Book-a-Day #Giveaway! In the Time of Mourning by Deborah Halliday


When We Need Poetry

Bereavement. Loss. Grief. Most of us as adults have known these. After a death friends and family have tried to comfort us. Most of us have tried, on similar occasions, to be a comfort to others. Often, though, we feel inadequate to the task. Words fail us. We offer our own words, our own comforting presence. We send sympathy cards to express our support and caring, and often these cards are saved as tender reminders of our outreach.

Sometimes the deepest emotions can be expressed best with only a few words, with phrases that suggest the emotion rather than try to name it, phrases that touch us in a special way that voluminous paragraphs or long eulogies cannot. That is what poetry is. In the nineteenth century, people expressed their emotions in poetry more commonly than they do now. In a time when death could visit any household suddenly and without warning, people acknowledged death and mourning in a more direct way than we do today. And they wrote about it. In the Time of Mourning (available here) is a compilation of mourning poetry published between 1830 and 1874. It is a gift that will give comfort in the weeks, months, and years that follow a loss, a beautiful, understanding, and extended card of sympathy that can be read again and again, perhaps in privacy, as the soul heals.


From “To Sorrow” by W. E. Pabor:


Come softly, Sorrow! For the heart

Is tender with its wounds of old;

For who, of failing human mould,

Can find at once the healer’s art?


Come softly, then if come you must;

Deal kindly, if you can be kind,

Be gentle as our hearts you bind,

For we lie lowly in the dust.


Deborah L. Halliday, M.A., Ed.D., is a personal historian, writer, and college teacher. She is fascinated by the intersection of the personal and the historical, by the way the contexts of our lives influence who we become. Writing is another form of teaching, Halliday believes, and through her writing she attempts to contribute to our understanding of each other, ourselves, and the world around us. Deborah received her doctorate in Human Development from Boston University, her Masters in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, and her Bachelors in Sociology from Lake Erie College.


You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

Focus on the Positive

“Find every opening to reinforce the value of returning to right and reason in your own life.”

~ Deepak Chopra

I thought I’d post this one line instead of Chopra’s entire article (which you can read here if you’re so inclined). I didn’t want to turn it into a political post – haven’t we all had enough of this exhaustive ugliness anyway? It’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little bit lazy, so here are some pictures to brighten your day. Focus on the positive when you can – all this negativity does you no good.

All photoS by M. Reynolds
Gandria, Switzerland
Gandria, Switzerland
Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI
Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI



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 , 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

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.

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
Misquamicut via

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!

The Silence of Summer

I live in a quiet neighborhood of condos. There are few children, mostly older people or young singles and couples who don’t spend a lot of time at home. Quiet is good, especially for someone like me who is home a lot, writing, reading, thinking.

On Saturday morning, I took a walk up the hill and into another neighborhood, this one filled with houses and lawns. Families and kids. It was a beautiful day on the cusp of summer. And it was quiet.

Where was the hissing of summer lawns? The shouts of kids playing on swing sets and jungle gyms?

The jingle of the ice cream truck?

Oh hot summer days, windows are closed and there’s only the hum of air conditioners. Porches are empty – no one sits outside with a glass of cold lemonade, relishing the evening breeze. Too hot, too buggy. Quiet. The silence of summer.

A Jingle Valley Wedding – coming soon!

A Jingle Valley Wedding Kindle

I love this cover! So happy with it (and grateful to Heather McCoubrey, who worked diligently with me until we had something wonderful). So, I’m back to final proofreading and formatting the manuscript for digital and print, and my sixth novel will be released in November. Not sure of the date at this point, and I’ve committed to showcasing one Rhode Island author each day in November, so I won’t be blogging about the new book until December 1st, by which time it should be available online and in select independent bookstores. And, of course, I’ll have plenty of copies to sell and sign on Saturday, December 5th, at the Third Annual Rhode Island Book Expo, taking place from 11:00am to 5:00pm at the Lincoln Mall in Lincoln, RI.

What I Read in 2014


Not as much as I’d hoped! But I’m a writer, and I did publish a book this year. When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, and here’s a recap of what great books I tackled this year:

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen. One of my favorite authors, and she doesn’t disappoint. My colleague passed this book on to me after reading it, and I savored every paragraph. She’s an inspiration to me as a writer.

Ginger Krinkles by Dee DeTarsio. A delightful short holiday read with smart, edgy writing. I’ll be reading more by this author in 2015!

The Secret Keeper series, Books 3-6. Brea Brown, one of the best independent authors I know, wrote this series, which ended with her publication of Book 6 this year. I’d read the first two in the series last year, and gobbled up the rest of them because the story is just so good. Real, painful, joyous – she delivers.

Waking the Merrow by Heather Rigney. Oh, Ms. Rigney, I do hope you’re writing as fast as you can, because I cannot wait to read the next novel you produce. I was out of my genre with this one and so glad I read it. A flawed heroine you’ll root for throughout the book, this one was clearly one of my favorites of 2014.

Fish Perfume by Sammie Grace. A local author with a local setting and a sweet romance. It mostly worked, and I’d definitely give this author a second chance at keeping my interest.

The Expats by Chris Pavone. An international thriller, page-turner, and a book I hope is made into a movie. Loved the setting (Luxembourg) and Pavone is a brilliant writer.

The Street or Me by Judith Glynn. A real-life story about an ordinary woman in Manhattan who befriends and saves a homeless woman. Riveting in its grittiness, Glynn tells her tale with no apologies or frills.

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen. A story of two sisters, told from the viewpoint of the younger, lesser-known sister, about the famous older sister, whose charmed life ends after an inadvertent on-air epithet. Oops!

Confessions of a City Girl: Los Angeles by Juliette Sobanet. This is a very fast read, partly owing to the author’s style of writing (plus it’s a novella). Sobanet, author of the “Paris” romances, offers up a sweet, easy read.

When Alice Met Danny by T.A. Williams. A novel with a Danny here, a Danny there. And a chick lit novel written by a guy! It works, though. Liked this one a lot.

A Kind of Mad Courage: Short Stories about Mothers, (S)mothers, and Others by various authors. A wonderfully diverse selection of short stories, and all proceeds from this book’s sales benefit the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. Was 2014 the year of Anna Quindlen? I guess I just needed to catch up. This collection of essays, written by the 60-year-old Quindlen, are full of gratitude – for her career, her marriage, her children, and her friends.

A Week in Summer by Maeve Binchy. A short story from the late author. Binchy’s talent shines in her ability to say so much in such a short story. The magic of Ireland, the quirks of the townspeople, the challenges of a marriage.

Unbreakable Bonds by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson. This is Book 2 in the author’s Angela Panther series. Paranormal chick lit? Yep. She pulls it off, believe me – snappy dialogue, snarky ghosts, and a serious mother-daughter bond.

Mission Impastable (Dinner is Served Book 1) by Sharon Arthur Moore. A good storyline, memorable characters from an author with lots more to write!

Wrecks: Three Stories of Imperfect Love by K.C. Wilder. Wilder is one of the best short story authors around, in my opinion. She nails it in these three.

The Right Design by Isabella Louise Anderson. Debut author Anderson hits all the marks with this chick lit novel.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Beautiful writing in this lyrical, thought-provoking novel.

Tear Stained Beaches by Courtney Giardina. Debut novel from a promising author but with too much weeping from the main character. Optimistic that her second novel will be much improved.

Blame it on the Fame by Tracie Banister. Tight prose and snappy dialogue made for a really fun read. Love the Oscars? Then pick this one up!

Once More from the Top by Nan Reinhardt. Well-developed and realistic characters, romance, and a happy ending – this author knows how to write romance!

Depression Cookies by Tia Silverthorne Bach and Angela Beach Silverthorne. Distinctly different viewpoints into one family’s life, written by a mother and daughter. Wonderful!

Seattle Postmark by K.C. Wilder. Unpredictable and touching novella about love and letting go.

Rita Hayworth’s Shoes by Francine LaSala. One of the more original voices in contemporary women’s fiction, this funny romantic tale will satisfy

Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani. These two books are the first and second in the Valentine trilogy. I’m about to begin the third book and cannot wait to reunite with these characters!

Rescue Me, Maybe by Jackie Bouchard. A pooch-friendly novel of hope and good humor. An excellent writer.

Hard Hats and Doormats by Laura Chapman. Good storyline from a debut author. Easy read, some editing problems, but looking forward to more from this writer.

Zoey and the Moment of Zen by Cat Lavoie. Good, fun chick lit book that is simply a sweet escape.

There were about a dozen books I started but did not finish. I won’t mention them here, but I do try to give a book every chance. Sometimes I force myself to finish a mediocre book, but after three or four chapters, if the writing is so bad it’s a distraction, I’m done. Editing is crucial, and life’s too short to read a bad book.

How about you? Can you name the best book you read this year?


What December 13th Means to Us

War Memorial Grotto - Providence College
War Memorial Grotto – Providence College

For the past few years, I’ve posted here and again last year about a fire. A dormitory fire at Providence College on December 13, 1977 that claimed the lives of ten young women. If, like me, you were a student at PC, or the parent of a student, a sibling, close friend, or alumnus, this event most likely has stayed with you, even 37 years later.

We remember December 13 every year, with memories as fresh and painful as they were decades earlier. December 13 is the date. Not December 12. We don’t commemorate the terrorist attacks on September 10, or remember Pearl Harbor Day on December 6.

Robin Craig Piebes (PC ’80) recalls: “When I talk to people about Providence College and what sets it apart, it’s that community. It was being taken in by girls I didn’t know that night. It was being given their clothes to wear, watching boys move cars and carry girls who had no shoes. It was the comfort a college president gave by living in the dorm with us afterwards and sending flowers every holiday. All of these things are what I have always thought of Providence to be.”

When we were students, there were so many daily Masses, you could attend a quick service between classes at this Catholic college. Today, there are Masses on Sunday and on weekdays, but no scheduled Mass on Saturday. The college chose not to hold a special service on December 13 (Saturday) this year, and that’s too bad. Because December 13 is the day we remember.


The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that of having had one.

Note: The college decided to hold a memorial Mass on December 13 at 8:00am, after pleas from alumni.

2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge

Are you in? Are you interested? If you blog, join me as I start my third year of Blogging from A to Z this April. Here’s a link to headquarters. You can sign up here, check out promo videos, ask questions. And if you don’t blog, then you can enjoy reading this one all through April!

In 2012, I did my first A to Z Challenge, and, while a theme isn’t necessary, I wanted one. So two years ago, I blogged about authors, poets, essayists, lyricists. What a blast – but I was exhausted, because I hadn’t planned ahead. And I had already written my début novel ( it was with my editor).

Last year, I chose travel as my theme, naming my blog “Oh! The Places I’ve Been” and I did plan. Smart girl. I’d just released my second novel, so the timing worked.

So what’s the theme this year? Well, I love travel. I love books and music. And I love food. So this year will have a culinary theme, but I don’t want to give away any more just yet. It’ll be fun, trust me! I am planning ahead, choosing my topics for each day in April (except Sundays) and even writing the blog posts ahead of time. Oh, and yes, I am working on my fifth novel, too. All in a day’s work.

No Resolutions – Five Promises for 2014

According to, the most popular New Year’s resolutions are:

  • Drink less alcohol
  • Eat healthy food
  • Get a better education
  • Get a better job
  • Get fit
  • Lose weight
  • Manage debt
  • Manage stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle
  • Save money
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others

All very noteworthy. But for the most part, you’re either making these things part of your day-to-day living or you’re not. To resolve to live a healthier life or get out of debt – fine (and eliminate that debt before you take that trip!). I’m not making any specific New Year’s resolutions. I will, however, make these promises, and not just for 2014:

  • I promise never to post a picture of my hands or feet online. I don’t understand why women feel the need to show their pedicures. And since I don’t want to look at your feet, ever, you’ll never have to look at mine.
  • I promise not to post any of those “share if you agree – only 3% of you will do it” posts. You know the ones: ‘No one likes cancer, so share this post if you hate cancer. 97% of you won’t share, only those who truly hate cancer will like and share.’  Stop with the extortion! Friends don’t practice extortion. 🙂


  • I promise not to retweet anything that includes Miley Cyrus or Duck Dynasty in it. I also promise not to blog about it (except in this one instance).
  • I promise to check out a news story for its veracity before sharing it on social media. Sometimes it’s just so easy to hit that button. I read it online, so it must be true! Not.
  • And I promise to use social media for its original purpose – to connect with old friends and establish new relationships, to foster those connections, and to provide quality, positive content. Feel free to hold me to that one.

Wishing you all the warm comfort of family, friends, heat, and food. Through the bleak midwinter, we march toward longer days. HOPE is a powerful word.

Now, what about you? Resolving? Not? New beginnings for 2014?