A-Z challenge for writers…Q is for…QVC

Q is for QVC. I used to love it, but I can’t afford cable anymore so I only get to watch it when I visit my mom. Or I can look on-line. I also love Italian Beauty products from HSN.

Some of my characters love “the Q”, too. I tried to write a short story about a fictional shopping channel but it didn’t turn out very well. Here are several excerpts featuring some QVC products…

This is one of my favorite scenes from my short story “Mr. Short, Dark…& Gregarious,” which appears in my short story collection “Three Strikes–You’re in Love.” Jay Galloway is trying to get used to sharing his home with his new bride, her dad, his sister and two dogs and finds some L’Occitane En Provence (not sure about that spelling since I haven’t bought any of this for a long time) soap in the shower…
I took in the fresh scent of the lilac bath and shower gel she used. It had been an adventure getting used to her feminine-scented bath and shower gels, talc and soap in amongst my manly man stuff. When I’m working I get up at the crack of 4 a.m. I’m always bleary-eyed when I take a shower in the morning, so I didn’t pay attention to the kind of soap I used; I just assumed my soap was still in there.
“Who in the hell put this in the shower?” I’d yelled, when I’d emerged from the shower smelling like lilacs.
“I did,” Reese said, batting her baby blues and looking like she was going to cry. “Sorry. Your stuff smells great…on you, but I…”
“That’s okay, honey,” I’d said, reminding myself to take my soap back in there next time I took a shower.
LOL, Jay Galloway!

And this is from “Nutsie in Disguise”…Nan has some self-esteem issues and is trying to appear sexy to handy man Harry…
I walked through my bedroom, making a mental list. I picked up CDs and put them into a pile. Smokin’ hot, I hoped, lingerie, check. I removed my clothes and was down to the hot-pink bustier, garter belt, and black stockings. I slipped into a pink and white floral see-through robe I’d gotten on QVC, that was decorated with fringe. Cologne. I sprayed my favorite scent, Amazing Grace cologne, on and walked back into the living room, hoping for the best.

What about you? Do you have any favorite products you’ve featured in your books?

A-Z Challenge for writers…O is for…Roy Orbison

This really was a challenge. It was a choice between this or One O’clock Friday. As I started typing the blog for “One O’Clock Friday,” I realized how silly it sounded. It’s kind of a private joke between me and my cab driver friend, Greg, and although the name of my blog is “Laugh with Me,” I didn’t think anybody would get the joke. Besides, Roy Orbison’s birthday is coming up April 23rd.

So…I love Roy Orbison. I love his voice, and his songs…”Only the Lonely,” “In Dreams…” they are da bomb. When I was a kid, I remember I loved the song “Oh, Pretty Woman!” My baby-sitter, Mrs. Price, took me and her kids to White Castle and they had a jukebox. She gave us all some change, and I picked that song to play…about five times.

After I “grew up,” I wrote a historical (that was never published) called “Hero’s Song.” It took place in the fictional town of Mensocket (now Morganville), Maine in the 1880s. The hero, Rory Kaplan, looked and sang like Roy Orbison. He was a half-Irish, half-Jewish tailor who came to Maine from Tennessee. He fell in love with the beautiful innkeeper, Barbara James. They had to overcome the prejudices of certain people in town before they could be together. There was a fun scene which my critique partner at the time was crazy about where Rory was trying to guess Barbara’s measurements since he was a tailor. There’s another scene where Jimmy Morgan (see my A post)http://nancygoldberglevine.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/a-z-challenge-for-writers-a-is-for/
gives an impassioned speech about prejudice and rattlesnake churches in “Alabami,” defending his new friend, Rory.

This sounds pretty good. Maybe someday, I’ll remember it and re-write (this is another book I lost in the fire when my computer got flooded from the water damage) the book.

What about you? Have you had any celebrity crushes and based a character on that person?

A-Z challenge for writers…N is for…Nutsie Nan

N is for Nutsie Nan…that’s me…it’s also one of my characters, Nan Moskowitz. She appears as a secondary in my e-books and my alter ego, Vi LaNance, decided to give her her own story called “Nutsie in Disguise.”

Nan and I are a lot alike, but there are some differences.
I have a day job working for the government as a clerk. It’s seasonal, which means layoffs. I’m also a writer.
Nan has her own restaurant, Nutsie Nan’s Cafe, plus two bakeries, Tasteless of Cincinnati 1, in St. Bernard, and Tasteless of Cincinnati 2, on the Banks (of the Ohio River). After she opened the restaurant, she was lucky enough to win the lottery. I haven’t won…yet.

We’re both only children, so we have a lot of fake “brothers” and “sisters.” Jay Galloway is her fake brother, and the real life Jay Galloway a/k/a Greg is mine. Her best friend and fake sister is Vanessa (Van) Brown. Mine is Karla.

She was lucky enough to fall in love twice, first with Dave, who passed away, and now with Harry. So far, my husband, Jon, who passed away in 2001, is the only man for me.

We both have “issues” that go back to our childhood. Here’s an excerpt from Vi’s book so you can get a feel for Nan’s personality: In this scene, she’s on a date with Harry and they’ve just seen her ex-boyfriend and an ex-employee, who are now dating:

I was curious to know the worst possible thing anybody had ever said about him. I couldn’t imagine anybody having a discouraging word regarding Harry Marcus. He was cute, he smelled good, and he knew his way around pipes and other manly man things.
“Okay, the worst thing anybody ever said about me was that I was nerdy.”
“Nerdy…” I gazed up into his eyes, wondering how someone could have said that about such a sexy figure of a man. “Nerdy, huh?”
“I guess I come across that way to some people, always talking about fixing things and tools and things like that.”
I guess. “I don’t think you’re nerdy. In fact, what do you say to dinner at my house, and I’ll show you how to get on the boss’s good side?”
“Sounds wonderful,” Harry said. “But I don’t want to put you out. I promised you dinner out.”
“We could have dessert at my house then.” Although I really didn’t care about dessert. Or food, for that matter.
“Good plan.” Harry took my hand, and I felt the electricity that sizzled between us as we touched. I haven’t known this guy very long, but he seems very trustworthy. I wanted to do more than just hold hands. Although I felt daring when I was with him, I didn’t know if I could articulate what I wanted. Would he think I was too forward, or would he like it? I thought of my guilty pleasure TV show, “The Bachelor,” and how the girls who got drunk and wanted to kiss the guy got sent home. On the other hand, I had chocolate pudding and whipped cream and a batch of my mom’s Bourbon Ball muffins, which were as lethal as any love potion, at home. One bite of those and Harry would be putty in my hands. As long as he didn’t fall over from my stench.
What about you? Do you have any characters that are a little (or a lot) like you?

A-Z Challenge for writers…M is for…Marian

M is for Marian Goldberg, my mom. She was married to my dad, Charlie, for 64 years. He passed away on March 30.
I’m probably mis-quoting this but there’s a quote from “Gilmore Girls” when Rory talks about her mom in her valedictorian speech. “My mom always encouraged me to be whoever I wanted to be…she didn’t realize that the person I most wanted to be was her.” That’s true for me and my mom as well.

My mom has a great sense of humor, and she’s nice. Even now that she’s in a nursing home instead of her own home, she’s still nice, and still has her sense of humor.

I have several characters based on my mom. My favorite is Stella Solomon from “Sweeter Than W(h)ine.” Here’s an excerpt:
“Who was that?” Dina’s mom, who had come over for a visit, asked.
“Dr. Farber…Rafe.”
“Mom, don’t get your hopes up. There’s nothing to it. He just called to see how I was doing and to invite me to a singles dinner party.”
Her mom’s grin was wide; her eyes sparkled. “Mo-om.”
“He asked you for a date, y’know. And he’s a doctor.”
“Well, since you’re trying to talk like Jay, maybe I’ll ask Rafe if I can bring him as my date,” Dina threatened.
“You wouldn’t do that. You always say he’s like your brother, and I don’t think you’d want to date your brother.”
“You know me too well,” Dina said, hugging her mom and pulling her close. “That’s one of the reasons I love you both so much. I still might invite Jay to one of the dinners, though. Maybe he’d meet somebody.”
“That’s possible but you need to concentrate on you.” Her mom hugged her back and they broke apart.
Mom, I do love you and I’m going to keep trying to make you and dad proud of me!

Passover 2014

2014 has been particularly stressful for me. As I celebrate Passover tonight, I’m not only reminded of my own modern day version of the ten plagues, like the winter that refuses to end, and negative remarks that turn me into a wimp (because I let them, so I’m a “slave” to my own mind), but of my dad, who passed away in March, and all of the Seders he led over the years.

He led almost every Seder at the house on Sunnybrook until about the last four or five years, or if we were invited to someone else’s house. Sometimes he’d rush through (probably to get to my mom’s great Passover meal), and my mom would say he went through it too fast and that the second night, she and I were going to conduct the Seder. We never did until later when the Seder was held at my condo.

Sometimes funny things happened at my dad’s Seders like the cat who sat on the matzo and the person dropping off a photo for me for an article I was working on when it was time to open the door for Elijah. We usually had great desserts, but some weren’t so hot, especially after a certain company that sells Passover goods changed their cake recipe. My dad like the marble cake and fruit slices (I love those, too).

Dad, we miss you and love you! Happy Passover to all!

A-Z Challenge for Writers…L is for…”Love in Disguise”

L is for “Love in Disguise,” my alter ego, Vi LaNance’s R-rated contemporary romantic comedy. She contracted with Crimson Frost Publishers, and they’re shooting for a July release. She just looked over the final galley a few days ago, and is getting excited. (I am, too. July is my birthday month. It’s also Jay Galloway, Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny’s, birthday month, as well as the month of the annual 29th birthday of the real-life Jay Galloway).

Vi also sold two more stories in the series, “Damsel in Disguise,” and “Nutsie in Disguise.” She’s working on “Sagittarian in Disguise,” “Geek in Disguise,” and a new story, “The Devil in Disguise,” inspired by a funny conversation I had with the real-life Jay Galloway.

Here’s the blurb for “Love in Disguise”:
Darlene Dover has physical and emotional scars from a burn accident wnen she was in high school, ten years ago. She hides these behind her Little Red Riding Hood Costume as mascot for the hometown baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Wolves.

Sy Bonaventure is known for stealing bases and hearts. When he gets to home plate, Darlene decides to take a chance and kiss the handsome Sy, then run off. The team goes on a road trip, but Sy’s mind is on the lovely mascot. Can he be the one to take her scars away, and release the passion she’s held inside for so long?

And here’s a little of Chapter One: “Let’s go Red Wolves! Let’s go Red Wolves!” The crowd was on their feet at Red Wolves Ballpark. This was what Darlene Dover loved best about playing the part of Little Red Riding Hood. No one knew that inside the costume stood a woman with scars from a fire ten years ago. Nobody would guess that she was terrified of all those fans. She shared their enthusiasm for the home team, but she kept quiet and mugged for the camera.
“Ladies and gentlemen…” the PA announcer spoke. “Pinch running for Jose Morales will be…Sy Bonaventure!”
Hope you’ll check back to see Vi’s updates and go Red Wolves!

Snippet Sunday 4/13–Jay’s dog–tissue alert again

I can’t believe we forgot to post this! I guess I’ve been so busy with writing, cleaning for Passover and missing my dad that I forgot. We skipped a little bit and now we’re up to the day of the memorial service for Bulldog…
Reese sits down next to me and looks into my eyes. I know I look awful, but she doesn’t seem to care. “Jay,” she says. “I don’t think there’s one person who wouldn’t forgive you if you didn’t go to work today.”
“I’ve got to go, honey. Neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night blah blah blah…”
She laughs and then her expression turns serious again. “That’s one of the reasons I love you. You’re still making jokes, even though Bulldog is gone. And you show up for work no matter what. That doesn’t mean I don’t worry about you, though.” She sighs and stares out the window. “It’s just as well. I have to go the doctor later anyway.”
I want to start crying. I wish I could stay home because I know this is going to be a tough day. I get up, grab my jacket out of the closet, and throw it on. Then I hug my wife and go to work.
Any comments would be appreciated because we’re hoping to get it on Amazon soon. We just need a cover and we’ll have to upload at the library’s computer because mine is too slow.

A-Z Challenge for writers…K is for…Karla

K is for Karla, my best friend for more than forty years…(thanks, Karla)
She’s always been there for me with advice and support. Since I’m an only child, I have some “fake” brothers and sisters, so she is my “fake” sister. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been reading books about families who get along so well, about brothers and sisters who all get along so well, even when they don’t. Like “Little Women,” with Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg. And romance novels where the heroine or hero is surrounded by a loving and sometimes quirky family. I always wanted siblings like that in my life, but I never had them. So I found them.

I wrote a short story with a heroine like Karla, and was going to put it at the end of “Tasteless Holidays,” but an editor found some problems with it and after a lot of soul-searching, I realized that it really didn’t do justice to the real person. I left it out of the book.

I have a heroine in one of my WIPs, “Geek in Disguise,” who reminds me of Karla, so I’ll share an excerpt here. Vanessa (Van) runs a dog-walking and pet-sitting service, and is mom to two dogs, a mini Austrailian shepard and a golden wiener dog. She’s the best friend of Nan Moskowitz, who’s an only child. Van and her real brother and sister sing in the family band called Van and the Sheepdogs.

Here’s the excerpt. I don’t know if it does justice to the real Karla either…hope it does.
Vanessa Brown walked up to the door of the white clapboard Victorian home, expecting to hear the “Addams Family” theme song any minute. There were leaves and branches all over sidewalk leading to the house. The windows were dirty and the pretty house seemed kind of neglected. The wooden steps had creaked when she’d walked up to the door. Van hoped the owner’s dogs weren’t neglected as well. She could tell a lot about a person by how they treated their pets.
Of course, she was there to help the owner take care of those pets, not judge them on how their house looked. She didn’t know if the man who’d called to request her dog-walking and pet-sitting service had a wife. It didn’t appear that way.
She loved her business, Lovely Daughter’s Pet Caregivers. She’d gotten to know lots of people—and their animals. She knocked on the door, wondering how this particular job would pan out.
No one answered, but she heard dogs barking from inside. She tried the doorbell and heard its loud ring.
Finally someone came to the door. A slender, black-haired man with warm brown eyes hidden behind black glasses answered. His dogs, a black and white sheepadoodle puppy, and a fully grown gold and white Shetland sheepdog, followed on his heels.
“Garrett Berkowitz?”
“Ms. Brown?”
“You can call me Vanessa. Or Van.”
He opened the door, motioning for her to come in with a swing of his slim arm. The living room was homey, with hard wood floors, a comfy-looking tan sofa and white overstuffed chairs. The Shetland sheepdog made himself at home, sitting right on top of Van’s feet. The puppy went straight to Garrett.
Van appraised the man who had requested her help. He was dressed in khaki pants, a light blue Oxford shirt, a brown sweater and perfectly polished brown wing tips. He seemed old-fashioned and a professor type, probably because of the shoes and glasses. Van figured him as her complete opposite. She played in a garage band, Van and the Sheepdogs, on the weekends, and was kind of a free spirit.

What about you? Do you have any “fake” family members?

A-Z challenge for writers…J is for Jay Galloway III

Jay is for Jay Galloway III, my cat.

I hadn’t planned on getting another cat after my cat, Jackie, passed away, but at work a person who was doing a detail in our department talked about getting another wiener dog and how she’d found a puppy on the Internet who had been abused and needed a home. I figured I’d look on the Internet, just to see if there were any cute kitties I liked.

I saw an adorable black and white kitten whose foster mom had named him “Jay.” Since the hero of my first e-book, “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny’s” name is Jay, I knew I had to have this cat. I adopted Jay on November 11, 2012. I tried to upload a photo of him, but I can’t figure out how to do that. He’s more white than black and has pink and black toes. He’s a big talker, like his “uncle,” the real-life Jay Galloway. When he meows, he sort of sounds like my old Siamese cat, Barney. He likes Special Kitty cat food from Wal-Mart, or Meow Mix. Like Jackie, he’s a Cincinnati Reds fan and listens to the ballgames with me.

Sometimes he’ll sleep on me, but most of the time, he has things to do, so he’ll sleep in another room or at the bottom of the bed. He’s been sleeping at the bottom of the bed since last week, when his “poo-pa” (my dad) passed away.

Jackie used to hate it when I sang, but Jay isn’t too particular about that. He watches all my favorite TV shows with me like “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Bachelor/Bachelorette,” “American Idol” and “The Goldbergs.” And he loves to “use” the computer–translation: mess it up so I have to straighten out whatever he did when he pressed the wrong button.

I love him!

A-Z challenge for writers…I is for “It’s all part of the conspiracy”

I is for Jay Galloway, and the real life Jay Galloway, my friend, Greg’s favorite quote:
“It’s all part of the conspiracy.”

There are so many things that are part of the conspiracy. Today alone I had a…land-line phone that didn’t work because my cat, Jay, pulled out the wire so I was trying to make a phone call and saying “Hello? Hello? My phone’s not working…I’ll call you back on my cell phone.” I charged the cell phone only to discover that my cat had knocked it over. The back cover fell off, and the battery fell out, so now I have to charge it again. At the grocery store, I got a rude cashier who didn’t want to double-bag my groceries that came in glass bottles. Also, my card wasn’t accepted and I had to pay with cash. There was an error message that read “Invalid transaction.” I asked the cashier what that meant and the wise guy said, “I was hoping you could tell me that!”

Here are a few more things that are all part of the conspiracy…DVDs that don’t work, watered-down hot chocolate at the day job, pantyhose and clothes that don’t fit even though I lost 115 lbs., traffic jams, the winter that will not end, rude librarians, trucks that hold up traffic trying to get out of a driveway, broken staplers, ATMs that don’t work, falling on the ice twice, child proof medicine bottles that won’t open, telephone tag, certain people who don’t look up the directions until you get lost–that’s right, Greg, that would be moi–guilty!

What about you? Has anything happened to you that I need to add?


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