Twenty Years Ago I Said, “I Do”

Who knew that I’d be embarking on the journey that has become this marriage and life shared with my hunny and hero?

Happy Anniversary and lots of love to my guy! I have truly been blessed with the type of guy I write about 😀 !

Wedding cake kiss

Have a great day, all!
Joanna

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This Reader’s Pet Peeves

Welcome to November, folks. How does every year seem to go faster and faster?

Hope those who celebrate enjoyed a fun Halloween. ‘Trunk or Treat’ delayed our candy-seekers, but we wound up with a good turnout nonetheless. I was also thrilled when a former co-worker rang the bell; she wound up informing me she and a neighbor—a widower whose wife unexpectedly passed of an undetected aneurysm late last year—were ‘together.’ I’ve been praying for that man since September, 2013. So grateful and happy for him and his very young boys, and for her. Far as I know, he’s a great guy, a firefighter who writes–or has written–on the sly. That’s got to be good, right? 😉

To everyone taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge, I applaud you and wish you all the best. As much as I can churn out a report or a blog post under pressure, I can’t seem to generate the heart that kind of undertaking warrants. You’re an amazing group who inspire me.

NaNoWriMo--persistandwin

Image credit: From CommuniCATE Resources For Writers 

Lately, I feel my attention span is more and more compromised. Even reading, a life-long passion that helped spur me into the writer-world, has been suffering. Maybe it’s age, too much to do, life, internet-spawned attention deficit—all of the above. My tolerance isn’t what it was, either. Having learned first-hand some of the tricks of this trade messed with my reader side. I can rarely push myself to swallow content that doesn’t grab me right away or gets my pet peeves coming out in full force.

I’m not pointing at only indie works either. A few years ago, a well-established author released a long-awaited new work. I’d read at least two of her previous compositions and thoroughly loved them. The Big-Five publisher that backed her put out a LOT of fan-fare (and $$$) to promote her book.

Hate to admit it, but I never downloaded more than the sample. The style of writing was dated. Exposition went on and on. (Very 80s, I guess?) Don’t think I made it past page 20. So there’s pet peeve #1.

#2: A poorly-developed, contrite or dragged-out story. I’m not implying every story should have block-buster style action pouring off every page. Readers who’ve been around a while know every story has been done. PLEASE, authors! Give me a story I want to believe, and move it along at a forward pace that feels like it’s on some kind of continuum.

#3: Repetition: I’m forcing myself to read a romance that somehow found its way onto my Nook app. It’s okay, but if one more person ‘snorts’ I might decide how the author got to the HEA isn’t worth knowing.

#4: Crappy editing: Good service is pricey. I’ve looked into it (and hoping this post, or a future release, doesn’t haunt me one day). Heck, I’ve heard authors mention their editor this, or their editor that.

I hate when a book starts out decently edited, then slides down a steady decline. (Kind of dealing in that with those ‘snorting’ characters, among other complaints.)  I once read a supposedly edited book where love scenes were repeated for 5-page stretches every time they occurred. IDK, but that’s overkill and cause to skip the scenes or even give up on the story. And don’t get me started on head-hopping. (BTW, I have no problem with POV shifts within a scene and use them myself. But those authors whose books sell simply b/c their names grace the covers, while POVs shift from head to head within the same paragraph??? Nah, I’ll read someone else’s stories, thank you very much.)

There are beta readers, critique groups, online and in-person workshops. Translation: We shouldn’t be lacking for a way—via use of cash, barter or someone’s kind-hearted donation of services—that any book should be lacking in quality.

Any thoughts on this? How patient are (or were) you as reader? Do you have pet peeves about the stories that come your way? I’d love to read about them. Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Residents of the USA, if you can, get out there and vote. (MHO: it’s become far too important to do so.)

Have a great day,

Joanna

Love Can Lead You to your Angels–Part 1

Hi everyone. Hope all is well with all of you. Are we seriously past the midway point of July??? Why does summer  fly by faster than the other months?

A while ago, I promised a short series that tied into some recent posts from Kristen Lamb. Because writing the first seems to have erupted open a big can of worms in my already-overconvoluted brain, those are on  the back burner for now. I will get to them eventually. Kristen touched on some really important topics parents deal with, some which can be very challenging to younger parents. I’d like to do them justice.

In the meantime…

Every now and again ANOTHER thing happens to further my belief that God puts people in my path exactly where and when I need them.  (Feel free to substitute the universe, Higher Power, or whatever you choose to call an outside force you believe impacts your life—assuming you adhere to the a tenet that an outside force impacts your life. If not, call it coincidence.)

I have a 2002 Camry I absolutely love. Bought it at a great price from a local rental car dealer in 2004. It had 32K. It now has ~130K miles and has needed exhaust and mount work for close to a year. (I kept putting it off. Quotes I got were quite pricey. Figured I had until this past April before I had to pass inspection. April came. April went. So did May, and I was at June’s exact mid-point when I drafted this. It is July’s midpoint as I edit and post, BTW.)

Did I mention I’m a procrastinator? A very good one?

Anyway, the Camry is my second Toyota. My first was a brandy-new Celica GT I bought when I got my first real job. Sold that baby at circa 89K b/c the trans was banging, and I was told I’d have to have the trans rebuilt to the tune of $2600 or so. I learned the car sold a second time. To the best of my knowledge, the trans work was never done.

Once I got pregnant with Older Son, Hubby started thinking along the lines of a minivan. With three part-timers (a.k.a., Hubby’s boys, a.k.a., my stepsons), we wanted to be able to travel in one vehicle when the boys visited.

I won’t share which brand, but we did buy a new minivan, a new model that had just been released. It was okay at first, but as time went on, issues showed up. These included alternator problems—corrected under warranty—and transmission issues (which started rearing their ugly heads about one month before the five-year warranty ran out).

Forgot if we got it repaired. All I know is, one morning I had a whole five minutes extra time between schools after dropping off Older Son. I remember wondering if I should splurge that time getting a cup of coffee. While I pondered that I reached down for my purse to grab my cell phone.

Looked up just in time to see the plumber’s compressor in front of me (not that I knew it was a plumber’s compressor).

Didn’t see it in time to stop before I plowed into it.

(Note to self: Multi-tasking while operating a motorized vehicle may not necessarily be the best idea. Nor is buying a vehicle that hasn’t been around long enough for it’s problems to show, especially once the warranty runs out.)

A familiar face showed at my passenger window. I knew I hadn’t seen the man in quite a while, and I certainly couldn’t remember his name. “I know you!” was all I could say before I started crying.

He nodded. “I’m Joe. Don’t worry. Make sure you’re okay.”

I was. That was my luckiest crash ever. Totaled the stupid minivan. We still had full insurance coverage and got more for it from State Farm than I could ever have made selling it.

Put that cash toward my current Camry. The second I got back in a car—a blessed Toyota—I knew I was home. My minivan days were done.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll stop here for today. In the meantime, tell me about your relationship(s) with your vehicle(s). Do you have a favorite make or model? Does your car become a part of you, or are you a leaser who easily lets go?

Have a great day and catch you later in the week!

Joanna

 

Release Day: Christine Warner’s SECRET LOVE!

Happy Monday after the French Open final, folks!  Can you say it ten times fast? 😉  Hope all is well in all of your worlds!

Congrats to the record-setting NINE-time champion, Rafael Nadal! (Good thing the match didn’t go to a fifth and deciding set. The champ and his opponent, World  No. 2 and highly likable Novak Djokovic were morphing into the injured playing the ill, respectively.)

Tour-Banner-Secret-Love

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled blogging to share about online friend and author Christine Warner’s latest romantic release, SECRET LOVE. Congratulations, Christine! All the best to you in your latest endeavor!

Christine-Warner-Author-Pic

Bio: Christine Warner is living her dream in Michigan along with her husband, three children, one laptop and a much loved assortment of furry friends. Besides laughing and a good round of humor, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, writing but no arithmetic.  A confessed people watcher, she finds inspiration for her stories in everyday activities. She loves to read and write about strong heroes and determined, sometimes sassy, heroines. A girl gone wild, at least where social media is concerned, she enjoys meeting other avid readers and writers on Facebook, Twitter and her website at christine-warner.com.

(Psst! Christine can be found at Goodreads, too!)

Secret-Love-Hi-Rez

* Genre: Sweet Nostalgic Novella

*   Length: 69 Pages

*   The Sweet Fifties Series {Book 1}

Please note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Christine Warner’s Secret Love for review and promotional purposes.

Christine Warner’s sweet romantic novella immediately landed me in the mid-1940s and 50s. This highly nostalgic short story did not lack for character development. Perhaps the story moved along a tad quickly, but in all fairness to the author, Ms. Warner provided enough backstory to seamlessly cut into the novella’s present. The prose is concise and the text well-edited. Detail is appropriate to the period. Like the songs of old Ms. Warner mentions throughout the story, nostalgia flows effortlessly via lively descriptions and dialogue, readily giving present-day life to a time long past.

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Tarleton is a bit of a spit-fire. I happened to very much like her soap-eating ‘younger version.’ Not that I disliked her 23-year-old self, when the story proper picks up ten years after the reader meets her.) I was particularly fond of Lizzie’s willingness to jump out of her comfort zone to speak her mind, during a time period when girls were not raised to be forthcoming with their thoughts, let alone their feelings toward a boy.

Seventeen-year-old Wayne Whitmore is Lizzie’s brother’s best bud. His compassion toward Lizzie immediately endeared him to this reader, how he cared enough to spare her feelings in that first scene.

Ms. Warner does a nice job bringing her characters together ten years later. Lizzie is now a teacher at the high school where Wayne is the principal. (I did have a bit of a hard time trying to accept him in that role so young.) I didn’t find the story’s conflict to be terribly powerful, but I had no problem buying into it as real or universal. Ms. Warner took what could be a situation in any couple’s world, and built it into an engaging tale of how they overcame it to embark on their happily ever after.

The Story:

Lizzie Tarleton has always done things her own way—including the time at the tender age of thirteen when she confessed to her brother’s best friend she loved him. But now she’s a new teacher at the local high school, and independent enough to know that you can’t force love. She’ll find love when the time is right—even though her parents are adamant the time is now. The only downfall to her idyllic life is the fact that her childhood crush—who broke her heart—is now her boss. If only she could stop daydreaming about him.

Wayne Whitmore grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and worked hard to get where he’s at in life. Even though he enjoys being principal at the small town high school, he dreams of coaching baseball. When his best friend asks him to watch over his little sister at her new job at Wayne’s school, he agrees. What he doesn’t count on is how she’s grown from the pig tailed kid who told him she loved him, to the woman who breaks his concentration with her beauty and smile. Unable to get over his fascination, and afraid he’ll ruin his friend’s trust, Wayne applies for his dream job—one that will take him far away.

One night while decorating the school gymnasium for an upcoming sock hop, Lizzie and Wayne find themselves alone. They share a kiss and Lizzie realizes her childhood crush for Wayne has never died. Wayne decides he doesn’t want to let Lizzie get away.

Can they come to terms with their secret love and then overcome the other secrets they are hiding in order to get what they each want? Or is their timing for love still off?

An Excerpt:

She blinked away the heat of tears forming at the back of her eyes. Their conversation had grown too serious. She needed to lighten things up a bit. “Remember when we used to play ‘What if?’”

He laughed. “What if Lizzie wore a dress?”

“Either she was going to church, or her mom was having a ladies’ social.” Lizzie giggled. “Ricky hated that game.”

“He’d get so mad when you’d start it.” He made the final cut on a small snowflake and added it to the pile before him.

“What if Wayne couldn’t throw his famous curve ball?”

“The school trophy case would be one trophy short. What if Lizzie wasn’t teaching here?”

She pouted. “She’d be sad. I have no idea what I’d be doing if I hadn’t found a job here. What does Lizzie have to do to show Wayne she thanks him?” She winked, enjoying their fun.

He cleared his throat. “What if Wayne said Lizzie owed him a kiss?”

Her belly trembled. What if?

“What if he stole one?” His voice lowered and he leaned in.

“Why don’t you find out?” she whispered.

Buy SECRET LOVE here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Christine’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Happy Release Day, Christine! And thanks to all of you who took the time to read through this marathon of a post! If you like what you read, would you kindly share and help Christine pass on the word!

Here’s to a wonderful week to all,

Joanna

 

 

OMG! Wedding Anniversary #19!!!

Good morning, blog-visiting friends! Always a pleasure when company comes by!

Taking a moment to wish my hunny a very happy NINETEENTH wedding anniversary! Can’t believe how much time has elapsed! Grateful beyond words to be sharing this journey: still growing and changing, as individuals and as a couple. This link is for you! (But whoever wants to can check it out. Sometimes, you just “gotta.” :D)

fred.and.wilma

Image credit: http://www.allthingsclipart.com/flintstone.cartoon.clipart.htm

In the past, I’ve commemorated this day by writing a post on commitment. Rather than re-invent the wheel again (!), I’ve linked you up, should you care to peruse any of the essays. The last is not so much about commitment, but it counts: one of my favorites: it’s about romance and Olympic figure-skating gold-medal legends, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.  (All links are below.)

Paul and Joanne single

Hunny ‘n’ me–back in our single days. (Image credit: IDR 😉 )

Hey! It’s My Anniversary—Again!

Wedding Anniversary (#17)

The Big “C”—Part 1

The Big “C”—Part 2

The Most Romantic Moment

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Thanks for indulging me. (And extra hugs to my hunny!)

Joanna

Are We Giving It Away? (Part 1)

Hi everyone,

Hope all of you who celebrate the USA’s birthday did so in style this past (hopefully extended) holiday weekend! We made it up to my brother’s for a good old-fashioned family BBQ. Got home in time to watch our town’s fireworks display from our backyard. Those ended just as the televised Macy’s display got underway on NBC. Can’t ask for better!

Mega-congrats to newly-crowned Wimbledon 2013 winner Andy Murray! He has grown so much as a player in the last year or so. What an awesome show of power, variety and mental hanging in there again World Number One Novak Djokovic. (Felt so bad for Djok, too. He had to fend off Murray AND the English crowd vying for the end of a 77-year English-winner drought at their prestigious tennis venue.) As seems to have become typical on the men’s tennis tour, these guys were pure class while being interviewed. I hope both are proud.

Okay, enough tennis talk. (I’m actually tennised out. Yep. It happens.)

Now back to our originally scheduled post…

Folks, I hate waxing political but every now and again “ya just gotta.” And as I said a couple posts back, this is my blog and I can grump if I want to.

Background: had the TV on the other day. Second time in just a few months I caught advertising in a language other than English, on a well-established, English-language-based, cable network no less.

The first commercial was for a popular household product. It involved two characters conversing; the first spoke non-English (with subtitles) while the second character translated to English, as per the first character’s request.

This irked me—has been irking me—enough to keep reminding myself to write a letter to the company. Not because I don’t understand the language. I studied it in both high school and college and am fairly fluent. And, I am a first-generation American child of parents who immigrated from Italy. Technically, Italian is my first language. It bugged me because it targeted non-English speaking folks first, a practice that seems to be implemented more and more, in more ways than one.

Guess I watched another, completely non-English commercial one too many times. This one was for a major national retail chain, and this time, there was no English at all.

That got on my nerves.

So…

I went to the retail chain’s Facebook page and wrote this:

Love your store. Seriously dislike the advertising you’re doing in _____. (BTW, I speak THREE languages, including ______.) Last time I looked around, though, this is the UNITED STATES. Our primary language is ENGLISH. Just sayin’.

Please understand: It’s not that I am without compassion for those who struggle with a language barrier. My issue is with “corporate”, if you will.

Speaking of, the company in question has yet to reply to my comment. (Doubt it will.)  I got quite a few Likes and a few supportive comments from good friends. One person, however, had this to say:

“And one the primary values of the United States is the freedom to conduct business in whatever language you choose.”

Person got 6 likes to my 25 or so. (Fist pump. Hey.That’s encouraging.)

My response to author of comment:

(Shakes head @_____.) Little by little this country is giving itself away. One day, you might wake up and not have a clue what language is coming at you. Sad. Go to other countries. You’ll find everything written in THEIR language first, usually English second. (And BTW, plenty of people from around the world speak better English than many Americans. What’s up with that?) Here, we don’t care. Just cater to the masses, who aren’t being put into a position to learn the language of the country they came to. Again, just sayin’.

I’ll stop here and pick this up next time.

I’d love your thoughts on this matter so far. What do you think about advertising in a language other than English on English-speaking television channels? I mean, have you ever tuned into the Italian station and listened to advertising in English? If you’re a tennis fan, what did you think about Murray’s win? Or Djok’s loss? Or Nadal, Federrer, Sharapova and/or Serena Williams’ losses? (Did I ask enough questions, lol?)

Enjoy the day, folks. Thanks for indulging me.

Joanna

Did The Kids Figure This One Out on Their Own?

Or do they just “get” something the rest of us don’t?

Happy Thursday after Easter, friends!

I apologize for not getting this up last week. Impending Spring Break messes with timelines for school-related paperwork, which has to take priority. (I always wonder though: God-forbid something serious happened to the person doing the write-up a few days prior–i.e., an injury–doesn’t the paperwork NOT get in on time? Does life stop because of that? Just sayin’… :))

Anyway, these thoughts were inspired by a conversation between me and my older guy a few weeks ago.

Most Friday mornings I drop my sixteen year-old son off at school. Our other regular passenger is his ‘girlfriend.’ I keep asking myself why I still put quotes around that word; they haven’t broken up once, and she’s been around three years (plus).

Yep. 1/26/10: that used to be part of my older guy’s text signature. This year, that date fell on a Saturday. It wasn’t until AFTER I picked them up at The Olive Garden that I realized why they’d made dinner plans and just assumed someone would drop them off and pick them up. (Yeah, the mommy in me got a little cranky with them doing that, but I’d missed the bigger picture up front. I got over it soon enough. And I got on my kid’s case about getting her flowers. Won’t tell you he’s lazy, but he can be a bit lackadaisical when it comes to doing things.)

Back to Friday mornings. He was doing his hair for school—I swear he’s the daughter I never had when it comes to his appearance—and I happened to ask about a woman who is best friends with the girlfriend’s mother. (Names are made up.)

“How’s Melanie?”

“She’s good.”

“Did she and Henry get back together?”

“Yeah. They’re back and forth all the time. They fight over stupid stuff. They’re like teenagers.”

“Have you and Fiona ever have a fight?”

“Not really. Her mom and Melanie are envious of us. They want to know what our secret is.”

I laughed. “I’ll tell you the secret: control. You and Fiona don’t try to do that to each other. You let each other be.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

Funny. I’ve got a pair of teen sweethearts who inherently get that. (Hubby and I do okay in that department, but every now and again it creeps up. Then we deal and hopefully have learned something new about each other, eighteen years down the married line.)

I’ve watched these kids in action over the past three years. Like her mom who grew up the youngest of five and the only girl, Fiona’s friends are mostly boys, the same ones who are my son’s core group. (Doesn’t seem to phase him none, to his credit.) Her appearance matters but she’s no diva, which is nice.

She and my son spend a ton of time together, but neither cares if one does something without the other. And—thank God!—there’s NONE of the ridiculous, “You can’t talk to that girl” or vice versa. (I’d probably bean either or both if they did. Can’t stand that nonsense.)

We’ve spent vacation time with her family and she’s come away with us. Spend that much time with someone, s/he’s bound to get on one’s nerves. Not so with this girl. They’re a lot alike—even resemble each other a bit—in how overall easygoing each one is.

Got me thinking about how much control gets in the way of having ANY relationship, and not necessarily a romantic one.

When one lives and lets live, life is so much easier on both sides. I can be me without worrying about feeling judged. Disagreements are seen as differences of opinion and not as a personal affront (most of the time anyway). I can do what I need to do without worrying someone else is going to get bent out of shape. When that goes both ways with a spouse, parent, child or friend, I’m can pretty much guarantee a respectful, peaceful and mutually satisfying relationship where two-way interaction just flows naturally.

What are your thoughts on this? Any experiences come to mind that you’d care to share? If positive, what made them so? And if not, how did you deal?

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week–that means we can actually start going again! I’m psyched! 😀

My little home in the woods. Water to go on in about a week--that means we can actually start going again! I'm psyched! :D

Have a great day, all!

Joanna