to Ellen and her confusion. Losing a mother, or father, early in life leaves a void in so many ways.  Still, Ellen seems to have simply have taken the path of least resistance, instead of proactively creating her life.  Emily Giffin is a gifted author - this is the first book of hers that I have read and will not be the last.  Her pacing is excellent, her characterization spot on, and I was thoroughly entertained by her observations of society, friendships, and relationships.  I could have done without the occasional expletive.  In the end, the point of the book rings true ... love the one you're with.
  • Would I recommend this book to a friend?  YES!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Life, Liberty and Finding Felicity

The fireworks have faded and the 4th of July festivities are coming to a close. I find myself thinking about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What is it about the pursuit of happiness? What keeps us always striving for more ... of something?  What if, instead, happiness is everywhere, all around us, just waiting to be found? What if happiness really is a choice?  I think it is that simple.  Pursuing happiness leaves us constantly chasing for something that is just out of reach.  Choosing to see, to be, the happiness - the love and the beauty - that surrounds us all the time and is always present is so much simpler than persistent pursuit. 

So here's to life, liberty, fireworks and Finding Felicity.  I hope you enjoyed the holiday!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

When Love Happens

Anything can happen when love happens.  Love is a call to adventure.  A wake-up call.  A call to be our highest and best selves.  Love comes in so many forms, in so many ways.

I thought I loved horses, until I made a childhood dream come true and acquired my first horse as "a woman of a certain age."  Sonny King Pepper taught me things that came as quite a surprise.  About horses.  About myself.  About people.  About life.  Sometimes, love changes everything. 

I'm writing The Gift Horse as I wait for Finding Felicity to come out.  Two very different love stories.  Then again, are any love stories really the same?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Life is so busy these days.  Weekdays are a flurry of working in an office, commuting, classes, writing.  I love the hectic pace!  So on a hot summer Sunday afternoon, I slow down, breathe, and find time for simple pleasures.  Scratching my dog's belly and feeling my heart open at the sight of her little face expressing doggy bliss. Looking out my window at leaves glistening and floating in the breeze.  I notice a neighbor's laundry drying on the line; how exquisite it must feel to slip on a pair of jeans that have dried in the sun.  I even took a nap! 

Along my driveway there are several gardenia bushes.  On this summer Sunday afternoon, I was inspired to pluck a few blossoms to enjoy inside the house.  Such moments create space for new ideas, new creativity, new life.  A simple pleasure.  I hope reading this, you're inspired to treat yourself to a simple pleasure, no matter what day of the week it is ...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Romance ...

Ah summer ... here in North Carolina the air is humid, the magnolias are in bloom, and the fireflies are glowing!  It's all so romantic!  Some romances last a season, others a lifetime.  I think Finding Felicity is a perfect summer romance ... you'll be able to savor it in those last precious weeks of summer ... maybe over Labor Day weekend.  In the meantime, maybe you're having a summer romance.  Maybe I'LL have a summer romance! 

What do you think ... do summer romances last?  Or do they simply become fond memories to warm long winter nights?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Am taking a class right now in prosperity consciousness.  This week, the quality we are focusing on is gratitude.  What am I grateful for?  For the ability to write.  To think.  To love.  To breathe.  In Finding Felicity, Madeline is a Type-A New Yorker catapulted into the contemplative world of a monastery.  Anthony teaches her about gratitude ... and about love.

What are you grateful for (I'd love to know!)?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Divine Presence

It's Sunday and I met a friend for brunch today instead of going to services.  It was a delicious brunch ... poached eggs over a sweet potato and wild mushroom hash ... so good!  I find peace knowing that the Divine Presence is everywhere.  Madeline learns this idea in Finding Felicity

I do believe that it is true.  Perhaps even know that it is true.  All of life is inter-connected.  We all are One.  The Divine Presence is everywhere.  In you.  In me.  In everyone.  Everywhere.  All the time.  Even in poached eggs over a sweet potato and wild mushroom hash.  Maybe I was at services, after all.

Where do you find the Divine Presence?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Women's Fiction? Chick Lit? Romance?

I was just on the Kindle's facebook page, and there was a promotion for four books which were Women's Fiction, Chick Lit, and Romance, followed by the question - is there a better way to describe these books?  Is there?  What is the difference among these categories?  I can't wait to hear your comments ...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Would Your Characters Respond?

I love to decorate with books.  Scattered throughout my writer's cottage, I have books in the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen - just about everywhere!  One of my favorites is a beautiful copy of The Proust Questionnaire that I found browsing at the flea market.  I love the way the gold embossing shimmers against the cover's merlot.  And I love the Questionnaire.

Beyond being a great party game, I find The Proust Questionnaire to be a useful writer's tool for characterization ... how would your characters respond to it? 

Here's a link:

Try it and let me know if helps you get to know your characters better - I'd love to hear!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Animoons ...

Ahh the Royal Wedding ... and now the Royal Honeymoon.  William and Kate are off at their own private island for their honeymoon ... what a sublime way to start their life together.  But then, they've been living their life together already, so they are off to what I hope is an unbearably romantic start to their married life together.

There IS a wedding in Finding Felicity ... although I won't say here whose it is.  And I have no idea where the newlyweds spend their honeymoon.  Do I hear sequel?  No.  But the idea does raise a question in my mind.  Why do honeymoons have to end?  Why not go on a honeymoon to celebrate every anniversary?  An animoon?

It's true ... I've never been married.  Maybe that's why I find the idea of all so utterly hopelessly romantic.  I've never had to fight over how to squeeze the toothpaste.  Or which way the toiletpaper should come off the dispenser.  DO couples really argue over such things?!  I wouldn't know ... and I hope I never do.

I am a hopeless or hopeful romantic ... even when it comes to my own love life.  I would love to fall in love again.  And, oddly, the older I get, the more I think I'd like to get married.  To the absolute right man for me. 

So in the meantime, I'll hope that Will and Kate have a marvelous honeymoon ... and many animoons.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


All my Facebook fans will be automatically entered into drawings in June, July, and August for either an ebook (PDF) or signed copy of Finding Felicity!  Just "like" my Facebook page and you're eligible ... and be sure to tell your friends, too!  Two winners each month :)

June's Winner:  Beryl Pittman and ?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Cover!!

It's so exciting!  Here's the final cover - I think it's beautiful and perfect ... what do you think?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter to All!

The story of Easter is the story of God's wonderful window of divine surprise.  ~Carl Knudsen

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. It heralds the beginning of spring ... new life ... and new beginnings.  When I found this quote, I immediately loved it. The idea of God's wonderful window of divine surprise is so uplifting and hopeful.  It beckons us to open our hearts to receive the gifts that life holds for us, if only we are willing to receive them. As it happens, divine surprise is a theme in Finding Felicity.  For Madeline, meeting Anthony was a divine surprise that changed her life, and his.  One never knows when a wonderful divine surprise is just around the corner.

I invite you to open yourself up to receiving a wonderful divine surprise ... what could it be?!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kristin Hannah Comes to Raleigh!

Today was a great day!  Kristin Hannah, one of my favorite authors, was in town for a reading of her new book, Night Road.  I love Kristin's books - Magic Hour is really a great read!  It's impossible to pick a favorite of Kristin's!

Kristin was so gracious and down-to-earth ... it was a wonderful event and so many of her fans - including me - showed up! 

Meeting someone like Kristin gives me hope that it IS possible to make a living at writing :)  Write on!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Such Devoted Sisters!

Relationships with sisters are special. Growing up in the same household, sisters can be the best of friends, the worst of enemies, or somewhere in between. In Finding Felicity, Madeline is estranged from her only sister, until a letter from Italy arrives.

I have one sister ... and we are not estranged! When I lived in Los Angeles, it was so much easier to see her! We would get together for a movie. Or to go shopping. We loved to go to the Ventura County Fair near Santa Barbara; she enjoyed the garden displays and I loved the horses! Now that I live on the East Coast, our time together is different. She visits for a few days and it's just the two of us. We hang out. Watch movies - really loved Eat Pray Love!  Last December, she came out and we enjoyed all the Christmas festivities in Historic Downtown Apex -  Here's a picture of us enjoying high tea at The Pineapple Tea Room on Salem St.

When we were growing up, a family tradition was to watch the old White Christmas movie, with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.  My sister and I can sing the Sisters song by heart!

I invite your comments: How do you and your sister spend time together? How do you keep the connection close, even over long distances?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Find me on Facebook!

I admit I'm not the most tech savvy person, but I finally got my own facebook page!  Become a fan and "like" my page:


Saturday, March 5, 2011


Isn't it great to sit back and relax after a long week and enjoy a glass of wine?  Wine plays a role in Finding Felicity, and without giving too much away, let's just say that without a second glass of wine, Madeline may never have met Anthony!  What would have happened then?!

When doing research for this book, I was surprised to learn that some monasteries have vineyards and produce their own wine.  Others, beer.  Here's a link to an article from Wine Enthusiast magazine about divine wine; cheers!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Good Night and God Bless

The inspiration for Finding Felicity came from many sources.  An investment banker I was dating.  Dreams of travelling to Italy.  My own spiritual seeking.

Living in Los Angeles, one of my favorite things to do was to drive up to Ojai or Santa Barbara for the weekend or even a day.  On one visit, I stumbled upon a monastary that offered rooms for personal retreat.  Intrigued, I decided to book a weekend.

The monastery was high in the Santa Barbara hills overlooking the shimmering Pacific.  My room was much like the one depicted in Finding Felicity. small and spartan.  During my stay, the Santa Anas were in full force with strong winds blowing in the hillside.  In the middle of the night, my window started banging loudly in the winds and the next thing I knew, a monk was standing in my room!  The doors had no locks and not realizing a guest was in the room, he came in to check on the noise. 

I jumped out of bed - grateful I was actually wearing a nightgown - and he jumped back, too!  We stood looking at each other and he started mumbling about the window.  He closed it quickly, and hurried out of my room.

Yes ... he was handsome.  And yes ... the idea for Finding Felicity was born.

Here's a link to a book about monastery accomodations ... why not?

Guide to Monastary Accomodations

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finding Felicity

When Madeline O’Connor learns that her estranged sister is gravely ill, she leaves behind her life in Manhattan to be at her sister’s side in Italy. There, she discovers an ancient Benedictine monastery that accommodates travelers, and she decides to stay there, among the monks. Everything in her life turns upside down when she falls for Brother Anthony Lamberti, a soft-spoken Italian completely different from the men she knows in New York. Together Madeline and Anthony find love for the first time, and learn that life and love always find a way. When her sister dies, a new life for Madeline begins. A new life that she would never have imagined and yet is perfect for her in every way.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Writing a novel is not for the faint of heart. But I did it! And after over 10 years and many rejections later, Finding Felicity will be published by Eternal Press and will be available in August 2011. Stay tuned for more information!

Love always finds a way!