Monthly Archives: November 2010


Family Holiday? You’ll probably recognize a few characters in Bob Shar’s “Snapped” at Read Short Fiction.

I thought this story was a unique take on sibling rivalry and what goes on in families—but what I also loved about this was the dialogue, especially the kids’ dialogue. Sometimes in stories like this, kids’ dialogue can sound stilted. In this case, Shar has nailed it. What a fun read.

Take a break from the craziness and check it out at


In the early 1970s, my parents owned an Omron 88 Goldenrod-colored calculator. We kids were never allowed to touch it. It was kept in its black case and stowed in the bill box on a high shelf, and its appearance once a month was ominous: it was imperative that our parents were not disturbed, because they were “paying the bills” and this was “very important” and “don’t bother us unless someone is mortally wounded.” The calculator was not only as esteemed as a relic, it was a symbol of the seriousness of adulthood.


My parents' sacred calculator.


Over the years, although the bill box changed, the calculator, its black case, and its place on the high shelf did not. My father used that calculator to pay his bills up until he was hospitalized in 2007.

We didn’t finish cleaning out Dad’s house until 2009. I found the bill box—and the calculator. I still felt I wasn’t really allowed to touch it, like it was some sacred thing, but I slipped it out of its case and flipped the “ON” switch. To my thrill, it still worked, although I didn’t expect it not to. It was clean, the buttons didn’t stick, and there wasn’t a scratch on the screen or the casing.

It now sits in my bill basket, and I use it on a regular basis. It’s probably around forty years old and it works like I bought it yesterday.


The Omron in its original case. The case is in mint condition.


The story of the Omron 88 is not unusual for me. My 2002 digital camera still works and is in mint condition; my 2005 cell phone I only recently replaced (last week) because no one makes the batteries for it (and that was all that was wrong with it, the battery stopped taking a charge); I still use one of the very first MP3 players ever put on the market on a daily basis. I spend less money and have fewer hassles than most people I know because my stuff lasts.


My cell phone, purchased Thanksgiving Weekend, 2005.



My old camera, which still works just fine, although its batteries run down much more frequently than they should. Charles bought this in, I think, 2002. Might have been earlier.



See? My old camera case took the brunt of the abuse. Stop laughing at it. It's the reason I still have the camera today!


While it can be argued that small electronics aren’t made as well as they were even just a few years ago, that doesn’t mean they can’t still last a long time. And why wouldn’t you want them to? It’s not only green (less waste), but saves you green (you’re not spending money unless you absolutely have to). So here are my five tips for making your small electronics last longer.

Buy high. When shopping for a camera, cell phone, MP3 player, or what have you, do your research! Treat that two hundred dollar camera as though it were a thousand-dollar wide-screen TV. Get Consumer Reports. Talk to people who own the models you’re interested in, and read product reviews. Then buy the highest quality you can afford. I’ve convinced part of the reason my cell phone lasted so long was because I bought the highest quality phone on the market at the time.

Think simple. The more complex a thing is, the more likely it is to break (compare the molecular structure of crystal to that of glass, for example). Before you purchase, say, a cell phone, ask yourself what you really need: do you really need all those bells and whistles? What functions are you going to die without? Try to get a model that has only the functions you deem absolutely necessary. When purchasing something new, think as simply as you can.

It’s in the bag. Get some type of protective case for your small electronic, even if all you can find is a change purse, cosmetic bag, or tobacco pouch. A case will deter breakage if dropped, prevent water damage from the occasional rain-drop, and minimize scratching or other damage.

Give it a home. Find a “home” for your small electronic and its accessories when you’re not using it, preferably in a drawer or some other place that’s out of harm’s way. Keeping it in one place not only ensures that you’ll always be able to find it, but automatically prevents accidents.

Keep it clean. Clean your small electronic on a regular basis according to manufacturer’s instructions. Keeping it as free of dust, dirt, and sticky stuff as possible keeps things from gumming up the works.

Back to the Omron. I knew it was from the 1970s, but wasn’t quite sure what year, and wanted to find out. I did some research and came across an excellent, extensive online calculator database[1], but my model wasn’t pictured anywhere. I tracked down the name of the gentleman who runs the site, Emil Dudek of the UK, and sent him an e-mail with a photograph of my beloved Omron 88 attached, not really expecting to get an answer for quite a while.

I got a response just four days later, and was thrilled with how he closed out his informative e-mail (he believes the model does, indeed, date back to around 1975 or so): “Do not throw away” – you have a model that looks like it is quite rare.[2]

Don’t worry, Emil. I have no intention of throwing it away.

In fact, it’s a pretty good bet the damn thing is going to outlive me.


Here's the photo Emil included in his message.


[1] The site is called Vintage Technology. You can find it at

[2] Emil Dudek, e-mail message to author, October 3, 2010.


These gals had awesome costumes! Got them posing with the book...

…for Halloween at The Lumberyard Pub in Redding, Connecticut. We had a signing going on while people in costumes had their faces painted and partied the night away. It was totally fun! Here’s pix from our night (wish I’d gotten more)…

One of The Lumberyard's bartenders, Gaga'd up...

The Lumberyard's co-owner Sandy Pope, center, with the bartenders

I thought the cobwebs on this light were kinda interesting...

The Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole signing table.

Outside display. I LOVE the purple lights and was glad I could capture the mood with my camera!

The Lumberyard has awesome food. I had chicken fingers and fries.

I LOVED these guys' outfits!

Of course, I had to have my picture taken with Tigger!

The whole reason I bought the Twister costume was for the bag. Yes, I'm a bag girl. I own no shoes, but a TON of bags!

Jen, the owners' daughter, was a lumberjack.

I thought the ax was a nice touch!

Chilean miners were actually pretty popular. Here's one with Tigger.

We got to enjoy a bonfire!

Here's me in my costume!


Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole – Tales from Haunted Disney World‘s last signing of 2010 was held at Annex Comics and Cards on Broadway in Newport, RI. Here’s photos from the event! Enjoy!

There's so much fun stuff all over Wayne's place. It's a great big colorful piece of eye candy!

Zombies are huge at the Annex. Live in Newport and a Zombie Freak? Don't miss ZOMBIE FRIDAYS!!

The Skeletons signing table.

Wayne has so many things to look at in his shop! It's like going to a huge art gallery.

Artwork by the author of RED ANT #1, Christian White.

Me greeting an Annex regular.

Me signing.

Our spread...pretty good food.

Me and Melissa Martin Ellis of Millennial Concepts, who designed the awesome book cover.

Me and local filmmaker Romeo Ellorin.

Me and Annex fan Jennifer, who ran in and said, "I've so been waiting for this!"

Me and Annex fan Jason!

Melissa and Jason.

Me and Charlie and Amy Wilson, who have supported my career forever. It was awesome to see them!

The bonfire at Melissa and Mark's.

Me and long-time friend and poet Heather Sullivan.

At left, Elizabeth, author of the forthcoming CHOPIN IN THE ATTIC, me, and Wayne.

Me and Wayne at Melissa and Mark's bonfire.


“Shell Game,” which was published in Eclectic Flash’s September 2010 Issue, has been selected for the magazine’s annual Best of anthology for 2010. The volume should be out some time in early 2011.


Sometimes a reunion with a long-lost love isn’t a good idea. Gary Carter’s “Long Time Gone” is up NOW at Read Short Fiction! If you love Ray Bradbury, don’t miss this one:


Jennifer Gaffney, the ‘go-to guru for deals, steals, recipes and reviews’ for busy women—and a HUGE Disney Park fan—said of Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole that she ‘was glued. I couldn’t stop reading.’

We will be planning a “Creepy Christmas” give-a-way with her blog, so I’ll keep you filled in on the details.

To read all of her comments, visit here:


The third weekend in November, National Novel Writing Month holds a huge fundraiser called The Night of Writing Dangerously out on the West Coast. NaNos from everywhere gather for a crazy six-hour writing marathon that raises funds for the non-profit NaNoWrimo (for more information on this year’s event in San Francisco, visit here:

Here in the Fairfield County region, our shiny-awesome Municipal Liaison Charles Muir (to most of us, YGJunkie) will be hosting The Afternoon of Writing Dangerously at The Acoustic Café, 2926 Fairfield Ave., Ste. 3, Bridgeport CT. This pot-luck event will be full of writing challenges, and raffle tickets will be given out for having met certain goals or can be purchased. Three copies of Skeletons will be offered as prizes.

I was planning on attending, but my very good writing buddy Nanette Morges—who introduced me to NaNo in 2004 and boy did we have a great little club with some other friends of ours like writer Tamela Ritter going there for a couple of years—moved up to a sprawling farmhouse in rural Upstate New York. She and I are going to do a three-day write-in of our own. Two creative ladies in the middle of nowhere with a wine cabinet in the middle of nowhere? Now THAT should be called The Weekend of Writing Dangerously! Can’t wait to see you on Thursday, Nanette!


Nicole Henke’s Bless Their Hearts Mom family-friendly blog loaded with tips (and, she admits, rants) for busy Moms, called Skeletons “the perfect Halloween hostess gift, and for difficult to buy for teens!”, adding that “I finished this book over 5 days ago, yet her dead animal story, Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole, is still with me.”

You can read her full review here:


Well, if there’s anyone that could tell you that, it’s Nathan. He decided to share his trials and tribulations with the popular Disney Park Podcast Inside the Magic, and so he created the LIVING WITH DISNEY segment, which ran on the show’s Episode 284 in September.

To listen to the whole episode—if you’re a Disney Park fan, you NEED to!—you want to hit this link here for

Those of you who aren’t Park fanatics and just want to hear Nathan make fun of me, you can click below and just hear the segment.

1 Living with Disney with Nathan S

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