For Better or Worse


vows

Oh, those pesky vows. How they can interfere with one’s selfish pursuits.

Shortly before I married my husband, 22 years ago next month, one of my former co-workers stood in front of me. She was middle-aged and divorced. Giving me a smirky smile, she said, ‘Oh, you think he’s so perfect now. Check back in ten years when the magic’s worn off. Believe me, it disappears.’

Thanks for that, I replied. And I’m sorry your marriage didn’t last, but bestowing your bitterness on me didn’t work. I reflected on that exchange this week as I’ve been thinking about marriage. Commitment. Vows.

Jim and I met up with a couple from New York earlier this week. Sometimes we only see them once a year, but it’s always enjoyable. They’ve been married for longer then we have. They’re two pieces of a puzzle, they’re just both.

Then there’s the woman who, after thirty-odd years of marriage. is still gushy over her husband. It’s sweet, yes, and a bit off-putting sometimes. But she can still get corny after thirty years with the same man, so who can find fault, really?

‘In sickness and in health’

The guy who acts like a seven-year-old when he has the flu. The woman who is unbearable once a month. And now, as I see more and more frequently, the partner with a life-threatening illness. Every day can’t be sunshine and flowers. Every relationship is tested during the most difficult times – illness, financial challenges, raising children. That’s also when a marriage can be at its strongest. Stresses are everywhere. Saying “I Do” means saying “I Will.” I will love you even on the days I don’t like you. I will laugh with you, not at you. I will support you and respect you. I will stand by you, no matter what. And I will love growing old with you.

soulmate-meme-9

Looking Back (Way Back)


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As I’ve been working on recreating this journal written by my maternal grandfather (which will be a book by December), it’s inevitably led to some family tree research.

Over twenty years ago, I picked up on my mother’s love of genealogy and created a binder of information for her. Lots of pages, many, many branches of a tree that went all the way back to King Alfred the Great. (‘Mom, if we’re descended from royalty, why do I have to work?’ ‘Someone married for love, that’s why.’) Of course, the argument can be made that we’re all connected, and the more I do this research, the more I believe it.

My husband’s mother was born in Salzburg, and we have documents, official certificates of births and marriages and deaths. I have Zeinzingers back to the late 1700s, and Strauss, Altmann, Eder. Everything in German!

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This has helped! So has my online friend Eva Merryman – her translations have been valuable in figuring out the who, the what, and the where.

So, how about you? Do you look back? Have you discovered something wonderful in your family history?

Introducing Vineyard Chocolates!


Vineyard Chocolates

Vineyard Chocolates

Not just any chocolate, my friends. Wine-flavored chocolate! That’s right, and I actually sampled some recently. Now, you know how I am about chocolate – if I’m going to indulge, I want it to be very good quality.

This is top-notch. Joe Woerly has created three different varieties:

  • Cabernet flavored dark chocolate with 73% cocoa
  • Merlot flavored dark chocolate with 61% chocolate
  • Chardonnay flavored white chocolate with 31% cocoa

Good-quality chocolate is not gritty or grainy. Vineyard Chocolates are so smooth they’ll melt on your tongue. The flavors are subtle but definitely there. The Cabernet dark is the least sweet (and with 73% cocoa, a very healthy choice!) but satisfying. The Merlot dark is fruity and soft, just like the wine. Now, a word about white chocolate. There are a lot of cheap, bad white chocolates out there. This one, however, flavored with Chardonnay, is rich and creamy, and will turn you into a fan. It was my husband’s favorite of the three. I loved them all.

You can help Joe start his business through a Kickstarter campaign – and you can get chocolate as well! View his video here:

And now that you are as excited about this venture as I am, visit Joe’s Kickstarter page! (Click on the link below)

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1224628867/vineyard-chocolates-wine-flavored-chocolate-bars/widget/card.html?v=2

 

And thank you for helping someone realize a dream.

November is Book-a-Day Month!


win-books

Each day in November, I’ll be featuring a different book by a Rhode Island author, all leading up to the  4th Annual Rhode Island Authors Expo on Saturday, December 3 (11:00am – 5:00pm) at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet.

There are hundreds of authors located in little Rhode Island, and this is a way for me to showcase some real talent. Each author will showcase one book, and, in nearly every case, there’s a chance to win that book just by commenting on the blog post. Easy-peasy! And just in time for some holiday gift-giving (because we all know books make the best gift).

So be sure you’re following this blog and each day in November you’ll have a chance to win. The contest for each post will run for a week before I let the computer randomly select a winner.

For more info about the Expo, follow this link http://www.riauthors.org/riexpo/

Oversharing


sharing

I know three or four loyal readers of this blog who don’t have a social media presence (I love them!), but many of us do, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blahblahblahblahblah. We do it for varying reasons: I first joined Facebook at the invitation of a high school friend, and found I could enjoy a virtual reunion without worrying about what to wear. College friends, former co-workers, an old crush, neighbors, even my best friend from second grade. We’re all connected online.

Some have more of a presence than others, for different reasons. As an author, I’ve learned that it’s important to stay connected with readers. I try not to shill my books (they’re all right there on the page, isn’t that enough?!), and love to promote others. I enjoy seeing photos of my friends’  kids grandkids, pets, and even the same sunset from another viewpoint.

This past week I was struck with the concept of oversharing. And its opposite. A former co-worker completed her rounds of chemotherapy (breast cancer) without a single post to the world. Her family and close friends were aware, I’m sure, but someone like me, an acquaintance at best, had no need, and she didn’t find it necessary to share her struggle. Only when the chemo was completed did her husband post joyfully (with her okay). And I think we all felt the same joy for her, even if we hadn’t known what she’d endured these past months.

That isn’t to say that those who feel the need to share every last tidbit are bad people. According to the Daily Mail (UK), scientists have revealed that people who feel compelled to share intimate details of their lives on social media sites have heightened activity in the region of the brain relating to self-cognition. Some folks just like to share information about themselves. It’s their diary (for everyone to read!). And for us, we have the option to simply hide, delete, scroll through.

 

 

Two Weeks, Three Rivers


photo by Martha Reynolds

photo by Martha Reynolds

I’ve been working on a new novel, Villa del Sol, for months now. Sometimes the writing comes easily (I have the story in my head, but getting it out isn’t always easy). Life can be a distraction, an inspiration, a temporary derailment. And as much as I had wanted it to be finished in time for the 2016 Expo, that’s looking more and more unlikely. So what’s a writer to do?

Well, last week I was featured locally here, and perhaps it was talking about my grandfather that pushed me back to a project I’d backburnered. In 1924, Earl Handy (my mother’s father) and John B. Hudson (a local treasure and one of Rhode Island’s foremost naturalists), took a canoe trip. Two weeks and three rivers. Earl kept a journal of the adventure. There are photographs. I’d wanted to publish this account, and now I’m determined to do it.

photo by Martha Reynolds

photo by Martha Reynolds

In delving back into this project, I’ve reawakened an interest in family history. I’ve spent days at the library, scanning microfilmed pages of old newspapers, finding articles of note, reading about long-forgotten villages in Rhode Island and Connecticut. It’s fun! And, I hope, will provide for an interesting piece of history. So, stay tuned – my novel will be published sometime in 2017, but Two Weeks, Three Rivers will be ready by December (fingers and toes crossed).

Hi, My Name is….Introvert


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Some of you will read this title and think, ‘Not Martha!’  I know. I play a good game of it.

Last week I attended an event with my pal Lynne. I didn’t think I’d know anyone there. I ended up seeing a couple of former co-workers (people who were actually nice), and I was introduced to a few of Lynne’s colleagues. Smiles and handshakes all around. Nodding at conversation.

And yesterday I attended my 40th high school reunion. It was a very successful day, and, as I’d had a hand in the planning of the event, I received plenty of compliments and positive feedback about the day.

After a few hours, I couldn’t wait to leave.

Now hold on – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to see old friends. I did! And they’re really great people. Yes, we’ve all grown up (way up), and after forty years, much of my teenage angst is pushed back. Maybe not forgotten but certainly diluted by life’s joys and accomplishments. I had a chance to speak with just about everyone, and even led a goofy trivia contest.

Well, that doesn’t sound like an introvert, does it?

But here’s the thing, and I thank Lynne for the conversation last week as we were driving back home from the beach event: an extrovert derives energy from being around people – an introvert’s energy is sucked out by being around others. An introvert may work hard at being sociable, but it’s draining.

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Introverts don’t like small talk – not because they dislike people, but because it serves as a kind of barrier. Introverts sometimes feel alone, even in the midst of familiar faces. Introverts can be excellent public speakers (yes!), but find it more difficult and stressful to mingle with others afterwards. Introverts start to shut down after they’ve been active for too long. And I did, at both events. So, my apologies to my high school friends for leaving the party without saying my goodbyes. I was so grateful to be in your company! And for the ones from my high school class who couldn’t attend the reunion, meeting one-on-one or in a small group would be absolutely perfect. But you knew that.

Hot Songs – 1976


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Next week is my 40th high school reunion (ack!). So I’m reflecting, of course, and listening to music from 1976 – forty years ago. The 70’s gave us some great songs, ranging from the folky music of the early part of the decade to the raging disco music at the end.

Here are some of my favorites from the summer of ’76:

“Love is Alive” by Gary Wright. Peaked at #2.

“Silly Love Songs” by Wings. McCartney answered his critics with this one.

“Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band. Hit #1 in July 1976.

“Get Closer” by Seals and Crofts. Sorry about the poor quality (it’s 1976!). S&C’s last Top 10 hit.

“Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck. Their debut single and biggest hit.

“You’re my Best Friend” by Queen. Reached #16 on the Billboard charts.

Happy Book-iversary (to me)!


99centsMy first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, was published on August 12, 2012 – nearly four years ago! (It was republished with a new cover in April 2013.) In those four years, I’ve written and published six novels, all of which have given me tremendous pride and a sense of accomplishment. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing, and that is sufficient. Well, pretty much.

New novels can trigger a sales flurry, but sales drop off after a time, even for beloved best-sellers.

So….for the coming week, every one of my six novels will be discounted to 99 cents for the e-book (Kindle version). I have no control over the print price, but if you come to the RI Authors Book Expo on December 3, 2016 http://www.riauthors.org/riexpo/ , I’ll have print copies available for a great price.

You can grab a three-book series, described by one reader as “writing (that) draws wonderful pictures of the characters and allows you to really ‘fall into’ the book ~ which is one of my favorite things about reading.” Or read about a group of classmates readying for their 25-year high school reunion and visiting old grievances. A novel about a young woman pursuing her dream of becoming a best-selling author, only to face a harsh reality check. And finally, a lighter story involving two friends who gamble on a dream of turning a rundown farm into a premier wedding venue. If you’ve already read these books, here’s a chance to give some gifts. In any event, I’m grateful – so very grateful – for all the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve received, from friends and strangers new friends, over the past four years.

People of the Small Point


NarragansettRI.gov

NarragansettRI.gov

Native American names abound throughout the United States, especially here in tiny Rhode Island. A small town whose population nearly doubles during the summer, the name ‘Narragansett‘ is actually an English corruption of the Algonquin tribal name Nanhigganeuck, which means ‘people of the small point.’

East Matunuck photo by M. Reynolds

East Matunuck
photo by M. Reynolds

Matunuck (‘Mah-TOO-nick’) is a village set between Narragansett and Charlestown, whose name means ‘lookout.’ The Narragansett tribe used Matunuck as a summer encampment. The beaches at Matunuck and East Matunuck are both great, with direct exposure to the Atlantic Ocean.

charlestownri.org

charlestownri.org

Quonochontaug (go ahead, try it – okay, it’s ‘QUON-ah-kah-tawg’) might be hard to pronounce, but according to the American Indian Place Names page, Quonochontaug means ‘extended deserted place/two long ponds in succession.’ The photo above shows the breachway, which provides access to both Quonochontaug Pond and Block Island Sound. The pond is a large salt pond with many coves and channels to explore in a kayak or other small boat.

Misquamicut via commons.wikimedia.org

Misquamicut via commons.wikimedia.org

Almost in Connecticut, Misquamicut extends from Weekapaug to Watch Hill (all part of the town of Westerly). The area once known as ‘Pleasant View’ changed its name in 1928 to Misquamicut, an Indian name that means ‘red fish,’ a reference to the Atlantic salmon common to the Pawcatuck River. 

And if you didn’t know before reading this, now you know why Rhode Island is The Ocean State!