It is the heat. And it is the humidity.


Nearly September. 95 degrees today. Heat index 104. Just like yesterday.

So who else is cranky? I know (at least) three people who live without air conditioning. I don’t know how they live, though. Our thermostat is set at 74 and I’m hot. But I’m grateful for A/C, especially at night.

I’ve never liked summer best. Fall is my favorite. How about you? Depending on where you live, you might not experience four distinct seasons. But by September, the sun rises later and it’s dark by 8:00 now, so I want that cool air to follow.

Meanwhile, I’ve finished the second round of edits for my new novel, so now it’s off to my trusted readers, who give me honest feedback. I sometimes can’t see a plot hole or a character who uses repetitive language, but they can! I’m still on track to have this book ready by December 1 – the day I’ll be at the Rhode Island Authors Expo!

Until then, I’m reading a lot (what are you reading?). I loved How to Walk Away by Katherine Center and Crossing the Bamboo Bridge by Mai Donohue (her memoir of growing up in Vietnam – you won’t be the same after reading it). I’m almost done with How Hard Can It Be? by the hilarious Allison Pearson, just started Alternate Side by the wonderful Anna Quindlen, and The Pendulum’s Truth by the very talented writing team of Leigh Brown and Vikki Corliss. Vacation next week means lots of reading!

Autumn will get here, eventually. You won’t hear me complain about the cold. Not me.

#AtoZChallenge – Reflections


It was my sixth year participating, and I was very happy with my theme (1968). As in past years, I’ve tried to ensure I can cover the tougher letters (Q, X, Z) before I settle on my theme.

But 1968 wasn’t my first choice. I had a few other ideas, and maybe I’ll use them for future challenges. Or, I might choose 1969 as next year’s theme!

Typically, I start planning right after the holidays. I set up an Excel spreadsheet and fill in the blanks under each letter with as many ideas as I can come up with. This way, I try to have some variation each day. 1968 was dominated by troubling news, it seemed, so I decided to add a song at the end of the post, for balance. I used the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles and worked my way up to #1, making sure I had a decent video for each song.

I gained a few new followers through the challenge, and discovered a dozen or more blogs, which I added to my own follow list. While I was disappointed that more folks didn’t ‘like’ or leave a comment on my daily posts, that part was out of my control. I tried to keep my posts short (under 300 words), knowing that people wanted to visit multiple blogs during April.

I’ll be back next year, God willing.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty-one


How are you holding up? ‘Tis the season for stressing out. Well, not me. I’m not going to do it.

Not this year.

Here’s our ‘tree.’ My Christmas cactus didn’t bloom this year (it’s fickle that way), but I adorned it with little fairy lights and nestled one ornament in it – a sweet ceramic dove inscribed with Jim’s dad’s name. Jim received it from the funeral home that held a lovely memorial service for all the family members who’d lost loved ones this year. It seems fitting to keep things simple this year. We’d scaled way back on our decorations before this year, but the little tree and the strands of lights will sleep in their bins for a bit longer.

I’ve minimized my shopping, too. Give experiences, time, things that can be consumed. How about taking a friend to the movies? Lunch? Coffee? If you’re a couple, decide on a getaway, or home improvement. I know some parents work with their children to donate gently used toys and games before Santa brings more – what a great idea!

Jim did mention a couple of books, and he’ll get them. Remember I donated a few boxes of books earlier this year? That was to make room for more books (haha). My sisters and brother-in-law will be able to eat and/or drink their gifts.

Honestly, we have everything we need. Do you?

For more insights about gift-giving, check out The Minimalists’ post on gift-giving

My Seventh Novel is Here!


Villa-del-Sol (1) “…an emotional tapestry of rare depth…” (Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author)

“…a thoughtful tale of love, loss, and hope reborn…” (Book Review Directory)

My seventh novel (and eighth book) is here and I’m thrilled to share it with you! Last January, I traveled back to Switzerland, alone. I finally met an online pal and reconnected with a dear friend from years ago. I ventured by train to a region I’d never seen and revisited familiar towns.

Villa del Sol is set in and around Lugano, the largest city in the Italian-speaking area of southern Switzerland. Milano is only about an hour away by train. My character, Jennifer Logan, travels to Lugano and rents a villa in the neighboring village of Gandria. Her husband, the beloved senator from Rhode Island, is dead, and Jennifer can’t wait to escape the people who never liked her anyway. By unplugging, she hopes to find peace.

If you know me, you know about my love of Switzerland. My award-winning “Swiss Chocolate” trilogy is set primarily in Switzerland. Villa del Sol takes you back to this magical place. It is available now, and I’ll be signing copies tomorrow at the RI Authors Expo. 

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Martha Reynolds is a Rhode Island resident who loves the beach in winter, chocolate, and books. After ending an accomplished career as a fraud investigator, she started writing novels – fiction with an element of truth. “Real True Fiction.” You can read her reflections and guest author posts on her blog

GIVEAWAY!

This is a big one! I am giving away a $100 Amazon gift card on December 8. To be eligible, LIKE this post and POST A COMMENT. Please include your email address so I can contact you if you win. Additional entries are available by FOLLOWING me on  Amazon (click the yellow ‘Follow’ button under my picture), and by LIKING and SHARING the Facebook post (I’m here on Facebook). Open to everyone (except my immediate family). Good luck!

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Debbie Tillinghast


 

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            Everyone has a story. Mine began on a tiny island in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island called Prudence. My mother’s death, twelve years ago November 28, initiated my return to the island. I didn’t want to lose touch with all the childhood memories I knew were lurking in my mind. Over the next ten years, I unearthed happy and painful memories, all woven together into the tapestry of my life. Each one of us shelters memories that have made us who we are. The Ferry Home emerged from mine.

It is the story of a simpler time, encompassing the rhythm of life on Prudence Island, the ebb and flow of changing tides and seasons, and the relationships that emerge – like that of my parents. Who could imagine in the 1930s that a Baptist girl from a small New England island would go to college and marry a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, New York?  It is a timeless and remarkable love story, and you can read about it in the chapter, “Sol and Mrs. Kaiman,” in The Ferry Home.

I wrote this memoir for my children and grandchildren but the unexpected reward has been hearing from readers who have told me The Ferry Home connected them to their own memories, enriching their lives.

“I bought your book for my father. We read chapter after chapter, stopping to hear him tell me a story about a similar…experience. Thank you for sharing your life with us and opening the door to many more family stories that I will treasure.”

“Your book reminded me of the small town where I grew up. Although I have never been to Prudence Island, in my mind I returned to my hometown when I read The Ferry Home.”

“I’ve just finished your memoir, my heart has been smiling the whole while, envious of your memories.  What a gift of love this tiny blue book was; most especially the last chapter. Thank you.”

We think our stories don’t matter, but they do. When you travel on The Ferry Home I hope you enjoy the journey and find it unlocks your own memory door, because everyone has a story. What is yours?

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Debbie  Kaiman Tillinghast has been published in Country Extra magazine, and two anthologies published by the Association of Rhode Island Authors, Shoreline and Under the 13th Star.

GIVEAWAY! The author is offering to one lucky winner a print copy of her book. All you have to do is leave a comment below to enter. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication. US residents only, please.

Meet over 100 local authors in Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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Purchase at:

https://www.amazon.com/Ferry-Home-Debbie-Kaiman-Tillinghast/dp/0996233016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476053616&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ferry+home

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ferry-home-debbie-kaiman-tillinghast/1122766998?ean=9780996233019

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/debbiekaimantillinghast/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Paul Caranci


Promise of Fatima

A Miracle for All Time

The day began as most any other, but on this morning, August 6, 1945, the world was about to change. At 8:15 am, the first-ever atomic bomb was dropped in Japan. The blast was felt as far away as 37 miles. Two-thirds of the city’s buildings were destroyed and estimates are that between 80,000 to 140,000 people were killed instantly. A thermal pulse ignited a firestorm so intense that it incinerated everything within a 4.4-mile radius of ground zero. Yet, just eight blocks from ground zero, in defiance of all odds and science, eight German Jesuit priests walked out of their home with only minor injuries. Theirs was one of only a few buildings still standing. Not only were the priests virtually unharmed, but over their rather long lives, they suffered no ill effects of radiation exposure, no loss of hearing, no diminution of sight, nothing.

Secular scientists are incredulous and cannot explain the miracle of Hiroshima. Fr. Hubert Schiffer, however, speaking on behalf of all eight men, had only one explanation. “We believe we survived because we were living the message of Fatima.”

Fatima, a small rural village in Portugal, was relatively unknown prior to 1917. In that year, however, against the backdrop of the horrors of World War I, a Lady from Heaven appeared to three young shepherd children as they played and tended sheep in the Cova de Aria. The subsequent series of heavenly visits reverberated around the world and were crowned with arguably the greatest miracle of the 20th century.

This was not the cure of a single person from some questionable disease, but rather a celestial event witnessed by 60,000 to 70,000 people gathered in anticipation of a miracle promised by the mysterious Lady over three months earlier. The spectacle was witnessed by people as far away as 25 miles, even by those who had no idea that it was supposed to take place. Today, one hundred years later, over 4 million pilgrims descend upon Fatima each year as a testament to the extensive power of the events that took place in 1917.

You see, at the request of 10-year old Lucia dos Santos, the oldest of the three visionaries, the Lady promised a miracle for all to see during her final appearance on October 13, 1917. She even promised the hour at which it would occur. And she promised these things the previous July. The children relayed her message both to the faithful and skeptics alike, placing their lives in extreme danger if the promised miracle did not occur. But such is the faith and innocence of children.

As promised, the 70,000-plus were not disappointed. They watched, first in amazement and then in horror as the sun danced in the sky, then fell toward earth, completely drying the rain-soaked ground and the drenched clothes of all assembled. As the sun returned to its rightful place, atheistic journalists from the secular newspapers, there for the sole purpose of debunking the story of the apparitions as childish nonsense, wrote front-page stories about the miracle they experienced. There was simply no denying that a miracle, one promised by Our Lady of the Rosary, had occurred.

But there is more to the story of Fatima than miracles and apparitions, for during her six visits with the children, Our Lady shared with them three secrets and several promises, revelations that will alter the course of history if her requests are heeded by the people.

The complete story of Fatima, the apparitions, the miracles, the secrets and the promises are examined in extraordinary detail in the newly-published book, The Promise of Fatima: One Hundred Years of History, Mystery, and Faith. This hour-by-hour, day-by-day accounting of the events are chronicled in the book that has already changed lives as the message of Fatima promises to transform the world. Learn for yourself the extraordinary secrets and the miraculous promises revealed in this book, or give it to a loved one as a holiday present and perhaps you will witness your own Christmas miracle. Both Kindle and paperback copies are available on Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_12?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=paul+caranci+books&sprefix=paul+caranci%2Caps%2C152&crid=ENW0OFAXQMGH.

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Paul F. Caranci is a third-generation resident of North Providence, Rhode Island, and has been a student of history for many years. He is an author with seven published books to his credit including two award-winning books. The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon: The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution (The History Press, 2013) was voted one of the top five non-fiction books of 2013 by the Providence Journal. Scoundrels: Defining Corruption Through Tales of Political Intrigue in Rhode Island (Stillwater River Publications, 2016) was the winner of the 2016 Dorry Award as the non-fiction book of the year. Paul’s book Wired: A Shocking True Story of Political Corruption and the FBI Informant Who Risked Everything to Expose It (Stillwater River Publications, 2017) tells his own story of courage in the face of the political corruption that surrounded him.

GIVEAWAY! The author is offering a print copy of The Promise of Fatima to one lucky winner (US residents only, please). All you have to do is comment below. The winner will be selected at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after blog publication.

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Mary Catherine Volk


Believe in Forever

 

Mary Catherine Volk is an author, spiritual medium, and inspirational speaker. Her book, Believe In Forever: How to Recognize Signs from Departed Loved Ones, is based on firsthand experiences and details the specific ways that contact with the other side occurs. Our loved ones send us signs to let us know they are at peace and that we will see each other again. This book teaches the reader how to navigate this new method of communication. The numerous stories in this book will give you chills as they touch your heart; teaching you to trust your own intuitive ability. Believe In Forever is a perfect book for anyone grieving a loss or curious about life after death. A personalized autographed copy of the book makes a wonderful holiday gift and is available on her website. www.marycatherinevolk.com

Mary Catherine Volk was given the gift of knowing that death is just a transition after experiencing a Near Death Experience at age six where she was greeted by her deceased grandfather, who told her that she would be all right and returned her to her hospital room. Mary has spent her life teaching and reassuring others that the signs they are receiving are indeed real messages of love. She is always delighted to see the shining light in people’s eyes when they receive confirmation of their unique signs. Once you acknowledge them, you will receive more. Ask and you shall receive!

Mary Catherine Volk

Mary Catherine lives by the sea in Narragansett, Rhode Island, where she enjoys the beach, writing, acting, learning, community and social activities and spending time with her daughters and two new grandchildren. She is founder and owner of www.insigniagems.com a jewelry company specializing in American flag jewelry. She is currently working on two new books: a sequel to Believe In Forever and a children’s book to teach parents how to answer their children’s questions about seeing departed loved ones or angels.

The book is available through Stillwater River Publicationsthe author’s website, on Amazon , and through local bookstores.

GIVEAWAY! The author is offering a print copy of Believe In Forever to one lucky recipient. All you have to do is leave a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication. US residents only, please.

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Yvette Nachmias-Baeu


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I did not begin to write seriously until 2009. Having said that, I have always found writing to be the way I am able to best express myself. Words and the way they are put together intrigued me and stringing them together to create a narrative has become my greatest joy.

My first book was prompted by the death of my husband.  The notion of life and what it means, death and how it affects us, became a meditation on loss and what life actually is.

A Reluctant Life (a memoir), my first published book, was a winner at the New England Book Festival: Honorable Mention in 2012. It is at once a guide to grief, a vibrant memoir, and a lucid meditation on the purpose of life and death. It stands easily alongside Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Joyce Carol Oates’ A Widow’s Story.  Read reviews of the book here

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Clara at Sixty (a novel) is the portrait of a woman who, after losing her husband at an age when life begins to contract, returns to the world of fumbling, emotionally-confused relationships. The series of mismatches are sometimes passionate and exciting adventures, sometimes funny, but ultimately sad. Still grieving and searching for her identity, marginalized by a society that views women past their prime as invisible, she knows she must come to terms with the loss of her husband, the death of too many friends, and the new reality of “being an older woman.” Her search to find meaning for the last chapter of her life is the universal struggle that begins at birth and changes over time and circumstance. Clara, in the end, discovers her way forward. Read reviews of this book here

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Best Friends (non-fiction). This book of letters tells the story of two aspiring young women, Beth and Yvette, whose correspondence spans a period of twenty-seven years—from San Francisco to the return to their roots in New York City at the beginning of the sixties, where they’re part of the Downtown art scene of the time and their circle includes friends who will later become famous, to the end of the eighties when their lives have spun off into widely divergent paths, one of them tragic.

Best Friends is scheduled to be published next month.

Yvette

Yvette Nachmias-Baeu has been a psychiatric nurse, a professional actress, an advertising producer at a major New York agency, a farmer, and a creative entrepreneur. Her first book, A Reluctant Life, a memoir about the death of her husband and the process of grief, won honorable mention at the New England Book Festival. Clara at Sixty is the fictionalized sequel. Learn more about Yvette at her website.

Books are available as paperback and ebook at all outlets and through her website.

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Leah DeCesare


 

For the past few years, I’ve had intermittent intentions of getting a “real” job, but writing keeps winning out and dabbling in applying for corporate jobs fizzles away. Writing is all I ever really wanted to do and I’m finally living that dream. As I was updating my Linked-In profile and my resume a couple of years ago, I discovered a thread that links my divergent and seemingly unrelated career and volunteer paths: Empowerment. Before recognizing this life theme, I’d written my debut novel which is all about encouraging women to believe in themselves.

 I’ve carried the central idea of this book with me since 1988 when my own father sent me off to college with the advice that my character, Amy York’s, dad sends her off to Syracuse University with: There are three types of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That tidbit was true and when I shared this silly system with my college friends it took off, with everyone adding descriptions for new utensils and talking as if it were an understood concept, for example, “I met this complete fork last night.” 


That idea sat with me for decades, but there was no story around it, so when I finally sat to write this book, I had to build the characters and their arcs and let the Utensil Classification System (the UCS) become a backdrop and an organizing idea serving the characters and their growth. In the end, I had a story about friendship and learning to believe in oneself.

I feel strongly about bolstering and helping people to have true self-love and confidence, especially girls/women who often don’t get the same messages as boys/men from society, family, and media. How can we step out into the world and grab hold of what we want in life without believing in ourselves? It’s critical.
I’ve been a Big Sister to a young woman, now twenty-three, since she was seven years old and it’s something we’ve worked on consistently. I facilitate leadership experiences for collegiate women, middle school girls, and older women in various life stages and the time we share is often described as “life-changing,” and I know that’s because we all need to hear messages of empowerment and strength. Messages that tell us it’s not only okay to prioritize ourselves and our desires, but that it’s essential to our health and happiness. By going after our own dreams, we in turn model the way and empower our daughters, our friends, our peers.
As I’ve met with and heard from readers of Forks, Knives, and Spoons, I’m proud that I continue to hear sentiments such as: “This should be required reading for all young women,” “Every high school and college graduate should be reading this book,” “I will be getting this book for the young women in my life.” To me, that means the message I hold dear is coming through and being shared and that’s a joy to any writer.

Leah DeCesare is the award-winning author of FORKS, KNIVES, AND SPOONS and the nonfiction parenting series NAKED PARENTING, based on her work as a doula, early parenting educator, and mom of three. 

Leah’s articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, the International Doula and The Key, among others. In 2008, Leah co-founded the nonprofit Doulas of Rhode Island, and in 2013 she spearheaded the Campaign for Hope to build the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness in Uganda. In a past life, Leah worked in public relations and event planning. She now writes, teaches and volunteers in Rhode Island where she lives with her family and their talking cockatiel. 
Visit Leah’s website, find her on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterestInstagramBookbub, and Amazon

GIVEAWAY! The author is offering one signed copy of Forks, Knives, and Spoons  plus one of the T-shirts pictured above (Men’s sizes M, L, or XL). Just comment below to be entered. Winner will be chosen at random and the author will contac you directly. Contest ends one week after publication. US residents only, please.

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

It’s #RIAuthor Month! Meet Kim Arcand


Magnitude

Billions, Trillions, Quadrillions

Scientists recently announced that they had detected tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time cause by the merger of two cores of dead stars. Gravitational waves are extremely tiny, which is why scientists need to build special, super-sensitive detectors placed thousands of miles apart to make such detections. But how small are gravitational waves really?

When Taylor Swift launched her latest single this summer, it nearly, as they say, broke the Internet.  Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” released on August 25, was streamed over 10 million times on Spotify, and garnered 24 million views of the video over the course of its first weekend. We’re told that this is a new record, but by a lot or a little?

This is the crux of the issue: we are barraged with various numbers and figures, some of which sound incomprehensible, throughout our daily lives. From the economy to the environment, from popular culture to current science, and practically anything in between, there are many values that can be difficult to grasp: billions of tons of ice lost in Antarctica, trillions of U.S. dollars worth of debt, quadrillions of calculations per second in a super computer, and so forth (a quadrillion is a 10 with 24 zeroes after it).

This is where the simple, yet powerful, tool of comparisons can come to the rescue.

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Take the case of gravitational waves, ripples in space-time.  They can be measured like any other wave from one peak to the next. In the case of these cosmic ripples, the distance between these peaks is a mind-blowing 0.00000000000000000001 meters. That’s a decimal point followed by 18 zeroes. That’s smaller than one ten-thousandth the diameter of a proton, the tiny particle found in the center of an atom.  If that’s not a helpful comparison, consider too that a gravitational wave is about 1 billion times smaller than an atom itself, the basic building block of matter.  That would be like the difference between Earth (atom) and a marble (gravitational wave).

Circling back to Taylor Swift, her success comes at a time when the music industry has become heavily intertwined with our digital society. Every minute of low-resolution video played on YouTube uses about 4 MB of data per minute. A higher quality video (720 or 1080p) uses 12.4 MB for that same minute.

For reference, a typical 1990s hard drive could only store 4 MB of data. Swift’s video lasts just over four minutes and amassed 43.2 million views in 24 hours. That means, even with conservative estimates, her video caused the usage of more data in one day that all the personal computers could have stored across the country just two decades ago.

The long and the short of it is that understanding scale is not just a fun mental exercise or a way to impress the person sitting next to you on the subway. Understanding scale is a form of literacy in navigating our world.

Kim Arcand

Kim Arcand was working in molecular biology and public health when she was hired for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in 1998. Since she always wanted to be an astronaut when she was little, this opportunity got Kim close to the cosmos but without the long distance commute. Today, Kim uses data to help tell stories about science, whether in the form of a 3D model of an exploded star, a book about the Universe, or a tweet about how fireflies glow.

Follow Kim on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Meet over 100 local authors on Saturday, December 2! The Fifth Annual RI Authors Expo

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