Thursday, May 31, 2018


I was over visting Debbie at the a little while ago,and as always she shared great info about a brand new author who was getting all these rave reviews, and she was quite fascinating.  I have no clue how she gets it all done, but thriller writer C.S Farrelly wrote this really exciting novel that will definitely grab your attention. To say that she is adventurous would be a total understatement, but there's a lot more to this prolific writer.

RO:  With a BA in English, it seems like a natural progression to write a novel, but how did you get into government and religious intrigue with The Shepherd's Calculous? I absolutely adore stories like these! How did you do all the research?

CS Farrelly: My undergraduate studies focused on English and Philosophy and in both of those subjects, you spend a lot of time structuring arguments to make your case for analysis. To do so successfully, you’re taught to make connections in obvious ways but also to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to see other strategic connections. As a result, my brain is kind of wired to look for overlap in topics, people, structures, and similarities in a variety of places. With my career background – spending time working for large international corporations as well as large, influential government entities— I’ve observed similarities in the way they operate. Large organizations often share similar characteristics, be they a school, a government, a corporation, or even a large religious sect, I think in part because of the organizational psychology of how human beings interact with social structures. So all of these different factors influenced why I was interested in telling a story like this and how I did the research to help inform the plot. In terms of doing research, I spent a lot of time in libraries looking up different information. I used Lexis Nexis to pull news coverage of some of the abuse case investigations and lawsuits that have happened in the US to learn more about how those were handled. I also consulted with former colleagues of mine at Fordham University to learn more about the theological principles referenced and also because I wanted to ensure I struck a good balance in exploring the story but not coming across as anti-Catholic. As a Catholic myself, I have a lot of respect for the faith in which I was raised. But I also had some concerns and issues with the Church as a result of some missteps it made in handling abuse investigations. So I really wanted to explore these questions in a way that asked some tough questions, but also respected the positive elements of my faith.

RO: How long did it take to write the book, and was it accepted immediately by the publisher?

 With elephants in the campground and staying on in Zambia
CS Farrelly  I was doing it while working full time and helping to run a NYC theater company on the side, so it was slow going. Once I had the information together, it took me a few weeks to sketch out a general outline of how I thought the plot would go. When it came time to sit down and write it, I took a week off of work and cranked it out in about 6 days of writing for 15-17 hours a day. But I could only do that because I’d s terms of how long it took to write the book, I’d say it took several years to gather all the proper information and I spent years in the research and pre-work phase so when it was time to put it all together, it flowed more easily than it otherwise would have. In terms of how long it took to get published, that took a long time, a lot of work, and dealing with a lot of rejection. You think that the toughest part is going to be writing the novel itself and pushing yourself to remain focused long enough to churn out hundreds of pages. But the reality is that, particularly with how closed traditional publishing has become, it’s really difficult to get a foot in the door and get people to take a chance on an unknown writer. So I spent a lot of time reading the acknowledgements of books I thought were in a similar vein to see what agencies were involved with repping them to try to pitch to them. A lot of agencies don’t even get back to you, so you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time putting together materials that disappear into a void. And you also have to have faith that just because 25 people didn’t see something in your writing, it doesn’t mean no one will. It can be daunting. I had one agent ask me how many Twitter followers I had before she said I wasn’t famous enough to take on as a client; I had another agent tell me my story needed some sex to spice it up, which felt especially awkward since one of the main plot points is about pedophilia. And a male editor liked the book enough to bring me in for a meeting, only to be surprised that I was female and tell me that women don’t read political thrillers. You just have to keep at it and also find comfort in the amazing Indie Publishing community out there.

RO: What's the first thing you did with your royalty check?

CS Farrelly I bought a WiFi Bluetooth speaker so I can listen to music more easily when I write! When I first started writing this novel – and I count doing research as part of that – I wasn’t yet married and didn’t have children, so I could kind of sit anywhere in my apartment and blast my music and pace, etc. Now that I’m in a different stage of life, I have to find more dedicated time and space that doesn’t intrude on my family’s routine so having a small speaker to listen to my music quietly really helps me keep making progress on new writing projects.  
Swimming in a freezing cold glacial lake (Emerald Lake) in the Canadian Rockies at the end of a long hike

RO:  I love music too! Are you easily distracted?

CS Farrelly Yes. I used to see this as a negative trait and something that made me a terrible writer, but I’ve learned that the reason I’m easily distracted is also the same reason I can create multiple overlapping plots and complex, full characters. Growing up, my siblings were all very orderly and smart and successful in traditional ways. I never was. I always looked at the world a little differently, was a little more distracted and definitely didn’t feel the need to categorize people or situations in black or white terms the way my family did. And it was clear that I was the black sheep because of it, so I struggled with my nature and was made to feel like a failure a lot. But now I value this trait because it doesn’t just make me a better writer; it makes me able to understand others and connect with people in honest, valuable ways.

RO:   Are your characters based on people that you know?

CS Farrelly   No single character is based on an individual person but there are certain qualities some of the characters possess that are modeled after qualities of a combination of people I’ve met or who have been active in my life. For example, some qualities or traits that Fr. Ingram has come from a truly wonderful professor I had at Fordham named Mark Massa, SJ. And other qualities in Fr. Ingram are a reflection of my father. Some traits of Owen Feeney are from encounters I’ve had with a few people within Catholic hierarchy. Additionally, because I’ve spent a good amount of time working in government, I’ve encountered my share of political appointees in leadership positions who allow their ambition and greed to cloud their judgement when it comes to making ethical choices. I’ve worked alongside some truly remarkable public servants, but I’ve also worked for some absolute ego-maniacs who will do anything to remain the center of attention, including violating their oath to serve the public with honesty and integrity.

What's the last good movie you watched?
CS Farrelly Hell or High Water with Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. I prefer films and stories that don’t paint people or situations in black and white terms, because the moral dilemmas that many of us face in life aren’t clean cut. If they were, I firmly believe that people would almost always choose the clear “good” answer. But things happen in life that force many of us to make complicated, difficult decisions that are not always beyond reproach. The title of my novel refers to the calculation that each of us makes about when to do the right thing and why. And what I really loved about Hell and High Water is that there were conventionally “right” courses of action that were complicated by other issues like needing to balance caring for your family or the questionable moral behavior of large corporations profiting from the misfortune of others, etc. Plus, my amazingly talented friend Heidi Sulzman was in Hell or High Water, so I enjoyed seeing her do an amazing job.

RO:  I saw that one too, and really enjoyed it. How different is it to write plays versus a novel, and do you have plans to write more books in the future?

CS Farrelly I’m working on a follow up novel at the moment. It’s more of a traditional murder mystery than TSC was in that it opens with the discovery of the body of someone who was murdered. But, like the TSC, the story is going to be less about the murder and more about the events leading up to the murder and the notion of collective culpability as opposed to guilt for an individual act. I have an outline started for a third suspense novel, but I’ve also started working on a more humorous novel as well. So, I’m not sure which one I’ll finish first, but I’m going to keep working at it! Writing a novel instead of a play is very different in that you have freedom to describe scenes and add details to it that you can’t always dictate when writing a play, or share insight on what characters are thinking or feeling internally. With a play, the action you can depict is limited to the confines of what you can design for a stage, so a lot about how the characters interact with one another and how critical background information is shared, has to be through more subtle means. You can’t spell it out for audience members the way you can for readers. I think writing plays is good practice for writing novels.

RO - Best of luck with that new novel! What types of books were you reading before you decided to write your own novel? What are you reading now?

CS Farrelly I’ve always enjoyed a good mystery with well-developed characters and good research. As a kid, I loved reading Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie and as an adult, I’ve really enjoyed Dennis Lehane and Caleb Carr books. So when I decided to start to write my first book, I’d been reading a lot of mysteries. At the moment, I’m reading The Elizas by Sara Shepard, a longtime friend of mine from many years ago when we both had a summer job working for JP Morgan on Wall Street. I love how Sara writes female characters who have rich, honest interior lives but I also really personally value how she champions the literary community, whether by supporting small independent book stores, or providing advice for new writers like me.  

RO - If I asked your friends to tell me what one word would describe you what would they say?
White water rafting (and falling out!) on the Zambezi river in Africa

CS Farrelly Funny. I almost always find something humorous in situations, no matter how serious they are. That’s not to say that I’m trying to diminish serious issues/thoughts things at all, but I think finding humor allows me to remain grounded and focused on how to process news, good or bad, etc. and find solutions for moving forward.

RO -  You're involved in so many things including water rafting. (Very brave-lol) How in the world do you find the time to sit down to write?

Sitting (literally) on the edge of Victoria Falls
CS Farrelly “In my younger and more vulnerable years,” as Nick Carraway says in The Great Gatsby, I just didn’t sleep. I’d work all day, run to non-profit board meetings after work and then write from 10pm-4am sometimes. I wouldn’t recommend that routine. By outward appearances it looks very industrious and admirable to some, but I’ve found that when you’re pushing yourself to be that busy all the time, it’s sometimes because you’re trying to avoid facing some bigger questions about life. Now that I have a family, I’ve made a conscious decision to step back from a lot of volunteer work and focus on quality time with them. We go hiking and kayaking together (white water rafting will have to wait until my son is much older) and get quality time to connect that way. And my husband is extremely supportive. He helps me carve out quiet time to focus and write. I’m not as productive now as I used to be, but because my time is more limited, I find that I’m much more focused in what little time I do have than I was before.

RO:  Can you cook, and if so what's your favorite meal to prepare?
 Hiking the Athabasca glacier in Canada 

CS Farrelly I can cook and I enjoy doing it. One of my favorite meals is a toasted walnut, mushroom and gorgonzola risotto served with a side of lemon-garlic green beans. It’s not any more complicated to make than lasagna or stew, really, but the mix of flavors and textures is so delicious. It’s particularly nice to have on a cold night. It’s super easy to make, so let me know if you’d like the recipe!

RO: What are you hooked on eating these days?

CS Farrelly I’m really looking forward to the Pennsylvania summer and the amazing produce that will come with that – tomatoes, corn, strawberries, etc. I grew up in a small town with a lot of farms around it and we were going to farmers markets long before it was a hip and cool thing to do, because every farm had a roadside stand where you could stop and by delicious, fresh items. But at the immediate moment, I’m having a love affair with fig jam and Manchego cheese as my go-to snack for writing breaks.

RO:  I'm definitely a fan of strawberries as well, and that Manchego cheese is pretty yummy too! Tell us something people may be surprised to know about you.

CS Farrelly I have dual citizenship with the Republic of Ireland. My grandparents on my Dad’s side of the family were born there and so I applied for citizenship through that connection and was granted it back in 2002 before I even moved to Dublin to go to Trinity College for grad school.
Kayaking the Hudson River near NYC

RO:  That's pretty neat! Where will we see you in the next 10 years?

CS Farrelly I hope I’ll be promoting my 4th or 5th novel and continuing to connect with readers. All things considered, I’ve had a pretty great life – I’ve gotten to travel the world and see most of the places I dreamed about visiting as a child—London, Petra, Victoria Falls, the Pyramids, etc. And I’ve gotten a front row seat to some truly world-altering developments, such as being at Bear Stearns when its collapse tipped off the subprime mortgage crisis. I owe all of it to reading. Having great children's’ books to read when I was a kid (Bridge to Terabithia, Island of the Blue Dolphins) taught me about resiliency and helped me get through some really tough times. Reading gave me the basis of knowledge to communicate effectively and find jobs to financially sustain myself. And reading now gives me a way to connect with my family and others. It’s such a valuable skill and to be a writer, someone who contributes to that for other people, is truly an honor and a privilege.

A HUGE Thanks to Ms. Farrelly for spending time with us today, and we wish here much continued success in the future!

To find out even more about this wonderful new author, visit her Twitter page @SwiftRetort, her author FB page, and fans can also reach out to her via  the author website at

Monday, May 21, 2018


It's been another crazy week of loony friends, planning, projects, book reading, trying new recipes, interviews, computer issues, coupon shopping and movie watching.  

Add to that a dreaded cold which has been trying very hard to keep me bedridden, but I refuse to give in. (lol)

Now onto the fun stuff!  This post is all about food and all its glory, so hop on board for the ride!

I absolutely adore strawberries and use them for lots of different treats.  If you're looking for something different to do with the fruit in your fridge, this is a good one to try.  It's perfect to try with kids or for a family get together.

1 Lb Pizza Dough
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter,melted and cooled
1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
3/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
4 Oz. Strawberries, Hulled
1 8 Oz Package of Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/8 Tsp Kosher Salt
4 Cups Macerated Strawberries
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream, whipped to soft peaks
Caramel Sauce for serving

1.  Position racks in the center and bottom of the oven, then heat to 425 degrees.  Lien 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2 Shape each quarter of the dough into a 7 inch round.  Place 2 rounds on each prepared pan, brushing the tops with melted butter.  Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle on the top.

3.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the bottoms are brown and crispy, and the dough is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.  Then allow them to cool completely.

4.  Meanwhile, pulse strawberries in a food processor  until smooth.  Add cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt.  Pulse until smooth.  If it's runny, refrigerate until it's firm, enough to spread.

5.  Divide strawberry cream cheese mixture among the cooled pie crusts.  Top with the macerated strawberries and whipped cream then serve immediately.  Drizzle with the caramel sauce if you like.

2 Tbsp Strawberry Preserves, 1/4 Cup Sugar, 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice, 2 Lbs Strawberries, hulled and halved.

In a large bowl, microwave preserves in 10 second increments until runny.  Stiri in sugar and lemon juice.  Add strawberries and toss to coat .  Let sit, tossing occasionally, until berries release their juices, at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.

Lots of us may not like veggies, but did you know the actual fear of them is called Lachanophobia? That's a pretty scary term, right?

On average, 1 person eats about 8 pounds of grapes a year.

I always love trying new apples, especially those that are a little tart, but did you know there are actually 7000 varieties of apples that are grown around the world?  Wow!

If you live in NC, or plan to visit the Memorial Day weekend, what better way to enjoy yourself than with lots and lots of yummy sweets.  On Sunday, May 27 from 1p-5p come out to celebrate NC Sugar Rush Day where you'll be able to sample lots of goodies from more than 20 food vendors. For more info, visit here and Get all the details on their Facebook event page here.

Are you tired of plain old ketchup, and want to try something brand new to put on your hotdogs and hamburgers? Visit, and you'll find ketchup without tomatoes in the recipe!  They make their condiment with mangoes, or cherries, etc. along with their own special flavor enhancers designed to pair with your meals.

If you love donuts, get ready to celebrate National Donut Day on June 1 to score a  FREE treat from Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts.  If you live near another donut shop or bakery, be sure to ask for any deals they may be offering, or check the Internet

If you're in the Houston Texas area and have a hankering for ice cream, be sure to check out the Fat Cat Creamery which is known for some crazy ice cream flavors like Waterloo Strawberry Buttermilk, which actually includes Waterloo Texas gin in the recipe, and is very addictive.  Or what about Whiskey Butter Pecan or the Bunny Bait for some unique flavors. Oh, I almost forgot - they are all about cats! 

A formal and decorative piece of headwear common among the British is called a fascinator and became famous in the 20th century.  But isn't it really just an over the top hat?  I love them, but I don't get it!  Do you?

Do you enjoy all the goodies that go along with Brunch?  According to recent studies, 51% of diners born in the mid 90's prefer to eat from a brunch buffet instead of just plain breakfast, but they consider it the best time to socialize with friends and family.  

But 1/3 of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), don't consider this to be a time to socialize. They just want to eat their meals and head on home.

What about you?  Do you like Brunch on the weekends?

Friday, May 11, 2018


If you're going out of your way to find the perfect gift for your mom to celebrate Mother's Day this weekend, you're probably wasting time AND money.  Most of us simply want a heartfelt card, a thoughtful long distance hello or a day of rest, especially those who have small kiddies.  That hardly ever happens though. (lol)

According to the folks over at Real Simple who did a survey with their Facebook fans a few years ago, 57% of you are calling mom on the regular, but the real surprise was that 6% stay in contact with their mothers via email only, and 6% actually waited to get a call first.  It was also interesting to see that 3% hardly made any contact at all, however, this crew  talked for a long period of time to make up for all that neglect.

My 34  year old son who shall remain  nameless, (he always swears I'll embarrass him-lol) will call, but his preferred method to reach me is by text because he refuses to use voicemail, the antiquated way of leaving a message. 

He knows me pretty well, because anyone who leaves a voicemail may get a return call about a week or so later.

I think he's also figured out that it's best for him to reach out and touch most of the time in order to avoid me calling his cell phone at 3am in the morning just to chat, and to have a really long conversation. (lol)  It's a win-win in my opinion.

This story about a family during the Great Depression was released in 1939, and the author didn't think his "run of the mill book" would do very well in bookstores.  But not only did The Grapes of Wrath win a Pulitzer Prize for Literature, but it was turned into a hit movie with Henry Fonda in 1940, and was one of the main reasons that John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Did you watch Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman on Batman Returns?  Wasn't she just perfect?  Well, she wasn't the first choice for the standout role.  Originally, Annette Bening was offered the role in 1992, but had to decline because she was pregnant at the time.  By the way, this wonderful actress has been married to Warren Beatty for over 26 years!

Are you a foodie?  The Atlanta Wine and Food Festival will celebrate this year from May 31 - June 3, and there will be lots of familiar chefs there with plenty of entertaining events.

Not only can you get unlimited FREE Wifi here, but at Claridge Hotel in London, they take things even further by allowing you the use of a laptop or iPad just in case you forget yours at home.  Feel free to borrow state of the art iPads, the use of a library with a walnut desk for your convenience, yummy treats,  and classic books during your stay.  Don't be surprised to find a piano in your room either. Queen rooms are available starting at $929.00

Purple is my fave color, so I'm thrilled that we're now in the Lilac season, and there are festivals all over the place.  A tree can grow up to 25 feet tall, and they are synonymous with the the first feelings of love, and have a sweet soothing smell.

Did you know that alligators have about 80 teeth, and have been known to devour  lots of stuff, but they don't eat from November through March.  In comparison, mosquitoes have about 47 sharp edges, allowing them to bite through our skin.  These edges are not like ours in the traditional sense because our precious blood doesn't need to be actually chewed.

I'm always looking for miracle ways to lose weight, so it was thrilling to find that the Mayo Clinic says we can burn 11 calories per hour just by chewing gum.  It also stops craving for the food we really probably shouldn't be eating. 

Siriously Delicious is a fun cookbook from Carson Daly's wife, Siri, and I love the catchy title of her book.  This recipe is so simple to make, and you can also find other versions online.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the frozen chopped spinach, Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, butter, onion, eggs, salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into 1 inch balls, making about 48.
  3. Arrange the balls in a single layer on a large baking sheet for 30 minutes, rotating half way through until golden brown.
  4. Add sticks if you like, or create your own special sauce.

Just in case you are still looking for gift ideas, there are lots of specials on flowers at Food Lion, Kroger, Lidl, Aldis, Walmart, Harris Teeter and moreMany restaurants are also offering discounts and a few freebies.  Check around for deals in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Time for a 2018 repost.  

Someone you know is being emotionally, financially or physically harmed. That person lives next door, works at the local grocery store, or you've passed her on the street.  That person is crying inside.

There is nothing worse than living your life in fear, or wondering when the next slap or degrading comment will occur.  I

When it comes to emotional abuse, friends and family struggle with the danger involved because there are no visible bruises.  In fact, many believe that abusers prey only on the weak, but the reality is that they seek out those who are attractive and exhibit confidence, yet may be going through a bad time, making the potential victim more vulnerable.

Emotional abusers display the "charm syndrome" to get their way using the sheer force of their charismatic personalities to manipulate someone.  This trait is why many people are usually so surprised to find out the truth.  Your friends and family think he's so amazing.

Even worse, when the abuser switches from charm to anger, it's confusing because he/she isn't that way all of the time.  Because of the lies being told to others, and the ability to convince you that you're at fault, doubts about what's going on become the norm, making you question your own judgement. This creates a vicious cycle, making it even more difficult to leave.  Then there is the fear.

But the abuser is a person who may have been abused, or enjoys the feeling of power and control when hurting someone.  This person has many insecurities that may not be readily visible, but causes suffering to others near them.

Meanwhile, you walk around wondering if the house is clean enough or your dress is perfect. Will he find something wrong with that meal it took all day to prepare?  So what if you've gained weight? Almost everything about life is no longer really your own, while you consider what you can do to not say or do the wrong thing to trigger an abusive reaction. Your emotions have been affected and your self esteem is now zero.  That's no way to live.

Emotional abuse is absolutely considered domestic violence, and includes being
cheated on or lied about, gaslighting, being degraded publicly or privately, having funds withheld or being threatened. If there's no one you trust, contact a domestic violence shelter which has people available 24 hours a day to offer assistance and/or counseling.  Or perhaps a pastor can assist.
What amazes me is when my own friends tell me that I'm making too much of this topic. I've even heard that some women "deserve" to be mistreated, or "these women must like it because they stay."   

Some stay because they're afraid of being homeless, others because they're embarrassed and ashamed.  A few believe there is nothing better for them out there.  There many reasons we can't always know or understand.

No one deserves to be belittled, called names and humiliated. There's no need to make excuses any longer for someone who's supposed to be in love with you.  The thing about walking on eggshells is that do eventually crack.  

Please seek help for you and your family, when you feel that you can do so safely.  Save and really hide your money or send it to yourself via moneygram or western union. Write down everything that happens during your day, and keep those notes well hidden too. Protect yourself.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 800-799-7233
If you live in Wake County, NC  Call InterAct:  919-828-3005
                                              or 866-291-0853
If you live in Harnett County, NC Call Safe:  910-893-7233
Or call a place in the state you live, please.

Someone is available at these numbers 24 hours a day, and they are available to offer support and guidance.