Archive for August, 2016

A Case in This Chapter of Literature Imitating Life a Little …

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Okay. In this chapter literature did imitate life…at least a little. When I met my husband, it was close to his son’s sixteenth birthday. He had already purchased Met’s tickets for both of them, and they looked forward to going to the game …right on his birthday!

So what was the problem???Actually, my faculty show was on the same date, and I had been rehearsing, along with my faculty associates, for months! In addition, becoming a part
Of that show had been very difficult for me since I was depressed when I had started teaching that autumn because I had lost my husband just a month before school started. Then, my father died just three months later. It took a lot for me to be convinced to be part of that show…basically to distract me from my negative thoughts and lift my spirits.

Bottom line: having my husband (at that time, my boyfriend), watch my colleagues and me perform would have been very important to me because of the encouragement and support it would have given me.

But the fact remains that I had met my husband just a month before the show, and he had arranged this special baseball date with his son for months…and, yes, this was his son, and I was a new girlfriend…so, naturally I understood…but I was disappointed.

Now that was real life. Let’s go back to the novel, and see how I handled a similar situation there.

Joey and Madeleine are bringing Jess, Joey’s daughter, to meet Maddie’s mom…just a week after Tommy was there. Let’s see if Jess made an equally good impression.

“We arrived at my mom’s house about forty-five minutes later after having picked up her favorite foods and ours as well. Joey insisted upon paying for everything.

“My mom liked Jessie from the start. They couldn’t stop talking about everything from movies and plays to current events and history.

“‘Joey. You’ve raised quite an intelligent daughter,’ she said. ‘She reminds me of Maddie and my older daughter, Annie, at her age.’

“‘Thank you, Mrs. Cooper. I’m very proud of both my children.’

“‘You know, Maddie is going to be in a faculty show next Saturday night. I hope she invited both of you, and, of course, Tommy. My daughter can really dance and sing well. And this play is just what she needed to keep her busy so she wouldn’t focus so much upon her loss. Widows have to be focused on the present and the future if they’re going to make it. They can’t dwell upon what they have lost.’

“‘That’s so true,’ Jess said. I’ve read a lot about dealing with loss in my psychology courses’…

“I interrupted a little nervously. ‘I’m afraid I didn’t get a chance to ask Joey or his kids yet, Mom.’

“I looked around, and Joey seemed a bit perturbed. ‘Is there something wrong?’ I asked.

At that point Joey explained about the conflict with the baseball game on the same date!

But in the novel, I have Jess coming up with a great solution!

“‘But I can go, Dad,’ Jess said, ‘and I can drive Mrs. Cooper to the school and then drive her home and drop Maddie off at her house. You can vouch for my driving, Dad.’

“‘Yes, I can,’ said Joey. ‘If it’s all right with you and your mom, Maddie, Jess could take my place next Saturday.’

“‘It’s fine with me, and I’m sure it is with Mom,’ I said.

“‘It certainly is,’ said my
Mother. ‘You have a remarkable daughter, Joey,’ said my mom.

“‘And so do you,’ said Joey, smiling first at my mother and then at me.”

But that would have been a perfect solution in the real life scenario, too! Yet, in real life, my mom couldn’t make it without someone going with her because of her impaired health. My step-daughter could not come to our rescue and drive us around as Jess did in my novel. ( I had to be there early for makeup and last-minute instructions, so
I couldn’t take a cab with my mom.)

Yes, it was kind of sad to have no close friend or relative there to support and encourage me.

However, the faculty play was videotaped, and my husband and I went to the videotape party a few weeks later.

I view the incident with mixed feelings even now…so many years later!

Mom Meets Tommy

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Some hurdles have already been passed over successfully, but for Joey and Madeleine from my novel, “A Step-mother’Tale,” there are still so many to go! Step-families present many challenges, but there are wonderful dividends of love, compassion and understanding if the family members and work really hard at building the relationships among the family members.

In today’s post Mrs. Cooper (Lorraine) meets Tommy, Joey’s son. Let’s see how it all transpires.

“‘We all got our favorite entrees and included won ton soup for Mom and her shrimp in lobster sauce. When we reached Mom’s door, for some reason, I was really nervous.

“‘When my petite mom answered the door and looked up at gangly Tommy, about six feet tall and growing, she looked more shocked than surprised, Before she could say anything, I explained, “Mom, this is Tommy, Joey’s son. He wanted to come along and meet you.'”

“‘How nice,’ said Mom, honestly caught completely off guard. ‘And I’m happy to meet you, Tommu. I’m afraid it won’t be the most exciting afternoon for you, but I’m glad you could come.'”

“When Tommy kissed my mom on the cheek, I must admit it was
My turn to be shocked. I finally broke the silence by saying,’ Until we put the finer on the table, Tommy, why don’t you snf your dad sit down in the living room and watch some television? Mom and I will have everything set on the table in five minutes.'”

Let’s move forward to later that afternoon. The dinner was delicious, and afterwards, Tommy helped clear the table.

“‘…my mom asked him, ‘What year of high school are you in, Tommy?’

“‘I’m completing my junior year, Mrs. Cooper. And then I plants go to community college.’

“‘What do you want to be?’ Mom asked him.

“Tommy looked puzzled. ‘I really have no idea. I like to work with young kids. I want to be a teacher and do some coaching.’

“My mother was obviously impressed. I could tell by her broad smile. ‘Sounds like you have your life figured out,’ she said. ‘I like that in a young person.’ With that I could tell that Tommy had won my mother over.”

Yes, Mom was impressed with Tommy, and Tommy wasn’t complaining. So he must have given his approval to Mrs. Cooper. He definitely would have said something privately to his dad if he were uncomfortable. So far, so good!

More information on Tommy in the next post! On his sister, Jess, too, who will be meeting Mrs. Cooper next!

So What Is the Verdict?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

In my last post, based upon my novel, “A Step-mother’s Tale,” my main characters, Madeleine and Joey, visited Madeleine’s mom at her home in the Rockaways. Madeleine bought delicious entrees for all of them from her mom’s favorite restaurant so that they could enjoy a meal together and Maddie’s mom and boyfriend could get to know each other better.

When all was said and done, did Joey and Mrs. Cooper like each other? Did Mrs. Cooper approve of Joey?

As far as Joey, it was easy! He didn’t have a problem! Joey agreed with Madeleine that her mother was incredible.

“Yes, she is,’ Joey said. “And she’s incredibly brave, living there in that big house all by herself.'”

But what about Mrs. Cooper’s feelings about Joey? That is more complicated!

How upset Maddie felt when her mom called her the next day and left a message for Maddie to call her back! After coming home from her teaching job, Maddie got the message. She had her dinner and called her mom, assuming that the call was about Mom’s verdict in regard to her opinion of Joey. Let’s see if she was right!

“‘Actually, dear, I wanted to discuss your new boyfriend. He seems like a nice enough fellow,’ Mom began. ‘Very kind and considerate to you as well as to me. Those are good traits in a man.’
“‘Yes, they are, Mom. I was lucky to find him.’

“‘I was hoping this time around you’d find a man of our faith.’

“‘I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mom, but I really like Joey, and I probably will continue to see him.'”

“‘I know you follow your own heart, honey, and in many ways I’ve always admired you for that, but I’m not really sure that Joey would be right for you,'”

“‘As I remember, you and dad didn’t approve of Johnny either. …So I guess my choices were never popular with either Dad or you.'”

“‘It’s just that you pick men who aren’t part of …your religious persuasion. That causes extra problems, honey, and in marriage you certainly don’t need extra problems.'”

“‘I really like Joey. He’s a very kind and a wonderful friend. I’ll probably be hearing from him later tonight.'”

“‘Maddie, You’re over forty years old. I can’t tell you what to do, but I must say my mind is really clear now….I can see problems lying ahead for you and Joey if you continue the relationship. You told me he has teen-age children. If you get serious with Joey and marry him, you will become his children’s step-mother. And that’s really hard work, being a step-mother to older children like them. They’re already grown in so many ways, and they’re not going to want to listen to you. They’ll always have in the back of their minds that you stood in the way of their parents reconciling, and sooner or later they’re going to resent you for that. If you don’t believe that can happen, you’re in denial.'”

“‘Lots of things can happen, Mom, but that’s such a gloomy attitude. I refuse to focus on the negative. I know that everything will be fine.'”

“‘For your sake, I hope you’re right….

I’ll keep you posted about Joey and me. You’re going to love him one day and eat your words of caution.'”

Wow! That was dramatic! Will Maddie continue to see Joey? What will happen?

Visiting Mom!

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Sunday finally came! So early in their relationship Madeleine and Joey from my novel, “A Step-mother’s Tale,” are being introduced to each other’s family! Is it a good sign or is it a colossal mistake? Does anyone know the right time to introduce a “significant other” to the family? Or is there a right time? Most likely, each case is different!!!

Anyway, let’s get back to our story. How does Joey do in his attempt to impress Madeleine’s mom!

“Dinner with my mom had been a Sunday ritual since my dad and Johnny had both died. Sine I didn’t drive because of an eye problem, I called a cab and had someone else do the driving, it was expensive, but my mother was worth it.

“This time, however,my new friend, Joey, took care of the driving, I felt protected and cared for, and that was a great feeling! On the way to Rockaway, I took in the early spring scenery. It was so nice to see some greenery instead of the snow that everyone had (718) 971-9000 tired of months before.

“The ride lasted less than an hour. When we were near my mom’s house, I directed Joey to a nice restaurant just a few blocks off the main road. ‘I want to order my mother’s favorite entree and dessert, along with some chicken and potato salad. ‘She just adores potato salad!’ I said, ‘And what would you like, Joey?’ I asked, turning towards him.

Madeleine insisted on paying for everyone’s dinner, and before they knew it, they were on the road again, headed towards the house of Mrs, Cooper, Madeleine’s mom.

“About ten minutes later, I rang the bell, and Mom took just a few minutes to get to the door. Her light brown hair was only slightly highlighted with gray, and her hazel eyes matched mine almost exactly. Although I looked a little more like my dad, there was also quite a resemblance between Mom and me. I wondered if Joey would notice that.

“‘Mom, it’s so good to see you,’ I said, as I kissed her on the cheek. ‘This is Joey. Joey, this is my mom.’

“Joey also kissed Mom on the cheek , and then we brought the dinners into the kitchen.

“‘You know she spoils me,’Mom
said to Joey. ‘Every Sunday Maddie comes over with all my favorite foods. We have an early dinner, and then she does my checks and helps me with some of the chores. I try to get her to sit down, but not Maddie! She’s always up and around doing something.'”

“‘That’s what keeps her so young and pretty,’ Joey said. ‘Like you, Mrs. Cooper.'”

“‘You have a real charmer here, Maddie,’ my Mom said. I helped her set the table, and then we all sat down to dinner.”

They all enjoyed the delicious restaurant entrees and desserts. Then, Joey was gently persuaded to watch television in the livingrpom while the women did the dishes, followed by Madeleine’s doing Mrs. Cooper’s checks.

By seven o’clock Joey and Madeleine said their good-byes to Madeleine’s mother and were on the road.

Next time we’ll find out what Joey and Mrs. Cooper thought of one another! Don’t miss the blog!

Preparations to Meet Mom

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Joey and Madeleine’s first date in my novel, “A Step-mother’s Tale,” went very well. In fact, it went so well that Joey asked Madeleine out again. He intended it to be a Sunday afternoon in Manhattan with his kids and her.

As Joey put it, “We’ll have breakfast out, take a walking tour of Broadway and see if we can get tickets for a matinee performance. You’d be surprised how my kids and I get lucky and wind up getting pretty good seats at some of the top plays. And if we’re not that lucky, we can see another movie. What do you say, Maddie? It will be fun, and you’ll see what it’s like to spend a day with a divorced gentleman and his children.”

“I reflected on my usual Sundays. I visited my mom and brought her a special dinner. She needed me to spend time with her since she was lonely after my dad’s death in November and still recovering from her stroke the previous August.

“‘I’d really love to go, Joey,’ I said finally, ‘but my mom needs me on Sundays. My sister, Annie, and her husband travel a lot, and my mom doesn’t have any other close relatives who can visit her. I can’t just call mom and tell her I’m not visiting her. She would be so disappointed, and it might actually be bad for her health.'”

“‘I understand,’ Joey said respectfully. There was a pause for a moment or two, and then Joey said, ‘But maybe next week I can go along with you. I can drive you there so you don’t have to take a cab. My kids can spend one Sunday with their mother. She’s always asking for Sundays with them, but they prefer to see her on Saturdays. There’s nothing wrong with our switching the days, though.

“‘I don’t want to inconvenience you, Joey, and disrupt your routine'”

“‘It would be good for us all to change our routine. So next Sunday you and I will get together with your mom and show her the best Sunday she’s ever had.'”

“I smiled at him. I think that was the moment he began to win me over. Sometimes, a man finds his way to a girl’s heart with flowers, candy and jewelry, but Joey had found his way to mine through sharing a Sunday visit with my mom.”

Meeting the Children…

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

As a step-parent, I can tell you that it would be more than a little nerve wracking to meet the teenage children of a person whom you have just met!   It’s much too early!

But then, on the other hand, if the girlfriend/ boyfriend meets the children this early and the relationship ends,  it is much too soon for anyone to get hurt.  So, on second thought, I guess it is all right.

Whenever they all meet, it has to be awkward.  It was for me, although my husband’s children, (now fully grown and married with families of their own), are both lovely people.  It just has to feel a little unnatural at first for a child to see a parent with someone other than his/ her mother or father.  It must also be strange for the girlfriend/boyfriend to meet the child/children of a new “significant other.”  It was for me.  You want the kids to like you, even if the relationship  doesn’t turn into a permanent one.

But back to my characters, Madeleine and Joey.  Of course, Joey called midweek to discuss the movie and the restaurant. As I said before, he was a man of his word!   Plans were made for Saturday night!  Let’s listen in!

“I  was a nervous wreck the rest of the week, but a lovely feeling of peace engulfed me when I woke up on Saturday morning.  I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden, I felt as though everything would go just fine.  For me, being so positive was unusual, especially since I lost Johnny….

“A long, refreshing shower helped more than I ever could have guessed.  Immediately, I decided upon a bright red turtleneck and a slim cut of black pants.  My makeup didn’t take very long.  I put on a little foundation and light green eye shadow to highlight my hazel eyes.  I added a bright red lipstick to give me a bright, cheerful look.  Brushing on eyeliner accentuated my eyes and a little blush gave me just the right amount of color.   All of a sudden, I felt ready to meet Joey  and his children.

“He arrived at noon, dressed in dark brown slacks and a tan wool sweater.  I noticed that his brown leather shoes were polished to a shine.  His face had a youthful glow.  My heart skipped a beat  because I liked the healthy, natural look.

” ‘You look lovely,’ Joey said as I opened the door and let him in.

” ‘Well, thank you,’ I said, “and so do you.’

” ‘ “He smiled.  ‘I’ve never been called ‘lovely’ before, but thank you, anyway.’

“‘You’re welcome,’ I said, laughing.

“‘After a brief silence, Joey said,  ‘I guess we’d better be going.  We have a lot to do today, Madeleine.   Are you ready for the challenge!’

” ‘Sure am, ‘ I replied as I walked out the foot after Joey and locked it behind me.’

” ‘It took less than a half-hour to get to Joey’s house in Maspeth.  His house was a white colonial with black shutters and a solid black door to match with a big circle of glass right in the middle.  Once Joey opened the door, we quietly walked in and were greeted by a tall good-looking teen-age boy with bright blue eyes and a petite, blonde-haired teen-age girl, the difference in age seemingly negligible, although I knew they weren’t twins.

” ‘ The boy walked up to me first, extending his right hand.  ‘I’m Tommy,’ he said, ‘and you must be Madeleine.  Dad talks about you constantly,’  ( I glanced at Joey,  and he was actually blushing. )

“Joey’s daughter  seemed a little shy, but she eventually walked up to me also and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  ‘I’m Jessica , but everyone calls me Jess.  It’s good to meet you, Madeleine.  Dad never brings any of his girlfriendd home to meet us, so you must be really special.’   This time, I blushed.

” ‘Well, it’s good to meet both of you,’ I said, shakily,  ‘When your father and I met, the first thing we talked about was you two.  He loves you very much, and he’s so proud of both of you.”

“‘Jess and Tommy glanced  over at Joey and looked down for a moment.  ‘We’re proud of him, too,’  Joey said finally.’ ”

And that is how Madeleine met Joey’s two children!  In the next post we’ll see how the rest of that special evening went!  Tune in now!













Let The Writing Itself Tell the Story…

Friday, August 26th, 2016

( Remember that the novel is written from Madeleine’s point of view. )

The last thing that Joey said to Madeleine that night when they first met remained in her memory, although she didn’t want to allow herself to expect too much and then be disappointed.  ” ‘I’ll call you tomorrow   night,’ he said as he kissed me softly on the mouth.

“As he got out of the driver’s seat to open the door  for me and escort me out, I kept the look of surprise on my face.  “I will call you,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of fun on Saturday night.  A movie!  Meeting my kids!  It should be an evening full of surprises! ”

On Sunday Madeleine was so deeply immersed in her memories of her late husband, Johnny, and their life together that at first she didn’t even hear the phone ring!  Actually, it had been ringing for a while when she finally picked it up.

” ‘ As soon as I picked it up, I heard Joey’s booming voice.

” ‘I’m a man of my word,” he began. “I said I’d call today, and here I am.  What do you think of that? ‘ ”

“I laughed right into the phone and as soon as I was myself again,  I said, “I knew that the moment you came over and asked me to dance.  I had no doubts.’ ”

At this point Joey was getting ready to remind Madeleine of the date they had already agreed to.

” Are you game for meeting my kids next Saturday and then going out to dinner and a movie?’ ”

” ‘It sounds good, ‘ I said, hoping that I had not answered too soon.’

“‘That’s great!’ said Joey.   ‘I’ll call you mid-week so we can agree on a movie we both like.  And yes,’ he continued, we can decide on a restaurant, too.’

” ‘Sounds good,’ I said.  I’m looking forward to Saturday then.’

” ‘Good, ‘ said Joey.  ‘Remember , you’ll hear from me on Wednesday.’ ”

How would that first date go?  Don’t forget to read my next post!









Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

I want to include what I consider to be major highlights  from my novel, “A Step-mother ‘s Tale.”    What could be more exciting than to listen in on their conversation when they first met…when Joey asked Madeleine to dance?  We all know that it is those first moments that determine whether there is any potential for the relationship.

“He wasn’t a great dancer. But neither was I, so I guess in terms of dancing ability, we were well-suited for each other.  Strangely enough, I felt relaxed as we moved through a gentle foxtrot. It was weird that I felt so comfortable in his arms.

“When the dance was over, he remained next to me and introduced himself.

” ‘I’m Joey,’ he said softly.  ‘And your name?’

” ‘I’m  Madeleine,’   I said.  ‘no middle name.’

” ‘ I wish I didn’t have one,’  Joey whispered.  ‘ My middle name is Ronald.  I think my mother must have had a crush on Ronald  Coleman  or something.’ ”

“I laughed.  ‘She has good taste.  He was one of my favorite actors.  I must have seen every one of his movies on television with my mother.’  I felt compelled to go on to explain, ‘I’m not old enough to have actually seen them in the movies.’ ”

“Joey laughed.  ‘I hardly thought you were.’  After a brief pause, he said, ‘So I guess we have a family connection that is, in terms of Ronald Coleman movies, I mean.’ ”

“I guess we do.”

” Very naturally, we stopped dancing and walked over to the refreshment area….”

After having some ginger ale and conversing some more,  Joey took out a dog-eared   picture.  I’m sure you can guess whose picture it was!

” ‘These are my two kids,’ he said.  As I glanced at the picture of a petite, pretty blond-haired girl of perhaps twenty and a tall, good-looking, dark-haired teen-age boy , Joey said.  ‘They’re with me now,’ he said.  ‘For a couple of years, they were with my ex.  It was rough for the kids and me, but now we’re together, and everything’s all right.’

” ‘ They’re  nice-looking kids,’ I said. ‘You’re lucky to have them, and they’re lucky to have you,’ I said sincerely.”

It was a nice beginning to a friendship or perhaps something more!  Tune in for the next post!




“A Step-Mother’s Tale”

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Who would be better qualified to write this novel  than I?   In 2011 when I wrote the book, I had been a step-mom for 22 years.  To my way of thinking,  I had experienced just about every kind of challenge you could think of and some you might never even have imagined, and yet it has been an experience that has in many ways enriched my life.

Mature people have to accept both the bad and the good in life.  Life changes, and we all have to adjust to those changes.  If we don’t allow new experiences into our lives…even welcome them…how can we grow strong and be at our best?

I wrote “A Step-mother’s Tale” because I thought that others might profit through what I have learned.   Knowledge  and experience  often lead to wisdom, and what better use for that wisdom is sharing it with others?

The characters in my novel are not meant to depict specific people in my personal life, but naturally there are some parallels.  No author can help incorporating some characteristics of people whom they have known into the characters in their novels.

However, that doesn’t in any way mean that this book is autobiographical.   There are infinite differences between my real life and the people in it and the characters and incidents in the novel!  Having said that, let’s proceed.

One similarity of literature to life is found at the beginning of the novel.  After becoming a widow with few close friends and a small family,  loneliness began to set in.    A little less than a year after my husband died, on a cold evening in early Spring, I left my two Doberman Pinschers and Russian blue cat, all snug and warm ( separated in different rooms,  of course, ) and went to a singles dance, where I met a man who would later become my second husband.   Here is an excerpt from the novel, showing how all that transpired.

“I met Joey Russo less than a year  after my husband, Johnny,  had died.  It was a cold night in late April, but despite the fact that it was already a month past the arrival of Spring, snowdrops fringed the outline of my roof and extended downward to the base of my house until the scene resembled a Currier and Ives postcard.  Would the wintry weather ever end, I wondered?”

I called a cab and arrived at the site of the mixer.   At first I wondered what had possessed me to leave my snug little home with my loving dogs and cat to come here, but then I made a deal with myself.  If no one asked me to dance  by 11:00 P. M., I would be going home!

“When my head was still down staring at my watch, I heard a man’s voice close by asking me a question.  When I looked up, he smiled and repeated the question, “Would you like to dance?”

“I stared at him a little doubtfully, but then I returned his smile and said, “Of course.”

And that is the beginning of Madeleine and Joey’s story!  More on the next post.  Join me on their adventure!



Summing It All Up!

Monday, August 22nd, 2016