Wednesday, September 30, 2015


The other day, I was stalking agents socializing on Twitter. When I spotted this tweet:

Well, I've never been to a writer's conference. It's on my bucket list, but I can't seem to muster enough courage to go by myself, and all my writing friends live too far away. But yeah! Who wouldn't want one-on-one time with agents and editors? Especially when you've got two completed novels, and you're seeking agent representation.

So, I clicked on the link, and this is what I found:

The Work Conference--A Boutique Writer's Conference. March 18-20, 2016 in NYC


An inaugural writers’ conference focused on giving 30 fresh voices in adult or YA literature unprecedented access to the agents, editors and industry experts who can help make dreams come true.


The Work is all about details. From attendees to agents to lunch menus, the weekend’s finer points have been carefully considered and hand-selected.


A weekend of intensive attention to your novel, innovative programming, inspired revision, strong coffee, and big fun.

They had me at 'strong coffee.' No, but seriously. They had my attention. Only 30 attendees? That's basically a private writing conference!

Of course, with such a small number of attendees, simply signing up is not an option. Writers must submit the first ten pages of a completed/almost completed novel, a query letter, and a $50 application fee. If selected, the fee will go towards the tuition of $1200. 

My first thought at seeing the fees was, "Yikes!" but honestly, I think the program is well worth the price. Of course, I don't have that kind of money right now, but that's just logistics.

So. I applied. The worst thing that could happen is that I don't get chosen. I'll still get feedback on my submission and get a discount to apply next year. The best case scenario would be that I do get chosen. 

The conference is being held in NYC, which isn't very far from me, but I moved away from Urban NJ and settled in Rural NJ almost 25 years ago. The last time I was in the city was when my Best-Writing-Friend-Forever, Courtney came to visit. Two Small Town Writers in One Big City That was three years ago!! I have lost all sense of direction in the Big Apple and considering the conference highlights start at 8 am, there is no way I could stay home and attend the conference. If I get chosen, there would be a hotel stay involved. I know, I know--that means more money. Logistics.

They say that thinking positively and imagining the desired outcome helps manifest your desires. I already have everything planned out in my head. I'll worry about the finances when the time comes. 

Want to join me? Check it out! The Work Conference Tell them I sent you. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fun at The Faire

I've always wanted to go to a Renaissance Faire. 

Last year, I attended one that was run by the County 4H Club. It was cute, but it was small and left me wondering if my expectations of a Ren Faire were a little too high. 

Then, my kid attended a faire in Pennsylvania with some friends. She was confident I would love this faire. The Pennsylvania Rennaisance Faire is open from the first weekend in August through October. Every weekend has a different theme. 

My expectations were a bit low after my initial Ren Faire encounter, but we chose to go for the Pyrate Invasion.

Of course, we dressed the part.

I was immediately impressed.

The Sirens

The King and I. 
(I was all aflutter!)

Music everywhere! 

I can't resist men in kilts. This is Tartanic. Visit their website and have a listen.

So much food!

Scotch Eggs.
Crabcake sandwich and pita chips with crab dip.

Steak on a Stake

Chicken on a Stake

And beer.

So many vendors!

Pirates with attitude.

Great characters and storyline!

Rene, our favorite French Court Jester

There was jousting!

Beautiful grounds!

And of course, the Pirate Auction!

I even learned all the words to 'Hoist the Colours' so I could sing along.

Yeah, the kid was right. I had a blast.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fending Off The Grammar Police


As a kid, I was thrilled whenever my teachers uttered the words, Spelling Bee! 
I'm a good speller, except when I type on my phone and my fat sausage fingers hit the wrong letters. Typos happen. The Twitterverse can attest to that. Thank goodness we're now able to edit tweets.


I'm not good at grammar. I dangle participles, end sentences with prepositions, misplace modifiers, and my sentences have a tendency to run on. 

But now, the Grammar Police can leave me alone. I've found Grammarly.

I'm so excited about this service! I downloaded the free account and played around with it for a few weeks before deciding that I HAD to upgrade to the Premium service.

Let me tell you what Grammarly can do for you: 

Whenever you're online, composing an e-mail, updating your Facebook status, writing a blog post, or typing up a tweet, Grammarly's free service will check your writing for punctuation errors and misspelling. If they detect an error, they will notify you and give you options for correction. 

If you're like me and write your manuscripts in a program like Open Office, you can copy and paste your work on to a document and Grammarly will check your work and save it for you.

If you use Microsoft Office, the Premium service will work directly with the program! (I'm too cheap to purchase Office, though.)

Grammarly's Premium Service also checks for plagiarism, sentence structure, style mistakes, and grammar enhancement. 

I'm looking forward to uploading the draft of my second novel, THE HALCYON DREAM, to Grammarly. I can't wait to see the suggestions for improvement. It's like having a personal critique partner.

Check out Grammarly's Blog, follow on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and LinkedIn. I highly recommend you download the free service. I'm convinced you'll WANT the Premium Service. 

What is your favorite writing service?


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Friday, September 11, 2015

I Almost Forgot, But Then I Remembered

It was a short work week, thank goodness! 96 degree heat wears me out--unless I'm sitting on a tropical beach with a frozen drink in my hand, my toes in the sand, and listening to a steel drum band. Sigh. Sorry. I was distracted for a moment.

The day job has been keeping me on my toes. I hardly have time for social media during the day which is a bummer. But I've been enjoying the contests and interactions on twitter. Do you follow me? I'm @deestan62 Do I follow you?

Anyway, I recently participated in #pg70pit and #pitchwars and just finished doing #pitmad. These contests are guaranteed to give you anxiety and the need to stalk twitter. They're fun though, and I learned a few things. #pitmad taught me how to pitch my book in 140 characters (Including the pitchmad hashtag and genre.)

It wasn't an easy task but I was lucky enough to stir up some interest for THE CLOVER KEY from a book publisher and an agent. I feel truly blessed, considering the staggering number of writers who joined in.

All of that twitter excitement left me with a bit of a social media hangover. Even so, I've been trying to stay current by posting Facebook statuses on my author page as well as my business page.

But then, I remembered what today's date was. Of course, I'm talking about 9/11.

There are so many heartbreaking stories, and although it happened 14 years ago, and I was 60 miles away from the towers that day, I'll never forget. In my younger days, I worked there and played there, and while listening to the reports on tv, I was able to fully visualize the interior of those buildings. I was horrified, imagining what those people endured. I cried for days and was unable to tear myself from the television screen. I still feel the same grief I felt that day whenever I see videos or hear 9/11 stories. I'm a mess even as I wrote this post.

So, I will be limiting my social media presence today to keep my sanity, but I will NEVER FORGET.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Rant on Drones

I live in rural New Jersey, on seven acres of land. I moved here from the city so that I could enjoy peace and quiet and privacy. I'm starting to wonder if any of us have privacy anymore. Let me tell you a story...

So the other day, I went outside in my nightgown (NO. There is no photo of that!) to water the tomato plants on the deck right outside our bedroom. As I was pouring water into the Earthboxes, I heard a buzzing noise. The buzzing didn't sound like a bee or a mosquito. The noise was more like the sound of race cars as heard on a television. Of course, since my hubby enjoys watching racing on TV, I thought his television was abnormally loud and got on with my watering.

The buzzing stopped and started again. I turned around and looked up in the sky. Directly above the house, I saw a drone. It hovered, came a little closer to me and then flew away. 

Our neighbors across the street are really nice neighbors. They beep and wave as they drive by our house, they let us know when their blueberries are ready to harvest, allowing us to pick as much as we want, and they usually mind their own business. I know for a fact that they have one of these things.

I was pissed off. I felt violated and really creeped out. I don't know for sure if the drone belonged to our neighbors, the government, or Amazon, and it doesn't matter. I didn't like it. I still don't like it, and every time I think about seeing that thing hovering over me, I get mad. These little remote-controlled spybots are not even regulated.

I know these drones are sold everywhere. I've seen them in Walmart for $59.99. This one even comes with a spy camera. Lovely. I realize I may be an idiot when it comes to technology, but hey, I'm all for progress and innovation. I just don't like my privacy invaded.

What are your thoughts on drones? 


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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jamberry Obsession

Have you heard about these things? They are so fun!

I'm really hard on my hands. I work in a dirty place (we've been told we have one of the cleanest auto repair shops around, but...) and frequently wash my hands while I'm at work. Not to mention, I don't own a dishwasher, but the sink never seems to stay empty very long. My hands are always in water. 

I love getting pedicures, but I only get manicures every once in awhile because the polish NEVER lasts more than a day. Gel manicures wreak havoc on my nails and fake nails are not my style.

When I heard about Jamberry nail wraps, I poo-pooed it because...well, because. I don't know why. But then my future daughter-in-law had one of those Facebook parties, and I was sucked into it. I figured I would order to give her the credit, but didn't really think I would use the wraps. Okay, I was wrong. I love them! 

They last 2 weeks and make your nails look so nice! They make my hands feel pretty. 

This one was my first attempt:

Not bad, considering I'm half-blind!

This was my second set. They're iridescent and called Mermaid Tales.

I had these specially made. Yes, you can do that! I can't wait to see how they look.

Since that fateful day when I first tried the wraps, I've accumulated a few packets. 

(I've told you before--when my family does something, we go all out. Haha!)

I don't sell them, and although I've already had a Facebook party, I probably won't do another, because I'm really horrible at being a salesperson. (Note to self: I may want to work on that when it's time to promote my books...) But my sweet, dear sister, Lisa is a consultant! So if you don't already have a consultant, feel free to browse my sister's site:

Have you heard of Jamberry nail wraps? Share your Jamicure!


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