Travel Dreams

I have had five passports. Whether I’ll need another is unknown, but many of us are hoping – dreaming – of being able to travel freely again.

Summer 1978

Oh my. I was 20 years old and just months away from the adventure of my life. I flew (for the first time) from Boston to Zürich and spent my junior year of college in Fribourg, Switzerland. My passport has stamps from Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Belgium, and The Netherlands.

Spring 1983

My first passport was soon to expire (it was good for just five years back then), so I renewed it, in anticipation of a trip to Morocco. A few years later, I returned to Switzerland, then again, then again. I brought my passport with me on a long weekend to Montréal, but I don’t think I needed it. There was also a vacation to The Netherlands.

Summer 1994

HAHAHA! I was just a few months away from getting married, but I wasn’t as scared as I look in this photo. We were going to St. Lucia for our honeymoon, so I needed to renew my passport. We traveled to London on this passport, too.

October 2006

Next up was the new passport I needed for our trip together to Switzerland. I’d been to ‘la belle Suisse’ many, many times since that first journey in 1978, but I was looking forward to showing my husband. Born to an Austrian mother, he’d done plenty of traveling before we met – to Salzburg and England and countless times to scuba-dive in the Caribbean. We took a couple of trips to Switzerland, in 2007 and again in 2009, and drove to Montréal in 2010.

December 2016

This is my current passport photo – who IS that old woman, anyway? I wasn’t allowed to wear the thick black-framed eyeglasses that are as much a part of me as my blue eyes. And I probably should have worn more makeup. It’s my deer-in-the-headlights look. But I’ve got this passport until 2026. I’ve traveled back to Switzerland twice on this passport, both times alone, both times with the intention of getting a book out of the trip. That did happen in early 2017 – my novel Villa del Sol was a result. But the last trip, in March 2020, was ill-fated, and COVID-19 had me returning home just three days later.

So we wait. For mass vaccinations, for immunity, for the chance to travel again, under circumstances more normal. Until then, I dream.

A Big Giveaway to Kick Off 2021!

What a great way to kick off the new year! Here’s your chance to win a TON of books, and my award-winning novel Chocolate for Breakfast is included. It’s a good series starter, because once you’ve finished with this one, there are two more in the series! And – BONUS – if you win Chocolate for Breakfast, or even if you simply download it from Amazon for just 99 cents, and you leave an honest review at Amazon, I’ll send you the second e-book in the series, Chocolate Fondue. You can pick up where the first book leaves off! There’s a third book in the series, too – Bittersweet Chocolate.

Just click on this link to go to the contest, and good luck!

My very first novel!

Planning for 2021

Looking ahead. Lake Champlain, Vermont. Photo by Martha Reynolds.

The first few days of this new year have felt, in many ways, like another year entirely. We were all so glad to be rid of 2020, and then 2021 hit. An attempted coup on our democracy, the pandemic raging and getting even worse, delayed vaccinations. With all the chaos and uncertainty around us, are you able to make plans for this year?

I’ll admit, 2020 kicked my butt as far as writing goes. I’d put about 30,000 words down on my new novel, The Summer of Princess Diana. I’d traveled to Switzerland in early March, and, with the help of my friend Barbara, had found the house where I’d spent a summer playing nanny (au pair) to a toddler. I took a couple of photos of the house and the memories came flooding back. And then, just three days into my trip, the president announced, erroneously, that he was closing the borders with Europe. My husband phoned me at my hotel at 2:30 in the morning (Swiss time, but yes, I was awake and had watched the speech on CNN in my hotel room) and pleaded with me to get the next flight home.

So I did. Because as much as I love Switzerland, I love my husband more. I checked out, took a train to Zurich, and handed over an additional $1,200 to secure the one remaining seat on an Aer Lingus flight from Zurich to Dublin to Boston. I was acutely aware of my surroundings, but I still had to stand in crowded lines and sit very close to people I didn’t know. I’m amazed I didn’t get sick.

So, for the rest of 2020, I stayed home a lot. You’d think I could have written three books, right? The situation affected everyone differently, and for me, I wasn’t able to write.

So here we are in January, anxiously awaiting the removal of the worst president in American history (yes, he is the worst – there isn’t any debate. He incited an insurrection because he couldn’t accept his loss), and awaiting the installation of a new administration that will be faced with daunting challenges. We wait for vaccines for everyone, so we might get back to some sense of normalcy. We hope for our economy to rebound, for people to get back to work, for kids to go back to school and try to make up for a diminished year of learning. We want to dine out, to go to the movies, to travel! Yes, we want to travel. And hug.

I’m planning, because I’m trying to be hopeful. I have been involved in editing manuscripts for others. It’s satisfying work, and the money is good, but I’m still not writing. And I want to write, so I have to carve out some time each day. I’m plotting out my 2021 theme for this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge ( – those posts are written ahead of time, and I’ve participated since 2012, so this will be my 10th year. I’m chairing the Association of Rhode Island Authors’ annual anthology again this year, and that means being busy in the coming months. Editing, chairing, blogging, reading, and writing. And walking! I can’t sit in this chair all day.

I hope you’ve made plans for this new year. Don’t call them resolutions if you don’t want to. But look ahead, continue to have hope (I know, I cling to it sometimes, but hold on tight), and stay with me. I promise to have a new book for you this year.

Be well. Stay safe.

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. – Thich Nhat Hanh

We’ve Wandered Many a Weary Foot

Free to use image from

Robert Burns, the Scotsman who lived just 37 years, penned the words to “Auld Lang Syne” when he was 29. Burns sent a copy to the Scots Musical Museum in 1788 with a note, saying “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.” While it wasn’t originally intended for New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay in Scotland, it soon became a favorite song for the last evening of the year.

Is it right that old times be forgotten? This is the first question posed in “Auld Lang Syne.” And should old acquaintance, old friends, be forgotten, too? I hope not!

I think of the many connections I’ve made over the years. Some (too many) have passed away, but I’m comforted by fond memories of times spent together. Some have faded away, meaning the connection just isn’t there anymore. And that’s okay, too. A few have shown themselves to be something other than a friend, which is sad, but it happens. But for those that are still with me – thank you. I do treasure you. You matter to me. And while I can’t shake your hand or hug you hard this year, I will raise a cup o’ kindness – to you, to better days, decency, and to good health.

We have indeed wandered many a weary foot in 2020, even if we’ve mostly been at home. I don’t know about you, but I’m wrung out. Of course there have been good days, and laughter (thanks to my husband), and hope (each day dawns fresh), and I remain confident that the coming year will bring about change, (slow) healing, and promise. I have to believe it.

So, as I have have done in the past, I will leave you with my favorite version of “Auld Lang Syne.” Happy New Year!

“The seas between us have roared and swelled…”

Here’s the link to my favorite version of “Auld Lang Syne.”

What I Read – September to December

Happy end of 2020! Who else is glad to close out this year? I know I am.

Didn’t get much writing done this year. Well, I was going strong until March. Other writers I know made such good use of being home – happy for them. I’m hoping to start again in January – new year, same book. And – I’m aiming to finish it and start a new one.

I posted about all the books I read this past summer here:

Here’s what I read from September through to yesterday:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I couldn’t put it down. It was timely and riveting. Read it with an open heart.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett. I gobbled up this book soon after I’d finished reading The Vanishing Half, also by Bennett, who is one of my favorite authors. From the book description: “All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. This is Book 2 in the Amgash series, and I read this one before Book 1 (which I list farther down the page), but it didn’t really matter. Elizabeth Strout is so skillful at digging into human emotions, and all of the stories in this book are connected.

Sing for Me by Maggie Clare. This is the first in a series of three books by Maggie Clare, the pen name of award-winning author and my pal Tabitha Lord. Tabitha, as Maggie, writes steamy romances, and Sing for Me checks all the boxes. A great escape novel!

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Here is the first book in the two-book Amgash series. You can read this one first, but it’s not necessary. I love the way Strout uncovers, layer by layer, the history and deep-seated emotions of each character.

The Land of Last Chances by Joan Cohen. Cohen tells an interesting story in this book, featuring an executive in her late forties who has an unexpected pregnancy. While some unexpected pregnancies can be too, too cliché, Cohen manages to put a fresh spin on the doubt and uncertainly the character experiences.

Woman on the Edge by Samantha Bailey. Wow! I feel as though I’m still catching my breath! Samantha Bailey’s debut novel is a thriller in every sense of the word. Bailey shows us how to begin a story: A total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.” She places her child in your arms. She says your name. Then she jumps…

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The search for identity, and a home, defines this amazing novel about two Nigerians trying to fit in in the U.S. and the U.K. The writing is absolutely gorgeous and the story will capture you.

Saturday Night Sisters by Kathleen Irene Paterka. My friend Kathleen has written eight novels, all of them good, but I think this one is probably her best yet. Creating four distinct and compelling characters – all woman in their 60s – is not easy, but Paterka does it, and writes a captivating tale that will keep you immersed until the end.

Beach Read by Emily Henry. Don’t be fooled by the title – this isn’t Elin Hilderbrand. But it is a great read. It’s got romance, some heat, and a depth you might not anticipate. Well-drawn characters and a plot that, for me, never got stuck.

I don’t keep track of how many books I read (should I?). I know I read more this year than in previous years (thanks, COVID-19 and staying home). If I’m able to get back to my own writing in 2021, I won’t read as much, so I’m glad I was able to complete as many books as I did this year.

How about you? Do you have a favorite book that you read this year?

Some Punctuation Marks Walked into a Bar and …

Great list from my pal JuliaProofreader! Thank you, Julia!


• An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.

• A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

• A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

• Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

• A question mark walks into a bar?

• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender…

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A Great Rhode Island Authors Showcase

We had a wonderful month-long event last month, hosting Rhode Island authors here and giving away books – and I just drew the winners of the Grand Prize and the Bonus Prize.

A total of 31 Rhode Island authors participated in this 30-day event – so one day we had two. I’ll always host as many RI authors as want to participate. We’ve got a lot of talent in this little state, and we covered a variety of genres, so something for everyone.

This blog series has run in November for the past few years, as a lead-up to our annual RI Authors Expo (a virtual event this year), and has grown in popularity. I mean, who doesn’t love free books? It’s a great way to discover a new author – many authors have told me that they’ve found new fans through this event, and authors have an opportunity to reach readers around the world.

All of the book winners have been contacted, and I just drew for the big prizes. Bonnie Karoly won the Bonus Prize, a $100 Amazon gift certificate, and Tashia Jennings won the Grand Prize, a $200 Amazon gift certificate. Both Bonnie and Tashia participated daily, commenting on each author’s post. Congratulations to Bonnie and Tashia!

And if I can insert a little self-promotion here….this week my novel The Way to Remember is a FREE download – through this Friday. Here’s the link For those of you who weren’t aware, The Way to Remember is a re-publish of my 2015 novel Best Seller, because the great god that is known as A>>zon decided, five years later, that the title was “misleading,” and because I couldn’t retitle it and have a new cover completed within five days, they deleted it from their selling platform. Well, it’s back! So if you haven’t yet read it, you can read it for free.

See you next year for the 2021 Rhode Island Authors Showcase and Giveaway!

RI Authors Showcase and Giveaway! Meet Leigh and Vikki of Brown Corliss Books

Each day this month, meet a Rhode Island author! Comment on this blog post for a chance to win our Grand Prize (a $200 Amazon gift card) or our Bonus Prize (a $100 Amazon gift card). Some authors are giving away books, too – your comment enters you into their drawing as well. (See details at the bottom of this page)

Since she was a young girl, Ava Dell has been told that her intuitive sixth sense is a special gift she shares with her mother. It is a gift she never takes seriously until she is forced to make a fresh start after her mother’s death. Real estate agent Charlotte Boyer welcomes Ava to Wicks Falls, South Carolina with a mystical pendulum, and a warning to use it carefully. Ava’s curiosity is piqued. She begins using the pendulum, relying on her intuition to guide her. Soon, customers are flocking to her newly opened coffee shop, The Tea Cozy, for Ava’s scones and her pendulum’s guidance. But when tragedy suddenly strikes, Ava, worried that she’ll be blamed, flees to her family’s cottage at Sully Shores. There she is forced to face the fact that some truths you can’t outrun, and to decide once and for all if her gift is truly worth the price.

Leigh and Vikki have generously offered to gift a copy of The Pendulum’s Truth to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment on this blog post, and get one more entry into our Grand Prize and Bonus Prize drawings!

Writers Leigh Brown and Victoria (Vikki) Corliss are friends who became co-authors in 2009. Soon after, they published their first novel, Second Chances, followed by The Pie Sisters in 2015, and The Pendulum’s Truth in 2018. Their upcoming fourth title, The Entitled Ones, set on a fictional island off the coast of Maine is scheduled for release in early 2021. Creators of women’s fiction, they are often asked: 1) Are they sisters, and 2) How do they write novels together? In fact, they are sisters in spirit only. To learn more about how their collaboration works, visit their website at, or follow them on Facebook at

You can leave a comment on each day’s blog post during November, for up to 30 chances to win. Daily giveaways by authors will be drawn one week after publication. The author will contact the winner to coordinate delivery. Grand Prize and Bonus Prize will be drawn and announced on December 8.

RI Authors Showcase and Giveaway! Meet Debbie Tillinghast

Each day this month, meet a Rhode Island author! Comment on the blog post for a chance to win our Grand Prize (a $200 Amazon gift card) or our Bonus Prize (a $100 Amazon gift card). Some authors are giving away books, too – your comment enters you into their drawing as well. (See details at bottom of this page)

A story of reconnecting to long-forgotten childhood bonds and memories, Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast’s The Ferry Home embraces joyful moments with humor and more troubling emotions with compassion.

If you have ever faced emotional challenges within your family or had a sibling relationship with both squabbles and shared mischief, if you have found peace in one memorable place, or if you have ever longed for any of these, then this book is for you.

Experience the rhythm of life on Prudence Island, the ebb and flow of changing tides and seasons, and the patterns and relationships that emerge. It is a place where independence is fostered, but friends are always there when needed.

As Debbie’s vivid accounts unfold, you will feel like you too have just stepped off the ferry and been embraced by the tiny Prudence Island community.

Debbie has generously offered to gift a copy of The Ferry Home to one lucky winner. Just comment on this post and you’re entered into Debbie’s drawing as well as the Grand Prize and Bonus Prize drawings.

Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast began writing as she embarked on a quest to reconnect with her island roots, starting with a cookbook for her family. She has also been published in Country magazine, and her poetry has been featured in five anthologies published by the Association of Rhode Island AuthorsShorelineUnder the 13th Star, Selections, Past, Present, and Future, and Hope. All of the anthologies are available locally from Stillwater Books or online through Amazon.

Debbie, a retired teacher and Nutrition Educator, now enjoys volunteering as well as writing, gardening, walking and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Visit Debbie on Facebook:

You can leave a comment on each day’s blog post during November, for up to 30 chances to win. Daily giveaways by authors will be drawn one week after publication. The author will contact the winner to coordinate delivery. Grand Prize and Bonus Prize will be drawn and announced on December 8.

RI Authors Showcase and Giveaway! Meet Paul Caranci

Each day this month, meet a Rhode Island author! Comment on the blog post for a chance to win our Grand Prize (a $200 Amazon gift card) or our Bonus Prize (a $100 Amazon gift card). Some authors are giving away books, too – your comment enters you into their drawing as well. (See details at the bottom of this page)

Everyone, it seems, missed the most obvious signs. A childhood filled with poverty, neglect, and drugs will invariably lead to an adulthood full of greed, lust, and violence. No one, however, could have predicted the terror that brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr would inflict on seven unsuspecting men and women over nine days in December 2000.

The brothers’ crime spree included assault, carjacking, and murder. Their victims, all upstanding members of the Wichita community, were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Terror in Wichita: A Story of One Woman’s Courage and Her Will to Live, exposes the true story of Jonathan and Reginald Carr. It also reveals the insidious horrors that befell their victims, bringing to life the most egregious mental and physical cruelty imaginable, even to the point of their execution-style murders.

The book also tells the story of one woman’s refusal to become the ultimate victim, revealing her inner strength and amazing courage. It tells of that woman’s endurance and her astonishing rejection of death, at least without assurances that her torturers would be brought to justice for their heinous and cowardly acts.

Terror in Wichita is a true crime story that will keep you up at night and compel you to look over your shoulder by day.

Paul has generously offered to gift a copy of Terror in Wichita to one luck winner. Your comment on this post enters you into the drawing, as well as the Grand Prize and Bonus Prize drawings.

Paul F. Caranci is a third generation resident of North Providence, Rhode Island, and has been a student of history for many years. Together with his wife Margie he founded the Municipal Heritage Group in 2009. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Heritage Harbor Museum and the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Paul served as Rhode Island’s Deputy Secretary of State and was elected to the North Providence Town Council where he served from 1994 to 2010.

Paul’s book The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon chronicles the 1843 murder of Rhode Island industrialist Amasa Sprague, the subsequent arrest of an entire family of Irish-Catholic immigrants, the corrupt trial proceedings, and the conviction, execution, and ultimate pardon of 29-year old John Gordon, the last man executed in Rhode Island. The book was named one of the top five non-fiction books of 2013.

Paul has written two other books on political corruption in Rhode Island – Scoundrels reviews several 20th-century Rhode Island corruption scandals and Wired focuses on a local corruption scandal in which Paul worked undercover with the FBI for almost two years, resulting in the arrest and conviction of three sitting councilmen, a former council president, a former town solicitor, and several others. Paul’s most recent book, The Promise of Fatima: One Hundred Years of History, Mystery and Faith is a unique look at the miraculous apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary in 1917.

Here are Paul’s links:


You can leave a comment on each day’s blog post during November, for up to 30 chances to win. Daily giveaways by authors will be drawn one week after publication. The author will contact the winner to coordinate delivery. Grand Prize and Bonus Prize will be drawn and announced on December 8.