Archive for August, 2010

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

     Welcome to my website.  I hope you enjoy today’s

blog.

     Like love, having faith is essential if one is to be

successful in passing through this difficult journey of

life.  To have a complete spiritual suit of armor,  faith

must be one of the main ingredients. (Ephesians 6:11)

     Faith in what?  For me, faith begins with trust in a

Supreme Being, whom people refer to as God, Lord or

His actual name, Jehovah, (an easily pronounced

rendering of the Tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew

letters that form God’s name.)  Actually, God’s name,

Jehovah, is used today in some, but certainly not all,

translations, where it is often replaced by Lord or

God.  God’s name, Jehovah,  means, as rendered in

Exodus 3:14, footnote,  “I will become whatsoever

I will” since Jehovah God can utilize any strategy to

fulfill His beautiful purposes for the earth and for us.

     Faith also means trusting in God’s son, Jesus(if one

is Christian) as our King, who will usher in the

Millennium (the thousand year reign of Christ,

where human beings will cast off their

innumerable faults and achieve perfection.)  This will

occur after Armageddon (the War of God Almighty),

where God’s son will prove victorious in the ultimate

struggle between the forces of good and evil.

     Faith, for most of us, also includes a belief  in the

future that God has promised us in His Word, the

Bible.  I also believe in certain derivatives of faith,

such as faith in oneself and faith in loved ones, who,

although imperfect, one is willing to take a chance

upon and trust.

     I love the Biblical definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1.

Faith is defined as “the assured expectation of things

hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities

though not beheld.”  What a wonderful definition of

faith that is!  We believe so strongly in something

that, for us, it is already a reality.  The Apostle

John in the Book of Revelation, used the past

tense, even though these prophecies have not yet

been fulfilled, to show the very essence of his faith

that they are as good as fulfilled already.  Look at how

John writes of the earthly paradise that will be ushered

in following Armageddon.  John writes down

God’s inspired Word in the past tense.  He said,

“With that I heard a loud voice from the throne

say: “Look!  The tent of God is with mankind, and

he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and

death will be no more, neither will mourning nor

outcry nor pain be anymore.  The former things have

passed away.”   What a way to describe the most

awesome prphecy of all: eternal life under perfect

conditions!

     In my own way, I have tried very hard to instill

faith within my characters in my novels.  For instance,

Winona, both in The Wacky World of Winnie and

Willie, and Beyond the Stars, lives her faith.  She

reaches out to God, not only in time of need, but by

the way she lives her life.  Of course, Winona is

only a young girl in Wacky World, but even so, she

knows through the way she was brought up, that God

is the One we turn to for strength, hope and

salvation.  In Beyond the Stars, Winona’s life

proves to be very difficult at times, as all our lives

are, but she gets through by her faith in God’s

ultimate purpose.  When she has to confront the death

of loved ones, she knows that God’s strength will

carry her through.  In turn, she gains more needed

faith to care for other loved ones, who need

to draw from her strength.

     In Counter-Attack, the main character, Caryn

Burke, is besieged with anxiety  problems,

agoraphobia, and other phobias, but in the end

she trusts in God enough to reach out to get some

help from her English teacher when her parents are in

denial about her illness.  Only when Caryn feels

enough faith within her to try new strategies does

she begin to get better.  She does things she

never thought possible because she allows herself

to give up some of her self-imposed control and

trust in some profound force way beyond herself. 

God’s Holy Spirit thus gives her enough strength 

to carry her through.

     I want my books to inspire and inform, as much

as I want them to entertain.  I hope they are

beneficial to all who read them.  In each book

there is the subtle thread of faith, for I know

from the pages of the Bible, from my own life

experience, and that of those whom I know or

have read about, that, without faith, life’s journey

would lack luster and be far too difficult to bear.

Yes, without faith, it would be difficult to “endure

until the end”  in order to gain the ultimate salvation

waiting beyond.

 

     Any comments?  Please write me.  I always

enjoy reading your web-mail.  Until the next

blog,

                                        Cheryl

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

         Welcome to my website.  I hope that you have a 

 pleasant day.

         When I woke up this morning, one of the first

things that I thought about was how much I cherish

my parents’ memory.  My dad died at the age of 77

in 1987 when I was 43, and my mom died in 1992 at

the age of 72 when I was 47.  For over forty years,

I was blessed to have the love and counsel of the

two most special people in my lives, and yet

I often wish that I could have known them for many

more years and thereby benefitted still more from

their wisdom and knowledge of life.

          Besides loving me unconditionally, they

 both taught me many things that I have

carried on into adulthood and passed on to

others whom I have loved.  Although I learned

countless things from both of them,  there were

certain pearls of wisdom that they communicated

to me that I would like to share with you now.

          For example, I remember how hard my dad

struggled to turn my sister and me into positive

people.   My father was the type of person who

always made lemonade out of sour lemons and saw

a glass as half-filled, never half-empty.  Dad told us

that there are only two ways to think of a situation:

one that would bring us happiness and another that

would bring us sorrow. 

          “Don’t even think about it,” he would say.  “Just

interpret it the way that would make you happy, and

that’s the end of it!”

         Too simplistic, I would think to myself then, but

now, as a mature person myself, I see the wisdom in

my dad’s philosophy.   He also couldn’t see the sense

in reliving an event from your life that had been

depressing and discouraging.  “Change the channel,”

he would say.  “You have free will.  Use it.”

     Dad always taught me how important the work

ethic is.  He had three jobs, as I remember, and did

all of them well.  He was a manager of newspaper

circulation for The Brooklyn Eagle back in the 1950s. 

He also started an installment business, and

he took an insurance course, passed the test

for his license and became an A#l insurance

salesman.  As I remember, despite all his jobs,

he always took the family out to see a movie on

Saturday nights and to eat out at our favorite

restaurant on Sunday afternoons.

          My mother was also a great influence on me.

She helped me to develop personality and

character traits that would remain with me for

the rest of my life.  Being an excellent house-

keeper, she instilled in me a need to be neat and

clean.  When she first taught me to make my bed

when I was five , she let me know how important

it was to do it every day so that it would become

part of my daily routine.  And it has been up to this

day!

          Mom also taught me at an early age to wear only

neat and well-pressed clothes.   I remember her

pointing out to me very discreetly from our front

window a young girl walking by in a creased,

unkempt outfit. 

          “You would never want to leave the house

like that,” she said to me.  “Everything you wear

should be, not only clean, but well-pressed and

appropriate. Your appearance says a great deal

about you.”  All my life I have been

fastidious about my clothes and my personal

appearance.

     I remember little things that my mom

pointed out to me, too.  As a child, I had a habit

of putting the water on full force and eventually

getting it all over me and making a mess.  “Just

keep the water flow moderate, sweetie,” she

would say, “and you’ll get the job done without

having a flood!”  Believe it or not, even today,

when I’m ready to put the water on high, I

think and reduce it to a moderate flow and

remember with a smile how simple but

practical Mom’s suggestions were.

     Often, when I need a sweet, nostalgic moment,

I think of how my mom taught my sister and me

to do somersaults on my parents’ full-sized bed. 

Neither my sister nor I was the least bit athletic,

but we managed to turn over with our mother’s

 help.  I don’t think we would have done very well in

a gymnastics class, but we did accomplish our little 

somersaults with Mom when we were toddlers.     

          Mom had always been an excellent student

herself and encouraged  us to follow her example.

My sister and I both worked hard to learn as much as

we could and to get the best grades possible.  Our

mom’s flawless grammar and usage somehow were

reflected within us, too, because of her good

example,  which was always in front of us to emulate.

          In many of my books, the great influence

of  parents on their children is readily apparent.

In Wacky World, Winona learns from her dad to take

obligations and chores seriously.  When an

accident occurs, due to her negligence while

babysitting, she is punished and has to think

of a way to lessen the ill effects of what she has

done.  Later, when Winona and her cousin, Willie, are

assaulted at the local playground, her dad cannot

rest until he works with the local police

to find the culprits and bring them to justice. 

In the Sammy Squirrel books, the parents guide their

baby squirrels through difficult times and never

stop loving and protecting them, regardless of the

circumstances.         

         Maternal figures in my books are loving,

protective, and nurturing.  Winnie’s mother, Judy, is

always there for her.  Winnie’s aunt is a wonderful

mother to her four children as well as a sweet, loving

and kind aunt.  The grandmothers and grandfathers  

are wonderful extensions to the parents.  The children

love and rely upon them in difficult situations when 

the parents are not there.

          Yes, I do miss my parents very much, but I also

have the Bible-based hope that I will see them

again one day in a far better place. 

                   

    “The righteous themselves will possess the earth,

And they will reside forever upon it.”

                                    

                            Psalm 37:29

 

Until then, I will continue to cherish  them in memory,

remembering all the good things that they

accomplished and disregarding any of their

flaws, due to human imperfection.

         Please share cherished memories of your

parents or grandparents, too.  I would be glad

to read them.

          Until the next blog,

Cheryl

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

     Welcome to my website!  It may be warm and humid outside, but it is comfortable here in my office as I write today’s blog. 

     I feel like commenting today on the need to manage our anger.  The topic of anger management is addressed in my novel, The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie, through a pivotal character.   I later refer to that character’s anger management problems in the sequel, Beyond the Stars, as well..   

     The protagonist, Sean O’Hara, is out of control in Wacky World.   Having a chip on his shoulder for the way that life has treated both him and his family, he feels that the world owes him a living and an apology, along with the right to effect his own revenge.  

      His attempt to assault the main female character, Winona Scharf, results in his being arrested, and only through the efforts of a sympathetic lawyer, (who defends him pro bono), does Sean have an opportunity to be given a second chance at life.  But first, he must learn through individual and group  therapy to control his anger! 

      Of course, Sean is two-dimensional and just a product of my imagination, but there are too many three-dimensional counterparts of Sean in the world today.  Why is it so important that they be helped?

     First, it must be understood that everyone gets angry, but not everyone goes out of control because of that anger.   What are some of the pressures that result in people going over the edge emotionally?

     Life’s pressures often bring out the worst in people .  When we become  angry, often, we begin to hate the object of that anger.  The result is often violence in an amazing number of forms:  wars between countries, domestic violence, crime of all types and often even suicide.

     Anger is certainly not a new problem.  Out of jealous anger, Cain killed his brother, Abel, even though God Himself counseled Cain to control his feelings and allow himself to be in a position to gain His blessing.   Cain was much closer to perfection than we are, being only one generation away from his parents’ being in Paradise.  Therefore, God held him responsible for his actions.  We may be countless generations away from original perfection, but we are still considered accountable for our actions.  Yes, despite the media, economic problems, difficult people, (both in our own families and outside the family unit),  as well as the essence of evil, which permeates society now, more than ever,  we must learn how to control our anger or pay the harsh and often unimaginable consequences of failing to do so.

      Since we are all imperfect, it is not easy to control our tempers, but we can pray for a peaceful disposition for ourselves as well as a compassionate attitude from those we may consider unfair and antagonistic.   If it is a problem that can b e resolved,  both parties should make every attempt to work towards a solution.  Otherwise, for the sake of peace, we can overlook the perceived offense and move on. 

     Anger, since it leads to violence, must be defused in any way possible.  I agree that it is not easy to succeed using any of these methods, but, if we refuse to resort to anything but peaceful strategies, we can and will prevent the situation from turning violent. 

     The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12-18 to “employ spiritual armor, including ‘the equipment of the good news of peace.'” He also says in 2 Tim. 2:24 that “a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all.”     

    The June 15, 2010 Watchtower has an interesting article on anger management, entitled “‘Keep Conquering the Evil’ By Controlling Anger.”  I was able to see the Godly  point of view through various Biblical allusions.  I recommend the article  highly.

     Life is a great challenge, we all know, but we can’t conquer the world if we don’t conquer, one by one, the flaws in ourselves. 

     Until the next blog,

 

                                                                  Cheryl

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

          I woke up early this morning, wondering what would be fresh, informative, and entertaining for today’s blog.  I couldn’t help thinking that, since both reading and writing are amazing God-given gifts that we all are privileged to possess, at least to a certain extent,  it would be fantastic to explore what it takes to be a good reader and writer.  Obviously, in both areas, all of us have a great amount of room for improvement.

          When I start to write, I look forward to drawing from deep into my mind ideas that I will later organize and develop so that my readers can clearly understand what I am trying to communicate.  When I taught English for thirty years on the south shore of Long Island, writing process was an important part of my students’ education in writing.  But, of course, reading is a process that needs to be analyzed as well.  When words develop into ideas that can be easily communicated to another, a kind of miracle takes place, to my way of thinking.

          Writing also involves sharing with others, and, to me, nothing can be more precious than revealing one’s innermost thoughts, feelings, and convictions about life.  So, in a sense, writing is pesonal, even if the material about which one is writing seems cool and objective  at times.  Writing also involves taking a risk because the reader may, either completely disagree with what the writer is saying or lack an understanding of what the writer is really trying to communicate.  Sometimes, the reader doesn’t like the writer’s style.

          A Legacy of Love is my most recent  book.  In fact, it just entered the publishing process and won’t be completed for several months.    In the meantime, I am really excited about it and can’t wait to see it in print.  Actually, it is immensely personal to me since it  tells the story of my life in the context of the fifteen pets that I have been privileged to care for since I had my first one at the age of eleven. 

          Originally, I didn’t want the book to be autobiographical, but somehow, it developed into that genre because my pets have always been an intrinsic part of almost every aspect of my life.  Each of the anecdotes evokes  memories.  Some make me laugh and become nostalgic, but others that involve loss make me cry, although, in some instances, years have passed.  Whoever said, “Time heals all wounds” didn’t get it quite right in my humble opinion.

           It may be true, that with the passing of time, the pain isn’t quite so strong, but it never fully goes away.  When we remember, however, the hurt reappears, but it is as though the pain is filtered through a screen of time and therefore better able to be tolerated.  Bottom line, I still cried when I read and reread some of my own stories that dealt with the loss of those pets who died rather suddenly from illness or accidents.

          A novel that I wrote last year, entitled Searching for the Sunny Side, will be published probably by the end of October.  Ican’t wait to get the first copy!  This book has taken the longest to complete the writing process because I apparently didn’t proofread well enough, although I thought that I did.  Every time I examined the proofs, I found more typos and other mistakes, which had to be corrected before the final printing.  Now, finally, it is nearing that special time when the book goes into the last stages of publication.  It is almost like awaiting the birth of a child.

          Searching for the Sunny Side is the next-to-last book in a series about Winona Scharf, a Jewish-American girl who left her home in Rockaway Beach, Queens, to go away to college upstate in the 1960s.   The first novel, The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie, is basically a coming-of-age novel while the second in the series, Beyond the Stars, deals with Winona’s college years and adulthood.  Along the way, the reader meets other important characters, who each has her own story.  For instance, Winona’s roommate, Marianne, tells her own story in Son of a Gun and the Evening Star, and Winona’s dorm supervisor has a novel devoted to her life, too, entitled Searching for the Sunny Side, which was referred to previously.

           I am planning a last book in the series, of course, but the contents are under wraps at this point, although I promise it will be really exciting.  Before writing that novel,however, I have two other projects in mind.  I am a third of the way through  my twelfth book, 33’s Theo, and in my mind are the blueprints for the next novel after that,  A Stepmother’s Tale, which will take place in both, Czarist Russia and the United States before World War One.  It’s a lot for me, as the writer, to look forward to, and hopefully, for you, the readers, as well.

                I’ll be sure to tell you more in the next blog, but until then, I send my very best wishes.

 

                                                                                                                                                        Cheryl

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Dear Readers,

         Welcome to my website.  It is a pleasure to have you visit.

           What a beautiful day it is today!  When I feel the warmth of the sun on my face at the same time as a refreshing little breeze,  I know that the best of summer is finally here.

           Yet, the best of summer as an adult does not even compare with even a mediocre summer day from my childhood.  Astonishingly enough, even without air conditioning, a spacious summer house or gourmet food, the summers that I spent at my grandmother’s rooming house at Rockaway Beach were probably the best summers of all for me. 

          Why????  Actually, as with all important questions, the answer is complex, but nevertheless, I will do my best to explain.

           When you’re young with very little life experience, it doesn’t take much to excite and impress you.  Why, I remember that, just stopping by a summer novelty store with inexpensive bathing suits, flipflops, multi-colored pails and little shovels in the window were enough to make my heart go pitter patter, for they would elicit visions of swimming, riding the waves and then building elaborate sand castles with friends and family.

           Summer brings back other memories, too.  I loved going on the boardwalk with my friends and family, especially on Wednesday nights when at least a half-hour or more of the most exquisite fireworks lit up the summer sky.  Over my shorts and top, I would wear a  pastel shrug that my grandmother or a talented friend of the family crocheted or knitted just for me since the nights at the beach could get pretty cool.   

           After the fireworks, we would visit one or two of the many concessions and buy either a doughnut or an ice cream cone or perhaps both.  We mixed all kinds of treats, as I remember, but I don’t recall ever getting sick.  I guess having a cast iron stomach goes with the territory of being young and healthy.

           There were so many people strolling along the boardwalk during  those fireworks nights that my friends and I couldn’t help feeling a bit elated.  There were games at some of the concessions with adorable  little dolls and stuffed animals of all sizes just waiting to be won.  I remember how difficult it was to leave all this and have to go home by ten o’clock or so, depending upon my age and corresponding curfew. 

           Going to Playland in the Rockaways was the most exciting part of the whole summer for my sister, my cousins and me.  Children have their elaborate theme parks today, but back then in the 1950s, there wasn’t anything better than an evening at Playland. 

          Each of the grownups, as I remember, had his or her own specialty when it came to entertaining us children, but my father’s undisputed job was taking us to Playland once or twice each summer and guarding us as closely as he could.  My cousin, Cathy, was the youngest, followed by her brother, my cousin Dickie, who was three years her senior, and then me, a year older than Dickie.  Then there was my cousin, Kenny,  my sister, Stephie, and my oldest cousin, Peter, about five years older than I.  When the youngest(Cathy) was five, the oldest(Peter) was at least fourteen, which meant that my dad could trust Peter, Stephie and Kenny to help look after the rest of us.  Anyway, most of us were very good.  If my memory serves me well.  I believe that only my cousin Dickie and I were a bit mischievous.  All of us kids would go on just about every ride imaginable from the ferris wheel to the roller coaster.  Of course, we ate cotton candy, ice cream, candy and all kinds of treats and didn’t ever want to go home!

           On rainy days at my grandmother’s rooming house, we played a variety of card games, including canasta, and many of us, (even the boys), learned to play maj jongg.  There was never a dull moment!

          When we could get away with it, we loved to explore the basement or the attic of the old house.  Few people lived in those quarters, but we thought these places were empty and virtually unexplored worlds.  How frightened my young cousins and I were when we heard the murmur of unknown voices, and we ran as fast as we could back to the safety of the front porch.

          And what a porch it was!  Of course, I don’t know the actual dimensions of the porch, but to me at nine years of age, it was never-ending, especially as it wrapped all the way around, leading to a splendid back yard, where there were the outdoor showers way out back,  and near the fence, separating our grandmother’s house from the house next door,  all kinds of wild berries growing, which we were warned never to eat.

        To some of us, the highlights of the summer were the elaborate parties on July 4th and Labor Day.  Everyone chipped in for amazingly good cold cuts from the local delicatessan, but my grandmother was in charge of making the cole slaw and potato salad, which were superb!  We even had a live band, to whose music all of us danced the night away.

         Regardless of where I would travel to at this time in my life, it could not match the joy of those summers when I was a child.  To me, the memory of these fun-filled activities, with  my family and friends all around me, against the backdrop of the vast and mysterious Atlantic Ocean just a block away, cannot fail to elevate me to a wonderful place in my mind, where I can forget for a while  all the little problems and irritations that life can throw at us sometimes.  That is why I wrote so much about those summers in my novel, “The Wacky World of Winnie and Willie.”

          Now, what do you remember about your best summers when you were a child?

         Until the next blog, stay well and happy.

 

                                                                                                                     Cheryl