Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

The New Year is coming and I hope it's a better one for you--and me, too. The hardest part for me is letting go of the old year and all that's attached to it--even the sad things. I seem to want to hang on just a little longer as if letting go would vanquish all the memories. The future is so unknown--kind of scary so it's hard to stand on the threshold of a new year and not feel the trepidation of it and want to stay with what I know. I want to believe that something wonderful is waiting just around the corner.

This year circumstances are going to make it possible to have New Year's Eve with my family. That hasn't happened since we were kids. So we're going to have champagne and snacks while we greet the New Year in.

I hope yours is going to be the best ever.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Have A Wonderful Christmas

     Wherever you are, whatever holiday you practice, I hope you keep safe and well.  For me, it's the big family Christmas Brunch.  I've been cooking since yesterday and look forward to having the time with family to share  our time together exchanging stories of past Christmases before we lost anyone from our midst, before Christmas brought with it  feelings of loss.  We'll evoke memories that make us laugh or give us pause and eat until we burst.  
     When everyone has gone their separate way, and the house grows silent once again, I'll think about the New Year and make a wish that it will be a very good year.
     In the meantime, I'll turn on the Christmas lights, nibble on the confections freshly baked and and anticipate with joy and hope for a very merry Christmas.  I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Joyful Kwanzaa!  Be safe. Be happy!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

My Provocative Ponderings

I hope you will check out my latest blog on Creating Memories at my Provocative Ponderings.  It's about gift giving at Christmas.
Just follow this tag.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Honor Of American Veterans

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and in honor of those who serve our country, I asked two people that I know personally if they would answer a few questions to give us their point of view of what it’s like to serve in the military in a war far from home.

Col. Kathy Groce: actively serving in the United states Air Force. She served in Desert Storm and Iraq as an RN.

1. I would like the American people to know that each war experience is different and each person responds to it differently. Perhaps you can lump generalities together from each war but, no matter what, those who go to war are changed by it in some way. Sometimes the changes are almost undetectable...sometimes they overwhelm. Veterans have faced their own fears and for the most part have put service to our country above their own comfort and safety. For the most part, they have dealt with situations and decisions that the everyday American will never consider. So we come back home from a war and try to fit back in to the times, changes, feelings...and it is hard sometimes.

2. Would I join the service if I had a do over? Yes, I would. The military is a way of life, and though I don't agree with all of it, I like it nonetheless. I learned skills and had experiences that I would never have learned or gotten otherwise.

3. My specific branch of service - Air Force - was pretty good to us. I have no real complaints. They have taken care of me.

4. The most significant thing I learned in the service is that everyone has a responsibility to speak up and to listen up in order to make positive changes. I always thought that those in higher ranks or whoever was in charge knew better ways of doing things than I did...not always true. Some good changes have occurred because someone took the risk of challenging the status quo. The key is learning the proper way to challenge the system.

5. I know that going to war with people makes bonds with them that are hard to break. There is a place in my heart for the folks I deployed with... I know what sacrifices they made and I know how hard we all worked to do our jobs. It is a camaraderie bonus.

Dennis Groce: Served in Viet Vam and is now a private citizen

1. ALL Americans should be very grateful to ALL service members, male and female. Active or retired. For doing their duty for their country! There should be more recognition and less finger pointing, realizing that in order for peace, sacrifices must be made!

2. Age and health permitting, yes I would serve again.

3. Pay for military should be increased and benefits should reflect the difficult training to prepare for a “government" job!

4. I. Learned life survival skills which should be taught to all citizens. Maybe then, the spaces would begin to fill in!

5. My service was mandatory as I was drafted for service in Viet Nam. Every physical exercise was in preparation to either kill or be killed!

It was a Real Change from high school!

A solid mental focus became a natural occurrence when you realize

“I’m not in Kansas anymore“! Overall. I enjoyed the Brotherhood

which developed at all my duty stations. Thanks for your interest in Veterans! God Bless!

I want to thank Kathy Groce and her brother, Dennis for sharing their thoughts and feelings with us about their service to their country. It is such an privilege for me to know both of them.

If just for today, I hope that you will honor the Veterans of our country for the sacrifices they have made for us. If you know someone who is a veteran, I hope you call him or her, tell them you care about them and thank them for putting their life on the line for the rest of us. Not every soldier got to come home. Some soldiers’ lives have been forever altered by physical or emotional wounds. If you have the privilege of seeing a veteran today or any day please honor them, thank them and tell them, “Welcome home.”

Sarah McNeal

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I blogged about hope

Everybody needs a little hope so I blogged about it at Renee Vincent's author blog, Past The Print.  I also added an excerpt from my book Bitter Notes.  Here is the tag:

I hope you'll check it out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween.  Maybe it's because I can dress up in another identity or maybe it's just the sweet treats and parties that I love.
I've had some fun times on Halloween.  When I was five years old, my mother made me a clown outfit.  I was so excited about dressing up in a costume that I forgot the car was still moving and fell out the door into the driveway.  No worries.  I didn't get hurt but it scared the hell out of my parents.
There was the time I took my oldest sister's kids trick or treating in a wagon.  We went to this guy's house who was stinking drunk and, on the way to the door with the bag of candy corn he tripped over the yapping dog spilling the candy all over the floor.  No problem.  He just gathered up the candy from the floor and tossed it in our bags.  This was before candy was individually wrapped I might add.
I've dressed up in all kinds of costumes for the occasion: a ghost, a dead foot on a flip flop, a witch, a gypsy fortune teller and many more.
Two of my favorite Halloweens were at parties.  Snookie, my oldest sister decided to let us have a Halloween party in the basement of her house.  So we decorated it with straw, balloons and hung sheets to hide my oldest nephew Kevin who made agonizing sounds from behind the sheets to scare the neighbor kids.  My sister, Mary, brought my nephew Matthew who was about 18 months old and had him dressed like a little red devil.  He promptly peed in his diaper and red devil pee ran everywhere.  We had games and gave prizes and the snacks were magnificent.
My friend Kathy had one of her yearly Halloween parties and I stood duty as a fortune teller.  I must have been good at it because some of the guests believed me and one asked if I hired out for parties.

Three actual haunted houses.
This year kathy is having another Halloween soiree and I'll be palm reading and using my Tarot cards (which by the way, I cannot read) and I'll be handing out eyeball bubble blowing devices.
I look forward to her parties and to the trivial pursuit for prizes game she always has.  I've won some very nifty items at that game.
I wish for all of you a wonderful and safe Halloween this year and may you get as big a kick out of it as I do.
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

I am sure that most Americans remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the awful news that a plane had struck one of the Twin Towers.  The memory is emblazoned in my mind forever.
I was working in the emergency department when a registrar told us that a plane hit one of the Twin Towers.  We turned on the radio at the desk to find out what happened.  The second plane hit the other tower and this cold feeling came over all of us.  We knew it was not an accident.
Patients dwindled to almost nothing as people got the news and stayed at home watching or listening to the news.  The place grew quiet--and for an ER, that's very different.  Then a plane hit the Pentagon and hysteria broke loose.  Everyone started calling their families or their families were calling them.  Fear ran rampant.
I didn't learn about the plane in Pennsylvania until I got home.  A terrible sadness fell over me when I learned of the heroism of those passengers.  I'm not ashamed to say that I broke down and wept when the congress sang America The beautiful on the Capitol steps.
For days I watched the images of the towers falling, of people in the streets covered in ash looking for their loved ones, of emergency workers trying to find anyone alive and finding no one.  It was as though the Earth just stopped moving and I stayed in a state of mourning for all those lost for weeks.
That terrible day 9/11/2001 forever changed us, changed our feelings of safety and how we go about our daily lives.  It changed everything.
Today, I am remembering that day, all those Americans who lost their lives, all of those who met the horror with bravery and heroism and those of us who will never forget.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Luna Moth

Yesterday, I found a beautiful Luna Moth under the oak tree in the back yard.  It was dying.  I couldn't just let it lay there on the rain-soaked ground so I carefully picked it up and laid it in a flower pot filled with mint and orange daisies. I did take some pictures of her and put one of them here.
Early this morning, I saw that it was still there but lying on it's back.  It had died during the night.  When I went out later to get a closer look, I saw that a bird must have come along and made a meal of it because all that was left were its wings.  So is the cycle of life.  I gathered up one of the wings and took inside to keep as a remembrance of the lovely, delicate moth.  I hope she got a chance to lay her eggs before she lost her life.  I am grateful that I had a chance to see her and perhaps make her last hours on the Earth a little easier.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July

     I hope everyone is having a safe and happy 4th of July.  Independence Day is a big deal to those of us who live in the United States.  Except for the Native Americans who were here first, our ancestors came from every where to live together in this country for the sake of freedom and the pursuit of happiness.  Today we celebrate and honor the cornerstone of our country's heritage given to us by our forefathers and maintained by the men and woman who serve their country all over the world.  I hope some day  they can all come home and rejoin their loved ones, safe and sound.
     While we celebrate this historic day, I also want to mention those who volunteer to serve in the Gulf to protect and restore our coast and our wildlife and a debt of thanks to the American Red Cross and their dedication to helping victims of disaster all over the world.
     Have a wonderful holiday, everyone, keep safe and have a great day celebrating being American.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Do you believe in love at first sight?

I am a cynic. I need to put that out there right away. I write about romance and the way I dream of love being but, in truth, I have my doubts about love and especially about love at first sight.

A dear friend was telling several others and me that she believed she had found her true love and that it had happened within a few days. In other words, it was love at first sight. My other friends enthusiastically gave her positive encouragement to open her heart to this suddenly intense relationship. I, on the other hand with my trials and hard knocks in the school of love and relationships, hung back afraid to encourage that which I felt was sure to fail.

So I talked to my writer friends to get their input and expected a wave of negativity on the subject of love at first sight. I expected them to say, “Yeah. I write about love at first sight, but I think it’s a bunch of baloney really.” I could not have been more surprised by their answers than if they had said pigs fly.

All of them believed love could happen in an instant. Some had witnessed it in their friends and acquaintances—love that happened at once and lasted like 24 years and still going strong. Some had stories of their personal love at first sight stories that would lift anyone’s heart. Not one said that it was impossible to fall in love in a single moment and have that spark last forever.

Therefore, I must conclude that love at first sight is not only possible but happens and when it does happen, it is as uplifting to the heart as shooting star.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Father's Day Pop!

For My Dad On Father's Day

Although I most often think of Pop on our mutual birthday, this year with Father’s Day coming up, he is frequently on my mind.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that Pop and I began to have a meaningful father-daughter relationship. Before that, we just fought most of the time. He was determined to tell me what to do and I was just determined not to do a thing he said.

The truth is I owe him so much for things I didn’t think were so important at the time such as the things he taught me about the weather—how a halo around the moon means rain in three days, how different cloud formations indicate certain weather changes and how warm and cold fronts can change everything. He taught me about navigating social dilemmas like how to tell when someone is lying, how to know the difference between being a tattle-tale and when it’s important to report something amiss, and he taught me about our history, who our ancestors were and why our clan ended up in America and the things he loved about his father.

Because of the things he shared with me, I can now pass them on to the next generation. He lives through me. So, when I look up into the sky at the clouds and know that rain is coming, well, that’s my inner Pop.

Happy Father’s Day.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

As we all fire up our grills for the hotdogs and hamburgers to celebrate Memorial Day, I hope you'll take a moment to remember and thank those who serve in the armed forces and thank them for the freedoms we enjoy today.  I thank and honor all those service men and women past and present in the Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard.  They not only fight in time of war but rush to disaster scenes to assist and aide victims and bring order out of chaos. 
If you meet a returning veteran, remember to welcome them home.  Whether you support the war or not, support the men and women who are laying their lives on the line for all of us.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CRW Writer's Retreat

I just spent the weekend at the Carolina Romance Writer's Retreat and thought you might want to know what that was like so here's the scoop.
First of all, I'd just like to say that I've never been to a writers' retreat before so I didn't really know what to expect.
The retreat took place in a huge, beautiful house on Lake Lure near Chimney Rock, NC.  The setting was gorgeous, a still lake nestled in the mountains and a house with a wide expanse of windows from which to view the scenic vista.
The first night we played Pictionary with novel titles that really helped to get us all acquainted and have a few laughs.  There was no end of food and drinks and I must confess, I slide off my diet.  So sue me.
The next afternoon we gathered in groups with our descriptive pieces from our WIPs and magazine pictures.  After reading each other's descriptive passages, the other members attempted to match a picture from a magazine with their impression of the scene or character.  I was happy that they quickly made a close match to my gypsy character, Pennytook, from The Light of Valmora so I guess I described him fairly well.  
We had a huge dinner of pot luck.  Gawd, there are some mighty excellent cooks in my group.
After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon doing cold reads that we brought from the middle of our WIPs.  You know those saggy middles might need a bit of tweaking and what better place than a retreat with other writers to get some feedback on that.  This part of the program really unnerved me.  I confess that I was terrified that my work would receive a lot of criticism.  I waited until the very last to read the middle 5 pages of The Light of Valmora.  I cannot tell you the great relief I experienced when my peers gave me some positive feedback on my work.
I also enjoyed the drive to and from the retreat with my passenger who regaled me with writing tales and stories along the way.
The information and sharing of ideas was such a help and so encouraging.  But the part I liked the best, was the fun I had just being with other writers who understand what a struggle it is to put out good work and find a supportive publisher.  Being with like spirits warmed my heart and encouraged me to keep pursuing my heart's delight--writing.
It was worth the four pounds I gained. 

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day Mom
I love  you and remember you always.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day

To all my Irish sisters and brothers (and those who are Irish in their hearts) I want to send out a little Gaelic greeting to your corner of the universe:
Slan's beannachd! (Health and a Blessing)

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Every author has to promote his or her work one way or another. We have to introduce readers to our work and then we pray that they will like what we write. Most writers, especially those with eBooks, find it advantageous to join reader groups on line and chat about their books, post excerpts, covers and blurbs to familiarize readers with their work. There are contests and give-aways to encourage readers to buy our books and interviews to give to familiarize readers with us and our body of work. Most authors are grateful to have a place to introduce their work, show respect to their readers and obey the rules of the group.

What I have found, however, are authors who somehow believe that they don’t need to speak to readers or other authors for that matter. They post their excerpts, blurbs and covers and then they disappear without so much as a howdy-do. So, if a reader has a question about something the author wrote, they will never get an answer. What I really don’t understand is when a reader or another author pays the absentee author a compliment that the author doesn’t respond with even a single thank you. We’re all busy. There is always that next book to write but there is no excuse for rudeness. If an author has time to post an excerpt, surely there is time for a polite response to a compliment.

Some authors don’t even find it necessary to follow the rules of the reader loops on which they post. Why is that? Is it that they feel their books are so superior to others that they are above the rules? This blatant abuse of rules is disrespectful. I would not imagine that readers are unaware of an author’s cavalier attitude toward the rules or their haughty, egomaniacal behavior in ignoring readers and authors who comment on their work.

Reader loops are for the benefit of readers and authors to come together and converse about books. Authors get to show off their books and readers get to find out about their favorite authors and discover new ones. However, when authors display such disregard to the readers that they don’t even want to talk to them, well, where’s the chat in that?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



Congratulations to Joy Isley who has won the BITTER NOTES release contest.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day
I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Valentine's Day with loved ones. Along with human friends and family, I hope that our special pet love's are a part of our celebrations for love today as well. I am so grateful for my Goden Retriever baby, Lily and my sweet cat, Liberty. Their unconditional love gets me through rough times and they brighten my days.
I just want to say a word about my friends, Kathy, Dottie and Maureen who sent me cards for my recent loss of Acorn, my cat, and to Rev. Renee who made me a memorial bracelet for Acorn. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your friendship and love is so important to me and your thoughtfulness will be remembered always. On a day celebrating love, I would be remiss if I didn't send out my love for you into the universe today.
May you all have a wonderful and loving day today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another Contest for BITTER NOTES

Besides my very own contest for BITTER NOTES, there is also a Valentines contest at Romance Junkies that BITTER NOTES is participating in. Here is the tag to get there:

Thursday, February 04, 2010


My wonderful cat, ACORN, has died. After a year of being cancer free, it suddenly returned with a vengence just 2 days ago. The cancer had metasticized everywhere. It was so hard for me to let him go but I could not allow him to suffer. His vet., Dr Pennae, cried, too. It has been a very sad day for me. I am going to miss his antics, his beautiful presence in my life and his loud voice. I will miss and love him always.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


BITTER NOTES was just released today and I am starting my release celebration by having a contest. You could win a piano music box, a piano charm necklace, piano shaped pencil sharpner or magnetic calandar with the book cover on it.

Go to my BOOKSHELF and check out the excerpt for BITTER NOTES. Answer these two questions:
1. What is the weather?
2. Who are the 2 main characters?
Then look under my Works In Progress and tell me the name of the book that is looking for a home.

That's it. email the answers to me using my email address on the contact page. The contest will continue until Valentines's Day (February 14, 2010)

Friday, January 29, 2010


This is the first snow I've seen this year and I'm happy to see it. I know. Kinda crazy. My dog, Lily, had fun figuring it out since she has never seen snow before. It's fun to watch and neat to sit by the fire and watch it come down.
You may think I'm a nut case getting excited about seeing snow but, here in the South, it's an exciting and noteworthy event.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Begin My Hostess Job at The Romance Room

I cordially invite you to join me on Monday evening, January 11, 2010 for my big extravaganza. I am starting a new job along with author Linday Mooney as hostesses for THE ROMANCE ROOM. To celebrate this ocassion, I'll be posting excerpts from my previous book, THE VIOLIN, my upcoming release, BITTER NOTES and, if there is time, my book HARMONICA JOE'S RELUCTANT BRIDE that is presently looking for a home and my WIP, THE LIGHT OF VALMORA. I will have some truly easy contests and giving away cool stuff like Piano shaped pencil sharpeners, Magnetic calendars, a music bos that's a baby grand piano and a free download of my previous release, THE VIOLIN. I intend to have some fun and welcome anyone who would like to join me there.
Sending good vibes to your corner of the universe.
Sarah McNeal