Listen to Your Inner Critic

By Joanne Guidoccio

I realize this is contrary to all the advice that’s out there. But there is something to be gained by analyzing the selected thoughts of our inner critic and taking action.

How can you distinguish those selected thoughts?

Very simply, take note of all sentences that start with “Someone should…”

Here are some examples:

“Someone should write a letter to the editor about that issue. It’s bugging me.”

“Someone should organize an arts festival that showcases the talents of artists, artisans, musicians, and writers in our county.”

“Someone should put her name forward for an executive position on that board. We need new blood.”

“Someone should design and create clothes that fit and flatter women over fifty.”

“Someone should offer decorating services for seniors, who are moving into assisted living, retirement and nursing homes, or downsizing to a condo.”

“Someone should write a cookbook filled with nutritious, easy-to-prepare recipes for singles and couples on budgets.”

“Someone should run for mayor.”

Once you have identified your favorite “Someone should,” it’s time to…

Take action!

Entering the political arena, assuming an executive role in a non-profit organization, organizing an arts festival, writing a novel…these are all goals that can be accomplished but probably not within the immediate future.

Instead, set move-the-needle steps for the season in which you are in. These small steps will lead to larger ones, and subsequent steps will always be within your grasp

You could start by attending an information meeting, offering to help with an established arts festival, signing up for an online or offline course, joining a local writing group, or listening to a webinar. Don’t worry if certain steps don’t work out. Keep moving forward and course-correct along the way.

Good luck!

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

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How to Clearly See…

In A Different Kind of Reunion, Private Investigator Jim Nelson doesn’t mince words when he learns about the psychic’s involvement in the murder investigation:

“Let’s face some facts here. Most psychics need to make a living. I don’t doubt this lady has some intuitive ability—as many women do—but I don’t think it’s enough to catch a murderer.”

Jim is in good company.

According to a recent survey by YouGov.com, 24% of respondents believe there are actually individuals who possess the ability to see the future. There is a gender split here as well; 28% of women think this power exists, while only 19% of men think the same.

While I’m of two minds here, I do believe it is possible for each of us to have an intuitive awakening. In fact, some of us already possess signs of clairvoyance.

Not sure? Take this quick survey:

  1. Do mental images randomly flash before your eyes?
  2. Can you easily visualize people and places?
  3. Do you frequently have vivid dreams?
  4. Can you quickly complete mazes, puzzles, and other visual-spatial tasks?
  5. Can you see auras (glowing lights) around the people in your life?

Regardless of your score, you can access your inner compass and develop the skill to “clearly see” what is going on in your life. Here are some suggestions:

  • Meditate for a few minutes each day. When you get still and clear your mind, you allow the right (creative) brain to take over and the left (logical) brain to take a back seat.
  • Take note of goose bumps, shivers down your spine, and racing hearts. Your body is letting you know when things are right or off. The key is to trust those feelings and act upon them.
  • Be on the lookout for any God/Goddess nudges that suddenly appear in your life. These could take the form of notices on bulletin boards, titles of books that resonate, or opportunities that present themselves.
  • Release negative feelings. If you are angry or depressed, you cannot make sound decisions.
  • Pay attention to how you feel after talking and meeting with the people in your life. Keep those who empower you and take distance from those who drain you. If you cannot walk away from the latter group, limit your involvement with them.
  • Dream with purpose. Before you fall asleep, focus on any unresolved issues or problems. Imagine possible solutions as you fall asleep. Then, let your brain do the rest. Keep a journal on your nightstand and record those dreams as soon as you awaken.

Any other suggestions to share?

 

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

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Ending on the Right Note

By Joanne Guidoccio

Last summer,  I read several books with unsatisfying endings. In one case, I wondered if the novel had been worth my time and attention. The author had started with a compelling opening, the characters were well-developed, and each chapter ended on a suspenseful note.

Where did she go wrong?

Two-thirds of the way through the book, she introduced a character who had no connection to any of the other characters. In fact, I would suggest she literally pulled him out of thin air so she could pin the murder on him.

Afterward, I started to wonder about the conclusions to my own books. Had I made an impact on the reader and encouraged her to buy the next book in the series? Or had I disappointed her with a contrived or unsatisfactory ending?

I reread my editor’s comments and checked with several beta readers who reassured me that I had ended on the right note. I also reread notes from workshops and seminars. Here are five tips to consider when writing that final chapter:

1. Decide on an ending that is appropriate for your genre. If you are writing a thriller or murder mystery, a strong build-up with plausible suspects and fast-paced action should lead to the resolution of major plot points. Romance readers expect an HEA (Happily ever after) or HFN (Happily for now) ending. If you are not comfortable with that expectation, write the novel as women’s fiction. With fantasy and science fiction, endings that leave room for the imagination can be very satisfying. Literary fiction tends to have endings featuring all degrees of resolution.

2. Refrain from moralizing or delivering a hard-hitting lesson to make a point or teach a lesson. Instead, let your characters reveal what they have learned through their actions and situations.

3. Avoid improbable endings. Some authors get tangled up in plot lines and introduce a fantastical or outlandish event such as the sudden appearance of a ghost with homicidal tendencies or a dream sequence that negates the entire storyline. These endings work only if groundwork has appropriately been established throughout the book. For example, missing items and unexplained events could justify the introduction of a ghost or other supernatural being.

4. Structure books in series such that your reader will want to continue reading. Decide which subplots you intend to wrap up and which you will leave dangling to create anticipation for the next book in the series. You may also wish to introduce a complication (appearance of an old flame, job offer or firing, marriage proposal) that needs to be further developed.

5. Pay particular attention to the final sentence, image, or line of dialogue. A vague closing line can cast a shadow over the entire novel while a powerful one will linger in memory.

Here are my favorite closing lines:

“After all, tomorrow is another day.” Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

“He loved Big Brother.” 1984 by George Orwell

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“We sat there for a long time, till the crowd around us thinned, till the sun shifted and the light changed. Till we felt our eyes could meet again, without the tears.” Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

“Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at seas as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.” Life of Pi by Yann Martel

What is your most memorable closing line?

 

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

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De-Stress With Humor

By Joanne Guidoccio

According to one study, adults laugh—on average—seventeen times a day. Pre-school children, on the other hand, can laugh up to 300 times a day.

That discrepancy becomes even more pronounced at this time of the year. With only one week to go before Christmas, many of us are scrambling to buy gifts, finish decorating, plan and prepare that special meal, and a host of other activities on a never-ending To-Do list.

I find small doses of humor effective during these busy times. Here are seven of my favorite jokes. Feel free to share them at the dinner table or water cooler.

A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. He called out: “Mama, look what I found.”

“What have you got there, dear?”

With astonishment in his voice, the boy answered, “I think it’s Adam’s underwear!”A cat died and went to heaven. St. Peter welcomed the cat. “Is there anything I can do to make your stay here better?”

The cat replied, “I’ve been sleeping on a cold floor and I’d love a warm pillow to sleep on.” St. Peter gave a pillow to the cat, and the cat headed off to bed.

Later, some mice came to St. Peter. They wanted roller skates to get around faster, so St. Peter gave them their skates and the mice went off.

The next day, St. Peter checked in on the cat. “How was everything last night?”

The cat replied, “That pillow you have me is really nice, but what I like the most about heaven is the Meals on Wheels.”

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music, and doing anything else he could think of to clean up the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally John had had enough. In exasperation one day, he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. He shook his fist at the parrot, but the parrot just got angrier and even ruder.

In desperation, John threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the freezer door. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arm and said: “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I am sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behaviour.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behaviour, the bird continued: “May I ask what the chicken did?”

A young couple met with their pastor to set a date for their wedding. When the pastor asked whether they preferred a contemporary or a traditional service, they opted for the contemporary.

On the big day, a major storm forced the groom to take an alternate route to the church. The streets were flooded, so he rolled up his pant legs to keep his trousers dry. When he finally reached the church, his best man rushed him into the sanctuary and up to the altar, just as the ceremony was starting.

“Pull down your pants,” the pastor whispered.

“Uh, Reverend, I’ve changed my mind,” the groom responded. “I think I would prefer the traditional service.”

A man is scrambling eggs when his wife walks into the kitchen.

“Careful,” she cries. “Careful! You’re cooking too many at once. Too many! Scramble them! Now! We need more butter. They’re going to stick! Careful! Now scramble them again! Hurry up! Are you crazy? Don’t forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt! The salt!”

The man turns and asks, “What’s wrong with you?”

His wife calmly replies, “I wanted to show you what it feels like when I’m driving and you’re in the passenger seat.”

A couple walked into a dentist’s office. The man said, “Doc, I’m in one heck of a hurry. I have my buddies sitting out in my car waiting for us to play golf, so forget about the anesthetic. I don’t have time for the gums to get numb. Just pull the tooth, and be done with it! We have a 10 a.m. tee time at the best course in town and it’s already 9:30. I don’t have time for the anesthetic to work.”

The dentist wondered about this brave man who wanted to have his tooth pulled without anytime to kill the pain. He asked, “Which tooth is it?”

The man turned to his wife. “Open your mouth and show him.”

A Buddhist monk strolled into a Zen pizza parlor and said, “Make me one with everything on it.”

The owner obliged. When he turned over the pizza with all the trimmings, the monk gave him a twenty-dollar bill which the owner stuck in the cash register.

“Where’s my change?” the monk asked.

The owner replied, “Change must come from within.”

Happy Holidays and all the best in 2019!

 

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

Dealing with Writer’s Block

After spending over three decades dreaming about the novels I would write during my retirement years, I was totally unprepared for the tyranny of the blank page. Thankfully, that first bout of writer’s block didn’t last too long. Inspiration came a month later at a creative writing workshop.

Several other bouts followed, some longer than others. Workshops and seminars definitely helped and so did the following strategies:

1. Change it up. Use pen and paper instead of a computer. If you’ve always written in the morning, switch to evening writing. Find a new writing café or create a new workplace in your home.

2. Improve your writing circumstances. Change the lighting, keep a coffee or tea pot nearby, declutter your desk, or hang up an inspirational poster.

3. Write something that comes easily–a letter, a recipe, a poem–and then return to your original project.

4. Move your body. Dance, run, practice yoga or Tai Chi, revisit a sport or fitness activity. Get your body into flow and your mind will follow.

5. Take up a new creative pursuit: painting, scrapbooking, decoupage, woodworking, quilting, weaving…If you’re stuck, buy an adult coloring book stock up on colored pencils, and start coloring.

6. Journal or free-write for 15 to 20 minutes each morning. You can write about random subjects or personal issues. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation.

7. Sign up for a Continuing Education course that is out of your comfort zone. You could learn a new language, practice karate,  or take a Japanese cooking class.

8. Make a list of all possible directions in which your manuscript could go. Don’t exclude any ideas, even silly or unworkable ones. Try out one or more of these directions until something clicks.

9. Set a reasonable deadline and offer yourself a substantial reward for finishing the manuscript. Share with a friend who will keep you accountable. 

10. Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). During the month of November, writers worldwide commit to writing 50K words in one month. I participated for the first time in 2016 and wrote 51K of a cozy mystery,  A Different Kind of Reunion (released by the The Wild Rose Press in April 2018). In 2017, I wrote 55K of a stand-alone novel. I connected with a local group and met regularly throughout the month. It was a great experience!

Any other tips to share?

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

Your Life in Six Words

By Joanne Guidoccio

Whenever I attend workshops, I take note of any icebreakers. While some participants may groan, I find these short, introductory exercises very effective in creating community and stimulating creativity.

One of my favorites is the “Six-Word Memoir,” a spinoff of the challenge once given to Ernest Hemingway: Write a story using only six words.

His reply was quick and succinct: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

In November 2006, Larry Smith, founder of SMITH Magazine, asked his fans to describe their lives in exactly six words. Intended to be a one-month contest, the project took on a life of its own. Since that time, Smith has received millions of responses, from the hilarious to the bittersweet to the inspirational. You can find out more here.

At the workshop where I was first introduced to this project, the facilitator shared the following examples:

“Married by Elvis, divorced by Friday.”

“I still make coffee for two.”

“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.”

And these from celebrities:

“Seeking the fullest expression of self.”  Oprah Winfrey

“Healed with steel, then got real.”   Dr. Mehmet Oz

“Me see world! Me write stories!”  Elizabeth Gilbert

“The miserable story leads to royalties.”  Frank McCourt

“Fear not, live in the now.”  Goldie Hawn

“Secret of life: family, friends, bacon.”  Katie Couric

“Divorce your story, marry the truth.”  Tony Robbins

 

Here’s my six-word memoir:

“Enjoying the process of reinventing myself.”

 

Any other six-word memoirs out there?

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio

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10 Interesting Facts About Parry Sound

By Joanne Guidoccio

Having grown up in what is often called the “Other Ontario,” I thought it was time to let cozy mystery readers discover the beauty and tranquility of the North. Or maybe not so tranquil. Seven murders have already taken place in the first three books of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series!

Books 1 and 2—A Season for Killing Blondes and Too Many Women in the Room—are based in Sudbury.

Book 3, A Different Kind of Reunion, is based in Parry Sound. Today, I’m providing ten interesting (and not so well-known) facts about this picturesque town on the eastern shores of Georgian Bay.

1. Located 160 km (100 miles) south of Sudbury and 225 km (140 miles) north of Toronto, Parry Sound epitomizes the best of small town life and summer fun. A winter population of 6,500 grows to 35,000 during cottage season.

2. Discovered by Captain Henry Bayfield in the 19th century, the town was named in honor of the Arctic explorer Sir William Edward Parry.

3. During the early part of the 20th century, Tom Thomson and the other members of the Group of Seven painted many of their scenic artworks in this area

4.Parry Sound is part of the 30,000 Islands region, the world’s largest freshwater archipelago.

5. Home to more than 100 “at-risk” species of plants and animals, Parry Sound houses the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, a globally-important region designated by UNESCO in 2004. GBBR is a non-profit organization that works with dozens of community partners to provide environmental education through conservation, and to create vibrant and sustainable communities.

6. Hikers and campers can visit one or more of the seven provincial parks in the region: Grundy Lake, Sturgeon Bay, Massasauga, Killarney, Killbear, Oastler and Six Mile Lake.

7. A boater’s paradise, Parry Sound can be explored via sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and motorized pleasure crafts. Or you could book a tour on the Island Queen Cruise.

8. Operating from May to October from the downtown waterfront, Georgian Bay Airways offers a bird’s eye view of the area’s remarkable ecosystems.

9. If visiting during the summer, consider taking part in the Festival of the Sound, one of the Top 100 Festivals in Ontario. In its 39th season, this festival of chamber and classical music runs from mid-July to mid-August each year. During the rest of the year, performances of all types (pop, rock, folk, blues, jazz, country) are presented.

10. Former Boston Bruin defenceman Bobby Orr is Parry Sound’s most famous citizen. An interactive hockey museum, aptly named the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame, can be found in the Charles W. Stockey Center for the Performing Arts. Exhibits include Orr’s NHL rings, trophies and awards, and a pictorial history of his career.

 

Blurb- a different kind of reunion

While not usually a big deal, one overlooked email would haunt teacher Gilda Greco. Had she read it, former student Sarah McHenry might still be alive.

Suspecting foul play, Constable Leo Mulligan plays on Gilda’s guilt and persuades her to participate in a séance facilitated by one of Canada’s best-known psychics. Six former students also agree to participate. At first cooperative and willing, their camaraderie is short-lived as old grudges and rivalries emerge. The séance is a bust.

Determined to solve Sarah’s murder, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers shocking revelations that could put several lives—including her own—in danger. Can Gilda and the psychic solve this case before the killer strikes again?

Excerpt

“Gilda, could you drop by tomorrow?” Constable Mulligan said, his voice cracking. “I’d like to wrap up this investigation as soon as possible. Give her parents some closure.”

Did he think he could wrap it up in a day? And what on earth could I contribute to the investigation? It didn’t make any sense at all. “Uh…I’m sorry. I’m having trouble with all of this. I don’t know—”

He cleared his throat. “We could meet for lunch at Trapper’s Choice Restaurant. They have fresh pickerel on Fridays.”

“I have clients scheduled for appointments all afternoon.” Or most of the afternoon. I liked to close the ReCareering office early on Friday afternoons.

“You’re still working?” he asked, surprise overtaking his previous gruffness. “I didn’t think you’d need to…I mean, you should be okay…”

He knew about my lottery win. Not surprising, since the lottery people had plastered my name and face everywhere when I won nineteen million dollars in Lotto 649. A quick Google search would have revealed my four-year-old lottery win. Old news, but still there on the second and third pages.

Tempted to end the conversation, I realized I couldn’t turn my back on Sarah or any of the others who might still be in danger. I mentally scanned my calendar. I had a two o’clock appointment and would be free to leave around three. I calculated the distance and figured I could drive to Parry Sound in ninety minutes or so. I added an extra hour and shared my plans.

“Great! You’ll have a couple of hours before the séance.”

“What séance?” Were Friday night séances a regular occurrence in Parry Sound? And why would someone like Constable Mulligan, who didn’t sound like a touchy-feely type of guy, attend one?

Buy Links 

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (United States) | The Wild Rose Press

 Giveaway

Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

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It’s OK to Fall Out of Love

By Joanne Guidoccio

We can all recall that magical moment when we typed the last words of our manuscript and lovingly glanced at the neatly piled pages on the desk. Head over heels in love, we could easily visualize literary agents and publishers emailing us within hours of receiving the manuscript.

That is the fantasy.

The reality is very different.

That first draft is never ready for publication. Some manuscripts require major surgeries such as changing POV and adding more sub-plots and characters. Longer manuscripts with over 100K words may need to be pared down. All manuscripts need to be checked for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

At a workshop, creative writing professor Brian Henry suggested we put our manuscripts aside for a while before starting the editing process. He did not specify a timeline but stressed the fact that we cannot improve our work until we fall out of love with it.

Over the years, I have attended many of Brian’s workshops and read several books on editing and proofreading. Here are some of tips and quips I’ve gleaned from my research:

Tips

• Perform a spelling and grammar check using the appropriate feature in your word processing program. Be aware that your spell checker can tell you only if a word exists, not if it’s the right word. If you are uncertain, refer to a dictionary.

• Use the Search and Replace function to find and eliminate repetitive words and extra spaces. To cut back on the number of adverbs, search for “ly” and replace with “LY.” As you approach each highlighted section, decide whether to keep the adverb, eliminate it, or replace it with an appropriate action tag.

• Double-check all facts, figures, and proper names. This is especially important if you write nonfiction or historical fiction.

• Print out your text and review it line by line. Use a ruler or a blank sheet of paper to keep your focus on one line at a time.

• Read your text aloud. This will help catch missing prepositions, repetition, run on sentences, and awkward phrasing.

• Read your text backward, from right to left, starting with the last word. While I have never used this particular tip, several English teachers recommend this method for anyone struggling with spelling.

• Change the font and font size before the final edit. The altered appearance may help you see the manuscript with fresh eyes.

• Ask a friend or fellow author to proofread your text. And offer to return the favor.

Quips via Brian Henry

• If you revise the same page too many times, you are probably ignoring a major problem in your book.

• When the characters start misbehaving, don’t get rid of them. Go with the flow and make the appropriate changes.

• Write with passion, revise at leisure.

• Puke it out, mop it up.

Any other tips (or quips) out there?

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

Idea → Sticky Idea → Premise

By Joanne Guidoccio

Writers  can find inspiration almost anywhere, and they don’t have to go too far to find those ideas. Checking Twitter or Facebook feeds, reading a daily newspaper, watching a television program, visiting an art gallery, eavesdropping on conversations…

Which ideas work best?

Sticky ideas…those ideas that simply won’t go away.

Once that idea takes root, it’s like a song that you can’t get out of your head. You wake up thinking about it, dream about it, and fantasize about it. You can even imagine the A-list actors who will star in the screenplay based on your novel. You may seek validation from family and friends: “Don’t you think that would make a great novel?” Unfortunately, too many ideas remain fantasies and don’t make it to the next step: transforming an idea into a premise.

What is a premise?

A premise is an idea fleshed out with details. You should be able to state this premise in two to three sentences while answering the questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

Here is one of my examples:

During my cancer journey, I read two to three cozy mysteries a week. I enjoyed these well-plotted novels in the tradition of Agatha Christie and Murder She Wrote. The crimes takes place “off stage” and very few graphic details are provided. That is, the novels contain little violence, sex, or coarse language. The majority of the cozies I read were based in the United States and England.

Halfway through chemotherapy, I started imagining a cozy based in Ontario. That was the original idea, and it wouldn’t leave me. But it wasn’t enough to start writing the novel. I continued reading cozies and let the idea percolate. Slowly, I added details about the protagonist and setting: A50something woman. Italian Canadian background. Mathematics teacher. Lottery winner. Based in Sudbury. Four dead blondes.

I came up with the following premise: What if a teacher wins a $19 million lottery and returns to her hometown of Sudbury, only to find herself the primary suspect in the murders of four blondes. Can she prove her innocence and solve this case before it’s too late?

Once I had the premise in place, I started writing A Season for Killing Blondes.

In June 2015, The Wild Rose Press released A Season for Killing Blondes.

Last month, the cozy was included in Murder & Mayhem,  a boxed set featuring over 1200 pages of reading pleasure from six  Wild Rose Press authors: J L Wilson, Misty Simon, Michelle Witvliet, Vicki Batman, Cindy Davis, and Joanne Guidoccio.

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | The Wild Rose Press

excerpt from A Season for Killing Blondes…

Carlo had removed his suit jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his light blue dress shirt. His tie lay on the desk. The rumpled look suited him to a tee. And his large black-rimmed glasses accentuated those unforgettable blue eyes. Bluer than blue. Sky blue. Cornflower blue. Robin’s egg blue. Years ago, Adele Martino and I had come up with thirty-seven descriptions of Carlo Fantin’s eyes when Mrs. Gillespie assigned one of her Monday morning English composition exercises. As I tried to recall the other thirty-three, I realized that Carlo was speaking to me.

“…he’ll be taking notes as well.”

Darn! Another officer in the room, and I had missed his name and more importantly, his title. Was he a detective or a constable? I’m sure Sofia would know. In the meantime, I better stop daydreaming and start listening. I nodded in the direction of the beefy officer. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Expertly trimmed moustache. A big bear of a man who reminded me of Magnum P.I.

Carlo cleared his throat. He was ready to get down to business. Police business. “It appears that Carrie Ann was your first client. You haven’t opened this office for business yet. How did that happen?”

My heart raced as I spoke. “After Sofia and my mother left…I’m not certain about the time…um…I…I heard a knock at the front window. I looked up and saw Carrie Ann. Hadn’t seen her in ages.” I paused and then added, “Still wearing the same pageboy hair style and that blonde color—”

Carlo waved his hand. “Stick to the facts, please.”

I felt myself reddening as those piercing blue eyes bored right through me. “Oh, sorry. Um, I let Carrie Ann in.”

“And?” Carlo said when I hesitated.

I shrugged. “We just talked for a while, then, uh…” I closed my eyes and tried to recall the conversation. But nothing concrete came to mind, only Carrie Ann’s infectious laugh and bubbly compliments about the decorating scheme. When I opened my eyes, the other officer offered me a water bottle. I thanked him and gulped down half the contents.

“You scheduled her for a session tomorrow morning,” Carlo said as he held up my appointment book. “Carrie Ann is…was considered one of the best interior designers in town. Why would she need counseling from you?” His dark brows drew together in a suspicious frown. “Were you planning to tell her to give it up?”

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

A Unique Perspective on Groundhog Day

By Joanne Guidoccio

Each year, I join in the fun and anticipation surrounding Groundhog Day, hoping Wiarton Willie (Ontario’s groundhog) will predict an early spring. A feeling that I believe is shared by millions of Canadians and Americans who are focusing on their respective groundhogs, among them Punxsutawney Phil, Shubenacadie Sam, Balzac Billy, and Buckeye Chuck.

Several years ago, I came across a very different perspective on Groundhog Day, one that forced me to stop and reflect upon my own personal barometer.

Here’s the post from  Editor Bob’s newsletter:

In New York City, we crave the luminous skies and warm weather which are still months away. I am recovering from the cabin fever. All is frozen outside but certainly not my heart.

As a curious explorer in school, I used to enjoy weather forecasting by observing the activity of a groundhog at Staten Island Zoo where on February 2, the groundhog comes out of the burrow all day and the ceremony is open for all.

As it looks at its own shadow it indicates the continuation of cold dry winters while if there is an umbrella of clouds, it stays outside predicting the arrival of spring. The behavior of this intelligent rodent helps in predicting the waning of winter or the onset of spring. I find this phenomenon fascinating.

Last evening as I was sitting with Fred, my retired, reformist friend, at the pub, he enlightened me with his perspective of the Groundhog Day which was rather unique and interesting. It gave me a new insight.

Fred said, “You know Bob this day reminds me of my lonely days.  I emerged from my coldness only to find my own shadow which was as solitary as my pride. My seasons never changed till I transcended my attitude and eventually, I made great friends who enveloped me in love and warmth. When I open myself to camaraderie, the springtime of my life continues.”

The only prerequisite for long-lasting happiness is to stop walking in your own shadow. We are the weather prophets of our life.

Are you warm or cold today?

 

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

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