Friday, September 19, 2014

Drama on Interstate 64

Of all the places for a vehicle to break down, I'd vote Interstate 64 at a busy interchange not one of the ideal places.

But that's what happened to me Thursday. I heard a pop -- like the sound of a Ping Pong ball hitting a window -- and then lights and warnings started flashing on the dash. STOP ENGINE NOW freaked me out so I pulled over and did just that. Grabbed everything I could and hopped out of the car -- and almost into traffic zooming by.

I have AAA, so that was no worry. Being on the side of that particular stretch of road was. Since just the night before a police officer and a firefighter were hit while assisting a motorist on the side of a local road. I decided I'd rather risk getting bit by ticks than hit by a semi or someone sending a text while zipping along at 70 mph. So I climbed over the guard rail and made my call and the wait for a tow in the grass.

East-bound view

Looking west bound
I'll be gracious and spare you the, er, let's just say irritated selfie that I took.

By the way, the wheels are up and running again. Thank you, Chris, Wally and Mr. Dalton!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Describe the best concert you ever attended

Un-journal prompt 6

It's time for another writing prompt. I'll give you my response, post yours.

This continues in the Un-Journal journaling series.

Describe the best concert you ever attended
I’ve been to tons of concerts in all musical genres in my life, from gospel and jazz to rock, bluegrass, country and the blues. I’ve seen Al Jarreau and Elton John the most. The first time I saw Jarreau (in Pittsburgh, Pa.), David Sanborn opened for him. That’s how long ago that was!

If I have to pick just one … man, that’s hard. Elton John, Rod Stewart, Chet Atkins and Babyface (how’s that for a quartet of conflicting genres!) have been standouts. But I think the prize has to go to the late great Luther Vandross, November 1993, playing the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va.

Luther came out and promised “I will never, ever mess with your ticket money.” He then sang for hours! For those not familiar with him, listen to this Luther classic.

In addition to the music, and why I can remember the day, it was a girls’ night out, we had great seats, and I’d just sold my first novel. So we were celebrating both my sale to Arabesque and Luther that night.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Rivne Vechirne journalists visit the U.S.

Rivne Vechirne is a newspaper in Rivne, Ukraine. For the past week or so, the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., has been hosting three journalists and two translators from Ukraine who traveled to the United States to learn about and observe how U.S. newspapers operate. Today was the farewell following a full week of activities, including a live online chat with readers. Feel free to read the transcript of the chat. It's in English!

From left, Svitlana, the finance director at Rivne Vechirne; me; Valentyna, the newspaper's editor; translator Nadia; translator Anzhelike; and political writer, Serhiy. 

I learned a few key phrases from my Ukrainian colleagues, and can now say -- if not spell! -- the following phrases in Ukrainian:
how are you?

There are a few others, but I'm just starting and Ukrainian is much more difficult than some of the other languages I've attempted to learn.

Here the group says farewell after gifts were exchanged all around, including chocolate and coffee from Ukraine.
On the table are some of the individually wrapped sweets from a factory in Rivne. And they presented the newsroom with several packages of coffee that is "much stronger" than the apparently weak coffee Americans are used to. In the background (below wall of photos) is the latest puzzle the DP newsroom is working on, a 2,000-piece challenge. Two of the gifts presented from the DP to the Rivne journalists were puzzles for their newsroom!

One of the coffees.

Fruit-centered sweets in assorted flavors.

I gave each of them a a signed copy of SING TO MY HEART. They gave me a bar of chocolate and it's really cool to read the packaging -- or I should say look at the packaging since I can't read most of it.

This is the second group from Rivne Vechirne to visit the Daily Press. A delegation from the Daily Press is supposed to go there when things calm down in the country.

Here, DP writer Peter Dujardin, right, chats with the Ukrainian journalists.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Three Things You Can't Go Without

Un-journal Prompt 5
Continuing with the series of Un-journaling prompts, here's my response to an intriguing one. Feel free to post yours below. The Un-journal prompt was "Three Things You Can't Go Without."

Three things I can't go without: Food. Water. Shelter.

After the big three, there are truly few things I could live without.

People come and go in our lives, friends, family members, lovers, co-workers. Possessions are fleeting – or in the case of hoarders, overwhelming – and are, after all, just things. Even things with significant monetary value are still just things. You can’t take them with you when you die. Although plenty of kings and emperors and pharaohs have tried to do just that as they headed into the afterlife surrounded by jewels, wine, servants and the trappings of their power.

As for the trappings of modern life, there are certainly things that I wonder how I managed before they existed. Among them:

·        The microwave. My oven is essentially a place where I store the baking pans and trays that I don’t use.

·        My mobile phone. I do just about everything on it: banking, bills, play, reading, emails, etc. Oh, yeah, and phone calls – which is actually the least of what I do with it.

·        Post-it notes. God bless the 3M scientist who accidentally invented them!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

New book cover! This Holiday Magic

I received the final version of the new Christmas anthology cover! THIS HOLIDAY MAGIC is being released in November from Kimani Arabesque. I'm delighted to be in this collection with authors Celeste Norfleet and Janice Sims.

My story in the anthology is "A Family For Christmas." It's a Calloway Family story featuring single dad Trey Calloway, and his next-door neighbor single mom Renee Armstrong.

Be sure to join me in Cedar Springs, N.C, for this latest adventure. And to read a Cedar Springs story now, check out THE FIREMAN FINDS A WIFE, an inspirational romance from Love Inspired.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Celebrating Summer

A little exercise last week had me contemplating how summer is celebrated. I came up with a comparative then and now list.


  • Go camping with Girl Scouts. Go camping with YMCA. Go camping with church group.

  • Play outside.

  • Walk barefoot – just about everywhere except church and while picking blackberries.

  • Swimming – at the neighborhood pool; and at the shore in Cape May on vacation.

  • At least three trips to Kennywood Park (amusement park outside Pittsburgh) for rollercoasters.

  • Shorts and flipflops and watermelon and playing jacks on grandma’s front porch.

  • Popsicles!

  • Plant flowers; watch the garden grow.

  • Some sort of car trip.

  • Read books in the library’s summer reading program.


  • Look at the calendar and wonder how it got to be summer! Wasn’t Christmas just last month???

  • Vow to be swimsuit ready by Labor Day. (yeah, right!)

  • Remind myself not to complain about the 90-100 degree heat because I complained about the winter’s cold.

  • Fret that I’m going to miss summer.

  • Plant flowers; tend to yard.

  • Head to the beach!

  • Read books in the library’s summer reading program.


  • Hmm, I see a theme! :)

How do you celebrate summer?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What's the most significant event in your lifetime?

Un-Journal Prompt 4

What do you think has been the most significant event that has taken place during your life?

How I wish I could say there was just one significant event. There have however been many. While I don’t remember either of these tragic events, they happened during my lifetime: the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My parents have recounted what they were doing and when for each. Just like for my own list, I could tell you exactly what I was doing when and where when each event happened.

Since each of the following eight events could in and of themselves be full journal entries, I’ll only list them and provide a sentence or two on the why. The memorable and significant events in my own memory include:

Death of Pope John Paul I in 1978: I was 16 and in Alaska when we heard the news. I remember being glued to the television in a hotel and crying.

Explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger, Jan. 28, 1986: So excited about this. So devastated. I have a photo of the crew that I later got at Kennedy Space Center.

Sale of my first book in 1993 and Its publication in 1994: This still makes me smile … all these years later.

My brother’s death on Feb. 3, 1996: I miss him every day and go to his grave whenever I’m home in Pennsylvania.

Death of Princess Diana in 1997: Spent the entire night with CNN; felt as if a sister had died. I wrote a column for the newspaper about why women were so devastated about her death. The column’s basic premise: We’re fed the Prince Charming fairy tale from childhood and this one didn’t end right.

Sept. 11, 2001: Horror of all horrors.

Election of Barack Obama/Inauguration of President Obama: The election for the historical significance of the first African-American president; the inauguration on Jan. 28, 2009, because of my neighbor Dave’s suicide-by-cop incident. (Way too long to get into here: short version, neighbor on street went crazy; SWAT, bomb squad, evacuation; eventually shot by police when he came out with what they thought was a bomb attached to his chest. On any other day, this would have dominated the front page of the paper and TV broadcasts, but it was Inauguration Day.) So for me, the president’s inauguration will always be tied with that incident..