Turning the Page to a New Chapter

Last night I went on a journey through time. I traveled back to the days of firsts. First word, first step, first drawings, first day of school, first soccer game, first gymnastics class, etc. In the back of my mind I could see the baby faces, the little girls, the awkward teenagers. Then I arrived at the present with reluctance and the question that every parent asks; where did the time go?

I casually glanced through the book titles lining the shelves and realized how much they had changed as well. Picture books morphed into classic novels and a myriad of titles in between.  Gone are the days of Brown, Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See and Hop on Pop. Toothless grins and tiny shoes have changed into shades of lipstick and fashionable pumps and sandals.  Before I realized it, my daughters had grown up and now they are away at college. One is already in her last year and ready to enter the workforce.

The most difficult task any parent faces is that moment when we must let go.  Internally we fight against the hands of time, especially in those final days following high school graduation up until the day we do the official “drop off.”  Suddenly, we find ourselves trying to seize every moment and immortalize it in photos and words in an attempt to hold on just a little longer. We endeavor to fool ourselves into believing that those memories will somehow freeze time in the same way they have frozen the moment.  It doesn’t work.  Like it or not, time marches on.  Our children grow up and if we have done our job right they are ready to face the world. They are independent and confident.  They are filled with a spirit of adventure, a will to succeed, a determination to make the most of their novel experience, a drive to discover and meet the challenges they will face head on.  In the same breath that we pray they are ready, we can’t help but hope they still need us.

I remember the first day I took my middle child to pre-school.  She confidently walked into the classroom, sat at a table and began to draw. I waited for her to remember I was there. I knelt down to ask her about her picture which she quickly explained without even lifting her head. Finally, and with great reluctance, I told her I needed to go. She looked up, gave me a kiss and said, “Okay, Mommy. Have a nice day.”  Several days later, the atrocities of 9/11 occurred and living in New York it brought an appreciation for life as we had never known it before.

It still seems surreal that just a few days ago, I stood on the sidewalk outside the apartment my girls are sharing and found myself once again saying those words. “I need to go.”  If I was reluctant before, this time I found myself forcing the words out, fighting to hold the tears back, and releasing the hugs unwillingly.

I can hear the advice of so many. “It’s just college.” “They’ll be home before you know it.” In theory that is all correct, however, there is more to it than simply sending them off to college.  That moment of farewell wasn’t just to my college-aged girls, it was to life as I have known it.  They will come home for visits and still refer to this as “home”, but there is the stark reality that they have grown up. They are making plans and building lives that don’t include me. They are making career choices. While they may ask my opinion and for my advice, the decisions they make are now their own. I am on the sidelines watching from the spectator stands. I can cheer, I can hope, but my coaching days are over. All that is left is for me to trust the lessons and values that I tried to instill will mature, grow, and blossom.  It isn’t only a matter of trusting that they learned those lessons, but trusting that I taught them well.  Did I forget anything? Was there something I could have said or done better?

It is daunting to ponder all the what if’s and to be out of arm’s reach, too far to keep them safe or tuck them in. All those things I took on my shoulders I must now allow them to do. I know this intellectually even if emotionally I am rebelling. Letting go simply isn’t easy. Then again, if I did my job right, it wasn’t meant to be easy. It wasn’t any easier for my parents to let go either. I have to keep reminding myself of that simple truth. They had to trust I would be okay to face the challenges life brings and now it is my turn.

The collections of books, dolls, trophies, and certificates all stand as a testament to who they are today and are capable of becoming tomorrow.  They are poignant reminders of learning, creativity, imagination, accomplishments, motivation, perseverance and success. Turning to accept our collective new beginning my eye caught hold of one last memory, a tiny scrap cut from a purple cast worn after a particularly nasty fractured ankle. I was told to never throw it away. Suddenly, it made sense.  That scrap symbolizes the greatest lesson for us all. When you get knocked down and slowed down, allow yourself time to heal, plan for the future, and triumph to face another day.

The longest journey does indeed begin with the first step. Through slightly watery eyes, I can smile now with confidence. Yes, I did my best and taught them well. They are strong, independent, confident, and motivated. They will handle the setbacks, they will reach their goals, they will embrace success, and one day down the road, they will say, “I need to go.” The cycle will begin again. image

 

 

Never Underestimate the Power of Thank You

image

“Please” and “thank you” are words we are all familiar with and use frequently. Simple words, but even in their simplicity they possess the power to make an impact upon a situation or individuals. This past weekend, I was blessed to be reminded of the breadth and magnitude of that power.

Time was not in my favor. I had a lot going on and invariably discovered that the fish food had run low adding one more stop to my list. I needed to make a run to Petco. I chose to go to a smaller store than usual because it was closer and I as soon as I arrived I knew that the hand of fate had brought me here for a reason. Entering the store I passed a small SUV with a handicap placard hanging in the front window and stickers that said “Air Force Veteran” and “Korean War Veteran” in the back window. As I entered the store I passed an elderly gentleman leaning on his cart. His extremely thin build made him appear frail, but he was so focused on his purchases I didn’t want to interrupt, even as wondered if he was the veteran parked out front, or was it someone else in the store. I continued on to get what I needed and went to the cashier.

There he was, the same gentleman, and now I caught sight of the words on his baseball cap, “Korean War Veteran.” In that moment I knew it wasn’t happenstance I ended up in that store at that moment. He approached the cashier with a soft-spoken weak voice and asked to order something. The cashier, much to my disappointment, was impatient and called for someone else to come and assist the man. Then he rang up my purchases. Before I left the store, I turned to the man and thanked him for his service. He looked at me with confusion and surprise. How long had it been since someone had thanked him? I continued by sharing that my father is also a veteran of the Korean War. His face lit up. His eyes brightened and a wide grin appeared. He inquired as to my father’s unit and where he had served and shared that he had flown bombers out of Okinawa. I thanked him again before leaving happy to see that this seemingly frail man now stood taller and prouder.

As I settled back into my car, I was smiling too. That momentary exchange, those simple words, thank you, had made a difference for both of us. His smile said it all. If he had to do it again, he would without reservation and I admired not only his patriotism, but his courage. I cannot say I would possess the same courage as those who have or do serve in our military. I wondered if anyone, other than family, has ever said thank you to my father for his service? I pondered why those words, said so often under a myriad of circumstances, are not said nearly often enough. Do we really show our appreciation even when we do feel a sense of gratitude never comprehending that the small gesture can make a tremendous difference not only to the recipient, but to the giver.

If We Do Our Job Right

It is hard to believe that it is already March 2016. I find myself torn between wishing to place life on hold to make these days last longer and marveling at all that these days are bringing. This month marks the passage of several milestones in my family. My middle child will turn 18, she is performing in her final high school performance, when the month ends the last of the colleges will let her know their admission decisions, my oldest came home to visit for the first time in nearly a year as work kept her away, my youngest has begun to find who he is with more confidence and assurance.

In every respect I am blessed. Yet, these same blessings remind me how quickly time is flying by. Another bird will soon leave my nest. The house will be quieter. The day-to-day juggling of schedules will be simpler. I will stare at the pages of the calendar counting the days until my home is once again filled and my family is once again under one roof, if only for a short period of time.

As I revel in the joy of my children’s accomplishments and applaud their independence and success, I can’t help but wage an internal debate asking, “did I have to do such a good job?” Every parent yearns to raise a child who is confident, successful, motivated, independent, intelligent, kind, compassionate, generous, accomplished, selfless, encouraging, caring, loving, and spirited. I am eternally grateful that mine took to their wings and learned to fly, but in the same breath, I secretly hope they will still need me and always remember I am here. It is one more lesson in the life book of parenthood.

When our children are born, we are under the misguided notion that it is all about teaching them. The truth is we learn as much from our children as we are taught. We are reminded of long forgotten lessons our own parents tried to instill and we discover things we never appreciated before. There’s no manual. Every model is one-of-a-kind. Customer support and troubleshooting pages are figments of our imagination. When assembling you simply hope and pray that all the pieces will fit together knowing that our part in the process is limited and a significant part is about shaping ourselves.

We find that our capacity to love is endless. We learn what patience and forgiveness truly mean. We understand that what is valuable and priceless is not the objects in our life, but the people. A broken vase that was a family heirloom is worth far less than the broken heart of your child. You unearth an inner strength that rivals that of every superhero. You accept sacrifice readily if it means your child will be more content and secure. It doesn’t bother you to put less on your plate so your child doesn’t go to sleep hungry. You adapt to sleepless nights and learn to function in a tired mode. You silently cry tears of worry, tears of joy, tears of pain, for your child, with your child, and because of your child. The very instant that you discover you will be a parent, everything changes. You open your arms, embrace your child, nurture your child, protect your child, and then the moment comes that is the hardest of all. That moment you’ve been preparing for and for which no preparation can ever be enough. It is the moment we have to let go.

That single moment is the greatest test of every parent. It is a moment we anticipate with dread and with elation. A myriad of thoughts race through our minds. Are they ready? Am I ready? Can they fly? Will they fly? Do they know their way there and can they find their way home?

As night falls over the emptier nest, shrouding us in quiet darkness we are left with a choice. We can choose to see nothing or we can look up and see the stars. If we have done everything that is expected of us, to the best of our ability, those stars will always guide our child home; home to where the heart is, home to where we are waiting with open arms and a smile that says it all, “Welcome back, I love you.”

Heroes and Helmets

In the after-morning of the Super Bowl, when analysts and the general public review the plays, the game, the players, and the commercials, I have found a constant thought running through my mind. Helmets. As snow swirls and falls outside my window this cold Monday morning, I found these words pouring out on the page.

The loud blare filled the air, echoing for miles. It was time, the moment they’d anticipated. They’d trained and practiced in preparation. They’d prayed about it and committed themselves to its success, uniquely understanding its importance. Day in and day out they’d worked tirelessly to learn the true meaning of teamwork; honing, perfecting, and sharpening their skills.

Silently they donned their protective gear, then pulled on their uniforms, tying their laces, and gathering for some last minute words of encouragement and advice from their captain. They nodded to each other in understanding that each was dependent upon the other before strapping on their helmets to face their foe.

The sun had set, but the sky was illumined with the bright lights of mortar fire that pounded out in relentless bursts. There was no explosive applause or cheering crowds, just the bellowing yells of commands urging them to take cover,watch their backs, get down, move forward, and never yield.

These weren’t heroes racing out onto the football field with cheerleaders, mascots and millions of eyes watching their every move. Coaches weren’t calling the plays, refs weren’t deciding if the yards were met or tossing penalty flags. The media weren’t standing on the sidelines or in sky boxes reviewing, critiquing, or predicting.

These heroes were on their own, facing an opponent whose tactics and plays didn’t follow any rule book. Their objective was simple. Making sure every member of their team who stepped onto the battlefield stepped off. Their families weren’t sitting in the stadium seats, but anxiously waiting at home, praying, worrying, and helpless to know how the moments were playing out, the moments that weren’t measured by any clock. Still, they were a team and the coordination and synchronization of their movements were critical.

They hadn’t signed multi-million dollar contracts and companies weren’t lining up seeking their endorsements. Few of their names would ever be known, they’d certainly never be worn on the back of a jersey or paraded on a t-shirt declaring victory. These heroes signed something entirely different. They’d signed an Oath where they promised to defend and uphold the Constitution, to protect the citizens of this country, and do all in their power to ensure the perpetuation of freedom so on a Sunday night in early February two teams could gather on a football field, people could fill a stadium or gather in front of televisions and for a few hours lose themselves in the glory of sport without worrying.

As these heroes slip into their beds at the end of the day, weary and worn, too tired to remove their uniforms, still vigilant because they can’t afford to be less. In the days and months to come there won’t be trips to Disney World, ticker tape parades, or grand celebrations. When they return to their home towns it will be to a much quieter fanfare of open arms of loved ones grateful to have them return. And, maybe a so-called grateful nation will pass these veterans, these heroes who stood watch while we slept, and whisper the simple words, “thank you.”

Two different helmets. Two different heroes.

What is it Like Going to the Office and Never Leaving Home?

​Have you ever run a marathon trying to finish in the best time? As you are running, try juggling a few balls in the air. You aren’t done yet. Do this when you average four to five hours of intermittent sleep similar to the parent of a newborn. The first question that comes to mind is “why would anybody do this?” The second question is “what are you trying to accomplish?”

​The answers are simple, if not easily understood except by a rare few, and the description, albeit somewhat unappealing, is what it is like trying to work from home managing one profession and simultaneously launching a writing career, taking care of a home and raising a family. My home is my office and that leads to a lot of blurred lines. It’s hard for people to comprehend what it truly means to work from home or how challenging it is, but I do it so that I can be there for my children and allow them to be actively involved in extra-curricular activities.

​Working from home may sound idyllic. No commute to an office, no boss breathing down my neck, no water cooler gossip, no fancy clothes to wear. However, those positives are counterbalanced against the reality. While I am my own boss, my commute is only as far as my keyboard, and no one cares if I am in my pajamas, bathrobe and slippers, there are a lot of other factors to consider. Working from home takes discipline. It means being able to stay focused on what I need to do and blocking out all the distractions. That isn’t easy when I have to constantly keep an eye on the clock as the most productive time is in between the school bells. I also find myself coping with the misconception if I am at home I am doing nothing, or at least nothing that can’t be interrupted. It’s an awkward situation not wanting to offend anyone at the same time I need to block out the world to get anything done. Some days are harder than others, like when school is out or those half-days. So it’s critical to make the most of my time. It’s not easy when the laundry has to be washed, the dishes need to be done, the groceries need to be purchased, and meals have to get cooked. All those every day necessities are also distractions, but usually manageable if I designate a specific time when they will get done and I ask my family for help.

​There are no tried and true rules for successfully managing one career and launching a writing career. And, it would be deceiving if I didn’t admit there are days when I think I can’t do this, it’s too much. I’m putting in so much effort, but where are the results? Then I realize I’ve invested so much already, that I need to keep going.

What began with making a commitment to follow my passion and calling to write is sustained with perseverance, dedication, discipline, and the amazing support of friends, family, and the writing community. My local RWA chapter is an invaluable resource of support and encouragement. Including others on my journey is essential, but ultimately their journey can’t be my journey or vice- versa. Every writer follows our own path towards publication and success. It may be tempting, but wishing away my circumstances for an easier path won’t change anything. I’m bringing my life experiences into my work and incorporating those experiences enables me to transform the blank pages into a tome I hope will be shared, read, and enjoyed by readers. There is no easy path and if I tried to simply walk the same route another carved out I wouldn’t be true to my own writing because my voice has to carve my road.

​Plato said, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” My race may go a little slower than others, or even slower than I’d like, but I’m still running even while juggling a ball or two in the air and with a little less sleep than I should get. Like that newborn baby, I’m nurturing a dream. It’s a dream I’m turning into a reality, one step at a time, managing one career and launching a writing career, taking care of my home and raising a family. When I see the finish line, it will all be worth it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This article was originally published in the February 2016 Issue of Shorelines,the Newsletter for Long Island Romance Writers, Chapter 160 of RWA

RWA 1

 

Print

It is hard tobelieve RWA’s National Conference of 2015 has come and gone.  It seems that I’d anticipated the event for so long and was emotionally conflicted with trepidation and excitement.  Now that I’ve had a chance to reflect upon those whirlwind days, I can render a sigh of relief.  For those of you who have never attended such an event, it is, without a doubt overwhelming on a myriad of levels.  First, there was the hotel itself.  It is a large venue with smart elevators that were not always cooperative and trying to remember which floor you needed to be on and which room.  Then there is the plethora of workshops and events.  It is not always easy to choose.  There were so many that I wanted to attend, but I heeded the advice of many experienced, wiser souls who cautioned, “don’t try to do it all.”  There is also the large quantity of people.  Authors, readers, editors, agents, etc.  They were everywhere mixed in with a myriad of New York tourists who probed with curiosity who we all were on elevator rides or endeavored to read our badges with a modicum of discretion.  Okay, let’s face it.  We all read the name badges and try really hard to not go all fan-girl when we realize we are riding an elevator with an author whose books adorn your shelves and from whom you’ve drawn inspiration.  Yes, that did happen to me a number of times.

Moving beyond the overwhelming sensation, there was a tremendous sense of comfort in both knowing I was in a city I know well and having the familiar faces of my local chapter about.  Seeing friends makes all the difference.  I was also fortunate to have a roommate who was patient and guided me through all the nuances that made it seem less intimidating.

I decided before I arrived that I would pitch my book series written on the acceptance of a NanoWrimo challenge.  I’ve been quite enthusiastic about the books and their potential, but on the night before I was to pitch, I struggled to remember what my books were about.  Someone was watching out for me. I had attended a wonderful session on synopsis and pitch that first date and incorporated in all I had learned to write a half way decent summary of the emotional journey my characters took.  With the help of my roommate, I narrowed it down to one comprehensive log line that I practiced repeatedly, forgot just as often, and remembered at the appropriate time.  It was amazing to pitch my book to both an editor and an agent and have both request my manuscript.  (Scroll ahead to the post-conference days and I am frantically editing it with the help of my amazing critique partner.)

One of the joys of the conference is meeting people who I befriended on social media.  It is truly wonderful to put voices to the faces and the written word.  It was also wonderful to make new friends and acquaintances.  I was told that at the conference there will always be that one person you keep running into unintentionally.  Sure enough that happened.  It was amazing.  Not only did she become a comforting and welcoming face, but when we took the time to share and speak, it was uncanny how much we had in common. There was a reason for our constant interactions.

I left the conference, encouraged, inspired, and with a suitcase ladened with books to read and share. More importantly, I left with a feeling that my trepidation was for naught.  Surrounded by so many like-minded people it is hard not to feel like you belong and even harder to avoid the temptation to immerse yourself into the wonderful world of writing.  With that said, I am going back to edit and pen my work now.

 

Character Interview Blog Hop

 

Blog-Hop2resized-Copy-300x167

Thank you all for stopping by.  I am thrilled to have the chance this week to interview, Rebecca Simmons, a schoolteacher and the heroine in my Historic Western Romance, When Cupid Came to Town.  At the end of March you had the chance to meet handsome, strong, and brooding Jake Callen.

Continue reading for a chance to step back into the pages of Hobart, Montana, but before you do, I hope you all had an opportunity to meet bestselling thriller-writer Eden Widow from Debora Dale’s Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Safe in His Arms.
Link to website: http://www.deboradale.com
Link to blog: http://wp.me/p5WWHp-Y4
Debora Dale is a New Yorker, born and bred. Her first literary love is contemporary romantic suspense, to read it and to write it. As an adoptive parent to six shelter cats, one of her biggest daily writing challenges is typing a complete sentence without one of her cats taking over her keyboard.

ZionSchoola

My time in Hobart, Montana is proving to be most interesting. Leaving the lumber mill, I glance up the street taking note of the various buildings. Anderson Mercantile, Hobart Herald newspaper, Doctor Thompson’s office, the livery. Reliving my conversation with Jake Callen, instinctively my feet lead me towards the schoolhouse. Perhaps Rebecca Simmons, the school teacher will talk to me. Hadn’t Mr. Callen surreptitiously followed her with his eyes as she walked up the street? Curiosity wins. I want to know her story.130372

 

“Hello, Miss Simmons. I’m sorry to interrupt while you prepare your lessons. I was hoping you might spare a few moments and talk to me.”

Her blond head raises up with a look of surprise. Her blue eyes seem to grow larger as she stares at me in confusion.  She is naturally beautiful. The simplicity of her ensemble and hairstyle compliment her attraction. Anything more would seem out of place. It is easy to understand Mr. Callen’s interest.

“You startled me. I didn’t realize anyone else was here. My students aren’t expected for another half-an-hour. How can I help you?”

“I knocked before entering.  Forgive my presumption, however, you look upset. Are you usually startled so easily?Is something wrong?”

She pulls her grey woolen shawl tighter around her shoulders as if the knitted fabric is akin to a protective suit of armor. Nervously she chews on her lower lip as her eyes dart about the room. Is she seeking answers or debating whether to respond to my questions? She looks so young and vulnerable. Now, I know there is something wrong. I probe. “What is it, Miss Siimmons? You can talk to me.”

images-8

“I don’t usually startle so easily. I’ve just been out of sorts ever since my card went missing.”

“Your card is missing? I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

“I had my students make St. Valentine’s Day cards as a class project. I made a sample to show them. At the end of the day, my card was missing. I looked everywhere. Under the desks, the shelves, I asked the children if they knew where it was. It’s missing! I’m afraid it will fall into the wrong hands. It could cost me my job, or, what if someone thinks it’s meant for them? I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

“Have you told anyone about your fear?”

“Mrs. Robinson. She’s my landlady at the boardinghouse. Well, she is more than a landlady. She’s a friend, and the nearest thing to a mother I have since my own passed away two years ago. She keeps telling me not to worry. I can’t help it. I don’t want anyone else to know. Please don’t mention it to anyone. I feel so foolish. What if…” Her voice trails off and I wait. Her hands drop into her lap and she lowers her head staring absently at the books strewn across her desk.

“Miss Simmons, what if, what?”

Slowly she raises her head and her eyes meet mine as if in that brief moment she forgot she wasn’t alone. Finally she answers. “When I made the card I didn’t make it for anyone in particular. What if someone thinks I want them to be my Valentine? People would think I’m forward. My reputation would be in shreds. I’m a schoolteacher. I have to set an example for the children. This job is all I have.”

“What about your family?”

“They’re gone. I have an aunt back East, but we aren’t close.”

“Is there someone you’d want the card to go to now?”

She blushes. I think there’s someone very much on her mind.

“Miss Simmons, is there a secret you wish to share?”

“Doesn’t everyone have secrets? I suppose I’m no different. I’ve never been one to share much about myself.”

“Surely, everyone around here knows about you and your family.”

“I’m not from around here. I only arrived in Hobart eight months ago. I’m originally from Connecticut. No one here ever met my family. I rarely talk about them. It’s too painful.”

“You’re a long way from Connecticut. You’re very brave to have traveled so far alone. Someone must have influenced you greatly to give you the courage to make such a journey. Montana Territory is very different from New England.”

“My mother and my teacher, Miss Hancock, were my greatest influences. They taught me so many valuable lessons. They showed me how to make learning fun and always encouraged me to follow my dreams. My dream was to be a teacher; the kind of teacher who excites children to want to learn. My mother, in particular helped me to understand faith and trust. Her words still bring me comfort, but I miss her terribly. I miss being able to seek her advice. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine she’s still with me, then reality hits and I know I’m all alone.” Her voice catches and tears threaten to fall as her eyes fill with water.. It’s clear the loss is still raw despite the passage of time.

“I’m sorry for your loss. A mother can be a great source of comfort, especially for a young, unmarried woman. Is there something you’ld like to ask me? Perhaps I can help.”

She hesitates absently twirling her pencil in her fingers. “There is something. Maybe it would be easier to ask a stranger. How do you know when you find the right man?”

“Have you met someone?”

“Yes. No. Maybe. I just don’t know,” she mumbles.

I wish I could tell her there was a way to be certain. Love is different for every person. What two people share is unique. “Miss Simmons, follow your heart. If he’s the right one you’ll know. Ask yourself several questions. Is he always on your mind? Does he treat you with kindness, appreciation, and respect? Does he do things for you that make you feel special and cared for? Do you find yourself wanting to do things for him? Does he forgive your faults and can you accept his? Can you imagine yourself sitting across a table from him for meals, sharing a home, raising a family, growing old with? If he’s the only one you can imagine doing these things with, and for, then you’ve found the right man.”

As she listens, I can see her face transform before my eyes. Silently, she seems to be answering “yes” to each of the questions. Her pale pink cheeks brighten to a deep rose before settling on crimson. Her blush says it all. There’s a sparkle in her eyes that wasn’t present when I first arrived. Those tears of sadness are turning to tears of joy. Her missing card seems to be forgotten. She looks happy, almost radiant, lost in her daydream. There is someone. Is it Mr. Callen? I’m tempted to ask, but I resist the temptation. Miss Simmons has suffered enough pain and loss in her life, I don’t want to take this moment of contentment away.

“I think you have your answer. Perhaps you will write and let me know if you find your happily ever after. I think you both deserve it.”

“Thank you,” she softly answers. “I hope you are right. If we do, I’ll let you know.”

As I walk out the door of the schoolhouse, I can hear the methodic buzz, buzz, buzz coming from the lumber mill. I can’t help, but smile.  I have no doubt, Cupid will be visiting this town.

images-8

Be sure to look for Maggie Van Well’s interview of Kate Henderson, a widowed mother of two teenage boys; the heroine of her Comtemporary Small Town Romance, Crazy Little Thing Called Matchmaking.  You can find next week’s interview at http://maggievanwell.blogspot.com. Maggie lives on Long Island with her husband, four insane children (no idea where they get that from), and her entertaining, Italian greyhounds. She also has two ringed-neck doves, because, ya’ know, who doesn’t like getting woken up at two in the morning by cooing? She loves the ocean, and feels blessed to be able to go to the beach whenever she wants. She is addicted to café mochas, Godiva chocolate, and hidden object games. Seriously, there’s an intervention in her future.