A Slice of Orange


Moving . . .

July 16, 2008 by in category Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as

Marianne H. Donley

We bought a beautiful new house. . .in Pennsylvania. The move have been in the works for awhile, well over a year. But giving the housing market we were a little stunned when things actually worked out. Yet, finally on July 3, at 11:30 PM the movers left and we were officially in our new house.

That’s when we found out we bought a Blonde House . . . she’s lovely to look at but frankly not very intelligent.

First we noticed the windows in the bathrooms were not that practical. Long, beautiful pane windows with cute window toppers, they all have sills about two feet off the floor. Something we failed to notice until one of the neighbors waved when I walked into the downstairs bathroom. I quickly hung towels ups and vowed to get blinds first thing in the morning.

Then it was the washing machine –brand new, just hooked up days before. I watched the worker guys take the wrapping off and hand me the instruction booklets. Okay, it was plugged in. Dennis hooked up the water hoses and I stared my first load of laundry (the movers used our all our linens to pack dusty books from the garage). The machine took off walking, then running out of the laundry room and down the hall. We shut the thing off mid-cycle, rung out the sheets and went to look for a laundry mat. The next day, Dennis poured over the washer and figured out the packing screws and styrofoam hadn’t been removed.

The fridge had an ice maker in it, but no ice. Dennis pulled it out to see if they had “forgot” to hook up the water line. It was worse than that, there was no water line. So we have a refrigerator with an ice maker, but no way to use it. We decided a lot of stuff in this house were here just because they looked good, not because we could actually use them.

Our dishwasher confirmed that. Not only was it not attached to the counter, there was no outlet to plug the thing into. It looked really nice, though. So did the stainless steel sink until I did my first load of dishes by hand. Now it has a variety of little scratches all over the bottom. I suspect I wasn’t supposed to actually use the sink, but with no dishwasher . . .

I didn’t quite know what to make of the kitchen cupboards. I can’t tell you how beautiful they are, all different shapes and sizes, some with glass fronts. But very few of my dishes actually fit in the “different sizes” a glass here, pan there, but heck I have enough dishes to feed my extended family (and the OCC board). One plate per shelf didn’t get many dishes, put away. I had to finally throw out a bunch of plastic bowls that just didn’t fit anywhere.

We’re really in the county here. We have a well and a septic system. Unfortunately, according to the builder, Mr. Septic is very temperamental. How did builder guy put it? Mr. Septic doesn’t wish to deal with anything that hasn’t been digested first. No liquid from that left over chicken soup, that last drop of coffee or melted ice cream, unless of course, it had been processed by humans first. When I asked builder guy what I was supposed to do with left over chicken soup he suggested starting a compose heap. I quote: “If you cover your wet waste with lawn clippings you won’t have very many flies.” The dishwasher is to be used only once a day and the washing machine (when it’s not running down the hall) twice. I was mildly surprised we didn’t have a flushing schedule.

Then there is the other trash. This is an issue as we also don’t have trash pick up. Our township does have a free to residents dump, open every Tuesday and half day Saturday, but no green trash trucks rumbling around. They don’t accept lawn clippings or building material or old furniture.

Our office was the last surprise. The room is just stunning. It is spacious enough to hold all my bookcases, both my desk and Dennis’s. It has hardwood floors, wainscoting, crown molding and French doors. But no cable outlet. There are cable outlets in every bedroom, including two in the master and one in the garage, but not in the office where I want to work and access the Internet via a cable modem. I put all the books in the book cases and took them out again to check each wall twice. Because I just couldn’t believe there wasn’t an outlet in the office. We now have a modem and wireless router sitting on top of the TV set in the family room. It’s not exactly an elegant solution, but it’s way better than dial up.

I have to admit that we have a solarium (and just saying that is very cool!). I can sit in the solarium at dusk and watch the fireflies dance across the lawn. Those twenty or so minutes are just a bit magical. They make up for quite a few of our Blonde’s missing smarts.

Marianne H. Donley writes quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her supportive husband Dennis and two lovable but bad dogs. Her grown children have respectfully asked her to use a pen name which she declined on the grounds that even if some of their more colorful misdeeds make it into her plots, who would know the books are fiction. Besides they weren’t exactly worried about publicly humiliating her while growing up.

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PRO Blog by Janie Emaus

July 14, 2008 by in category Archives

What if?

As a preteen I used to play the “what if” game.

What if our homeroom teacher hadn’t made us sit in alphabetical order? Then I might have sat next to Joey Larson instead of Bill Simmons and for sure Joey would have noticed how funny I could be (I mean, after three years, how could he not?) and he would have asked me to the Spring Fling.

We could have gotten married, had three kids, a white picket fence and lived happily ever after.
This game continued into my teenage years.

In high school, I would sit on the grass and imagine the lives of the students passing in front of me. What if that girl in the red sweater is allergic to the cookie her friend just handed her? What if later on in Algebra, she ends up having trouble breathing and they have to call an ambulance and take her to the ER where the doctor treating her is drop dead gorgeous? After saving her life, he asks her on a date and voila, they might get married, have three kids, a white picket fence and live happily ever after.

And then came the biggest what if.
What if I hadn’t had that great English teacher who suggested I write stories? For after all, isn’t that what I’d been doing all along?

So, in my twenties, I progressed to a more organized version of this game. And I began to write. And write. And write some more. Sonnets, limericks, short stories, scripts, and eventually novels. I would put my characters into “what if” situations and see how they resolved their conflicts. When things got too easy for them, I’d throw in another “what if.”

Throughout the years, I’ve had some success but I’m still waiting for my name on the cover of a novel. All I ask is that I still remember my name when it happens.

It’s tough, this waiting. This business is so very slow. We hurry up to finish a manuscript in order to wait to hear back. And wait. And wait. We could fly to the moon and back and still not hear anything. And then sometimes what we hear is heartbreaking, not at all what we expected.

What if I hadn’t taken time to sit my butt in that chair and write? Today, I wouldn’t have several finished manuscripts, an agent, interested editors and the possibility of getting “the call.”
What if I’m driving on the freeway when it happens? What if I pull over in front of a house with three kids playing in the front yard behind a white picket fence when my agent tells me I’ve been offered a two book contract?

I believe it will happen, but not if I don’t keep writing.

Is there a “what if” that keeps you writing?

Janie Emaus has been published in The Chicken Soup for the Soul Books, True Confessions, The Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Room Page, www.boomerwomenspeak.com and www.bellaonline.com. She has also written several writer-for hire books for Parachute Press, the packager of a popular childrens’ series as well as educational videos for elementary school children. She is currently working on a book about baby boomers.

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My First Grown Up Kiss

July 13, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,

Okay, the truth of the matter, my obsession with Hollywood started in my early youth. Even in my pre-teen days, I would inwardly swoon, over an on-screen Hollywood kiss. I was the little girl who cried when Rock Hudson got married, ’cause he didn’t wait for me to grow up so he could ask me to marry him. Of course, this was before I knew he was gay and even if he had waited for me, chances are I wouldn’t have been the one whose hand he’d be asking for in marriage.

Years latter, when I was grown up and working at CBS, I got the chance to see my idol, while he was rehearsing for the Carol Burnett Show. I even brought my mother to work with me, so she could see him, too. But she couldn’t understand, why, when I finally had my opportunity to meet my “first crush,” I wouldn’t look at him. I just keep looking straight ahead, even when he sat right across the aisle from me. It took me years to finally admit that I was hurt, not only over all those years of unrequited love–but deep down inside I felt deceived, cause I didn’t know he was gay. Not to mention that if he did look at me with those magnificent laughing eyes of his, there was good possibility that my legs would have buckled beneath me.

So after recovering from my loss of Rock as my dream boyfriend, I moved on to more hunkier hunks in the movies and on TV. Which is probably the force behind me writing romance novels today. I usually went for the tall, dark, handsome ones, but than came along a tall blond, blue eyed fellow, who some of you might recall. His name was Troy Donahue. I first saw him on an old TV detective show called “Surfside Six”. He later moved over to “Hawaiian Eye”. Under contract for Warner Brothers, who believed in utilizing their actors as much as possible, he was soon moved onto the big screen, starring in such flicks as Parrish, Susan Slade and A Summer Place. The latter he played opposite Sandra Dee. Yes, I was also a Gidget freak, too. So what could be more perfect than my two favorite people being matched together in a movie? Forget about the fact that the movie was dealing in such mature matters as adultery, deceit, and teen pregnancy…my only focus was the young stars. What could be more perfect than Troy with Sandy? One thing. Me with Troy. Well, the moment came, when I learned that he was appearing in a new movie, called “Palm Springs Weekend”. Not only was he appearing in the movie, but he was making personal appearances in the local movie theaters as well.

Oh, my poor mother, father and sister as I went around the house that whole week, holding up several different outfits in front of me, asking them which one did they think Troy was going to like me best in. I think it was at this point my family should have either had me sent off to a convent or put me in a mental institution.

The day finally came and I went out of the house, as giddy as a pre-teen going on her first date, as I headed to the movies in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I took the best seat I could get which was ninth row, center stage. The movie went on with the promise it would be stopped as soon as the star arrived. An hour into the movie the lights came up and in an instant walked out this tall, almost too pretty to be true, blond hunk. He and the announcer did some small chit chat about the movie, none of the dialogue which I can recall now. Then the announcer, whose name was Freddie, said Troy would be taking questions from the audience.

My opportunity came. I flung my arm up in the air, competing with a movie house full of teenagers, hoping and praying that by some miracle he’d pick me. After a flurry of such sophisticated questions from the audience like, “What’s your favorite color? Do you have girl friend? How tall are you?” My prayer was answered and I was chosen to ask the million dollar question–the one that was going to lead me directly to Troy. I personally thought it was brilliant, and after all, it really was a question–well, sorta. “Can I have your autograph?” Unfortunately, I was the only one who thought it was “the question of the year,” ’cause the announcer told me to sit down, as he explained, Troy doesn’t do autographs.

I slumped back into my chair, but a few moments later it was as if the clouds of heaven opened up to me, when I heard announcer ask, “Where’s the young lady who asked for the autograph?” He waved me to the stage. I don’t remember how many pairs of feet I had to stepped on–but I made my bee line for the stage.

Announcer Freddie stood between me and Troy and shook my hand. He asked my name, which luckily I did remember. But when he asked me where I came from, I replied New York, which got snickers from the audience. He meant, which school did I go to. Then he said, “Troy can’t give you an autographic but he has something else for you.” He then introduced me to Troy, who took my hand and said in his rich baritone voice. “Well, hello”. And than he put his arms around me, and bent me backward, as he brought his lips towards me and kissed me fully on the lips. My first real kiss in front of everybody and God (wait, that’s a line from a Troy Donahue movie). Okay, my first real adult kiss on stage in front of a full audience. The kiss was long enough for me to open my eyes in the middle of it, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Troy kept his closed. I also remember thinking, Oh, my gosh, I’m actually being kissed by Troy Donahue. I had to say his full name, like I was going to confuse him with another Troy.

I do remember hearing a roar of screams filling the theater, and two ushers helping me back to my seat. After the movie, I felt like Brittney Spears, being chased by paparazzi–only I was being bombarded by teenagers, wanting to know what it felt like to be kissed by Troy Donahue.

So that’s the story of my first kiss. But the story doesn’t really end there. Many years later, now living in Hollywood, I was at cocktail party with a male friend of mine. Over a drink, I told him my amusing story of my first kiss with Troy Donahue. My friend excuses himself. A short time later he returns but not alone. Once again, standing next to me is Troy Donahue. The years had not been kind to him. A life filled with failed marriages, addictions and unemployment has taken its toll on him. It showed in his eyes and on his face, but his voice is still as rich and as deep as it was in his youth.

My friend John, knowing Troy was at the party, had purposely brought him over to introduce him to me. I shared the story of our kiss, that had happened so long ago. I laughed and I tried to be sophisticated as I sipped on my drink…but deep down inside I felt a sadness, seeing what had happened to this one time, teen heartthrob, who now was hardly known at all. After I finished my story in that wonderful baritone voice, he whispered to me, “Well, I think it’s only appropriate, I say good-bye like this–shall we?” And then, so gently, he lightly brushes a goodnight kiss against my face. And he’s gone.

Update: Troy died 2001 of a heart attack in Santa Johns Hospital in Santa Monica. He had turned his life around and was known for helping others in their own time of need. Connie Stevens, who co-stared with him in many ventures, including “Palm Springs Weekend”, paid him a hospital visit, the day before he died.

Five years ago, author Hal Lifson who wrote a book on the history of pop culture hosted a “Palm Springs Weekend” reunion party. When he heard of my story, he invited me to be his guest at “The Palms Springs Weekend” reunion party, in Palm Springs. It was there, I met my other favorite actress, Connie Stevens, who generously gifted me with a $100 gift certificate to her Day Spa, when I presented her with DVD’s of her old “Hawaiian Eye” TV show.

As for my first idol, Rock Hudson, as coincidence would have it, he died the same day as my father, on October 2, 1985. Rock Hudson was the first high-profile Hollywood celebrity to die from AIDS, and his greatest legacy may have come in death when he put a recognizable face on the disease and dramatically increased public awareness of AIDS, which has helped so many others, who were diagnosed after him.

Bobbie Cimo is the OCC/RWA Programs Director who has brought us such notable speakers as Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, Jackie Collins and Robert Crais.

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A Writer’s Pursuit…

July 12, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as


So who is going to conference? 🙂

I can’t wait! Every year I look forward to hanging out for the week with my writing industry friends who “get” me as non-writing friends never will. We support each other, we encourage one another, and we give each other the courage and boost we need to keep “reaching for the brass ring.” Oh sure, this amazing fellowship exists at our chapter meetings as well, but there’s something about spending an entire week with people who understand when you tell them you hear voices in your head (and they’re speaking with Italian accents). Now that Rocks.

Friends definitely top my list of favorite things about going to conference, as well as meeting new people. Oh, and catching up with favorite authors… (squee!)

It’s the kick I crave every year and I always leave with energy and ideas galore to write, write, write. It’s also a chance to keep current with what the publishing industry wants, especially with the publishing house spotlights and the agent/author panels given throughout the workshop hours.

So what about you guys? Who’s going this year?

Hope to see you there…


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance set in a fictional town in Maine (her favorite place in the world). To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

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Jina does Dallas RWA: You never know when your editor is watching you and RITA Awards Signature of Success

July 11, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

by Jina Bacarr

I so enjoyed filming podcasts at the RWA Conference in Dallas, Texas at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Find out what happened when my Spice editor, Susan Swinwood, caught me in the act.

And join me for highlights of the Signature of Success program presented at the RITA Awards at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas, Texas by the Romance Writers of America. Carly Phillips defined “success” for the conference-goers and videos featuring authors such as Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Phillips gave the audience insight into their paths to success.


Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha , Naughty Paris, Tokyo Rendezvous, a Spice Brief, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs, featuring a female Indiana Jones.

Coming in April 2009: Cleopatra’s Perfume, set in Cairo and Berlin during WWII.

Jina says, “What if Casablanca was erotic…”

Get Caught in the Act!”

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