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Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.   —  Jane Yolen, author or editor of over 280 books


Spring! A time of renewal…not just of beautiful days of sunshine and flowers but of imagination as well.  For one who has experienced long periods of writer’s block it is a time for fresh and new inspiration. Ideas to shape works that are begging to be written and ideas for works to come.

Welcome to a new season!


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It seems ages since I’ve posted on my blog and I am so, so sorry. That old saying holds true, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”…especially in my life lately.

While the beginning of the year was busy as well as productive, February hit with a vengeance. Not only was my writing experiencing a little block, my family seemed to hit a stumbling block as well. While one member of my family is far away and trying to decide on the next steps in establishing her career, others were at home or nearby experiencing health and life-threatening problems.

tornado-heavily-damages-usm-campus-in-ha-77602As shown on this photo from Alabama’s 13, an  EF4 tornado hit the college town of Hattiesburg, MS, last Sunday. This photo was taken seconds before it struck the home my youngest daughter was using while attending classes there. It destroyed her home and left her looking for a new place to live. Not only did it damage her home but she was unfortunate to be in the midst of this monster tornado. She was at a neighbor’s when it blew through her neighborhood taking down power lines, downing trees and destroying homes and cars. A traumatizing experience, I do not think she will forget this experience any time soon. But she is moving on…she’s found a new home with new roommates, she has already settled in and is happy and healthy. Most of all, she is unhurt.

Unknown to most, I was about two blocks down the street when this storm blew through. My husband had taken ill and was being seen at the hospital there. He got to experience the power outage while being given an MRI scan on a lower floor while I was on the topmost floor, in the hallway with visitors and patients, as the lights flickered and went out and that classic roar was heard overhead. It was a scary sound but nothing compared to the screeching winds my daughter experienced just blocks away as windows busted out of the home she was in and trees crashed around them.

The experience has given me new perspective on the delicate balance of time. As I stated in the title it has given me pause and has made me try to see the ‘lemonade’ in the world around me. Writer’s block? Gone. Busy? Still. Tired? Absolutely. But…

I have realized just how precarious our circumstances are. Life is not an absolute given but a delicate flower that can be blown away in the wind. Here today…gone tomorrow. We never know. Chasing my dream of writing is a fabulous and rewarding endeavor but I must treat it as I should. Sometimes I go off on different ventures, leaving my writing sometimes for days.

Back on my writing schedule, I am ready to resume my  normal life. This will be the year my work is available!

Have a glass of lemonade….I have,


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Most writers speak of their muse. Maybe it is a person or place or thing that inspires their work or a ‘state of being’ that comes over the writer that speaks volumes to him/her as the words flow onto the pages. I have to admit I have often ‘mused’ about this feeling. My personal muse is nothing tangible…it is just a feeling. But after reading and talking with other authors about their own muses…is mine simply the need to write?

I would love to hear from other authors about where and when their muse appeared. And, honestly, I’d love to know what inspires your work…what is your muse?

I am inspired to write at peculiar hours…perhaps at 3 a.m. on a quiet night or in the midst of a beautiful thunderstorm or early in the morning just as I finish my breakfast. Different scenarios in my work are inspired by different things. Hey, perhaps that quiet night or that thunderstorm or that great sunrise is my muse?

My late maternal grandmother was a teacher. My late paternal great great grandfather wrote his own life story of growing up and being in the Civil War. Maybe these ancestors have influenced my own thought processes, perhaps they are my muses. In fact, I feel they are definitely influential in my writing. I never met either, but I too love to put words onto paper. Maybe it has been an inherited need to write…a tiny piece of them that continues on in me.

Whatever it is for individual authors, we all have that overwhelming need to write. I believe inspiration comes from all sources, if you look hard enough. And, I believe that teensy spark that I feel in my mind when an idea seeded from that inspiration becomes a need to write…that teensy spark is the muse. Is that my inherited need to write? Is it my curiosity has sparked my imagination? Or is it just my creative imagination cranking into gear?

It is truly a bit of it all. I am curious about things, I have a vibrant imagination and I learned at an early age the wonder of books. My muse is life…wish I could capture it all on my pages,



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“For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.”  Louis L’Amour

As writers we find ourselves immersed in the lives of our characters. At their beck and call, if you will.

For those who read (and write) historical novels, there is nothing like the discovery of the way it felt to live all those years ago…be it mid-twentieth century or the Stone Age.

For those reading (and writing)  contemporary novels it is the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes. A really great book allows the reader the ability to see life through the eyes of the main characters…a chance to become someone else for a while.

Yes, I write mostly fiction, but can you imagine the lives of great people who lived before us! Those who fought and lived and loved and died to shape the world we live in today.

In studying genealogy I’ve come in contact with it all. The thrill of times past, knowing how some of my ancestors lived through some famed eras. They brought their own history to America from Europe as settlers in a new land. Some were already living on American soil before the arrival of those new pilgrims. Many fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, the War of 1812; and settled land that has remained in my family for generations. My ancestors had even lived in the time of King Arthur, and one or two had fought in the War of the Roses.

The Great Depression and the World Wars shaped the lived of more recent ancestors. In fact, those particular times had a great deal to do with how my parents and grandparents grew up. And now, sometimes as I write, I hear those details they relived in stories to me…becoming words on my paper. Perhaps, and I think this is a wonderful thing, my muse is my own history.

As one paragraph on wisegeek.com states, “Whether the muse is spiritual or a person of flesh and blood, it is true that the world of the arts is indebted to its muses. Without these inspirational people who have loved and encouraged the artist, a wealth of paintings and music would be missing from the world.”

I am positive this holds true for writers as well,





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I grew up watching reruns of many Walt Disney television shows and loving the light-hearted movies he produced. I can close my eyes and still see in my mind’s eye all those original Mouseketeers lined up…shouting their name and smiling into the camera. One that always stood out then, and even now, was Annette Funicello. She had the darkest eyes and a huge smile. And, in her early teens, became one of America’s sweethearts. Today is Annette’s 70th birthday and I wish her a very happy day! After filming movies with Disney such as The Monkey’s Uncle and The Shaggy Dog, Annette began filming beach movies with Frankie Avalon (remember him…he sang Beauty School Dropout to a throng on roller-haired beauties in the hit Grease starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta). Beach Blanket Bingo, Muscle Beach Party, Beach Party and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini….to name a few….were some of her hits in the 60’s. Remember that type movie? Girl meets guy on beach, girl and guy fall in love on the beach, maybe girl and guy surf…..sweet romances. I loved them as a little girl and still get a kick out of these happy movies.

Annette was paired with Frankie Avalon in most movies that I saw, and as a child I figured they’d always be a couple. Frankie, however, had married in 1960. He and his wife are the parents of eight children and have many grandchildren. Annette married in 1963. She married Jack Gilardi (at the age of 23) and they divorced in 1981. She and Gilardi had three children.

One note of sweet trivia as I relate their real love stories. Singer and songwriter Paul Anka wrote a song called Puppy Love (Donny Osmond also made a recording of the same song) while dating Annette in their early careers.

In 1986, Annette married her current husband, Glen Holt.

In 1987, 1989 and 1990 Annette and Frankie paired up to act in Back to the Beach and to stage a concert tour. Then, as suddenly as she’d reappeared on America’s stage…Annette retired.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1987, she struggled with the neurological disease. MS attacks the brain and spinal cord and can cause numbness, blurred vision, tingling…followed by degenerative neurological problems. Patients can lose the ability to talk, to walk, to swallow…

For a while, in the early 1990’s, I would see Annette on television shopping networks as she marketed a line of collectible teddy bears, the Annette Funicello Teddy Bears. Part of the proceeds from these sales went to the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases. She was brave and sweet, educating us on this disease that ravages neurological systems.

Today, as I have said, is her birthday. I hope all of you take time to visit The Annette Connection to check out her site as she continues to fight against this disease. Sales, from her webpage, of movies, books, etc. donate to that research fund still. There is also a link to an interview granted by her husband and caregiver, Glen Holt, that explains her current condition and her long fight. I must remind old fans (and new as well) that this is a heart-wrenching portrait of America’s sweetheart today.

Again, thank you so much Ms. Funicello, for making my childhood television viewing time a happy one.  Annette, your movies and television shows often aired on Walt Disney’s television show while I was a little girl growing up and I looked forward to them all…and I still have fond memories of them.

Perhaps today I will search for some of your music, or one of the beach movies, and (if no one is watching) do a little beach-blanket dancing and singing. I know it will make me smile.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful birthday, Annette,


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I have just learned that today, August 13, is International Left Handers’ Day. Launched in 1992 by the Left Handers Club, it is one way to raise awareness of the disadvantages and advantages of being a left-handed person. In many places events are held to celebrate the day with festivities like left-handed tea parties, sports events and letting right handers see what it is like to be a lefty for a day! It illustrates the ways being a left-handed individual is more difficult for a person in a right-handed world!

When reading about this subject I was surprised to learn in some cultures left-handed people were once thought to be evil. Also, I’ve learned Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais were both left-handed, making them perhaps the most famous couple who were both ‘south paws’. Check out sites online about left-handed people to see just how amazing some of these facts are! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handedness  theweek.com/…/5-surprising-facts-about-lefthandedpeople  www.lefthandersday.com/

According to some reports, it has been said being a lefty could be an advantage…many famous sports figures have been in this category. Our current US President is left-handed; and scores of musicians, artists, writers and others are listed on the site of the Left Handers’ Club. Mark Twain and Eudora Welty, two of my personal favorite authors, are fellow lefties!

As a left-handed child I remember problems with composition books (that darn spiral was on the left…ever try writing with your hand above and over that thing…), scissors (yup, I tried every way possibly…try cutting with your thumb in the side for your fingers and your fingers in the thumb position…can we say uncomfortable), three-ring binders (same problem as with composition books multiplied by at least ten), school desks (these were made for kids that were right handed…I remember sitting practically facing the right wall just to be able to use those desks), and so many more items. Even that #2 pencil…we lefties would be left with the edges of our palms covered in a dark smear from our hand trailing over all the words we’d written.

My mother was ‘changed’ as a child from being left-handed to right-handed. It was often done back then, sometimes because it was thought to aid in a child’s development to be right-handed, also sometimes due to superstition.

Today though, I’d like to share some names of left-handed people who made it in this right-handed world:  Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Queen Victoria of England, Prince William of England, Allen Funt, F. Lee Bailey, Sir Paul McCartney, Neil Armstrong, H. G. Wells, Natalie Cole, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Don and Phil Everly, Seal, George Burns, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Tom Cruise, Steve McQueen, Danny Kaye, Barack Obama, Alistair Campbell, James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Sarah Jessica Parker…….whew, the list goes on and on.

Have a wonderful day…try using that left hand at dinner tonight…could you do it?


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Letters from Memphis!

I had a blast interviewing Sandy Falcetto about her new book, Dear Diary: An Elvis Fan Remembers! She is a delightful lady who followed her dream to meet and get to know the King of Rock and Roll during a great time in his career.

She is getting ready to attend Elvis Week (this year it is August 10-August 18 and information can be found at Elvis. com) in Memphis and will be available at the Dolan House address for you to buy her books (and for personalized copies).

If you cannot make it to Memphis, she has provided the following information for those of us who want to read her book and will want to purchase them direct from her:

S A F Author Inc.

P O Box 724

Portage, IN  46368

She says to make payment in checks or money orders in US dollars! The cost, which includes postage is:

USA  $26.65

Canada:   $27.25

All others:   $33.35


Front cover of Falcetto’s book

Again, thank you so much, Sandy, for sharing your experiences in this book! We wish you a happy time in Memphis and great success with your book.

She does have a Facebook page at Sandra Ann Falcetto –  Author!


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