Planting Spring Bulbs in December

On December 26, to be exact, the temperature here in Chicago reached a high of 55 degrees!  It felt more like March when the snow melts (Hopefully!), the days get longer (Thank God!), and heavy parkas make way for lighter jackets.


My spring bulbs arrived late.  My fault: I ordered them from Holland and ordered them long after I should have.  I prayed that they’d arrive before the ground froze.  No such luck.  They made it here when I couldn’t move a handful of dirt, even when I gave the flower bed a good kick.  (I had a sore toe for 24 hours.)

So, I was stuck with a box of bulbs that cost me $42.  What to do?  I emailed the company and asked what the heck had taken so long and how I should proceed.  Planting them outside was not happening.  The return email detailed instructions for planting the bulbs in pots and putting the pots in a cool, dry place.  In early spring, when the freeze had broken, I was to plant the bulbs in the ground.

I bought potting soil, labeled each pot, and stuck the bulbs as deep as the bottom of the pots would allow.  Some of the “bulbs” were the size of peas; I didn’t count on them surviving the winter in the basement.  Besides, it was warmer there than in the rest of the house.  I said a little prayer to Mother Nature and hoped for the best.

The very next day (as I said, December 26), temperatures rose, the sun shone, the snow melted, the ground unfroze.

“Get out there and plant,” my friend urged.

“I just potted them.”

“Well, dig them up.”

It was late afternoon.  I had maybe 90 minutes before sunset.  I thought of all kinds of excuses why I should leave the bulbs in the pots: my back hurt, I’d ruin my manicure, all the gardening tools had been put away . . .  Besides, how would I find those pea-sized bulbs?

In the end, I grabbed a trowel from the garage, some newspaper to kneel on and then began the process of sifting through the potting soil to rescue all the bulbs.  I failed.  Those tiny bulbs got lost in the shuffle.  And short of running all the soil through some kind of strainer, I gave up and headed outside with the bulbs I could find.


Alas, by that time, I had no idea which bulbs were which—their size, their color, not even what kind.  Frustrated, I dug a bunch of holes and threw bulbs in willy nilly.  I may well end up with tall flowers in front of small, clashing colors and flowers that look awful next to one another.

I guess I’ll just have to wait until spring to find out.





$.99 Book Sale Post Motem


I’m probably jumping the gun here: there are, after all, 8 more days until Xmas, 7 more days until Hanukah.

But all but one of my online discount book “campaigns” for The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives are over.  Yes, I’ll wait with bated breath to see if somehow Booktastic at comes through big time. offers the following to authors who pay between $5 and $10, depending upon the genre and the number of subscribers.  In my case, a one-off email will be sent to 3500 potential readers.  Sounds like a plan.

  • We send our subscribers  daily emails in their chosen genres for ebooks that are on sale, and new releases.
  • Your ebook stays on our site for the duration of your sale.
  • We send our subscribers daily emails listing competitions and giveaways.
  • Our Facebook features include your book post being advertised to the fans who have liked our page and Facebook users who are readers in your genre but have not liked our page.
  • All emailed promotions are also featured on our website. This can help increase sales of titles or generate buzz for an author around a new release, giveaway or competition.
  • Our editors streamline your blurb to ensure we present readers with a short, attention-grabbing hook. When you advertise with us, you agree to accept any changes we may make to your advertising copy.

Music to an author’s ears.  Or is it?  The stats on not on our side:

After skyrocketing from 2008 to 2012, e-book sales leveled off in 2013 and have fallen more than 10% since then, according to the AAP StatShot Annual 2015.

The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 2,000 copies over its lifetime.


Now, during my $.99 sale, Amazon reported that 68 copies of the sibling book sold in one day.  Not bad!  And I don’t have figures for the other online book sites like Kobo, Barnes&Noble, and iBook.

And it was on the 68 copy day that my ranking in the Kindle sibling category skyrocketed to #1.  I was on top of the pile for exactly 24 hours.  Then the gradual slide began . . . #3, #4, #6, and now a disappointing #12.


Talk about a roller coaster ride!





I couldn’t help checking daily, if not several times a day.  A broken promise.  But I couldn’t help myself.  Not a statistician, I thought I could pair a particular online marketing feature with sales.  Besides, I was curious.

And, yes, that “big” sales day corresponded with features the day of and two days prior on, and

There’s no way of knowing how many potential readers clicked through to at least check out my book and whether or not they’ll remember my name or book title when my next opus is published.  Head’s up:  Dead Serious: A Book For Teens About Teen Suicide. 

But I wouldn’t hesitate to discount that book and sign up again for at least 8 of the online discount book sites.  I may not have made much, if any, money (What can anyone expect when selling anything for $.99?), but I know that I’d burned my bridges with social media and that I was in dire need of new marketing outlets.

I know I rarely, if ever, buy a book because of a tweet or post.  Like most folks, I’d rather rant after reading a post-election article or comment on a photo of a “friend’s” adorable grandchild.


Thanks For The Memories: Remembering Pearl Harbor

One of my favorite TV shows, “Sunday Morning” now with Jane Pauley at the helm, aired “Remembering Pearl Harbor” on Sunday.

The Japanese attack on December 7th,1941, sparked the defiant battle cry: “REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR.” And even 75 years later, the dwindling ranks of those who watched the attack happen remember it still. 

It was the “dwindling ranks” comment that got me going: tears in between eating my morning fried egg over easy and a piece of 7 Grain toast smeared with coconut oil.  It’s highly doubtful that my dad, who would have turned 100 this May, would have been around for the commemoration of this momentous naval slaughter that ultimately turned our isolationist country into a global world power.  My dad was a World War II vet: he didn’t see action in the Pacific but “over” Italy where he co-piloted a B24 toward the end of the war.  Still, when he was alive, I would pick up the phone on Pearl Harbor Day—to talk, to hear him reminisce about his time in the Army Air Corps, the precursor to today’s Air Force.

It was those stories and the ones my mother told of her days on the road as a World War II traveling wife that captivated me and, ultimately, led to my book, Thanks For The Memories: Love, Sex, and World War II.


In 2006, I flew to Sarasota where my parents lived for a book signing at their favorite bookstore.  My mother had called everyone she knew within a 25-mile radios.  Shame on any invitees who did not attend:  friends; relatives; or staff at the Sarasota Bay Club, the spa where she had her nails done weekly, the hair salon where her long-time stylist cut her hair. I stood in front of a packed room of maybe 100 people, talked about my experiences writing the book and read parts of several chapters.  My mother beamed as if her daughter had won the Pulitzer; my dad appeared moved by the whole deal and kept a low profile, his head down for most of the event.

I sold a lot of books that day.  Again, if an attendee walked out of the bookstore without a signed copy, I’m certain my mother never spoke to her again.  She was like that.  Very loyal with an elephant’s memory that never forgot what she perceived as a slight.

Today, as I sat watching the segment on “Sunday Morning,” the first-hand accounts of two survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack reaffirmed their commitment to keeping the history alive as long as they are still ticking in the face of the march of time.

Every day, memories of World War II—its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs—disappear. Yielding to the inalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now in their late 80s and 90s. They are dying quickly—according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, only 620,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II were alive in 2016. (The National World War II Museum)

A native Hawaiian who was a little girl during the attack voiced her pessimism.  Most young people who visit Pearl Harbor today, she said, don’t have a clue as to what happened there, let alone what country attacked the United States.


The men and women of the “Greatest Generation” were ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives.  At a time when we have an all-volunteer military with a handful of Americans fighting and protecting the U.S., how would young people respond if they were drafted to go to war—their only way out; psychological discharge, flat feet, a broken back, or a Tweet from Mr. Trump?  Would young married women hit the road, crisscrossing the country, to live in dusty, no-count towns for two months a shot before moving on, just for the chance to spend a little time with their husbands?  Would today’s young women, like 18 million women during the war, either go back to work or to work for the first time or join the military where they could not fight but volunteered as nurses, administrators, secretaries for the big brass?

I wouldn’t bet on it

To hear my parents’ voices and some of their experiences during World War II, I listen to the following segment on National Public Radio’s “Day To Day,” recorded on December 7, 2006.  The segment helps keep me connected to them and to the “Day of Infamy” which is, according to many historians, the most important day in American history.