Finishing my novel and partying like it’s 2012

Happy New Year!!  What’s up 2015?

So, this happened: I finished my next historical novel, Since April!  The stats are in:

  • Finished at 9:05am 12/29/2014
  • 371 pages
  • 108,080 words (pattern power!!)
  • According to Word, my total writing time was 21373 minutes.  Which….is horrifying.

Since April has firmly established itself has my longest novel yet.  There was a lot of plot to jam into it, let me tell you.  I’m casting the suspicious side-eye at an editing time of 21,373 minutes, though, for one specific reason: Pinterest.  It’s a slippery slope with Pinterest.  I go from “Oh, I need to hit up Pinterest really fast just to look up the type of shoes women wore in 1912″ which then turns into, “Hey, look, a recipe for cinnamon crumble cake with homemade vanilla glaze” which then turns into “I totally want to dye my hair that color…where are the bobby pins?”  Then, four hours later, I remember I’m writing a novel.

My hair color is currently burgundy, FYI.

Now I’ve moved on to the weird, purgatory place between novels: I don’t want to start anything new because I really need to edit Since April.  But I’m not doing that either because I really want to start something new.  I seriously don’t know how to function those first few days after finishing a book.  I’ve been wandering around for months plot plot plot plot and complaining to anyone who’ll listen “Look, I really need to finish this because I have too many other ideas to get started on.”  And now I’m done.  And now I’m promptly lost.  Oh, familiar characters.  I’m just not ready to move on.

But, I’ve edited 83 pages which means…..there’s still a hell of a lot of pages left to go.  At least my semicolon abuse is better with this novel.  It’s only taken me three.

Meanwhile, I’m late to the party named 2012.  What’s up, 2012?  The reason for this is that somehow, I’ve just now discovered the boy band One Direction.  Let’s not get into the details of how it took me like, three years and four albums to figure this out; the important thing is that now I’m onboard with this whole Directioner thing and think Harry Styles is the snazziest thing since sliced bread.  My God, that man and his tight black pants.

Here’s how it went down:

  • One Direction was on Graham Norton.  I said, “Hmm, that “Night Changes” song is pretty catchy.”
  • One Direction is available on iTunes.  I said, “Hey, look, “Night Changes” is only $1.29.  And “What Makes You Beautiful” is only $0.69 and I really like the number 69″ (as in 1969, you perverts).
  • One Direction is on YouTube.  I said, “Hey, I’m going to watch the video for “Night Changes” and see what it’s all about.”
  • Chaos.

Next thing you know, I’m downloading the entire album “FOUR” which is freaking awesome and you should totally get it and then….look, the last thing I remember is putting my credit card number into my cell phone and boom.  I’m going to the One Direction concert this summer.

What the…..

I relayed this information to my BFF Sara, who said, “Aren’t you worried about being the oldest person there?”

ACK!!!  SARA!!!  I’m not OLD!!

But then……yeah, the last concert I went to was N Sync.  When I was 18.  And when I was 18, I was willing to have “floor seats” which actually means you’re standing the whole concert so you can see above all the people standing up in front of you.  32 is actually a long way from 18 (still not old) and, look, I’m cheap.  I love Harry Styles as much as the next person (maybe a little more because I have the “ghosts of boy bands past” to guide me in fan girling), but I’m not dropping six hundred bucks to stand and watch a concert and then complain because my head hurts, I can’t hear, and how in the heck did I manage to hurt my back?  No.  I purchased reasonably priced tickets where I can blend in with all the other old people, but not so high up that I’m going to need a Dramamine.  More on that to come.

And now back to editing Since April.  Yay.  I’m so thrilled to go massacre more commas.

Trying to be a reformed Grinch at Christmas

I hate the holidays.

I know.  People are skipping around, being all holly jolly and happy, and baking cookies and ho ho ho-ing and all that crap.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting in a corner with my arms crossed and singing, “You’re a mean one, Heather Curley.”

This year, I’ve made progress towards changing my Grinch-like ways and embracing the happiness that is the Christmas season.  I’m not in holly jolly/red nose reindeer territory yet, but I wrote letters to Santa with my boys.  We went to a Christmas light display and I sang along with the radio to fun 50s Christmas music.  I hung the stockings by the chimney with care.  Picked out a new tree and am doing an advent calendar and made cookies.

christmas cookieCookies.  Mmmmmmm.

My dislike of Christmas is, of course, because I miss my dad so much.  It’s been almost eight years since he died.  Somehow along the way it turned into an “I hate happiness” campaign.  Christmas is happy families.  I don’t have a complete family anymore.  My dad is gone, both sets of grandparents are gone, my Uncle Mike, Aunt Lynda, and Uncle Bill are gone.  Too much change, too much unhappiness.

This year, I’m changing things up and being happy.  I’m being thankful for the things and people I have, not wallowing in the people we’ve lost.  I have my kids, who are excited about Santa, worried he won’t make it down the chimney, and broke three Christmas ornaments the first night we had the tree up.  I have The Hubs, who challenges my patience by wanting to watch Christmas Vacation every day and I loathe that movie.  I have my mother, who told me over lunch this week, “I have the head of a gingerbread boy in the back of the car for you.”  Christmas 2014: Things just got real.

And, despite the fact the above cookie has frosting made with both butter and Crisco (nothing says Christmas like a fat dollop of lard!), my health improved this year.  This time last year, my blood pressure spiked to some ungodly number like 170/100 and then, over the summer, I had my notorious run-in with a 24-hour holter monitor and my doctor’s everything-but-reassuring, “Well, I don’t think you’re having a heart attack.”  Now, despite back pain from a lumpy mattress and my new-found oldness, I’m healthier this year.  Maybe not physically healthier, but mentally healthier.  That goes a long way towards feeling good–inside and out.

Yeah…and the cookies help too.

In the end, it’s important to reflect on what we’re thankful for not only during the holidays, but all year.  It’s like flossing.  You don’t just floss right before you go to the dentist (well, unless you’re me…..), you floss all year round.  My crazy family, my health, and my writing aren’t just important during the holidays, but all year long.  I’m thankful for all the blessings in my life and, while I might name them one by one throughout the year, this Christmas I’ll be naming them ton by ton.  We only get one shot at life.  It’s time to stop being the Grinch in the corner and, instead, start rocking around the Christmas tree with some spiked egg nog, a fattening cookie, and a smile.  Calories consumed in joy don’t count, right?

Special thanks goes to Oscar Health Insurance for the writing inspiration.  Oscar is a health insurance provider for New Jersey and New York residents, and uses technology, data and design to deliver a better healthcare experience. 

Making Goals: It’s My Goal for 2015

Back in a magical time known as the Nineties, I was in elementary school.  I was awkward.  I wore big plastic glasses.  I had a Dorothy Hamill haircut.  And every year, we had goals.  Reading, writing, math, not failing gym class, you know.  Goals.

Now we’re almost in 2015.  Which means….ugh, that means I’ve been out of high school for fifteen years.  Ew.  Moreover, 2015 is The Year.  This is The Year that I’ve been waiting for since I was in the 4th grade and writing stories with my girls Karen and Sara.

This is The Year that my book gets published.

Yes.  Mark your calendars, friends, because on August 4, 2015, my novel Anything You Ask of Me is going to be published by Knox Robinson Publishing, of New York and London.

Ba Zing.

My biggest goal has always been to get published.  I’m not the kind of kid who had goals of running marathons, or climbing mountains, or excelling in sports.  No.  I wanted my name to be on the front cover of a book.  A book I’d written.  As a teenager I had a desk full of “chapter ones” and folders full of story ideas.  But now–it’s happening!  My dad would be so insanely proud.

So, looking ahead, my current goal for 2015 is to come up with some new goals.  Thus far, I’ve come up with:

  1. Remain calm and collected at my book release party, book signings, and other book release….goings on (?)
  2. Finish and edit my next historical, Since April
  3. Get my contemporary paranormal, With Me Now, under contract
  4. Get it together and go to a writer’s conference.

This is a good start.  Blog more should be on this list as well, because obviously I’m suffering from distraction issues these days.  And, probably, pick the next novel idea to work on after Since April, is finished.  In the end, I’m narrowing my goals to two points.  It’s less intimidating that way:

  • Keep writing
  • Stay awesome


I mean, as far as goals go, I’d think a writer’s main goal should always be to keep writing.  I saw a quote on Pinterest today that sums up how writing is for me.  From Arthur Rimbaud:

A thousand dreams within me softly burn

I think every writer, no matter what stage of your writing journey you’re on, should strive for that.  Keep writing. Never stop.  Who cares if it’s a page of scattered thoughts and run on sentences?  It’s a page more than you had before!  I’ve long struggled with that, as I always write with the goal of writing a perfect first draft.  Maybe another goal for 2015 should be the year of sloppy writing, ever pressing towards those magical two words, The End.

Look, writing doesn’t pay my bills.  Day Job pays my bills.  What motivates me though, is that I want to get my character’s stories out.  They buzz through my brain and are never silent.  I’ve always loved the process of writing: the dreaming, the surprises, the creating.  My motivation is the excitement of wondering what the next story will be.

So, here I come 2015.  I’m bringing my go go boots, a monthly planner, and a smile.  Probably some snacks, too.

Lots of snacks.

Many thanks to  for the inspiration!


Welcome to the most fattening time of the year

birthdayOur Thanksgiving turkey wasn’t even finished cooking yet and The Hubs and I were discussing what we wanted to have to eat on Christmas.  Ham?  Meatloaf?  Halushki?

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  I’ve been cooking nonstop for a week.  Literally, an entire week of slaving over the stove.  The Toddler turned three last week.  Three.  How in the world is my baby three?  How is the Preschooler four?  How am I old enough to have a three-year-old and a four (almost five)-year-old?  Wasn’t it just 1997?  I mean, really, if you catch me on an off day, I’d probably say, “No, it was 1997 like, five years ago.”

No, 1997 was seventeen years ago.  Which means, this coming year on my birthday, I’ll be turning……


So, my child turned three this year.  He’s sassy.  Right now he’s sitting to my left, wearing mustache pajamas and eating lollipops.  On Thanksgiving, he opened the front door when my mother got here and, literally, bowed, “Hello.  Welcome to our home.”  I also caught him peeping at me (note the binoculars) when I was trying to write.  Anyhow, I let him pick him pick out the clothes he wanted to wear to his birthday party since, you know, three is  pretty big deal.  He selected a little plaid shirt, which was fine, but when I was putting it on him, I noticed the sleeves seemed a little short.  I said, “buddy, this looks a little small.  It might not fit.”  He said, “Yes it will.”  And it did, albeit with shortish sleeves.  I thought to myself, “Hmm, must be an 18 month shirt that got shoved in the back of the drawer.”

No, it was a 6-12 month shirt.  My three year old wore a 6-12 month shirt to his 3rd birthday party.  A shirt which, interestingly enough, The Preschooler wore in his 9 month pictures.

He’s a little guy.  But he makes up for it being a ball of nonstop energy that climbs up the sides of the washer, jumps off couches, and eats three lollipops at a time.  Knowing this, I’m not a bit surprised I was only in labor with him for four hours.

So that was fun.  I made a tie dye birthday cake, which was not only fun but delicious.  And then I attempted to make pumpkin pie.

I can make a turkey.  I can make bread from scratch.  I can make cakes and cupcakes, and casseroles and brownies and fudge and all kinds of delicious crap.  What I can’t make, is a pie crust.

For whatever reason, this year I decided it’d be fun to make a pumpkin pie.  My mother is typically in charge of making pies because the fact that I work a 40 hour work week gets in the way of me being a stay at home mom and having time to make pies.  This has been detrimental to my crust making abilities.  Martha Stewart’s recipe assured me–assured me–it was easy to make a pie crust.  It’s just fats and flour!  You can do it!

I think things started to go wrong when I realized I didn’t have a pastry cutter in my drawer of kitchen gadgets.  So, yeah, that’s approximately step two, right after “add flour.”  No matter, I’ll use forks.  That’ll work.

No, actually it didn’t.

In an act of desperation, I tried to use a potato masher.  This also didn’t work.

At this point, I was getting mad at myself for two reasons: 1) not being able to mix a pie crust with a fork and 2) forgetting to buy a premade pie crust at the grocery store.  But, whatever, I mixed it with my hands until it looked dough like and then texted a picture of it to my mother.  “Will this still work with little nuggets of butter in it?”

After a long silence, she texted back, “Maybe.”


Well, the pie itself cooked for what, an hour or something.  Then it cooled for three hours.  And it looked like a legitimate pie.

Think with me for a moment, if you will, of the American Civil War, and the nutritionally devoid creation called hardtack.  Hardpie tack is basically just flour and water cooked into little squares of rock solid biscuit.  They last forever.  They are gross.  You probably would enjoy building a fortification made of hardtack more than you would enjoy eating hardtack.  Pack some for your zombie apocalypse bunker.  If you can’t eat them, maybe you can reinforce the walls with them.

Anyway, the pie filling was delicious.  The crust was like hardtack.  Buttery, molar busting hardtack.

The Hubs, bless his soul, ate several slices of pumpkin pie.  I ate my mother’s pecan pie and said, “I’ll use your recipe next year.”

“We use Crisco and milk.  Not butter and water.”  she reported.

Well.  I’m sure I can’t do any worse than I did with the brick like substance I baked.  Nothing says Happy Holidays quite like a lost filling (okay, I’m exaggerating.  No one actually chipped a tooth on the pie crust, but I’m eating it like pudding from now on….you know, just in case).

And now for Christmas.  This will be the first year we’ve had a legit sized Christmas tree.  Up until now, because the boys have been so little, we’ve had a little tiny three foot tree on top of a table to keep it safe from…you know, our children.  This year we bought a brand new 6.5 foot tree and are going to attempt to set it up tonight.  I imagine my next blog post will be stories of the three-year-old scaling the tree and running around the house with the star on his head.  We’re nothing but festive here at my house.

Awkward and charming scheduled a book release party!

Poised and elegant weren’t available that weekend.

Somewhere in that dreamy middle ground between “what should I have for lunch?” and “oh look, only thirty-three years left to go until I can retire” lies my book release.  Book release!  Ah, what better stage to showcase my awkwardness and ability to trip over a completely flat, clear floor, but at party to celebrate my book!

So, here we are in November.  November.  I’ve been working so hard at Day Job that my brain is mush.  An example of this was observed this week when I was chatting with my friend, Susie, at work about her lap top at home.  She was talking about password protection and locks for her personal files and said, “I mean, you never know who’s looking in the window.  Grass man.  Yeti.  Sasquatch.”

I giggled.  “Yeah, you never know when Randy might want to get on your computer.”

She looked at me.  “Huh?”

“Grass man.  Your husband, right?  Is that because he works on the farm?”

“I’m talking about Big Foot.”


Yeah.  It was that kind of week.  If I was a Sim, I’d be wandering around with a red diamond over my head, stomping my foot and refusing to put clothes on.

In lieu of elegance, I’ll be bringing charm and a vintage 60s dress to my official book release party: August 23rd, 2015 in Gettysburg.  Be there!  It’s going to be awesome.

Well, it’s going to be awesome once I figure out what one actually does at a book release party.  I have visions of me sitting at a table, surrounded by stacks of books and a fresh pack of Sharpies; the only people with me being The Hubs and my mother.  No public.  No party.  Just me and the fam.

So, I did what anyone living in 2014 would do: I checked Pinterest.  A lot of what I found were related to book release parties as in, “The new Harry Potter book just came out and I’ve spent 47 hours dressed as a house elf!” or cupcakes with Hunger Games related frosting and sugar sculptures.  This is not what I’m going for, although, blue and gray Civil War festive cupcakes has a certain deliciousness factor to it.  Bayonet bars?  Hardtack hard punch?


photo3I took a break from debating the really difficult questions (should I make cookies for the party?  Would the public eat cookies from a cute, yet clumsy, author in go-go boots?) and rocked it at Harpers Ferry with my guys of the Baltimore Light Artillery.  You know, I want my guys at the book release party.  Awesome Mark and Awesome Jeff?  Hell yeah!  If you won’t buy a book from me, maybe from them?  Equally charming, but also roguish, rakish, and full of southern charm?

Yes.  My guys will be there.  Shock on, gentlemen.  ;)

The release party: booked.  Cover art: finished.  Now I just need to schedule book signings.  Guest blogs.  Reviews.  Debate ordering bookmarks, bags, t-shirts, mugs, pens, socks, umbrellas, whatever.  Figure out what all I’m supposed to do at a release party, other than be charming and try not to spill food on myself.  Do I do these kind of things at the party?  Not the spilling things part (I do that with horrific frequency), but the “swag” part.  Do I have to do a reading (answer: no)?  Do we just hang out?  Do we eat?  Can we drink?

More to come on that.

On the writing front, I’m still plodding along through my historical novel, with two contemporaries waiting in the batter’s box.  Yeah, it’s obviously late and I’m falling back to baseball terms from my childhood obsession with the Cleveland Indians (what’s up 1997?).  Historically, November is the month I write the least, thanks to my inability to focus on National Novel Writing Month and my usual attention span of a flea.  No doubt I’ll bring a notebook with me to the release party, just in case things get dull and I need something to do.  Not that I plan to still be writing this same novel.  But you know.  Just in case.



And then this happened: My novel’s cover art is HERE

Sometimes I think the notion of “being a published author” hasn’t firmly settled in my brain yet, you know, somewhere between the official name of a Civil War Napoleon (Model 1857 Light Gun 12 pound Howitzer) and the lyrics to the song “Cows with Guns” (We will run free with the buffalo or diiiiiiiiiie).  Yet this is actually happening.  This time next year, you can come see me at a bookstore or at a battlefield and hang out with me.  Buy my book.  Tell me how much you too love Evan Peters as Lobster Boy on American Horror Story: Freak Show and see absolutely nothing wrong with his lobster like hands and impish grin.  What’s up, Jimmy Darling?

coverBut I digress.

Here it is: the finalized cover art for Anything You Ask of Me!  I am so in love with it, to the point it leaves me speechless.  Speechless is the Sasquatch of my personality: it’s the thing of rumors or sketchy stories no one actually believes.  But this is fantastic.  Go ahead and judge my book by its cover: it’s awesome.

I’d buy it.

When I first saw it, I made this bizarre little noise in my throat (I’m congested, okay, I sound like Roz from Monster’s Inc. on the phone) that sounded something like, “Eeeeiiiiiiiigh” and pushed the phone so far into The Hubs face that he couldn’t actually see the picture, but as an all around good guy said, “Well, that’s awesome!”  Now I’ve recovered enough to post it on Facebook (it’s not real until it’s on Facebook) and blog about it.  It’s real now, guys.  Cover, release date: totally real.

So, with that in mind, it’s time to buckle down and really figure out my book tour plan.  Thing.  Thus far, my plan has been something like this:

  • Sign books in places.

That’s a legit start, right?  That’s like, determining your thesis before actually writing your paper.  This much I remember from my Communications Skills classes I had to take in college.  I’ve been in contact with someone/somewhere about a possible release party (more to come on that later), so that’s pretty exciting.  I’m not really sure what one does at a release party.  So far my plan is to have food and talk a lot.  And wear my go go boots because, yes, that is happening.  Do we serve snacks?  Do I bring free bookmarks and/or pens to giveaway?  Do I feel comfortable giving away pens and not keeping them for myself?  Questions to ponder.

Speaking of pens, this happened at Target in State College last weekend: I decided to treat myself with a new binder, college ruled paper and pen pack (because other than drinking a bottle of wine, that’s the literary way to treat yourself).  I like one, possibly two types of pens.  I had both in my purse.  I could not find them.  I spent like, fifteen minutes in the pen/paper aisle trying to find a suitable replacement, which yes, I probably would have done anyway.  There was a girl there who was….maybe in high school (I’m so bad guessing ages), also picking out pens.  Her dad looked at her and said, “It’s just a pen.”  She said, “No, Dad, I need the pen.”  I said, “I totally feel your pain.”  And, no, I didn’t find the pens I wanted but I got two anyway.  I’m expanding my horizons.

So, all I need is a book signing plan, places to sign books, and a heap of confidence in place prior to August 4, 2015.  Less than a year.  Let’s do this.

I’m going to buy a great pen for my first signing.  Just you wait.

Oh, and click here for my novel’s page at Knox Robinson Publishing’s site.  Buy it and I’ll sign it.  I’ll write something scandalous and then we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh.  See, my signings will be rad.  I’m going to put my hair in a bouffant and that, on its own, is rad.


This weekend I was looked upon like an ancient relic

I’ve turned into this shamefully sluggish person. Guys, I’m so sorry for my abrupt hiatus. A month since I’ve blogged? You’d think I was getting some serious writing done!

And you’d be wrong.

That’s probably a hair dramatic, but here’s what I did in the course of the last few weeks:

  • Worked on two novels simultaneously!
  • Bought lots of vintage clothes!
  • Got a tattoo!
  • Went to my college Homecoming!

Ahhh, homecoming. That magical time when things happen. What kind of things, I’m not sure, because this was my first time going. And I went for one reason.

It was my ten-year college reunion.

Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

Look, when did an entire year just zip on past, let alone a decade? A decade. Ten years since I got my diploma and refused to throw my cap in the air because I wanted to keep my tassels. I earned those damn tassels.

Anyways, there was also going to be free food, beverages, and t-shirts for the alumni in the celebratory years. What’s up, 1964? How you doing, 1989?

IMG_2449The Hubs agreed to accompany me. I made him park in commuter parking because, let’s be honest, I commuted for four years and have no idea where actual campus parking is located. In typical Western Pennsylvania fashion, it was cold, rainy, and gloomy. I pulled my old-timey college jacket out of the questionable depths of the closet because a) I’m perpetually freezing and b) despite the fact my college turned into a university my sophomore year, it was still a college when I started there in 2000. Note: remember this. This is key to my later oldness.

Our first stop was the bookstore. I’d decided I needed a school shirt. For reasons. We went up to the student center and…….and it was a barista. A huge, multi-aisled/multi-refrigerator case barista.


I bought bagels and cream cheese at the nookish barista in my day.

In my day.

It was bizarre and emotional to walk around campus. I didn’t weep (I know, I’m surprised too) but it was just weird to be there, like part of me was just picking up where I left off ten years ago. It was somewhat like that uncomfortable feeling I got when I watched The Great Muppet Caper as an adult and distinctly remember watching it as a child.  So then I had to turn it off because it was too unsettling to remember sitting in my childhood home watching this movie I’m now watching with my children…

If you’re just now tuning in, I’m weird.  Extremely, inexplicably weird.

Any how, we rubbed elbows with some recent graduates in Tail Gate Alley. “Has campus changed a lot since you were a student?” Asked a charming 2013 engineering grad.

“Yeah, what’s now the bookstore used to be our rec room!” I said. “In 2003, we watched the bombs fall over Baghdad down there.”

His equally charming friend and 2014 graduate said, “I was in 4th grade when that happened.”

Uhhhhhhh…, yeah.  Thanks for bringing that to everyone’s attention.

When we headed to the next event, I heard him exclaim, “She’s wearing a college jacket! Do you see that? College!”

Well, I guess it’s time to head back to The Home before the nurses notice I’m gone…homecoming 3

Eh, whatev. I had a blast. Our football team was beat to a pulp, but I hung out with friends I haven’t seen in years. I ate. I drank. I chatted with Olympic silver medal winning, women’s ice hockey goalie Brianne McLaughlin Bittle and wore one of her medals. Awesomeness! That doesn’t happen all the time. It was phenomenal.  Look at me wearing a medal.  This is as close to Olympic greatness that my sedentary butt is every going to get.  The Curling Curleys is not going to be a thing.

I’m totally going to homecoming next year.

Meanwhile, here’s a jaunty little tale for you that has nothing to do with homecoming.  So, my child and I were watching Sheriff Callie’s Wild West on Disney Junior.  That’s my life: Disney.  If it’s not happening on Disney or on Facebook, chances are I don’t know it’s happening.  But I digress.  So, this particular episode had the cactus, Toby, wearing a mustache.  It doesn’t matter why, just bear with me here.  The Preschooler looked at me and said, “Why does Toby have a mustache?”

“Well, some people have mustaches.”  I said.  “Poppa has a mustache.  My daddy had a mustache.”

“My daddy doesn’t have a mustache.”  The Preschooler suddenly turned very serious.

“No, Daddy does not have a mustache.”  I paused.  Sudden seriousness is never good.  “Do you want to have a mustache look Poppa when you grow up?”

“No,” he said, “I don’t want a mustache like Poppa’s.  I want a mustache like yours, Momma.”

Ba zing.

Previous Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,040 other followers