Wow! The Local Daily Newspaper Utica OD featured me in an article written by Samantha Madison. It was in the prime spot as far as placing articles goes. I opened up the paper and Bam! there I was, top right article, right side of the paper! Thank you Courtney O’Connor and Samantha Madison for your coverage and support!
Ta-Dah! I did it! I lived long enough to accomplish one of my Life Goals! Wednesday was my release day for Ten Bucks and a Wish on Amazon.
WOW! WHEW! WHOA!
The day started out busy and just took off from there. In fact, this whole week has been jam-packed, between work stuff, pre-release stuff, and release day stuff. Anyway. Wednesday, I went to work for the morning. My awesome co-workers recognized my special day with a card and flowers and sign. I cried. Hectic morning but I made it through! As I go to leave I realized my battery is dead – totally my fault. I left the headlights on. So Geico did its Road Side Assistance Dance and had someone there in 20 minutes! That was so awesomely great. So, I was home by 2 p.m. Luckily I had spent a good part of the night setting up scheduled postings of contests and promos. I came home, responded to a few posts, started to write this blog, then decided that I did not want to rush it. I left at 5 p.m. to go to a drumming circle out in Rome with a great group of women who insisted they are not musical. We had a great time AND they realized they absolutely ARE MUSICAL. Can’t wait to go back next month! By 7:30 p.m. I was walking into Ocean Blue, in Utica, to meet my amazing research assistant and husband, Dave, for a celebratory dinner. It was AWESOME! I had the fish and chips, and he had a chicken dish. We had fish tacos for an appetizer, and I had a glass of wine. Our server – Ashley B.- was so friendly, but not too in-your-face pushy. She was attentive and very excited for me when I asked to share my business cards as I explained why we were there. She distributed my cards to co-workers, and then surprised us with the most DELISH butter cake. The whole evening was wonderful. Thank you, Dave, for bringing me there to celebrate. Thank you, Ashley and OB crew for making the night perfect! Throughout the week I’ve been participating in the CNYRW BIAW (Book in a Week challenge) where I pledged to type 250 words per day. I’ve exceeded my goal and it feels wonderful. I’ve got two-plus chapters written for my next romance, Love in the Forest. I want to thank everyone who has supported me in my journey. It’s been a lot of fun, yet humbling and overwhelming at the same time. So many new friends have been made — I cannot wait to meet you all in person! Have a great weekend everyone! Janina
This month is very bittersweet for me in so many ways. It is filled with the balance of life and death in so many ways. Yesterday was the anniversary of my sister’s Death Day. Jane was 47 when she passed in 2007. My godson passed away two years ago in April. And my mom’s birthday is in April. She would have been 77. Another death recognized this time of year is the death of Jesus Christ. And while I do not practice that religion anymore, and that in itself is a death I recognize this time of year. Many of my friends and family are Christian, so we end up celebrating Easter each year by going to someone’s house, having dinner, and sharing good times. Each Sunday from now until May 19, we will be gathering with a few friends and family to watch Game of Thrones together. That is a series that has totally captivated me – which surprises so many people. I am not a blood and gore entertainment type of person. It took me a while and a few attempts to get me hooked, but here I am, cheering on dragons and dwarfs, overlooking incest, and wondering who the Night King really is. So enough about death. We’ve acknowledged it and now we are going to focus on life. For the last few years we’ve had birds nesting under the eave of our mudroom roof. Two years ago, they built a nest inside the eave. Last summer we swore we would get them out and fix the eave and close up the hole so they’d have to find another place to live come springtime. Well that was the plan until a squirrel moved in before we had a chance to fix the hole. So, all winter we dealt with a squirrel scratching and chewing and running up and down the mudroom wall, trying to get into the house. Creepy, I know, but we didn’t want to uproot him and toss him into the snow. And we didn’t want someone coming in and trapping him. We dealt with it patiently and waited. The other day as soon as the squirrel left his home we quickly ran out and David covered it with a piece of wood. He came home last night frantic because he had been evicted. He ran up and down the ladder, and across the roof. A few times we had to scare he off as he was clawing the wood trying to get into his home. WE FELT HORRIBLE!!! Especially since this sweet thing looks very round bellied! We may have evicted a MAMA SQUIRREL!! All night we tossed and turned, feeling awful. This morning we decided to take action when we heard the squirrel come back at the crack of dawn trying to get into her home again. David made her a home! It’s beautiful! And we’ve stocked it full of nuts and bird seed. It needs to be painted, but we are hoping she will move into that, and have her babies, so we can all live happily ever after. With this small act, the gift of life has been honored at a time when the sorrow and grief of death surrounds us. And that is what life is all about. Honoring the living, remembering those who have passed, and just being the best we can be. So, in honor of Passover, Easter, and this being the First Sunday after the First Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox, may life bless you with abundance, people who care for you, a whole hoard of nuts and bird seed, and a roof over your head.
Throughout the time I attended Bicycle Path Elementary School in Selden, from 3rd to 6th grade, my school bus would pass by a well-worn, two-story greying farmhouse with a front porch and bay window, and a massive old tree stretching its limbs wide, nearly covering the entire yard. Each day I would scrutinize the home as my bus lumbered by, and look for life in the darkened windows, wondering who had lived there, where did they go, and how old the house really was. I guessed hundreds of years. It looked like a house that had seen a lot of love and a lot of life. I imagined the fields once lush with corn or wheat. I swore I saw a swing hanging from the oak tree limb. I pictured children running and shrieking in the front yard, playing tag or jump rope, or whatever games they played back in their day. It was one of the last large parcels of land on that part of the main road. It was bordered by Dare Road on the west side, and a huge lot on the east side. Today the house is gone. The massive tree is gone, and a Walgreens and parking lot has sprouted where the field once grew wild. But the property where the house stood is untouched, a green lawn and trees and bushes neatly maintained, according to a Google Maps image. I’ve been looking for photos of this house for a long time. I didn’t remember that it had a name. I was just searching “vintage photos old Selden buildings,” or similar wordings. I even took a screen shot of the Google map image of the parcel about two weeks ago. Then the other night a photo and post popped up in my Facebook newsfeed of an old house in Selden. THE VERY SAME HOUSE I’d been searching for all these years. This is a big deal to me. As my husband David said, it’s like the Universe is lining everything up for me. On April 24, my book Ten Bucks and a Wish will be released on Amazon.com. The story tells a tale of letting go of the past to make way for the future, and at the core of this tale is this very house that once stood on the corner of Dare Road and Middle Country Road, the Norton-Dare House. In the book, it is called Drake’s Farm. And it is located in the fictitious town of Olde Westfield, not Selden, in the Town of Brookville, not Brookhaven. And (in the book) the adjacent acreage known as the property belonging to the McCords, honors the memory of a parcel of land that once stood thick with trees and vegetation on the corner of Boyle Road and Middle Country Road. That parcel actually had a burial ground on it, and an old house and well that I explored in my younger days. Today it is a huge shopping center that the community fought hard against. But with the plaza came jobs and progress and entertainment, and new memories for people living there. At one point in its history, Selden was named Westfield. But that changed in the mid-1800s with the arrival of an official post office, and in honor of the then Lieutenant Governor, Henry Selden. When I was younger, I’d heard of an effort to change the name back to something similar to Westfield. I guess that never happened. At least not in real life. But in Ten Bucks and a Wish, Westfield comes alive again as Olde Westfield. I grew up in Selden, moving there from the Bronx with my family when I was seven years old, and finally leaving when I got married at 23 years old. I attended Bicycle Path Elementary, Selden Jr. High, Newfield High School, and Suffolk Community College. I worked at the local drugstore, hung out at the local bar. I went to church faithfully at St. Margaret’s of Scotland, where I made my communion and confirmation, and where I was married. We celebrated this union at the Andrea Doria Manor. All in Selden. The schools and church are still there. The drugstore has changed name and is now flanked by newer strip malls and shopping complexes, and anchor stores. But many of the landmarks I thought would last forever are gone, and the landscape is so different it is difficult to drive through and remember tales to share. But this is life. This is progress. And these stores and landmarks will be changed when the youth of today come back in 30 years, trying to find the buildings they passed every day on the way to school. So, even though Selden has succumbed to modern development in the name of progress, I’m happy that I have been able to forever preserve Selden as Olde Westfield in Ten Bucks and a Wish. And just as Deanna Drake has the opportunity to revisit the past, and recapture her youth, so have I through Facebook. There is a group on Facebook called “You Know You are From Selden If…” and this is where I found the image of the Norton Dare House. Well, it found me. I’ve also been able to reconnect to old friends, and reminisce about the “good old days. So here is to old times, old friends, new friends, and letting go of the past to make way for tomorrow.
In just one week I will officially be a published author whose book people will actually be reading! This has been a long journey, filled with all kinds of writing including news stories, feature columns, op/eds, press releases, poetry, short stories, newsletters… every type of writing you could imagine including romance novels. But I never seriously pursued publication and here is why. Back in my 20s, I paid $5 to a tarot reader at a psychic fair to read my cards and tell me about my writing future. She told me I would be a successful writer, but that I would not be published “until it was nearly too late.” Since I had battled cancer shortly before that ominous prediction, I think I subconsciously put off my life goal of being a published writer, you know, just in case she was correct. So here I am, 30 years later, still alive, after battling cancer twice, struggling through a divorce and being a single mom for a few years, going back to school to earn two degrees, raising my two babies, getting married a second time to my true to life hero, working full time as a reporter and editor, working full time most of my life, and then finally focusing on me dream again. And here it is. Just One Week Away…
This blog is all about roaming the Bicol Region, Philippines wisely on a budget. We'll talk about what Bicol has to offer when it comes to great hotel deals, good food and where to go on your vacation. So, I hope this blog site will be helpful to those of you on the look out for great deals while you have fun in Bicol. Also, I will be sharing what my life here is like and some of the things that I find interesting in my side of the world.