New York, New York

Let me say right from the start–I do not  New York. I’m a small town person through and through. But the national Romance Writers of America convention was held ther20150723_203000e last week, so I decided there was no better time to do my two (first and last) visits to New York.

The conference was held at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square and I’m fairly sure that half of the 8.4 million people who live in New York City were there–at least part of the time.

You’ve seen those underwater shots of schools of fish swimming together that all decide to change direction at the same time? That is what happens on street corners when the traffic signal changes. If you’re not prepared you could easily be swept away and wind up in Queens several hours later.

Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that the people are rude (well, maybe SOME are) but there are just so MANY of them. Half of them would like you to buy something. The other half are just as determined to get where they’re going as you are. Salmon swimming upstream have an easier time.

One nice thing about New York, though, is the dress code. There isn’t one. You could walk through Times Square in a ball gown or a bikini and not feel out of place. I passed a woman wearing nothing but a thong and body paint–seriously– and many folks didn’t give her a second glance. Well, yes, I did. Cause as I mentioned earlier, I’m a small town sort of girl. I did notice that a lot of guys had their cell phones out. I’m sure they were calling their moms to tell them about the unusual sights around Times Square.

About eighty percent of the vehicles on the streets of New York at any given time are taxis or trucks. Eighteen percent of the remainder are equipped with some type of siren. I think that is an actual law. The other two percent are foolish individuals who think they can drive a personal vehicle into the city and make it out unscathed.

We tried the subway which I suggest you avoid at rush hour if at all possible. I believe the term rat-race was born here as I saw several of the furry little guys tearing down the center of the tracks in between trains. I understand Uber and the mayor are having a bit of a row over taxi service in the city, but I must admit the Uber app worked for us quickly and comfortably. As long as you don’t mind that many of the drivers speak very little English, you’re fine. Our drivers were unfailingly polite and used GPS to navigate.

Be aware, half of the city is under construction, so most sidewalks have scaffolding on them. The streets need repairs badly. The last two winters have really taken a toll on the asphalt. Watch your step and carry an Ace bandage in your purse at all times – especially if you’re wearing heels.

The conference itself was fantastic, chock full of interesting workshops and scores of editors, agents and writers. Three days of workshops and the ones I wanted to attend seemed cleverly designed to all occur at the same time. I concentrated on those that were not recorded ( a minority, thankfully) and plan to catch those I missed on the conference recordings. They are expensive – but worth the price. The morning speakers were terrific Julia Quinn, Nalini Singh, and Barbara Freethy are all favorites of mine and I loved hearing them speak about their journey in romance publishing. There was a lot of excellent advice in all areas of publishing and since the industry is changing so quickly nowadays any hints for a relative newcomer like myself are welcome.

I took advantage of the location and arrived several days in advance to sight see. There were several places on my bucket list and, since I went with a couple of non-writer friends there were places they wanted to visit as well.

The Hayden Planetarium was number one on my list. I’m a closet neil-tyson-casual-color-full_listingastronomy buff and would cheerfully hop on an interstellar spaceship if only one would offer me a ride. Movie stars are great but they don’t hold a candle to Neil deGrasse Tyson in my book. Unfortunately he wasn’t walking around at the Hayden, even though he is the director, so I was unable to get his autograph. I did see the Dark Universe show which dark-universe-red-shift_listinghe narrated and that was amazing. If you get a chance, go. Learn about our planet and the universe that keeps expanding ever faster. Also the Hayden is part of the Museum of Natural History which is another wonderful place to learn thousands of tidbits of information that you may never use but are fun to know.

Number two on my list was a carriage ride through Central Park. We got lucky and20150724_194227 arrived right at 7 pm on Friday without knowing that from then until Sunday night no cars are allowed inside. We were even more fortunate to have Stephen Malone and his valiant steed Tyson (No relation to Neil DeGrasse) give us ‘the tour’. Stephen had a charming delivery and tons of knowledge about the parks history–some of which I hope to work into one of my future books.


20150721_220338We saw The King and I at the Lincoln Center and I was completely blown away but the scope of the production. The cast was terrific, the costumes, sets, and the orchestra were wonderful. They made the shows I’ve seen back home look more like what you did as a kid with your friends and a blanket draped over a rope in the back yard. Awesome stuff. I wish I could have gone to more shows.

The 9/11 museum was filled with building remnants, pictures, audio, and video tapes of that fateful day and made me cry several times. It is well worth going to see but don’t expect to be cheerful when you finish. It will give you enormous respect for all first responders – police, firemen, ambulance crews – many of whom gave their lives trying to help others.

20150722_092301One of the lesser known gems of the city is the Highline, a park built around former elevated train tracks above the streets on the west side of Manhattan. It runs from 10th Street to 34th and although I’m not a frequent exerciser, I walked the entire distance and loved every step. We went early in the morning and again got lucky with the weather; it was sunny but cool and breezy. I was astounded at the plants and trees all tended by volunteers. If I had to live in Manhattan (and could afford it) I’d want an apartment with a view of the Highline.


Our final piece of luck was timing. This week started New York’s restaurant week which allowed us to dine at some very fine restaurants at drastically reduced rates. We took full advantage and ate at The Tavern on the Green, The Russian Tearoom, and The View. The food was fantastic at all of them.

New York is filled with sights and sounds and smells unique to this big, bustling city. I’m glad I had a chance to experience the Big Apple and although I wouldn’t want to live there, it was a trip I’ll never forget.


Rehab for the Heart

Many of my compatriots, from all walks of the nursing profession, have histories of finding their true love in a hospital bed. But not all achieve happily ever after status. There are many failed marriages or dysfunctional pairings among caregivers.

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years (having been there myself) and I think part of the cause for those broken relationships is the very reason we became nurses in the first place. We want to help people. We want to make things better. We look at those wonderful but flawed men who attract us like moths to a flame and just know that with enough love and understanding we can erase those flaws–or at least minimize them.

Naturally it’s much easier to see the flaws in our partners than those in ourselves. I mean, theirs are always much worse than ours, right?

I once read–don’t ask me where, it was too long ago–that men marry women expecting they will never change and women marry men expecting that they will. Both inevitably are disappointed.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think it is the nurse who has no flaws and is always the heroic figure in any partnership. While he or she may be staying in what would be seen from the outside as an intolerable situation, they may be acting as an enabler and instead of helping their situation, they reinforce the very behavior they’d like to banish.

Of course there are lots of happy, healthy marriages in the medical field, and I salute those couples for the effort it took both partners to do the work and gain enough understanding of their mates to form a lasting bond. For the rest of us, though…

Patients, especially those destined for a long hospital stay, have an easy ‘in’ to our hearts as care-givers. After all this is what we trained for, right? Hopefully we can fix them. Heal them. Send them back into the world all shiny and new. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, but that is the goal we strive for from the very first instant they become our patient.

If it turns out they have more than a simply grateful appreciation for our efforts, the professional distance we are expected to maintain becomes more difficult to achieve. And let’s face it, if the patient is a male who’s hotter than hell, and who pleads for continued visits, keeping that distance becomes an heroic struggle.

But I digress. Now that I work in nursing part-time, I also write contemporary romantic fiction. Since medicine is still dear to me, I’ve written a book titled ‘Rehab for the Heart’, which is about a woman who didn’t get the chance to make her marriage work–although it’s doubtful that more time might have made any difference.

Initially Gwen sees herself as the cause of her marriage’s catastrophic failure and so decides she’s better off single. She resists her best friend’s persistent attempts to push her back into the social scene and pours all her pent-up affection on the small menagerie she has somehow accumulated. But her resolve weakens when fate figuratively thrusts an attractive man into her path.

Thus, Nick becomes her patient following his serious  auto accident.

Nick and Gwen both have trust issues burned into their hearts by former partners. Initially they are both wary, but their attraction continues to grow. Eventually Gwen succumbs to Nick’s allure then finds out it is easy to fall for a man’s charms but much more difficult to trust his motives.

Once discharged from the rehab facility, Nick is challenged to find a way to spend time with Gwen and replace his patient persona  with a much more intimate one. Unfortunately his plan, developed on the spur of the moment, involves some subterfuge.

So the question for Gwen becomes: can caring for, wanting, and even loving  a man be enough to bet your future on? Or is trust the key ingredient to a happy marriage?

What’s your opinion?

perf5.000x8.000.inddIn the interest of avoiding all possibility of a HIPPA violation, I write under a pen name and all characters in my works are completely fictional.

–Not that I haven’t used a character trait or two compiled from my thirty-plus years in the medical arena…

If you’d like to read Nick and Gwen’s story here are the buy links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks

Mothers Day!

How did it get to be Mothers Day already?! I think I may have some Christmas decorations that haven’t made it to the attic yet…

I’m thinking back to my childhood and remembering the things my mom did for us growing up. She wasn’t a great cookie-baker or story-reader — mostly because she worked outside the home to supplement my dad’s income. She’d leave directions for me to start dinner, which due to my flubs, didn’t always turn out so good. She never complained about the results though. Now that I’ve been working for 30+ years, I can better appreciate how exhausting it must have been to work full-time, maintain a home and raise two children.

Her name was Marian and she didn’t even get to finish high school before she had to begin working to support her mom and three sisters. My maternal granddad wasn’t much of a worker. Anyway, my mom worked until I was in college when my father had climbed the corporate ladder high enough to make a good salary. Mom not only retired but dad gave her the greatest Mothers Day present ever – a mink coat! Back then that was an amazing gift and she wore it proudly whenever she could – outside temperature was not always considered.

She passed away almost twenty years ago and i regret not telling her often enough how much I appreciated her sacrifices for us. If your mother is still with you, take some time now and then – not just today- to tell her how much you love and appreciate her.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom! I hope you’re wearing that mink coat in heaven today!

New Year’s Resolutions

Okay, I admit it. I’m terrible with New Year’s Resolutions.

Which is the reason I don’t make many. Some years I haven’t made any at all. At least that way there was no sense of failure.

However, I’ve finally realized what my problem with these pesky things is–I’m setting the bar too high.

Here’s my list for this year:

  1. Loose twenty pounds.  (See what I mean? Way too high!)
  2. Publish two books. (Sounds pretty ambitious, doesn’t it? But I have one book already in edits and the other is more than half-way done. And BTW, in this day and age, finishing two books a year is not considered ambitious.)
  3. Learn WordPress and redo my website. (Yay! done! Okay, not done, done, because I’m still learning and no doubt will make some changes.)
  4. Start a blog. (And, voila!) (Notice I said ‘start’ a blog. I’m not chaining myself to writing every day week month. There’s that bar again.)
  5. Do more promotion for my novels. Eek! I stuck this one at the end of the list (no one needs more than five New Year’s Resolutions – and yes, I realize since I crossed out number one this only makes four) because it’s the hardest. Again I used a very vague term – ‘more’ – to keep that bar from rising above my reach. Because pretty much any promotion will qualify, since at this point, I don’t do squat. Oh, I have the required Facebook page, twitter account, Amazon author page and this, my web site.

I’ve been fooling myself by thinking these were good promotional tools. But they are just a start. A very small first step up the steep ladder called PROMOTION. I know I’ll have to up my game this year if I want someone not personally related to me to actually read my book(s). (If you’re reading this and you are not a relative, please drop by Amazon and buy my book.) Golly, does that count as promotion? I hope so!

Today being the second day of February, I’m feeling pretty good about this year’s resolutions. I’ve accomplished two already. This may give me a false sense of security, so check back from time to time and  see how I’m doing.

Meanwhile, feel free to leave a comment about the whole issue of New Year’s Resolutions. Did you make any? Let me know!

Cat Herding 101 – Sophie

Cat Herding 101 – Sophie

I guess introductions are in order. Since cats are a major part of my household, you’ll see a lot about them on this blog.DCP_1122

Here is a picture of Sophie, my oldest kitty. Since all of my cats (yes, there are 5!) are rescues, I’m not sure of their exact ages, but the vet and I think Sophie is at least 12 years old. She is a ‘faded’ calico – as opposed to a ‘bright’calico, like Sasha, here lurking in the background.

Sophie was rescued from an abusive household and consequently has several medical problems. I cannot imagine how anyone could mistreat this cat as she is my sweetest, gentlest, and most affectionate kitty.