A-Z Challenge for writers…U is for United

This was the hardest letter for me so far. University? Unconditional love? I finally ended up with…U is for united…as writers, we’re united. As Indie authors, we’re united.

I’m also united with my mom and my friends, my fake brothers and sisters. Someone asked me the other day what the difference was between fake siblings and real siblings. I wanted to say “du-uhhh” (but I guess that wouldn’t have been very nice). If you’re an only child, you get it (or if you’re one of my fake brothers or sisters–LOL). I love them unconditionally and I hope they love me, too, even if some of them don’t say it. They don’t have to. I know by things they do–by their smiles, by making me laugh when there’s not much to laugh about, by helping me out if they can when I need it, by making me feel like I can do anything, even if they only make me feel that way for a few minutes. (and now I’m starting to cry so I’d better stop before I short out the computer).

And this also reminds me of one of my favorite “Seinfeld” quotes from the finale, when Jerry asks Elaine what she meant when she said “I’ve always loved you…” Elaine says, “I’ve always loved United Airlines.”

A-Z Challenge for writers…T is for (you knew this was coming…) tasteless

T is for Tasteless…as in “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless” and “Tasteless Holidays.”

Tasteless was voted word of the year by me in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, my novella which had a different title at the time, got a tasteless rejection. I re-wrote it and it became…”Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless.” In 2013, I wrote the sequel, “Tasteless Holidays,” which was just released at the end of March.

Here’s an excerpt from “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless.” The hero is loosely based on my husband, but looks like Jared Padelecki. The heroine is a little like me and looks like Katie Mixon.
Murphy’s Law certainly applied to weddings, especially in the Galloway family. Lorrie Galloway should have known how the day was going to go when she heard her brother singing “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” in the shower. He had a great voice, but that was the worst British accent impersonation she’d ever heard.
The day just kept getting better, Lorrie thought sarcastically. She saw Reese and the maid of honor, chatting and giggling together and had the feeling they were talking about her. She’d known Reese for a while, though, and she didn’t think her brother’s fiancé would make fun of her. She didn’t know Mallory Gideon, however, and didn’t like what she saw.
Mallory was tall and slender with a crown of perfectly straight black hair that fell down her shoulders. She didn’t have Lorrie’s “virgin ears.” And she had her eye on the best man, her brother’s best friend, Scotty Caldwell. Scotty had no idea Lorrie was alive. She knew that was a cliché, but it was true. Lorrie, Scotty and Jay had been friends since they were kids growing up together in Deer Park. Jay and Scotty looked out for her, but Scotty didn’t realize that she’d had a crush on him since she was fifteen years old.

And here’s an excerpt from “Tasteless Holidays”:

Lorrie Caldwell paced the floor of her kitchen, the family cat, Arielle, pacing with her. She had the feeling that Arielle was more hungry than sympathetic, but she wasn’t giving in until Scotty walked through the door. Of all nights for the love of her life to get home late from work. She had something to tell him, and she wasn’t sure how he’d handle the news. Of course, the news had to arrive two weeks before the holidays. Naturally, fine, barely visible snow had started falling outside. Lorrie liked big, fat snowflakes, not something that looked more like kosher salt.

Tasteless? You decide!

A-Z challenge for writers…S is for…short stories

S is for short stories. I love to write them. I’ve sold more than sixty of them and people seem to like them. I have a short story collection called “Three Strikes–You’re in Love” available on Amazon. What I like about writing short stories is that you have to introduce the hero and heroine and their conflicts in a limited amount of time. Another thing I like is that you can write about spin-off characters from a book, and get readers interested in them, too.

“Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny” started as a short story, but I knew Jay and Reese had to have their own book.

The first short story I ever sold, “Sherman’s Law,” started as a book, but there wasn’t enough of a meaty plot for that. I recycled it into a short story.

Here’s an excerpt from the title story of the collection, “Three Strikes — You’re in Love”:

Babe Carter shifted nervously in her seat in the radio broadcast booth at the ballpark where the Cincinnati Red Wolves played. She had been through many interviews, on the radio, television, newspapers and magazines. She knew that guys found her attractive, though she didn’t know why. She still considered herself that tall, gangly teenager who was always reading. L.M. Montgomery, Maud Hart Lovelace…she went back to her childhood for a moment, remembering her book friends, who had never let her down.
Bernie Chapman brought her out of her thought process. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have an author here with us in the broadcast booth. Amanda “Babe” Carter wrote a series of books that takes place right here at the ballpark. Her heroine is the official caterer of the Cincinnati Red Wolves. So, Babe, tell me about your latest book, “’ Kill the Umpire.’”
Babe looked into the sparkling blue-green eyes of Bernie Chapman. He was an ex-pitcher for the Red Wolves, and now a broadcaster. He had straight black hair and was slim with broad shoulders. He had a black mustache. Once again, Babe felt suddenly shy. She took a deep breath, willing herself not to be so timid. Speak up, she told herself. Then she spoke about her book, forgetting as she talked how good-looking Bernie was.

A-Z Challenge for writers…R is for … reviews

R is for reviews…I’ve gotten good ones, and bad ones (more bad ones than I’d like). I personally love to write reviews, but I’m way behind on my reading so haven’t been writing as many. Some people hate to write them. When I write a review, I try to find something positive to say even if I didn’t like the book because that’s what I want when someone is reviewing mine.

As writers, we need reviews to help sell our books and to get people talking. I love the ones on Amazon because they have the Critical Review vs. the Positive so people can make up their own minds.

I wrote my book, “Tasteless Holidays,” with the readers and reviewers in mind. People didn’t like the hero or heroine so I tried to make them better in the sequel and dedicated my book to the readers.

And I promise, I’ll get back to reading and writing reviews soon.

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.”
“Oh?”
“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.”
“Oh?”
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!

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