Tuesday, March 6, 2012


            Like all of his fans, I am saddened by the death of singer, actor Davy Jones.  His loss is felt by millions.  He brought joy into the lives of many through his music, and he will be greatly missed.  It’s even more tragic that we will not be able to enjoy everything more he would have contributed to the world.  

            Yet as I come to terms with the sadness of his loss, I recall his life with so many happy memories.  I was a true Monkees fan.  I watched their television show when it debuted on NBC in 1966 and was instantly swept into their world. What great lives they led!  How fabulous it must be to have such good friends, to live in a cool house, to drive around in the Monkeemobile, to sing and perform in front of adoring fans. 

            At the time, I was 13 years old, living in a small town in Virginia, and their escapades made their lives seem light years away from mine.  I wanted to be part of their world.  I managed to do that, as best I could, and loved it.           

            During my mother’s shopping trip into town, I walked to the newsstand alone.  I felt so independent and grown up doing this on my own.   

            At the newsstand I was thrilled to see my favorite musical groups pictured on the covers of the teen magazines.  I read obsessively through the magazines and select the one I could buy on my limited allowance.  Then I’d walk a few more blocks to the record store.  I loved the record store!  Just stepping through the door, seeing the covers and smelling the vinyl made me feel closer to the “Prefab Four,” as they became known.    

            During those days when my graduation from high school seemed decades away, when moving from that small town seemed impossible, when I was sure I’d never have a real life, listening to the Monkees, watching their television show, and reading those fan magazines gave me hope that life in a bigger world was possible.   

            So thanks, Davy, for all those happy memories!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


            As the author of 29 novels, one of the things I, along with every other author, must do is promote my work.  Writers must define our “brand” and market it in every way, shape, and form we can come up with.

            This was a problem for me.  In addition to historical romance novels, which I write under the pen name Judith Stacy, I write the Haley Randolph mystery series, a cozy series about a young Los Angeles sales clerk who is obsessed with designer handbags and solves crimes using her knowledge of fashion. 

            The books are laugh-out-loud funny.  As you can imagine with the titles Handbags and Homicide, Purses and Poison, Shoulder Bags and Shootings, Clutches and Curses, Slay Bells and Satchels, and Tote Bags and Toe Tags, there is no graphic violence, no explicit sex scenes, just good, fun reading.

            The branding and marketing advice I got from PR professionals, writers, and friends alike was that I should focus on the fashion aspect of the books. They advised that I should blog, twitter, and Facebook about handbags, style, clothing, and the latest and hottest trends in fashion. 

            But, honestly, I didn’t feel it.  First of all, there are tons of people out there commenting on fashion who are much more qualified than me to address the subject.  Plus, in my heart I never felt this was the essence of my books. When all the layers of my writing were peeled back, I truly felt that what was at the core of my books was simply that reading them made you happy for a while. 

            Whenever I’m at a workshop, conference, panel, or a book club, I am always asked if my novels have social relevance, a moral issue, or a political statement, and I always tell my readers that no, this isn’t what my books are about.  I’m not trying to change the world; I just want to entertain it.

            So finally, after hearing myself talk about it for months, I realized what my brand was—happiness.

            Happiness is really what I want to bring to readers with my novels.  I’m a huge believer in being happy.  I also truly believe that no one else can make you happy.  You have to do that yourself.  Only then can you have a happy life to share with others. 

            So in this blog I’ll be exploring ways to find happiness, to recognize it when you see it, to bring it into your life, to indulge yourself, to pay it forward and share it with others. 

            I hope you’ll share this journey with me.