• There’s Something You Should Do During Quarantine and Social Distancing

    Prologue You don’t have to listen to me. But it may serve you well if you do. More importantly, it may serve someone else well. And so, let me share with you something that has the potential to be one of the best choices you’ve made during this pandemic. In This Time of Self-Quarantine and Social Distancing… I’m a teacher. I’m a writing professor. I teach people about writing. I’m also a professor of communication, and I just finished instructing two courses in interpersonal communication. We dissected theories and concepts, nonverbal and verbal communication, work relationships, friendships, and love relationships, self-disclosure, reciprocity, and so many other things about relationships. In…

  • Two Books Down So Far in 2018; Letters to Write

    The other day, I blogged my post-Christmas letter, which really wasn’t too much of a Christmas letter at all, replete with all the “what our family has been up to;” in fact, it was more of a review and a what-I-got-out-of the book The Man Who Invented Christmas letter. That was the first book I completed in the New Year. I can now check another book off my 2018 READING LIST: Marisa de los Santos’s wonderfully cheeky and heartwarming first book, Love Walked In. The book was my choice for tonight’s book club meeting, as I’ve wanted to read it for years, ever since my mother stuffed it into my…

  • The Letter in the Desk | An Excerpt | Friday Fiction

      * * * Unfortunately, this week I am too busy to write a new Friday Fiction post. However, I thought I would share a post I discuss with my students in class. I wrote this short piece called “The Letter in the Desk” when I was working on my MFA. The prompt, again from Brian Kiteley, is from The 4 A.M. Breakthrough, which asks writers to “work with a character you’re very familiar with—someone from a novel you’ve abandoned, a series of stories, or at least a story you’ve worked hard on but have not finished. The character is waiting for someone she knows very well in something like…

  • A Letter from A (Male) Reader

    I was so flattered last night by an email my husband received from his friend, Bob Cusack. An old college friend, Bob is the managing editor of The Hill, which makes his comments to me even more special, because he is a successful writer, editor, and a member of the Screen Actors Guild. His words to my husband last night were touching, and he has permitted me to share them with you today. Thanks, Bob. When I read something like this, it makes me happy that I decided to self-publish “Beneath the Mimosa Tree,” and it encourages me to persevere and finish writing “Baseball Girl.” Thank you for taking the…

  • My Noteworthy Love Affair

    “What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.” ~ Liz Carpenter What makes a noteworthy love affair? That your heart goes a-flutter and warms your soul to the very core. At the book club I attended last week, we talked about what this generation of children will be missing. We all agreed that they will be missing love letters. They will be missing the opportunity to create a box and save all the letters and notes that have been written to them over the years. You can’t save a text and box it up. Or an email. Where’s the romance in that? I wouldn’t…

  • Mimosa Trees & Christmas Trees: A Letter From A Reader

    This morning, I thought I’d share a letter I received from a reader. Dear Stephanie, I read your novel, “Beneath the Mimosa Tree,” and enjoyed it from the first page to the last. It’s such a perfect read for this time of year! While your title reflects something that happened “under the tree,” I wanted to tell folks who haven’t read the book what a perfect time of year it is to read this novel. It takes place primarily in the fall season, and moves through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The sweetness of the characters as the plot unfolds makes it a perfect book to cuddle up with as…

  • For Valentine’s Day: Text Messages Are Not Substitutes For Cards

    *** As Valentine’s Day approaches, let’s just set the record straight—and not just for Valentine’s Day, but as a year-round clarification. Sending “lovey-dovey” text messages are not permitted as a substitute for sending a heartfelt card or letter to someone you care a great deal for this holiday. There, I’ve said it. (And I promise you, I do not work for Hallmark, nor am I employed by the U.S. Postal Service). Months ago I offered instructions on how to write a love letter (click here to see it). How often do we really take the time to pen something in our own hand, scrawl heart-felt words on paper, and give…

  • A Belated Thanks to Mrs. S—

    Today I found a letter from 1982. It is from my high school creative writing teacher, Mrs. S—. I was extremely fond of her, though admittedly, a little intimidated as well. She was kind enough to write me a recommendation letter to go along with my college application forms and essays. I have retyped it with my own comments regarding this particular letter in parentheses and italicized them. The letter reads as follows: Gentleman: (Notice the formality of the salutation! I love it!) Miss Stephanie Parrillo (maiden name) has distinguished herself as a serious and conscientious student who performs excellently. (Perception is everything.) Academically, Stephanie earns above average grades. (My…

  • Nostalgia

    Have you ever experienced one of those freaky moments where you ransack the bins you have in storage, the ones that house collections from your previous life, with previous friends and lovers, looking to see what you considered worthy of saving? There’s the high school box, the college box, the “when I was a small child” box, the wedding box, the “I had my first kid box,” all jammed into a room that houses items you know desperately need to be dissected, tossed, or burned. (Incidentally, the poor second child and any who come after that are lucky if they even get a box). Nevertheless, the room smells of nostalgia–the…