My dad Feb. 27, 1920-March 30, 2014

My dad, Charles (Charlie) Goldberg, passed away March 30, at the age of 94.
As I wrote this blog, I tried to think of one word to describe my dad. That word is “mensch” the Yiddish word for a good guy.
Together, he and my mom, Marian, made a great team. When I had a problem, they always had good advice for me and there was no problem they couldn’t solve. They always encouraged me with my writing.

I remember my dad making a big deal about a doll I wanted for Chanukah, trying to sneak it into the house so I wouldn’t notice.

I had lots of celebrity crushes and remember my dad (with my mom) driving me to:
1) The Vernon Manor where the Beatles stayed once when they were in Cincinnati to see if we could catch a glimpse of them
2)The Beatles concert at Crosley Field
3)Lunken Airport, when the Monkees came to town to see if I could see Peter Tork
4)The Monkees concert at Cincinnati Gardens
5)The Ohio State Fair to see Herman’s Hermits on the hottest day of the year

Later when I met the love of my life Jonathan (Jon) Levine and we had our first date, Jon told my dad that when he was growing up he had a friend named Charlie Goldberg.

My dad had a great work ethic and hardly ever took off even during the blizzard of 1977. He tried to get to his job in the credit department at Swallen’s, but even he had to admit defeat when he stepped outside into the wind and cold and snow.

He had a great sense of humor (I hope I inherited that from both my mom and my dad), and did a terrific Nelson Rockefeller impersonation.

Some of his favorite sayings were: “We’ll talk about it tomorrow,” “Well, that’s the way it is” and “I called somebody.”

He was a wonderful husband to my mom and a wonderful father to me.

Dad, we love you and we miss you!

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Snippet Sunday 3/30/2014 A tasteless snippet

In honor of the 40th anniversary of meeting my late husband, Jon, on March 29, 1974, I’m posting this snippet from my newest e-book, “Tasteless Holidays.” Scotty is trying to apply for a job since he’s been laid off…Next week it’s back to Nan and Harry. The hero of this book and “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless” and “Tasteless Holidays” is loosely based on my husband. As my mother-in-law said about our marriage after my husband passed away, “It was a beautiful love story.” We were never lucky enoughj to have children, except the fur kind. But if we had, it would have gone something like this… (Edited to fit the line limit)
Blurb:
For better or for worse…
Newlyweds Lorrie and Scotty Caldwell just got married in November. Right before Christmas, Scotty tells Lorrie that he’s been laid off from his job as a paralegal. Lorrie has just found out that she’s been laid off from her job as a beautician as well.
Baby Makes Three?
After all this news, Lorrie’s pregnant?
Can Lorrie and Scotty survive Lorrie’s all-day morning sickness, and Scotty’s temp job working with an old flame, without driving each other crazy? Will they realize that they have each other, and a new baby on the way, at the most wonderful time of the year?

Snippet:
Scotty sat at the computer in the family room, filling out his on-line application to work at the IRS. Lorrie sat beside him, looking so cute in her “1-800-BadKitty” nightgown.
“Scotty,” she said sweetly. “Aren’t you finished with that yet?”
“Just a couple more questions to go. I just have to promise them our first born child…”
There went the waterworks again. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“Nothing!”
He put his arms around Lorrie, pulling her close. “Now, tell me what’s the matter.”
“I told you, it’s nothing.”
“Then let’s go into the bedroom and…”
Lorrie smiled before giving him a cheerful, “Whatever.”
Scotty tried to do a James Brown imitation, but he didn’t impersonate the sixties soul singer very well. Still, he got Lorrie to reveal her sweet, sexy smile again. “That’s my girl.”
Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J7UDUEC

Note: As I edit this snippet, I have to say that I just got back from the nursing home where my parents are. I spent all day and night there yesterday–my dad is not doing well and is getting Hospice care. I had big plans for my anniversary, but what better way to spend it than with the people who drove me to the event where I met my husband, my parents?

My writing process

I was tagged by Susana Ellis and asked to describe my writing process: So, without further ado (and if it doesn’t put you to sleep)–LOL–here goes:What am I working on?

I’m writing a fiction story with my alter-ego, Vi LaNance, called “More Than Just a Dog.” We started writing it when my friend, Greg’s, dog passed away. I heard so many stories from my family and friends and we wanted to get that emotion down on the page. We just started Chapter Three, and are not sure how long it will be, probably novella length.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?
This particular story is different for me because I’m used to writing sweet contemporary romantic comedy. I’m used to a happy ending, and we’re going to make sure this story has one. The books I’ve written so far are different because the characters aren’t necessarily beautiful or tall, dark and handsome–I try to make them more like people you know, the average Joe or Jane who has the same kind of problems you and I do.

Why do I write what I write?

I had this discussion with someone at work who wondered why my characters didn’t have high-paying jobs and live in big mansions, etc. As I said above, I like to write about the average Joe or Jane. Those are the kind of books I want to read, although I like reading about people with a different lifestyle as well. If they have everything at the beginning of the story, though, there’s no reason to read on. For example, if I write about a beautiful wealthy woman who seemingly has no problems, I have to give her some conflict. Maybe she doesn’t get along with her family and is trying to be independent.
I love romantic comedy because I love to laugh. If I didn’t laugh, I’d be crying and no one really wants to see that.

How does my writing process work?
I try to write something every day, but there are always interruptions, especially in the last few years. At the end of 2012, my parents had to go into a nursing home after almost sixty years of living independently. I have a day job, and even though it’s seasonal, sometimes I’m exhausted when I get home and don’t feel like doing anything except sitting in front of the TV and watching my favorite shows. The first three months of this year and the end of last year have been pretty rough on me, too. It seems like something from real life always needs my attention like busted pipes, the flu, or other troubles. But my goal is to try and write something every day.
Sometimes I’ll get an idea while I’m at work (which is what happened with “More Than Just a Dog”). I couldn’t wait to get home and call on my alter-ego so we could get the words down on the paper. I love it when that happens, or when books practically write themselves like “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny.”
Nancy Goldberg Levine is the author of “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny,” “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless,” “Sweeter Than W(h)ine,” and “Three Strikes…You’re in Love,” a short story collection. Her books are available on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Goldberg-Levine/e/B009RV0N50/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Snippet Sunday 3/23 Jay’s dog again/tissue alert again

Continuing on with Jay’s story–don’t forget the tissues. We skipped part of Chapter One and here we are at Chapter Two when Jay’s trying to take a shot at the Perfect Attendance record and go to work: (We did some editing to fit this into the line limit)

Nan Moskowitz is my third trip of the day. She’s had a bad year so far and I can sympathize.
“Good morning,” she says, after I greet her.
We talk about the hometown baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Wolves. Suddenly, though, baseball doesn’t seem very important. “Well, this is hard for me to talk about, but I lost Bulldog last night.”
“What?” I pull into the parking lot of Nutsie Nan’s Café. I tell her what happened to my dog. I knew Nan would understand because after her husband had passed away, her cat had died six months later. I give her the information about the service, and she promises to be there. She also reminds me to eat something. I picture her coming out to the cab the next morning with food. Just as I’m wondering who’s going to eat all that food, I hear her say, “Oy veyes mere,” the Yiddish equivalent of “Holy crap!”

Tissue alert/Jay Galloway’s dog/Snippet Sunday 3/16

I’m happy to report that the real-life Jay Galloway is a little more chipper. I know it will take him a long time to get over losing his dog, but he’s coping.
Here’s the next 8–and you’ll probably need tissues…

I kiss her and I won’t want to stop even though I hear Barks living up to his name. The dog comes toward me, getting louder and louder. He walks toward the garage.
“What’s up?” I ask Barks. I open the door again and that’s when I find out that Bulldog is gone. My crying starts all over again as Reese enters the garage.
“I can’t believe he’s…” I refuse to say or think the word “dead.” If I don’t, then it’s not true. He’s gone, or he’s lost, y’know? He was my kid and my best friend. I could tell him anything. “I’d better call Lorrie and Scotty.” I take out my cell phone to call my sister and my best friend, but Reese stops me.
“I’ll call them if you want me to,” she says.
I take her hand and squeeze it. It feels like a lifeline to me.

Any feedback wuuld be appreciated. Do we need more detail–we didn’t want too much because we didn’t want to really make readers depressed.
Don’t forget to check out Vi’s Pinterest page if you want to see the characters in this book.
Thanks,
Nancy and Vi

Snippet Sunday 3/9–Jay Galloway’s dog

Vi and I are writing a fiction story (probably a novella because it might be too long for a short story) (and it’s not a romance) together that was inspired by my cab driver friend, Greg’s German Shepard passing away earlier in the week, plus stories from my friends and my mom. The working title right now is: “More Than Just a Dog–a tribute to my best friend,” but if anyone has any other title ideas, we’re open to suggestions. We’re also open to suggestions on this snippet. This story is a cross between “My Dog Skip” and an episode of “Gilmore Girls” called “Cinnamon’s Wake.”

Enjoy!

“It doesn’t look good, Jay.”
“What’s that?”
I feel the color drain from my face. I stare at our family vet, Dr. Betsy Emerson. I’d been worried about my almost-ten-year-old bulldog, whose name happened to be Bulldog, ever since yesterday. He hadn’t eaten, and when I’d taken him out for walks, he was wobbly and lethargic.
“It’s his heart,” the vet tells me. “We could give him medicine, but that would only give him a few weeks at the most.”
I just stand there, taking in what she’s telling me. Finally, I gather Bulldog up and hold him in my arms. I pay the bill, and then carry him out to my SUV, remembering when he’d first come into my life. I’d gotten him and his brother, Barks, at the same time. They’d grown up together from puppyhood to adulthood. Me and my sister, Lorrie, had loved them unconditionally.

The truth about cats and dogs

I’m writing this blog in memory of my friend, Greg’s, German Shepard, who he’s had for almost ten years, who passed away earlier in the week. I am so sad about this, but since the name of this blog is “Laugh With Me,” I’ll try to tell some funny stories about furry friends I’ve had over the years.

First of all, the best pet movie of all time is, in my humble opinion, “My Dog Skip.” I cry every time I watch it the friendship that develops between Skip and his owner. I tried to add some pics in here, but it’s not working for me, but you can visit my alter ego, Vi LaNance, on Pinterest to see some of our favorite pets…http://www.pinterest.com/vilanance/
My husband and I loved the book that inspired the movie also…The author, Willie Morris, also wrote a sequel called “My Cat Spit McGee,” which was great, too.

Second, I admit I’m a cat person, but when I was a kid, I had a dog for about a week. He was an adorable mutt, but my dad’s friend and boss at the time lived up the street. My dog tore up his boss’s wife’s rose garden so my dad had to either get rid of the dog or his job. Since then, we’ve always had cats. My first cat was Barney, a Siamese who I named after Barney Rubble. After he passed, we had Sugar, a pink and gray cat. We also had Sam, from Sugar’s first litter of kittens and later Boo Boo, who lived to be 18.

When my husband, Jon, and I moved to our condo, he wanted a dog since he couldn’t have one as a kid because of his mom’s allergies. “Who’s going to walk the dog every day and take care of him or her while we’re at work?” I pointed out. So we decided to get a cat. We found Stormy at the SPCA. She was black and white and sometimes she wasstormy. She loved to eat salad and her favorite singer was Roy Orbison.

When Stormy passed away, six months after my husband died of cancer, I wanted another cat right away and found Jack Funelli (Jackie), who I named after a character on the soap opera “Ryan’s Hope.” He was big, gray…& funny. He hated to hear me sing and would meow loudly as if to say, “Well, that was appalling,” a la Simon Cowell. The only song he liked to hear me sing was “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” since he was also a baseball fan. Jackie passed away while I was in the hospital recovering from knee surgery and pneumonia. It took me over a year to make the decision to get another cat.

I found Jay on the Internet and the fact that he just happened to have the same first name as the hero of my book, “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny” had nothing to do with my decision. He’s also black and white (mostly white) and is much different from Jackie. He doesn’t mind listening to me sing, and he doesn’t like tuna or beef. I’ve had some adventures with him already (some things were a little too exciting), and I’ll have to see what the future brings for us.

If you have any favorite cat or dog books or movies, leave a comment. Also, please share any of your favorite pet stories if you’d like to.

Nancy Goldberg Levine is a cat lover and the author of four e-books, “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny,” “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless,” “Sweeter Than W(h)ine,” and “Three Strikes–You’re in Love,” a short story collection. She hopes to have the sequel to “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless,” “Tasteless Holidays,” available someday soon.