Thursday, August 31, 2006

On yesterday's lunch walk, we found this poor Monarch butterfly. We said a prayer for it's fragile soul after exclaiming over its beauty. Note the symmetry of the rectangular patches and the spots on the body itself. According to my friend John C, the double layer of white dots along the edge differentiate it from the Viceroy butterfly, which looks similar but has only one row of white spots. He also explained that the Monarch's feed on milkweed and taste bitter to the birds, whereas the Viceroy's feast on sweeter meals, providing a more tempting treat to their aviary adversaries!
Thanks to Linda Slade for permission to use the photos.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Author's Eye, Original Photo

Just for grins, here's the original digital photo that I used to create the photoshopped version, below.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Author's Eye

More Advice for Writers – Forbidden Words

by Aaron Paul Lazar

I’ve collected some great writing advice over the past years. Some of it has worked, and some hasn’t. Recently, however, the list of “forbidden” words has grown through advice from fellow writers, agents, editors, and publishers.

It can be paralyzing.

Every time I bump against “that” or “had” in my prose, my heart beats wildly and I worry. “Does this belong here? Does it make my work sound amateurish?”

It’s almost impossible to avoid the words on the list. You can’t completely eliminate them. It’s especially true with dialogue. You want your characters to sound as natural as possible.

Let’s examine the first word on the list: down.

Now, in most cases it’s far superior to write, “Horatio sat at the kitchen table and stared at the congealed eggs on his plate,” rather than “Horatio sat down at the kitchen table and stared down at the eggs on his plate.” Right? And this rule of thumb is excellent, almost universally applicable. It also works for the word, “up.” In America, we use “up,” all the time in natural conversation. “Bubba ate up all of Cat’s french fries.” “Nancy stared up at the ceiling, searching for the right word.” “Sonja messed up Veronica’s hair and then jumped overboard.” And so on. Okay, these are crazy examples, but you get the point. You could certainly eliminate some of those “ups,” right? But be careful not to eliminate it in your characters’ dialogue. You don’t want them to sound stilted. It’s perfectly okay to use common phrases such as, “Margaret, get down here! Your toast is up.”

One of the first pieces of advice given to me (aside from “Cut, cut, cut!”) was to avoid the use of gerunds and “ing” verbs. “It’s much stronger,” I was told, “to use the simple past tense, or ‘ed’ verbs.” So, like a good doobie, I went back through my first four books and scoured them for “ing”s. I was merciless. Brutal. Barely an “ing” survived.

A few years later, I realized I went too far. The words sounded robotic, too stilted. I needed some of those “ing” verbs to vary the rhythm of the sentences, to make them sound more natural. So, with diligence, I returned to my growing list of novels and revamped them. Now, keep in mind it’s always better to write, “Mabel watched the plane land,” than “Mabel was watching the plane land.”

All right. What about tenses? We all learned the proper way to conjugate verbs and use tenses, such as the case of the past perfect. When something happens in the past, such as a flashback, it’s taking place before the current action, which is already in the past tense. Therefore, the flashback needs to be cast into the past perfect, using the word “had.”


Not always. My crit buddy SW Vaughn taught me this one. (many of the following examples are courtesy of her patient teaching.)
It is grammatically correct to write the following paragraph when referring to a recapped an event in your story:

A pang of sorrow hit me as I thought back to the dreadful time two years ago when I had lost him. He had fought the cancer as bravely as he had stood up to the Germans on D Day in Normandy. Just before we had learned the dreaded disease had returned to claim him, we had shared one final, peaceful day of fishing on Hemlock Lake. (granted, I would have made most of these contractions to make it sound more natural.)

However, it reads smoother like this:

A pang of sorrow hit me as I thought back to the dreadful time two years ago when I lost him. He fought the cancer as bravely as he stood up to the Germans on D Day in Normandy. Just before we learned the dreaded disease had returned to claim him, we shared one final, peaceful day of fishing on Hemlock Lake.

I’ll admit, now I would be tempted to remove the “up” and would probably rewrite this passage with a vengeance. But can you see how just one or two well-placed “hads” retain the meaning of the memory? Of course, there’s always the opposite viewpoint. My current editor added a number of “hads” in my manuscript for Tremolo because I went too far!

Next came the great adverb purge. I don’t remember which book it was that got me going on this kick. Probably Stephen King’s, On Writing. (That was a great read!) Regardless of the source, I was inspired to eradicate adverbs. I became an adverb Nazi. No “ly’s” would sully my prose! I’d search for the choicest verbs. They’d glow from my pages because of their utter perfection. After that phase, I backed off a little, allowing a few adverbs here and there. Sometimes, it just sounds better with them, doesn’t it?

It’s all a matter of balance.

Let’s talk about the word, “then.” I have to admit, it’s prevalent in my work. My characters are always doing something, “then” going onto the next action. I liked it instead of “and.” It seemed to fit better and sounded more natural to me.

This year, while participating in an online writers’ critique forum, I was surprised to learn when these editors spotted the word “then,” or too many instances of “as” or even a “suddenly,” they immediately pronounced it amateurish and went to the next piece in the slush pile.

How did I react? Did I sit back and judiciously cull words from my books? Or did I throw my hands in the air (notice I didn’t say “up in the air!”) and give up? (okay, so I used up here.)

Still aching to learn the “rules” that would graduate me to “professional writer status,” I dutifully reduced the number of the “then’s” and “suddenly’s” from my current work in progress. They read better. I think…

Sometimes I end up using different “forbidden” words when I do this. It’s so frustrating, and it can be almost crippling if you let it. Although I’ll never stop trying to improve my prose, I’ve decided that I need to just “let it out” in the first draft, and then (LOL), review it in future edits to purge the evil words.

Here’s a handy list of words to keep in mind when editing:

1) “Down” and “Up” may be eliminated most of the time. “Oscar set his fork down on his plate and nodded in the direction of Conaroga,” could better be worded. “Oscar set his fork on his plate and nodded in the direction of Conaroga.” Or: “The heat wave sizzled throughout the week, drying up the cornfields to the point of near desiccation,” is better without the word, “up.” The heat wave sizzled throughout the week, drying the cornfields to the point of near desiccation.

2) Examine verbs ending in “ing,” especially in conjunction with “was” and “were.” Sprinkle them into your writing to vary the rhythm, but avoid cases such as “I was watching the birds while drumming my fingers on the table.” You might consider, “Watching the birds, I drummed my fingers on the table,” or, “I watched the birds, drumming my fingers on the table,” or, “I watched the birds and drummed my fingers on the table.”

3) Had – use sparingly to clarify the time sequence. Don’t pepper your back-stories with “hads,” and use contractions to make it sound more natural. “All four teeth had finally broken through and the poor baby was finally out of pain.” Try something like this, instead: “All four teeth finally broke through and the poor baby was finally out of pain.”

4) Remove unnecessary adverbs. Change sentences such as “Judy looked sullenly at me,” to something like, “Judy glowered at me.”

5) Eliminate the word “the” when it precedes a noun that could stand alone. Example: “The images from the newscast whipped across my brain,” might be replaced by “Images from the newscast whipped across my brain.”

6) Minimize contiguous prepositions, and words like “over” and “back.” “Mary threw the ball back over to Tom.” Instead, “Mary threw the ball to Tom,” or “Mary returned the ball with a vengeance.” Avoid sentences like “The boy ran over to the counter,” or “I trotted back along the trail.”

7) Steer clear of “that,” except in dialogue. We use “that” as a connecting word far too often, and we don’t need it! I’ve already removed a number of “that’s from this article. It really does smooth out the prose. Try it! “The President discovered that his agent was a spy.” Instead, “The President discovered his agent was a spy.”

8) “Suddenly” was just added to my list. I used it interchangeably with “Without warning,” “Instantly,” or “In seconds.” I am still confused about the legitimacy of this one. A good friend whose manuscript is currently being scoured by her editor said she’d removed all instances of “suddenly,” only to have her editor put them back in!

9) Another word we use a lot in conversation is “very.” Try not to use it in prose. Find a better descriptor. “The giant was very tall,” is better as, “The giant towered over us.”

10) Because can be used sparingly, but not in the following way: “She craved the hamburger because she was hungry.” This example might work: “Because of his history, he avoided the cops.”

11) Minimize your use of “then,” and “as.” “He must have crawled into the trash barrel to look for food or water and then became trapped in its slippery interior.” Instead, try: “He must have crawled into the trash barrel to look for food or water and become trapped in its slippery interior.” “His eyes shone as he sat on the front seat,” might be replaced by “He sat on the front seat, eyes shining.”

12) Avoid phrases such as, “I saw,” “I felt,” “I heard,” or even worse, “I could hear,” “I could feel,” or “I could hear.” Instead, try to show precisely what is happening through the sounds or visions. For example: “I could see the hawks flying overhead, swooping in lazy circles as they sought fresh blood.” Try replacing it with something more direct, like this: “The hawks swooped in lazy circles overhead, seeking fresh blood.”13) I don’t care for the word, “which.” A friend, Jude, just reminded me to add this to the list. Here’s his example of an awkward sounding sentence: “I put ice on her ankle, which had already started to swell.” Perhaps a better solution might be, “I applied ice to her swollen ankle.”

13) Shun clichés like the plague. Whoops. ;o) Seriously, though, clichés are just that – timeworn and boring. Create something scintillating!

14) Try not to repeat words within a chapter. For example, if you’re describing an explosion, be sure to vary the words that refer to it, such as “the blast,” “the roar,” “the eruption,” or “the detonation.” Remember, is your friend!

If you’re totally confused by now, join the club. This whole thing can be daunting. But don’t be concerned if any of the “forbidden” words pepper your prose. Take heart. As you’ll see from similar studies, many of the classics and current bestsellers are fraught with these words. Does it matter? Heck, no. We still enjoy the books as readers will for years to come.

Consider what the wabi sabi philosophy teaches us, “Nothing is perfect. Nothing lasts. And nothing is finished.” (Richard R. Powell, Wabi Sabi for Writers, 2006, Adams Media, ISBN 1-59337-596-4)

My advice? Don’t go crazy each time you learn a new forbidden word or phrase. Simply do the best you can, write from your heart, and try to tighten your prose without squelching your own style.


Aaron Paul Lazar is an engineer by day, but his passion lies in writing. The LeGarde Mystery series involves more than breathless suspense -- the books are filled with musical, lyrical scenes that touch on life, loss, nature, family, animals, food, gardens, and music. Eight books have been completed. A second series has also been born, featuring paranormal mysteries with Sam and Rachel Moore, a retired country doctor and his wife who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Lazar’s latest book, Tremolo: cry of the loon, is available through Twilight Times Books.

Mr. Lazar also writes monthly columns for the Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, Voice in the Dark newsletter, and The Back Room ezine. He lives in Upstate NY with his extended family. Visit his websites at;, and his blog at

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another lovely day for a walk in
Upstate NY...

Monday, August 21, 2006

What’s in Your Back Yard?
by Aaron Paul Lazar

I’ve had some interesting “lunch walk” partners over the years. When I started engineering at Kodak twenty-five years ago, I found friends who shared my lust for the outdoors – who longed for fresh breezes and blue sky – and who longed to break out of the gray enclave and burst into sunlight in the middle of the workday. We walked regularly, usually for three miles around the perimeter of the dozen buildings that sprawled in a massive complex.

There was Gangaram, my Gujarati friend, who stomped over the grass with certainty, expostulating about family and tradition, and sharing stories of his exotic and colorful childhood in India. He died of a heart attack, fourteen years ago. I still think of him fondly and often recall our deep discussions of fatherhood.

Next came Dave, a true kindred spirit, whose life seemed to parallel mine in the realms of children and reading. Dave’s four daughters were ten years ahead of my three girls, and I learned many lessons in the virtues of patience and quiet endurance during our walks together. He introduced me to Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels. Dave is retired and now boasts thirteen (or is it fourteen?) grandchildren.

I became attached to my walking buddies over the years. Friendships blossomed and our lives were enriched.

Then, there were the years when I walked alone.

I’ll never forget those walks in the fall of 1997, just after I lost my father. I strode through crunchy leaves and listened to the leaves whispering my name, longing for signs that Dad was okay… that I was okay. Well, I wasn’t. But in time, I forged on and learned to cope with the most powerful loss of my life.

I wrote God-awful poetry after those walks, redolent with lush imagery and emotion that spilled from the pages. Although it wasn’t suitable to publish, it did get my career as a writer kick-started. Soon afterwards, the LeGarde Mystery series was born and it’s still going strong, nine years later.

This year, my lunch walking pal left the company for greener pastures. She landed a sweet job in another state, with a collection of low-cost benefits that are otherworldly-amazing. She’s started her own solo lunch walks around her new complex. Soon, she’ll align with new friends who have the same need to escape to nature for a short while. I accept that this cycle repeats and wish her great success in her new adventures.

In twenty-five years of lunch walks, however, I never knew what lay in my own back yard.

My new walking buddies are adventurous. I call them the Treasure Hunter and the Meanderer. They don’t settle for the same old paths over which I’ve trod for years. They cross the street, duck down barely visible dirt paths, and venture into lands outside the complex. Through these brave pioneering marches into foreign territories, we’ve discovered a lunch walkers’ nirvana.

There, just across the street and not fifty feet from our usual perimeter walk, lay hidden trails that lead to glorious glens, sparkling creeks, and grassy trails lined with woods. For twenty-five years - nearly a thousand walks - I’ve passed this seemingly scrubby area and not given it another thought.

Until last week, when on one of the far-flung adventures, the Meanderer led us to some newly discovered wood trails. I remember the day well. That evening, I was scheduled for a book club event at 6:30 in a nearby library. We passed through cool, glorious woods and broke into the sunlight to follow a dirt track flanked by robotic-looking power lines. Delighted to find such previously hidden treasures, we chatted and laughed our way through patches of Queen Anne’s Lace, purple loosestrife, buttercups, black-eyed Susans, and flowering milkweed. Heading in the direction we hoped was “home,” we stumbled upon a wide creek. The Treasure Hunter pointed out a blue heron taking flight.

In the distance, we heard the sounds of humanity. A metal door clanged shut in a company loading dock. Cars whooshed past on the road we’d originally braved and crossed. We were heading in the right direction.

After tromping through the “wild,” sweaty and tired and ready for the sandwiches that beckoned in the bags on our desks, we had to find a way across the creek. We began to inspect the shore, walking farther down the muddy stream. Although we hoped to find a crossing or a narrow neck of water, we were sunk. There was no way to cross.


Our pioneering spirits kicked into overdrive as we searched the nearby woods for dead limbs or tree trunks light enough to carry, but heavy enough to hold our weight. The Meanderer found a balancing pole. I threw the gathered logs across the creek, splattering my blue Dockers with fresh mud. Laughing and feeling deliriously adventurous, I ventured out over the logs.

I set one foot on the slippery log. It sunk into the mud, moistening my walking sneakers. Using the balancing pole, I cat-walked across the creek – until I came to the end of the man made “bridge,” where the grass-filled water looked solid from the opposite bank. Stuck, I forged ahead, sinking up to my ankles in mud.

The tears rolled down our cheeks as we belly laughed, choking and guffawing until we thought we’d lose control. There are no restrooms in newly discovered nirvana. Doubled over and nearly hysterical, we finally stopped to assess the situation.

More logs seemed to solve the problem. I caught and positioned them so my friends could safely avoid the muck.

The Meanderer started across, using the balancing pole carefully. One step. Two.

She’s gonna make it!

Three. Four.

Five, six, seven.


On the last step, she lost her balance and stepped into the gooey mess.

Another round of insane laughter. This time, the Treasure Hunter took a turn. Confident she could navigate this last hurdle, she took one step, lost her balance, and another sneaker was submerged in guck.

Laughing uncontrollably, we sloshed back to work, leaving muddy trails of pond scum in our wake. I tried to clean off my pants, but was only partially successful. The sneakers went into a plastic bag, and I stopped on the way to the book club appearance to buy a fresh pair of socks.
Now, we head for the trails at every opportunity. Yesterday, we brought a lunch and read aloud in a cool glen. And still, I remain astounded that this amazing oasis lay undiscovered, in our proverbial back yard, for the past twenty-five years.

What lies in your back yard? Are there trails, unexplored, that call to you? What waits on your bookshelf, or in your attic? Are there books, unread, that whisper your name, that could forever change the way you see life? And for you writers, are there stories untold, visions still clouded, that may become your next work of art?

Search beyond your comfort zone. Cross that street, delve into those woods. Open that book. Discover what’s in your own back yard. Today.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Release! Click here to buy the ebook in downloadable pdf format until the print version is released in 2007.

Tremolo: cry of the loon, is a coming-of-age mystery, a stirring and nostalgic trip back to the summer of 1964 when the nation mourned the assassination of JFK and American life was forever changed by the arrival of the Beatles.

Eleven-year-old Gus LeGarde is spending another glorious summer at his grandparents’ lakeside camp, along with his best friends, Elsbeth and Siegfried Marggrander. When their boat capsizes, Gus and the twins witness a drunk chasing a girl through the foggy Maine woods. She’s scared. She’s hurt. And she disappears.

On horseback and on foot, Gus, Elsbeth, and Siegfried search for Sharon Adamski, worried her brutal father will find her before they do.

During the hunt, Gus is faced with a number of personal dilemmas. He must keep secret his new friendship with “Mrs. Jones,” a woman in mourning who resides incognito. Gus also glimpses a slice of the twins’ life through their mother, who lost her family in a Nazi concentration camp. In a cruel coincidence, Gus faces the imminent loss of his own mother.

Reports of stolen religious artifacts reach the lakeside camp. New England churches have been ransacked, and missing is the church bell cast by Paul Revere, stolen from St. Stephen’s church in Boston’s North End. When Gus and his friends stumble on a scepter that may be part of the loot, they become targets. The villain turns on them, and all thoughts of a lazy summer whirl out of control.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Women of Wheatland Book Club, August 14th, 2006. We enjoyed an enchanted evening filled with laughter and deep discussion.

Connecting with readers is what it's all about. Meeting with book clubs is a hidden aspect of writing that offers unanticipated joy. I simply love it.

To see future events click here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Here's a nice shot of a bumblebee , taken by friend Linda Slade, copyright 2006, used with permission.

Ever seen a "clear winged hummingbird moth?" Isn't it cool? I have these all over my tall garden phlox this time of year. This little guy was captured by friend Linda Slade, copyright 2006, used with permission.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I heaved a great sigh of relief this weekend after completing two major events.

First of all, I finished the draft for One Potato, Blue Potato, the second book in the new Sam Moore paranormal mystery series ( It's immensely satisfying to finish a project like that. It's my tenth book. For some reason, however, I always feel a surprising sense of loss when I type "The End." Do other writers experience this same emotional plunge? I'd love to hear from you writers out there.

Also, I completed the review of my editor's comments for Tremolo: Cry of the Loon, the third Gus LeGarde book. It will be published under the Paladin Timeless Imprint of Twilight Times Books. (Twilight Times Books is one of the top twenty publishers according to the Preditors and Editors™ 2005, a reader's annual survey of the best on the web. In addition, Twilight Times authors, artists and editors made the top twenty in several categories.)

Tremolo is a coming-of-age novel, a "literary mystery," set in the Belgrade Lakes of Maine. It's a stirring and nostalgic trip back to the summer of 1964 following President Kennedy's assassination and during the invasion of the Beatles. This is the first opportunity to meet the brilliant young Siegfried before the accident that incapacitates him. Readers will also meet Elsbeth as a child. She's fiery, adorable, and alive in this book! Gus experiences his first crush on an older "woman," deals with jealousy when he learns of the potential birth of a new sibling, and befriends a mourning, mysterious high profile guest. Gus and the twins search for a missing girl, Sharon Adamski, whom they witnessed being chased by a drunk in the foggy woods. And who is stealing religious artifact thefts from New England churches? When the villain turns on them, the anticipated lazy summer whirls out of control. (Scheduled for ebook release August 15 - September 15, 2006 and in print form summer, 2007.)

I've also updated the award winning LeGarde Mysteries website with plenty of new photos, music, and links. You'll find pictures from book clubs and signings, a new excerpt from Tremelo, and three new photo galleries filled with images of lakes, skyscapes, and winter in the Genesee Valley. This month the website was honored to receive the August 2006's website award!

The Recommended Reading page has new offerings on it, complete with reviews.

And check out the Seedlings section - there's plenty of free fiction from the monthly column that will debut in its third forum in September 2006. If you have a moment, visit Anne K. Edwards' Her newsletter, Voice in the Dark, includes pieces by some wonderful authors, including Lad Moore. "Voice" is a comprehensive newsletter for literature lovers, including readers and writers. Seedlings also runs monthly at Bob Burdick's The Back Room and in the Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine.

For the writers on distribution, take a look at Nadia Brown's new website for author and book promotion:

There are currently six great LeGarde events scheduled in Upstate NY in the next few months. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, please stop by a Reading or a Winery Book Signing. See the Events page for details.

Before I go, I'd like to share a story with you. This summer I ended up with a bit of extra space in the garden. About a forty by forty foot patch, actually! I discovered some "volunteer" seedlings growing near last year's pumpkin patch, so I figured, "Why not save them?" I transplanted about 30 of those little guys into the "extra" space. They took off like gangbusters, filling the space immediately. When I returned from vacation, I found that most of this new patch was filled with squash plants! Summer squash, goldrush, zucchini, MiddleEaster cousa, acorn... you name it! Now, you must realize, I already planted 18 hills of squash on purpose! Needless to say, I've been bringing bagloads of all kinds of mixed hybrid squash to my friends and neighbors for weeks now. It's fun - and is keeping me in shape!

Warmest regards,

Aaron Paul Lazar

Friday, August 04, 2006

Genesee Valley Ridge & Conesus Lake
Early morning

Just One of Those Mornings
by Aaron Paul Lazar

It was just one of those mornings.

The day started out fine. I slept well and woke at 4:30 to email a fellow author who’s ghostwriting a book on The Power of Positive Thinking. I’d promised a few examples of my own philosophy. You know, the kind of stuff that is infused with optimism and oozes rhapsodic enthusiasm?

The email was more of a treatise on coping mechanisms, or “How to be happy when the world around you crumbles.” I recommend “taking pleasure in the little things” and cited some examples that have helped me in the past, such as soaking in the sunrise or absorbing the winter beauty of a wheat field glistening with ice. If all else fails, I list the things for which I should be thankful, such as: “At least I’m not lying in a ditch in Iraq like our poor, brave soldiers,” or “I’m not riddled with cancer.”

I know. It sounds downright naive. I’ve been called a male “Pollyanna,” before. But heck, it gets me through those tough times and… it actually works!

After writing, I showered, made my lunch, kissed my grandsons goodbye, and slipped into my parka. I fumbled around for my car keys. They were missing! I shrugged, decided to solve the mystery later, and grabbed the spare set. I ventured out into blackness of the early morning and headed for the car. The lights didn’t come on when I opened the door. A sinking feeling settled in my gut. There were my keys, dangling in the ignition, turned to the “ACC” position!

Daughter #3, home from college for Thanksgiving, retrieved something from the van and apparently turned on the key for some mysterious reason. There they’d remained over the long weekend.

I rummaged around the barn and found a set of cables. Next, I ran back to the car, grabbed a spare key for my mother-in-law’s car, and nosed it into position. In the pitch dark, I felt around for the hood release on my van. Where was that darned lever? I couldn’t find it. I grabbed the flashlight that had been smugly waiting for such an emergency in its holder since last Christmas, and searched again. There was NO latch!

Against every fiber in my being, I admitted that I needed to read the blasted manual. I found it after scrabbling around in the glove compartment. The print was tiny – I needed my cheapo drugstore reading glasses. I keep a pair on my bedside table and at work. I sighed, then remembered a rogue pair that was tucked inside my jacket pocket from my last book signing.

For the next five minutes, I flipped through the deceptive “easy owner’s guide” until I finally found a diagram of the car. There was a hood release, but it looked like it was on the seat bottom. I got on my knees again and searched. I pushed and prodded and pulled everything in sight. I scrutinized the diagram again with fingers covered in grease. Wait a minute! Did I read the diagram wrong? Maybe it’s on the lower left side near the gas tank lever! I dropped to my knees again. There it was, hidden around the corner so that I had to crane my neck inside the car to actually see it.

Good for deterring car thieves; bad for stupid new van owners.

The hood was up. I hooked up one side of the batteries. Red to positive, black to negative. The cables wouldn’t stretch from battery to battery. I needed another measly inch. I sighed, got in the other car, backed it up, and nosed it in closer. So close, that my riotous rose bush caught me each time I squeezed past it. Finally, it was done. The van roared to life.

But alas, it wasn’t over.

Breathe. Just breathe.

The radio flashed the word, “Code” and the clock was blank. A faint memory tickled in my brain… the security system! The salesman gave me a card with a code on it. Where had I stashed it? There it was, in my wallet. The only problem was, I couldn’t read the fine print. I patted my pocket for my glasses. They weren’t there. No, they were stuck on my peanut butter toast. I cleaned them off, reset the code, and headed to work.

I grumbled. Then the sun started to rise. The sun kissed the undersides of clouds that glowed gold, gray, and lavender on the horizon. As I drove north, the rays reached higher, splitting the pale pink fingers of dawn.

I started to feel good again, optimistic about the day, and actually looked forward to reconnecting with my colleagues at work. Then I spied the railroad crossing. I was already late for work, and prayed that I’d get across without having to stop.

The lights flashed and the guardrails came down. I put the car in park and laughed at myself. Out loud. It was a belly laugh. And it felt great.

Ah, the power of positive thinking.

Now, how do I reset that infernal dash clock?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Geneseo "Ladies" Book Club Visit

Hello, friends!

I can't believe how long it's been since I added to this blog. Life has been a whirlwind lately, especially with book club visits, signings, moving my daughter's apartment, keeping up with my massive garden, babysitting my sweet little grandsons, and zooming toward the finish line for the second book in my new paranormal mystery series, entitled One Potato, Blue Potato.

Books are stacking up even higher in my virtual and physical read piles, weeds have been steadily growing in the soggy mulch of the flowerbeds (it's been tropical up here for the whole summer!), and I almost missed my deadline for the Seedlings column.

It's time to dig in, get organized, and try to catch up. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the rest of your summer and discover some gems to read.