Last week, I was driving to Starbucks to get myself a delicious cafe latte (I’d travel through snow and ice for my steaming cup of caffeine) when my tire blew out. It happened just as I parked in a spot. I got out of the car and assessed the situation. I then ordered my coffee (I know where my priorities lie) and called a tow truck to come rescue me.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I can’t change a tire or change the oil or even change the floor mats of my car. No matter how many times my parents and then my husband devoted to teaching me all things “car,” I can say with absolute confidence that I am mechanically challenged. My sister, on the other hand, is a prodigy.  Me, not so much. When God handed out those skills at birth, he forgot to give me some. Now, ask me to whip up a creme brulee and I am all over it. I make it with my eyes closed but give me a jack and a lug wrench and I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they do to save my life. I’d likely play it like the triangle, thinking it must be a type of a “new age” musical instrument.  Anyway, I digress. The point is I was stuck at Starbucks with nowhere to go. I couldn’t go back home unless I wanted to walk the miles to get back home in high heel boots (not likely). I couldn’t even leave the parking spot of the strip mall.  All I could do was sip my coffee and enjoy Starbuck’s free wifi on my cell phone while I waited for the tow. As far as places to get stuck goes, Starbucks isn’t exactly the worst place to be, but no matter I was still stuck.

And as I waited for the cavalry to arrive, I thought about all the times I felt stuck in my life. I recalled the countless times I felt rooted in place and frozen in time, paralyzed by circumstances.  We’ve all experienced those moments, the feeling of being helpless, barely able to keep our heads above water in a storm that is life. We’ve all felt the dreadful knot in the pit of our stomach where we didn’t know what to do next. 

In fact, it’s this pivotal “stuck” moment that forms the basis of all of my books. The main character is stuck in a dead-end job or in a dead-end relationship, and they reach a point of no return where they realize they either need to make a drastic change or languish.  And we can all relate to that, can’t we? A need to make a change, to get “unstuck.”  Sometimes, we have to take risks in order to see change.  The heroines in my books do exactly that and it’s why I love them. They are relatable.  They take on the challenge full-on without thought as to how scary it is. They change direction, and in changing direction, their lives are the better for it.  They find a new career, they find humor, they find love. They find their happiness. They become “unstuck.”

So two cups of lattes later and within an hour of my tire fiasco, the tow truck finally came and took my car to the nearest mechanic where my tire was changed and I was on my merry way back home. It’s then that I realized. All you need to do is take that first baby step to change course. For me, it started with a flat tire to become “unstuck.”



This is Us

Dear NBC,

How do you do it? Seriously, I want to know your secret. Did you gather together a group of the smartest scientists and doctors in the world and have them research the best ways to make people dissolve into a puddle of tears?  Because I want you to know that’s exactly what you manage to do to me every single Tuesday night …. without fail… never a miss … always. 

It’s gotten to the point where it’s now become a challenge for me.  You’ve made this my mission. It’s personal. I wake up on every Tuesday morning determined not to cry. I spend the whole day steeling myself against the emotional rollercoaster I am certain you will throw out at me, convinced that I will not shed a tear. I will be strong and immune to the triggers. I won’t fall for Kevin’s charm or Randall’s kind heart or Kate’s struggles. I will not be “Jack Pearsoned.”

Of course, that all goes out the window the minute nine o’clock rolls around and by nine fifty-nine, my vision is blurred and I’ve exhausted a whole box of tissues.  And yet it remains my absolute favorite television show like it is for millions of other viewers. And no, it’s not because I am a glutton for punishment or a sadist or like the taste of my salty tears.  It’s simply a testament to the incredible storytelling and the genuine characters that make up the show. I can, with certainty, identify with the issues that each character faces and the struggles they endure. I can relate to it as a mother, sister, daughter, and friend. I can see myself saying or doing the same things as the characters on the screen. And isn’t that what good storytelling is all about? What it’s supposed to do?  It makes no difference if it’s a television show or a book. The end game is still the same.

As an author, I try to tell a story that will entertain and connect with my readers.  I think all authors try to do that. My books are quite different than the drama of “This is Us” as my genre is romantic comedies meant to do the exact opposite of crying.  In fact, if you are crying while reading my books, I hope it’s because you are doubled over in laughter.  But regardless of the differences, when it comes down to it, it’s all about taking the reader on a journey (whether that journey ends in tears or laughter).

So next Tuesday, I will not fight it anymore. I will not steel myself. Instead, I will open my heart and give in to it. I will embrace the emotions and allow my favorite television show to take me on a journey.  I’ll just make sure to have two boxes of tissue next to me when they do!



Laughter is the Best Medicine

I love a good belly laugh.  The kind that leaves me doubled over in pain  The kind of laughter where tears are streaming down my face and I can’t catch my breath.  I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences. We all have and we can probably recall exactly what prompted it too. For me, it was the first time I saw “My Cousin Vinny” in the movie theater. Maybe it’s because I’m a native New Yorker, but I identified with the characters in that movie and the hilarious situations depicted (if you’ve never seen it, please rent it, You won’t regret it). I can tell you I never laughed as much as I did than when I first watched Joe Pesci on the big screen and it was so cathartic, better than any therapy session I could have paid for and much cheaper too!  

Humor is my tonic. I think it’s true for a lot of people. I know that no matter what kind of a day I’m having, a good laugh will always make me feel better.  It’s the best remedy for anything that ails me.  A funny text from a friend can turn my mood completely around. Even my husband knows this and uses it against me (like Lex Luther uses kryptonite against Superman).  Whenever we have a fight, he somehow manages to crack a joke and I quickly forget why I was so angry at him in the first place.

Laughter is the reason why, I think, I’m so drawn to romantic comedies. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good love story and I will confess to swooning whenever I read a book with a devastatingly handsome and sexy leading man in the storyline. I sigh (like everyone else) when Noah kisses Allie in the pouring rain and scoops her up the stairs to his bedroom in “The Notebook” and I cheer when Harry finally gets together with Sally at the stroke of midnight. 

Love like that makes my heart beat faster. Love like that makes it all worthwhile.  It gives me faith that all is right with the world.  But give me love plus laughter and you have a fan for life. I certainly appreciate the brooding Fitzwilliam Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice.”  But I won’t lie. I would have loved Fitz from Pemberley, even more, had he made Lizzy laugh every once in a while. 

When I find that right combination of looks and humor in a man, I feel like I’ve struck gold. It’s like winning the Mega Millions jackpot (well, maybe not exactly) or finding my favorite pair of boots on clearance (cough, cough… Uggs.  Don’t judge me.  They are so comfy) or stepping on the scale to discover that all of my dieting and excruciatingly painful exercising has finally paid off (two pounds lost and counting).

So give me a gorgeous leading man who can make me laugh too and I’ve found the promised land!  Heck, give me an average looking man that can make me laugh and he’s a Greek god in my eyes. There’s nothing sexier to me than a sense of humor. In fact, that’s a must-have in all of my novels. If he can’t make me laugh, he can’t be in my book. It’s that simple. 

So tonight instead of watching a movie that makes my heart swell with love, I think I’ll rent one that leaves me gasping for breath, doubled over in pain with tears streaming down my face.  I think I’ll take a visit to Alabama with my favorite Brooklyn attorney and his hairdresser fiancee. After all, my biological clock is ticking here!