Happy Valentine’s Day

Hope you are having a great Valentine’s Day. Here’s how I’ll be spending mine (try not to be jealous!). A morning of conference calls for the day job, followed by an afternoon with 24 elementary school age children. As a room-mom, I’ve planned a game where the kids will race to pick up little candy hearts with chopsticks. The kid with the biggest pile, wins. Well, in this case, they all win. Then, me and several other parents will team up to oversee the decoration of heart-shaped butter cookies. It proves to be an interesting and exhausting 45 minutes.

Continuing our February Romance Month theme, my fellow Violet Femmes have posted another fabulous short story. Stop by for a heart-warming story by Jaye Marie Rome. Comment for a chance to be entered in this month’s contest. The lucky winner will get flowers and chocolate.

Hope you have a great day!  XOXO

Romance is in the Air

Well, we’ve made it through the first month of the year. February is the month of love…or at least it is if you write romance. I’ve been busily writing a new story at the encouragement from the NJ Romance Writer’s chapter. This local chapter of RWA is hosting JeRoWriMo (Jersey Romance Writing Month), which is the NJ version of NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month). Throughout the month of February, several of us brave NJRW members are working towards writing 30,000 words. That’s just over 1,000 words a day. Quite a daunting objective. Despite the actual number of words we write, having a goal and setting aside the time each day to write is a good habit to start and maintain. After the first week, I’m over 5,000 words into my new book.

Also, to celebrate Romance this month, me and my pals from The Violet Femmes have written Valentine-themed short stories. We’ll post them each Monday at http://thevioletfemmes.wordpress.com. Comment for a chance to win a special prize at the end of the month. See The Violet Femmes site for great stories and details on the contest.

I hope you enjoy the stories. Hug a loved one today!

One Year Anniversary and Happy New Year!!

Hooray! Today marks the one year anniversary of my blog. Thanks to all who have visited my site and have made comments. At last check, there are 1,007 hits against my page. FANTASTIC!!!

2011 has been a great year and I expect that to continue into 2012. In addition to completing my second novel, I’ve been fortunate to meet a bunch of wonderful friends through NJRW. Together, we’re working to critique our work and improve our craft. Below is a recap of some of what I’m grateful for in 2011:

– My fabulous critique partner, Joanna Shupe, who has saved my butt from my lack of comma sense and helped me tighten my writing

– Fellow Violet Femmes, Michele Mannon and Janet Pepsin, and others from NJRW (Jenna Blue, et al), who are a source of great inspiration and support

– The judges from the 9 contests I entered this year. Although I didn’t final in any this year, I received a lot of useful feedback, which I’ll be incorporating into my stories.

– My NJRW pals who helped co-chair and coordinate categories in NJRW’s Golden Leaf contest. It was a fun experience and I look forward to working with all of you again next year

– My husband, who encouraged me to attend RWA Nationals in NYC

– My friends who listen to me talk about my book and offer plotting advice

– My kids, who think it’s neat that I write, although they won’t be able to read my books until they’re over 18!

It’s been a great year and I look forward to achieving some new goals in 2012.

Here’s hoping you all have a safe and healthy New Year!

Holiday Wishes and Traditions

Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m mostly done with everything. How about you? The presents have been wrapped and cookies are baked. Today, I’ll deliver cookies to a few of my neighbors and start preparing for Christmas dinner, which we host.

This evening, my kids are performing in the children’s choir at our church-a first for them. Afterwards, we’ll go to my aunt and uncle’s house for our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. We celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, also known as Vigilia di Natale, or Vigil of the Nativity. As a child, the significance of the evening didn’t extend beyond eating and getting presents. As an adult, while the food is still important, it also means spending time with family I don’t see as much as I’d like to.

Years ago, the meal used to start with the fish in the early afternoon and then hours later, we’d have pasta, followed by dessert. While the duration may have changed, we still cover all the seven fish (representing the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church) plus the pasta. While it varies each year, usually we have crabcakes (my personal favorite), shrimp (cocktail & fried), flounder, scallops, calamari, clams or mussels, tuna sauce for the pasta. In addition to the main course, we’ll have an antipasto plus various veggies like stuffed peppers and broccoli rabe.

I explore more of the Christmas holiday in my second novel, Love’s Second Chance. My main character, Kate, is Italian, and the story takes place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It was fun incorporating my heritage and family traditions into this story. I hope to be able to share it with you some day.

What special Holiday traditions do you have?

Here’s wishing you a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!

Maria