Fast and Loose


Photograph by Mathilde Langevin. Used with permission.

For mumble-mumble years, I’ve been addicted to sugar. All my life. From the first taste of my mother’s brownies/cookies/pies/cake, I was hooked. I cleaned a plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and even the dreaded peas because I wouldn’t get dessert unless I ate all my dinner.

An early memory: somehow eating everything in my Easter basket during a visit to my grandparents’ house, and throwing up in the back seat on the way home. Halloween candy gone in days. Sneaking Hershey’s Kisses from the candy dish. Sneaking candy all the time.

Then older: eating M&Ms for dinner, or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, always washed down with Diet Coke. Sugar sugar. Oh, honey honey. And maple syrup. It felt so good – well, of course. Sugar fuels every cell in the brain. And the sugar rush (yes, it’s a thing), pushing glucose into my blood. Too much.

As I learned more and more about the dangers of elevated blood sugar levels and Type II diabetes, I understood how damaging sugar is. And believe me, I’ve tried quitting many times. Those cravings are real.

Photo by M. Reynolds

Finally, it was enough. We all reach a breaking point. I’ve quit you, sugar, hopefully forever. And I am quickly becoming a fan of intermittent fasting. I’ve started slow and easy – 8 hour window to eat (for me, that’s 8:00 am to 4:00 pm) and a 16-hour fast, during which much of that time I’m asleep, anyway. I’m hoping to add in a 24-hour or up to a 36-hour fast once or twice a month.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It will help you lose weight, and it will lower blood sugar levels. There’s plenty of research available online, if you’re interested. Check out Dr. Jason Fung.

A few weeks ago, I had my blood work done. My doctor was very pleased – blood sugar normal (A1c at 5.7). I’m determined to keep it that way. Meanwhile, my clothes are loose. My rings were loose – had them all resized. Unfortunately, my skin is loose, too! But I’m working on that, and would still take the looser skin over any of the other health issues.

This Swiss Chocolate trilogy author no longer wants Toblerone or Cailler bars. Give me Gruyère and Emmanthaler cheese instead!

My Birthday Gift to You


Cover design by Lottie Nevin

I actually started this blog, MarthaReynoldsWrites, on my birthday in 2012. Now, here I am, nine years later and nine years older. Yikes – how the years pass so quickly. Is it that way for you, too? If you’re young, pay attention! Next time you think about it, you’ll be my age, wondering what the heck happened.

Ah, well. Nothing to do about that except enjoy the days, and for me, the writing. I do still enjoy it, even if editing sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out. But my new novel is now with my publisher, so I will relax…and read. And work a little bit on the next book. And think about the one after that. And next year’s A to Z theme. Yeah, it never ends. And that’s a good thing. As long as I can keep writing, I will.

Meanwhile, I wanted to make this book free for five days (Saturday, July 10 through Wednesday, July 14). If you haven’t yet read Villa del Sol, here’s a chance to download a digital copy for free! It’s a good book (if I do say so myself), and it won the 2018 Book Prize in Literary Fiction from the Independent Publishers of New England. That was a big honor, and I’m proud and humbled that the judges liked it enough to award it the prize. And how about that cover? I think it’s the favorite cover of all of my books, and it was hand-drawn by my dear friend Lottie Nevin, who lives in Galicia, Spain with her equally-talented husband Pete. Jim and I dream about visiting them one day.

So, I hope you’re enjoying summer. Some of us have had to endure miserable heat (in the US) and much-lower-than-normal temperatures – that’s because climate change is real, y’all. The world can be a scary place these days – don’t I know it – but that’s why books are necessary. The right book can take you away from your worries and anxieties and transport you to another place. That’s what I try to do. If you like this book (or any of my others), please consider leaving a brief review on Amazon or Goodreads. I don’t like to ask, but it does help me gain some visibility. You know, it’s all about algorithms, apparently. Either way, I’ll have a new novel for you by the end of this year! It’s called The Summer of Princess Diana and I hope you’ll like it.

And if you celebrate a birthday this month, Happy Birthday!

What I’ve Read


I’m deep in edits for my next novel, and working on another (trying to make up for the deficit from last year, I suppose), but I do find time to read. Here’s what I’ve read so far in 2021:

Hope: an ARIA anthology

I’ve worked as editor as the annual anthology of short stories, essays, and poems by members of the Association of Rhode Island Authors for three years now, and as editor, I also get to choose the theme! For our 2020 anthology, ‘hope’ seemed most appropriate. Besides, it’s our state’s motto! This collection showcases the varied talent within our 300+-member organization.

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump

Yes, I read it. I borrowed it from the library, and I was curious. While it doesn’t really offer any new revelations, the former president’s niece offers insights into the man. The greed and dysfunction within the family (headed by Trump’s father) is mind-boggling at times.

Eventually Evie by Cat Lavoie

In my opinion, you just can’t go wrong with a Cat Lavoie book. This is chick lit at its very best – a modern woman who travels through life with plenty of bumps along the way. Evie is lovable and well-drawn. Really just a very fun read.

Home Waters by Elizabeth Devlin

If you’re a Rhode Islander, or even if you’re not, you’ll enjoy this book set in The Ocean State. Here’s a romance with an important message about ocean conservation, all set in and around Narragansett Bay. Local author Elizabeth Devlin has done a great job with this first in a series.

Halfway to Nowhere by Steena Marie and Elena Aitken

This novel is short and sweet, and a very enjoyable read. I believe it’s an introduction to future novels, and I’ll be looking for what comes next. A lovely mother-and-child connection.

The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander

If you’re familiar with The Lost Child of Philomena Lee or its subsequent movie, Philomena, then the plot behind this book won’t be a surprise. It’s set in Dublin in 1962 and is fiction, but based on the very real Magdalene Laundries, a Catholic institution that operated from the 18th to the late 20th centuries. It’s heartbreaking but a very good book.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

I loved this novel – and I can see why it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018. Arthur Less is a gay man in San Francisco, dreading his upcoming 50th birthday. To avoid attending the wedding of his ex-lover, he goes on a trip around the world. It’s poignant and funny and sad and wonderful.

The Mill Town by Sam Kafrissen

Another local author, and I was intrigued. Set in the dying town of West Warwick in 1958, this novel reminds one of the Sam Spade detective series. In fact, the character of Hugh Doherty figures in multiple Kafrissen novels. This story has a good plot, and while it would benefit greatly from a good edit, the author knows how to craft a tale.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

This book was published in 2019, so the headlines may have faded, but it shouldn’t matter. Journalist Ronan Farrow writes about the obstacles that were put in his way when he tried to investigate allegations of abuse by legendary filmmaker Harvey Weinstein. It’s about a lot of powerful men trying to keep quiet the stories of sexual abuse and assault against not-powerful women.

Our Wicked Lies by Glede Brown Kabongo

Here’s the tagline: “Her marriage is to die for…” Right?? Don’t you want to read this? (Answer: yes, you do). Kabongo is a great storyteller and knows how to weave tension into every scene. I’m looking to read more from her.

I Thought You Said This Would Work by Ann Garvin

Okay, so I wasn’t sure I would love this book as much as I did. A shaky start (for me), but oh boy – once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Three girlfriends with misunderstandings that have broken friendships apart, a road trip, and forgiveness. It’s really, really good.

COVID Chronicles by Dr. Therese Zink

Dr. Zink is a local author, who presents a book of essays, detailing the thoughts and memories of essential workers who helped to get the country through this crisis. If you want to read about the human spirit and its remarkable resiliency, this is for you.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

I’ll admit, I wasn’t familiar with this book (even though it spent more than seven years on the NYT bestseller list). My sister told me about it a year or so ago. I finally read it this past spring and OMG. Talk about the best opening lines: “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting in a Dumpster.” If you haven’t yet read this book, please go find it now.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Maybe it was because I had just read The Glass Castle, but I sought out this book to read. The book is 20 years old now, so some of it might seem dated, but the story remains true, maybe truer now. She went undercover to work in low-paying jobs and tried to see if she could ‘match income to expenses.’

The Woman Who Stole my Life by Marian Keyes

Delightful, quirky, witty – everything you’d expect from Irish author Marian Keyes. A woman with a rare disease (Guillain-Barre syndrome) is hospitalized for months, only able to communicate by blinking. As she struggles with her identity (before and after the illness), relationships get complicated.

Boop and Eve’s Road Trip by Mary Helen Sheriff

Just so you know, Eve is the granddaughter and Boop is her grandmother. The road trip is essential, not only for their relationship, but for their respective healths (both physical and mental). It’s full of Southern charm and sayings, but is poignant and sweet at the same time.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

This is actually last summer’s big read, but I just got around to it (and now I can read Weiner’s next book, That Summer). The character of Daphne Berg is lovable, and this story – about female friendships and fallen-apart relationships, is classic Weiner.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Did I save the best for last? Oh, this book. Given to me by my pal Lisa at Ink Fish Books, it took me weeks to finish. But that’s not a bad thing. With possibly the most exquisite prose I’ve ever read, this novel – and it is a novel, it’s fiction – imagines the aftermath of the loss of William Shakespeare’s only son, Hamnet, from the bubonic plague at age 11. Now, it’s true that Shakespeare’s son Hamnet died in 1596 at age 11, but little was known about the boy. O’Farrell took what she did know and constructed a gorgeous novel about parents and children, grief, loss, and love.

So, there you are. I need to return to writing so I can have (at least) one book for my readers this year! Feel free to let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments. And be well, everyone – better days are here.

A Free Book to Start June


Image from flickr.com – free to use

Welcome to Pride Month! Annually in June, and to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people – and those who love them – recognize the ongoing work to achieve social justice and equity for all humans.

If you don’t know about the Stonewall riots (also known as the Stonewall uprising), they happened at the end of June in 1969 in response to police raids that took place at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village (Manhattan), a traditionally gay bar. Lesbian and gay patrons, their supporters, and folks sympathetic to the movement pushed back against the violence, harassment, and persecution perpetrated by members of the police against gay and lesbian patrons. The uprising was seen as the beginning of a movement to outlaw discrimination against people based on their sexual preference. It’s been 52 years. Have things changed? Yes, in some ways, and for the better. However, discrimination and hatred are still with us, in many forms.

The movement continues, as does the fight for equality for all people. Perhaps it’s even more important now. The brave men and women who fought for freedom over 50 years ago didn’t risk (or in some cases, give up) their lives so that a select few groups could wield power and exert dominance over others.

My 2013 novel

To that end, I’m making one of my books free for the next five days. Bits of Broken Glass is about a small group of high school classmates who reunite 25 years after their high school graduation. It features diverse characters, all of whom carry baggage from their younger days, and all of whom fear some of the ghosts of the past. Bits of Broken Glass was an Amazon #1 bestseller a few years ago, but if you haven’t yet read it, now’s your chance. Download a copy for free, or pick up a paperback copy for about $10.00, either through Amazon or from your favorite bookstore. If your bookstore doesn’t have a copy in stock, just ask them to order it for you! And that title? Yes, it’s a fragment of a lyric from one of my favorite James Taylor songs.

Coming Soon – A Green Anthology


After the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge, which ended on April 30, I generally take a break from blogging. Can you blame me? Although most of the work is done during the months of February and March (so that I don’t have to blog each weekday – believe me, I learned the hard way!), still, I keep up with the April posts, catching little errors here and there. Also, I like to visit as many blogs as I can during the month of April, so little else gets done.

However, again this year I was chair of an annual project involving my fellow Rhode Island authors. For the sixth consecutive year, the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA) will publish an anthology of stories, essays, and poetry by Rhode Island authors. This is my third year chairing and editing the project. It’s always exciting!

For 2021, I chose the theme of GREEN. I do believe an anthology should have a theme, something to tie together the submissions, and GREEN can be interpreted in many ways. There were stories and poems about GREEN in its many forms – envy, money, grassy areas, green eyes, ecology. The was memory and fantasy and baseball! We have a multitude of talent within our group.

So, look for our anthology, coming soon. It’s presently with the publishing company we use (https://www.stillwaterpress.com/). Copies will be available both online and through Stillwater.

And if you’re looking for past anthologies, check them out here:

https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/shoreline-selected-short-fiction-non-fiction-poetry-and-prose-aria
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/under-13th-star-selected-short-fiction-non-fiction-poetry-and-prose-aria
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/selections-aria-anthology
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/past-present-and-future-selected-short-fiction-non-fiction-poetry-prose-association-rhode-island-aut
https://www.stillwaterbooksri.com/hope-aria-anthology

#AtoZ Stay Home! Wear a Mask! “Z” is for HAZARD ROCK


It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

The name Hazard is well known in Rhode Island. Members of the Hazard family were among the first settlers in the state. According to Wikipedia, “descendants have been known for military achievement, business success, philanthropy, and broad social activism spanning such causes as abolition of slavery, treatment of the insane and alcoholics, family planning, and innovative employee programs.” Belcourt Castle in Newport, one of the “summer cottages” of the very well-to-do, was built for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, a socialite and U.S. Representative from New York.

Hazard Rock, pictured above, lies at the end of Hazard Avenue in Narragansett. The name Hazard seems appropriate here, as the rocks can be very slippery. The waves hit hard against the rocks, making them black and slick. And there have been injuries and deaths attached to the rock. In 2016, a person was pulled from the waters off Hazard Rock. At the time of rescue, the person was unresponsive and was pronounced dead. Just a few months previous, a 61-year-old man was seen swimming in the water near Hazard Rock. His body was found several days later. And in 2015, a 14-year-old girl and her father were snorkeling and spearfishing in the waters near Hazard Rock, when he lost contact with her. She was found unconscious hours later and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

So, while these stories illuminate the dangers of being on Hazard Rock, it’s a beautiful place to enjoy the views from a distance, as noted in the photo above.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series! Here’s to another “Blogging from A to Z” in the books – this was my 10th year participating. My previous themes have been:

2012: Authors, novelists, poets, lyricists

2013: Oh! The Places I’ve Been

2014: CHEESE! “Smile and Say…”

2015: Listen Up!

2016: Paris Between the Wars

2017: A to Z Musicals

2018: 1968

2019: Dylan

2020: Yes, But Would You Eat It?

#AtoZ Stay Home! Wear a Mask! “Y” is for YAWGOO


It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

The only remaining ski ‘resort’ in Rhode Island is located in Exeter. It opened in the 1965-66 season as “Rhode Island’s first chairlift ski area.” (Other ski areas relied on tow ropes or T-bars). Developer Richard Downs acquired property around Yorker Hill (295 ft.) and began cutting ski trails.

Because of its location, Yawgoo relies mainly on artificial snowmaking. It also has a snow tubing park available with eight lanes.

The early 1970s saw difficult days at Yawgoo Valley. The 1971-72 season had minimal December skiing and 1972-73 only had 58 days of operation, the majority of which were considered bad.

In an effort to develop a summer business, Downs and his partner Steven Ellis constructed a skateboard park in the spring of 1976. By the summer of 1977, an estimated 10,000 skateboarders had visited the park. Now there is a water park, consisting of two water slides, a kiddie pool and a regular pool.

#AtoZ Stay Home! Wear a Mask! “X” is for PAWTUXET VILLAGE


It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.

Of course I got creative with my “X” post. (Just so you know, I bent the rules a little with “Z,” too).

Pawtuxet Village, one of my favorite spots in Rhode Island, is where the Pawtuxet River flows into Narragansett Bay. In the Native Narragansett language, ‘Pawtuxet’ means ‘little falls.’

Photo by Martha Reynolds

Settlers in the early 18th century saw the advantage of using the Pawtuxet River’s power, and constructed mills along its banks. The harbor in the village became one of America’s premier shipping ports.

There are still many colonial houses and buildings in the village, thanks to the hard work of the Pawtuxet Village Historic District.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

In 1772, Rhode Islanders took the first organized military action towards independence by burning the British schooner HSM Gaspee. The action was part of the beginning of the American Revolution. Each year in June, “Gaspee Days” are celebrated in the village, with a parade and a symbolic burning of the Gaspee.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

In the late 1800s, one of Rhode Island’s well-known and wealthy families, the Rhodes, developed and built Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet, a famous dance hall and casino. Because of its location along the banks of the Pawtuxet River, there were also canoe trips offered. These days, it’s a popular venue for weddings, retirement parties, and the annual Book Expo of the Association of Rhode Island Authors.

#AtoZ Stay Home! Wear a Mask! “W” is for WOONSOCKET


It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

Bienvenue! We are in Woonsocket today, and while it might be a good exercise for me to write this post en français, I’d need to use the French-Canadian version of French to be authentic.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

Before the European settlers arrived in Rhode Island, specifically northern Rhode Island, in the 17th century, the area known today as Woonsocket was inhabited by three Native American tribes: the Nipmuc, the Wampanoag, and the Narragansett.

So where did the name Woonsocket come from? It’s likely derived from another Native word, maybe ‘woonksechocksett,’ meaning ‘fox country,’ or ‘wannashowtuckqut,’ meaning ‘at the fork in the river.’

As the Industrial Revolution expanded along the banks of the Blackstone River, textile mills were built from Pawtucket to Woonsocket. In 1831, Edward Harris built his first textile mill in Woonsocket. But the actual town of Woonsocket wasn’t established until 1867, when three villages in the area (Woonsocket Falls, Social, and Jenckesville) officially became Woonsocket. Three more industrial villages were added in 1871 (Hamlet, Bernon, and Globe), and Woonsocket incorporated as a city in 1888.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

The influx of immigrants to the mills, primarily from Quebec and other areas of French-speaking Canada, bloomed the city. By 1913, Woonsocket had the sixth-largest population of French or French-Canadian foreign nationals in the country. By the Great Depression in 1929, ethnic French Canadians comprised 75 percent of the city’s population. There were newspapers in French, radio programs, and if you strolled down Main Street, you’d likely hear French spoken.

The Depression had hurt the textile mills, but business revived at the outbreak of World War II. Woonsocket became a center of fabric manufacturing, for military uniforms and parachutes. If you’re in the area, the Museum of Work and Culture is well worth your time. https://www.rihs.org/locations/museum-of-work-culture/

#AtoZ Stay Home! Wear a Mask! “V” is for VALLEY FALLS


It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.

Photo by Martha Reynolds

A little village in the town of Cumberland, Valley Falls sits on the border of Central Falls and Lincoln. Valley Falls is known for being the starting place of Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway. That’s right! Berkshire Hathaway was actually founded in 1839 by a businessman named Oliver Chace, who founded several textile manufacturing companies in the 1800s. Originally called the Valley Falls Company, the company manufactured cotton.

Photo by Martha Reynolds
Photo by Martha Reynolds

Like most mills, the river and its dam helped to power operations. The textile empire built by the Chace family lasted for 70 years, with mills on both sides of the dam pictured above. As the company grew, other manufacturers came to the area to use the labor force. Valley Falls became Cumberland’s downtown and the seat of town government.

The Valley Falls Company closed in the 1930s, and the mills on the Cumberland side were torn down to avoid property taxes. In 1991, the town of Cumberland and the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor, an area dedicated to the history of the early American Industrial Revolution, transformed the site into a historic park. Sadly, the area has been marked by graffiti and vandalism, and a number of homeless people have set up tents down by the river.

Photo by Martha Reynolds
Photo by Martha Reynolds