We, too, can be history in the making …

I don’t think we wake up thinking we’re going to do something phenomenal or that we’re going to effect change.  For the most part, we’re just thankful to wake up. But once we wipe the sleep from our eyes, take a shower and grab a cup of liquid energy, our plans may change.  That thought had me thinking. (Bad idea!)

Since I love history and research, I decided to dig a bit. I found a few interesting historical events that happened today, November 16. Then I started to wonder. (Another bad idea)

What is it that keeps us–as an individual–from making history and finding a place in the annuals of history? 

The answer? Absolutely Nothing.

I thought I share some of my findings.  Perhaps you can recall a few. (The notes in blue are my random thoughts and outbursts.)

2006 – Representative Nancy Pelosi is chosen to be the Speaker of the House

2001 – The first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, opens in cinemas

1993 – Russian President Yeltsin shuts Lenin museum

1989 – “Gypsy” opens at St. James Theater New York City for 477 performances

1988 – Jose Canseco is 1st unanimous AL MVP since Reggie Jackson

1988 – Benazir Bhutto is elected in a democratic election to be Prime Minister of Pakistan

1988 –Robin Givens sues Mike Tyson for $125 million for libel (hey, history comes in all forms)

1982 -Space Shuttle Columbia completes its 1st operational flight

1981- Luke marries Laura on soap opera General Hospital (16 million watch) (I had to include this one! What a day that was!)

1980 -Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Doug Williams throws for 486 yards

1975 – Sandra Haynie wins LPGA Jacksonville Ladies Golf Open

1974 – First intentional interstellar radio message sent, Arecibo telescope towards M 41, a cluster of stars some 25,000 light years away

1974 – John Lennon’s only solo #1 “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”

1966 – Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente is named NL MVP

1962 – Wilt Chamberlain of NBA San Francisco Warriors scores 73 points vs New York Knicks

1959 – “Sound of Music” opens at Lunt Fontanne Theater New York City for 1443 performances

1957 – Celtic Bill Russell sets NBA record of 49 rebounds beat Philadelphia 111-89  (does it show I’m a basketball fan?!)

1955 – First speed-boat to exceed 200 mph (322 kph) (D M Campbell)

1955 – Johnny Cash made his 1st chart appearance with “Cry Cry Cry” (one of the coolest men ever)

1939 – Al Capone freed from Alcatraz jail

1920 – 1st postage stamp meter is set in Stamford Connecticut

1914 – Pope Benedict XV calls for peace

1908 – Arturo Tuscanini begins conducting New York’s Metropolitan Opera

1875 – Battle at Gundet: Ethiopian emperor Yohannes beats Egyptians

1875 – William Bonwill, patents dental mallet to impact gold into cavities

1856 – Amsterdam post office at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal opens

1841 – Life preservers made of cork are patented by Napoleon Guerin (New York City)

1835 -Charles Darwin’s voyage published in Cambridge Philosophical Society

1824 – New York City’s Fifth Avenue opens for business (Yes!  Shopping!)

1801 – 1st edition of New York Evening Post

1700 – Monarch of Brandenburg becomes king of Prussia

1676 – 1st colonial prison organized, Nantucket Mass

1532 – Pizarro captures Incan emperor Atahualpa after victory at Cajamarca

1380 – French King Charles VI declares no taxes for ever (What a guy!)

I’m sure the accomplishments/events of many listed here were a surprise. Okay, maybe Robin Givens knew she was suing Iron Mike for all that cash. Or Al Capone knew he was being sprung from jail. But, Wilt Chamberlain probably didn’t think he’d score 73 points against the Knicks. But he probably played with the intent on winning.

The same applies for us mere mortals.  🙂

Every day, we’re able to draw another breath; we should set our minds and our hearts to doing the best we can. History can jump in at anytime because the actions we take may have a profound reaction on someone or something.  As you go through your day and evening, keep that in the back of your mind, and feel free to use this prompt to get started.

On this day, November 16 (INSERT YOUR NAME) did a damn good job!

If you don’t do anything monumental today, there’s always tomorrow. Change the date and keep on moving.

TGIF! Enjoy your weekend. See you Monday.

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A lesson in living from my deceased cousin

Two days ago, a cousin of mine died of a heart attack. He was a few years younger than I and only the second cousin of my generation to pass away. My family tends to have a long lifeline.  (My great-grandmother lived to be 98.)

As kids, I remember sharing summer days with him on my aunt’s lawn, eating ice cream and bragging about what we wanted to be when we grew up. He wanted to be an astronaut and a police officer.  I argued that he had to pick one or the other because he couldn’t be both. (I know, opinionated and bossy.)

I, of course, wanted to be a writer. Even at eight years old, I had a one track mind.  I knew I wanted to tell stories. Decades later, I followed my dream.  I am a writer.  Becoming a romance author is following close behind.

But my heart is heavy.

Although our lives took different paths I often thought about my cousin. I wondered if he’d chased the dream, he shared with me so many years ago. I’d wondered if he’d nurtured his passion.

About four years ago, we connected and chatted on the phone. He’d move from New Jersey to Tennessee and wasn’t in the best of health. Much to my dismay,  I learned that he had not fulfilled his dream. That saddened me. I wanted to reach through the phone and smack him. He had so much potential, which had diminished to nothing.

I couldn’t imagine that I wanted my dream more than he did his. Going to the moon was all he talked about.  Perhaps  life  and situations got in his way. Maybe circumstances snatched away his passion, and he was helpless to stop them.

Like many of us, death always makes me take stock in life–to reassess, to recalibrate. It sounds cliché, but life is terribly short. And the older you become, the more compressed it seems to be.

But my goal in life is not to dwell on getting older. It’s to focus on getting things done while I’m here. My goal is to do exactly what the quote in the picture suggests, “go to the grave skidding sideways.”

My cousin’s death again reaffirms my belief about life. I should recognize its potential and act on it.

Although heaven is not where I’d like my cousin to be right now, I’m sure he’s walking on the moon and directing traffic. 🙂

Thursday’s Toss—Live your dream. Enjoy the ride. Skid in sideways.

Steppin’ out with the Beautiful Blogger Award …

Big thank you to mlfables for nominating me for the beautiful blogger award.  I feel so special.  🙂  

Blogging transcends continents and countries and it gives us the opportunity to  touch so many people without leaving our homes.  I’m glad I’m along for the journey.

The rules for this award require that I write seven things about myself and then pass on the love (my nominations for this award are listed down below).  So here it goes:

Three Things I’ve Learned About Writing

  • A muse is the best friend a writer can ever have
  • Grammatical rules can be broken for the right price
  • Once you’ve written your first book, or story you’ll never read a book the same way again.

Three Things I’ve Learned About Reading

  • Biographies are wonderful means of measurement.  They offer a glimpse into someone else’s life and give me assurance that my characters’ lives can never be over the top.
  • Readers (especially lovers of romance) like to read about someone whose life is spiraling downward and how they fight to climb back to the top.
  • For a writer, other people’s books become textbooks.

One Thing I’ve Learned About Life

  • It has the potential to get better every day. It’s up to me to recognize that and act on it.

Now, I’d like to acknowledge the following bloggers and say thanks for making my world a little nicer.  My nominees for this award are as follows:

Writing through family, chaos and Nor’easters …

What do you need after surviving a hurricane or super storm?  Certainly not a Nor’easter that drops a foot of snow!

Yet, as I mentioned my previous post about Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey has had a lot of practice in dealing with all kinds of weather.  And with that practice, bouncing back becomes the name of the game.

I knew I had to find a way to work around the chaos of yesterday’s Nor’easter and concentrate on what needed to be done to finish my books. My search started and ended with a speech I heard in 2009 at the National Romance Writers of America Conference in Washington, DC. 

New York Times best-selling  author, Linda Howard (and one of my favorites) was the keynote speaker at the event’s luncheon, and one of the things she shared with us was how to write through chaos.

She had the audience in stitches as she shared zany goings on about her family, everyday family things to which you could nod your head  and agree that everyone has an eccentric or colorful relative.   And at the end of her tale, her message was clear, “if I can write through my family, you can too.”

A couple of days ago, her message rang loud and clear.  And as I powered up my computer, I realized that I can write during this Nor’easter.  So I did.

For the past few days, I’ve been writing, and focusing on two projects:

One project is the sequel to my first book, “The Heat Between Us.” The second book entitled, “Beneath a Waterfall” focuses on the relationship between a nurse—a single mother trying to raise her son— a gorgeous CFO who has loved her since high school, and her abusive, ex-lover who sets out to claim his son, and the trust fund attached to him.

The second is an expansion of my short story, “Treasure in San Juan,” to a novella. “Treasure” is about a successful business woman who flies to Puerto Rico to marry a man who she believes is her perfect match in every way—especially financially. However, her plan for a perfect merger crumbles when she falls in love with a local cab driver, who she believes can offer her nothing but love.

For now, the bad weather is behind us (fingers crossed!)  and warmer winds will prevail over the weekend.  I have my work cut out for me, and I plan on following through.  To coin a phrase from the phenomenal Nora Roberts—I will have my “Ass in Chair,” and I will write up a storm.

Living through Sandy: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

New Jersey rarely has a devastating hurricane.  Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had our share of Nor’easters, tropical storms, blizzards, blackouts, heat waves and even an earthquake or two.  However, next to  Hurricane Sandy, which caused billions in property damage, and took out power for more than 2.5 million people, those incidents seem to pale in comparison. (My power was just restored this morning at 5:19 am.) Although the entire east coast was affected, New Jersey took the hardest hit.

During this time, I wanted to write—maybe a scene or a chapter if I was really adventurous. But I couldn’t. My only thoughts–during the first 12 to 24 hours of the storm–were of my daughters, who were in their homes without electricity, my sister and dad (who live 60 miles away) and my friends and colleagues. I thought about the strength of the 80 mph winds as they beat against my front awning, my roof and if my rooms would start to flood.

My fur baby, Poe and I braved the storms when it was time to go out for his walk. My head against the wind, I clutched him to my chest and carried him to his favorite spot. And as I did so, I didn’t care how foolish I looked. I just prayed that we both would make it back inside before I was knocked over by the wind.

Two of my daughters made it to my house during the storm.  Deep down, I knew they would find their way to “Moms.” I heard from my other daughter and knew she and my grandson were safe in their house.

Without power, our lives were simple—not that I would want to live like this all the time—but we managed. We ate (thank goodness I had a gas stove and running water), slept and weathered the storm together. I’d charged my appliances (DVD player, iPad, Nook) beforehand, so for a couple of days, we watched movies. By candlelight, we played cards and told funny stories.

Disasters or crisis moments always bring out the good and bad.  During my four days without power I saw quite a bit of both.  To coin a popular Clint Eastwood movie, during Hurricane Sandy, I saw “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good

First responders: Fire department, police department, EMT’s, nurses, doctors and utilities working around the clock to restore a sense of normal as quickly as humanly possible. Utility companies from Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,  Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and even as far as Canada came to help restore power to our state.

News team braving the elements to report up to the minute facts on the storm.

Neighbors helping neighbors by sharing their generators so that a few others could have power.

Pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreen opening their doors to allow people to charge dead cell phones.

New Jersey’s largest utility PSE&G  handing out free ice and water to residents.

NJ Governor Christie’s  call to evacuate low-lying areas that would definitely get the brunt of Sandy’s wrath.

At intersections without traffic lights, people (for the most part) were courteous and alternating as they drove through to allow others to pass.

The mayor of the largest city in New Jersey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker inviting his neighbors in to charge their cell phones. (He had power.)

Jersey natives, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi will headline a benefit concert for the hardest hit areas in the state.

The Bad

Price gouging by local markets and gas stations.  Before the storm, gas prices were between $3.35 and $3.50, after the hurricane: $4.45, $5, and even $7.

Long lines for gasoline for cars and generators.  People lined up by the hundreds, waiting hours for gas.

The roads without traffic lights and  people who weren’t so courteous. Bumper to bumper traffic.

The Mayor of Atlantic City ignoring the Governor’s warning to evacuate and telling residents it’s safe to stay in their homes.

Mass Transit stopped dead in its tracks, no buses, no trains, no subways.

The Ugly

Looting and stealing generators off front lawns, and gasoline from parked cars.

People shoving and fighting to get gas. Law enforcement being called in to keep the peace.

The devastation of Seaside Heights, its beaches and the roller coaster and rides we all rode on as children destroyed.

Atlantic City residents climbing onto their roofs to avoid the rising ocean waters and to seek help.

Parts of the famous Atlantic City boardwalk ripped to shreds by the tide and winds.

A death toll of more than 40 people along the east coast as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Yes, it could have been worse. But those 40 who lost their lives, were someone’s loved ones.

New York, our neighbor, had its share of woes as well. The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, as well as the PATH train systems that join our two states were flooded, and unusable.  Lower Manhattan had significant loss in power as well.

Through all the good, bad and ugly, there’s one thing about New Jerseyans (and the east coast for that matter)–we’re resilient.  We will bounce back.

I’m happy to be back and blogging.  For how long, I’m not sure.  They’re predicting another storm next week. But we’ll be ready.  We’ve had a lot of practice.