The Ragwort Chronicles

A very special kind of gnome, those Ragworts are. Everything about them is a bit peculiar.  Not natural farmers, like most of the gnomes of Twistedoak, the Ragworts of Brokenfell march to a different beat. It is rumored that Poppa Ragwort fought in the Blue Azuric Wars  Can you believe, a gnome soldier? They even live is a peculiar type of house.

If the doorway was the mouth, then the windows were the eyes. Nonna Ragwort, Poppa’s wife, made curtains that made the windows look like they had eyelids. At night, candles were lit and put in the windows of the house. As the town gnomes passed by the house, they would tell stories about how the “eyes” of the house followed them. At Halloween, the little ones would dare each other to make faces at the house. Besides the carved out “eyes,” this old stone dwarf wore a helmet. The shape of the helmet made a perfectly good roof. As odd looking as the house was, it was made it warm and comfortable by Nonna Ragwort.

Those Ragworts…

Writing is Fun

I know that I tweeted (almost wrote twittered) this a few minutes ago but last night I was working on Book III of PQ: Across the Elusive Sea and cracked myself up.  Lordy, is my mind gone! Book three has to do with Phillip at sea. How’s that, Katherine!? Any ways, after Edward is captured (almost spoiler), the other two…you know who they are…meet a crew of pirates who will take them across the Carnelian Sea. So, this book will mainly take part at sea! Ergo, sea creatures!!! Yay!!! But not your sea creatures ordinaire–nooooo. These guys are funky.  My fave, so far is the Toll Keeper of Tokken Island. Pretty weird. A mixture of Hannible Lechter and Charlie the Tuna with fish-lips and a little Jabba the Hut  on the side, with a Medusa doo. Hey, I’m easy to entertain!

Across the Elusive Sea, Book III

So, the title is not carved in stone but since Book II is: Above the Stars, I thought that this name would continue the preposition thing.  Of course, I’ve given you a clue about what happen to Phillip, next.  Although I am only 2000+ words into Book III, I can tell you that it will be exciting! All kinds of seaworthy and not so seaworthy creatures and Phillip is getting closer and closer to Winterfrost Castle.  Lots of things are going on with our friends, the Ragworts, too! And Phallow!  Ah, hah!

So, How many have let your children read Phillip’s Quest, Book i:Winterfrost?  Am getting many reviews from adults and how much THEY love it, but c’mon guys, give it to your kids!  No, I love that it’s been read by young and old. Don’t forget to tell your friends.  It’s on Amazon and you can buy it from me, too!

Book II: Above the Stars is out of editing.  As soon as Dean gets the artwork done, end of April, it will be submitted for publication.  We should have that out by the end of the Summer.  Phillip and his friends have gone through Azur’s picture and have landed, with a thump, in Winterfrost! He will meet some cool critters and also some nasty ones.  Razorsnoot is there…farting away, so are the Ragworts, who now have their own series.

A new book is in publication, The Ragwort Chronicles, the Beginning:  The Ragworts of Brokenfell.  This is a shorter book.  It is geared to the younger grades and will be produced in an 8×8 format.  Same great art, recipes and a insight into the Ragwort’s family.  They are pretty interesting!  I would imagine this book will be published and out early Summer.

My dear friend and editor, Katherine calls me, “one prolific lady.”  I guess I am but I’m having a blast!

“and so I said to myself, it’s a wonderful day!”

I knew it would be a wonderful day today.  It seems as if they come in pairs! Yesterday, I had a great time with the Creative Writing Club at Featherstone Elementary School in Woodbridge, Virginia.  This club is organized by a young teacher, Jessica Guerrero and is facilitated by her and another lovely teacher, Mrs. Mc Cloud.  The group consists of children in grades 3-5.  Amazing!  The sweetest children and talented!  My word, some of the stories!  Forget the spelling and punctuation, these kids can write! Oh, how sometimes, I so miss the classroom  

We talked about characters…hey, they were looking at one, or two.  I brought my faithful gnome, dragon and lizard with me.  And, my favorite thing, I got to read to them and left them with some books.  I will be participating in their Book Fair, too! I cannot tell you what a joy it is to be around bright, happy children.  I always thank the Guy upstairs for giving this world hope, through them. So that was good day numero uno!

Then, today,I find out that my dear friend, Debs Pouliot, who I have known since we were both young and gorgeous…she still is, has promoted Phillip through her daughter’s school, in Laurel,  MD.  This woman is, without a doubt talented.  She is a mixed media artist and has taught for Michaels, knows all kinds of crafty celebrities and is making bookmarks and jewelry for Phillip!  Can you believe? She is so cool…remember “make new friends, but keep the old?”  Well, thar ya go!  Debs and I have known each other for years and years and reconnected through FB!

And, a publisher that I rejected…yes, I did…has come back to me again, time number 5, I’m not kidding, to offer yet another suggestion to get my book to him.

I’m back working with my favorite illustrator; Above the Stars will be awesome. Another bonus!   

Am I blessed, or what!!!  My angels are working overtime!  

Yes, good days come in pairs but I wouldn’t mind a three-fer. 


Veni, Vedi…and Valentine Wiskits

Phillip is getting ready for continuing his adventure. He has come across many new and fascinating creatures! 
Have you ever heard of “fainting” goats? Well, they are real! But not the kind that Phillip, Edward and Stinky come across. These, belong to LLamont and LLemura and have 2 heads! Oh! And they’re pink and purple polka dotted. Not the nicest little creatures. If they get upset, their milk turns sour and LLemura can’t make her famous Wiskits.
So, Veni is the lead goat, and very bossy.  Vedi, unfortunately, is the more reasonable one, but doesn’t get far.  Still, it doesn’t take much to make them faint.  Especially, when a big, “Hey, watch those feet!” dinosaur comes up beside them.
The lavender goat’s milk is pretty sweet and LLemura makes the best Wiskits out of it.  I’m sure, LLamont will get them, in the shapes of hearts, tomorrow!
Happy Valentine’s Day, from LLemura, LLemont and the Goats of Phillip’s Quest,  Book II, Above the StarsImage

Welcome to The Ragworts of Brokenfell

I promised a story, and a story, it is!  This is an excerpt from the new book, an interim book, one might say, between “WInterfrost” and “Above the Stars.”  For those of you have read “Winterfrost” you have met this family on the way to the Farmer’s Market. For those of you who haven’t met them before, BUY THE BOOK! Actually, it can be a stand alone book about these charming gnomes and they will have an interaction with the gnomes of Twistedoak. So, for now, meet Rawlink Ragwort…

” Rawlink was small, for a gnome; rather boney and slim.  He had a short dark beard and the sharpest emerald-green eyes. Sometimes, he wore a cap, rather than the normal, pointed, gnome hat.  All of his ways were quiet, he didn’t speak much.  Rawlink’s quietness was very useful. He could sneak up on an animal or one of his brothers and they’d never know he was there. Even though he was small, he was quick. That quickness let him run and hide in the woods when he and his brothers would play “chase and hide.”  He could lead them on a chase for hours.

From the time he could hold a book, Rawlink read incessantly. He’d just as soon read one of Poppa’s books, or whittle something, than go out and play with his brothers. He read anything he could find about the tales of the warrior dwarves and their weapons. It was told that the dwarves used special weapons during the Blue Azuric Wars, against the Red Witch.  Interested by the dwarves bows and arrows, Rawlink spent most of his time carving pictures on the bows and setting stones in the arrows he made.  As he got older, his carving became much finer.  “That Rawlink whittles just like his Poppa,” his dad would proudly say.

Rawlink loved the legends of the Warrior Dwarves and would make up his own stories about them.  He wrote about their riding on giant dragonflies, with purple wings that glowed, even in the dark, and flew faster than an eagle, or of the dinosaurs that they rode into battle and their tails, that with one swipe, could crush a battalion of goblins.  The pick axes and sabers the dwarves used would be made of silver and gold and inset with the most precious of gems. They wore armor crafted by the finest metal smiths and it was so polished, that shine would burn the eyes of their enemies.  He would later read the stories to his sons.

By the time he was ready to go to school, he already knew how to read and write. The gnome had all his stories written in a little book hidden under the straw mattress of his bed, tightly wrapped in an old shirt of his, so his brothers wouldn’t find it.  Rawlink just knew that those dwarves were real.  He carved arrows from the twigs he would find in the Dark Forest and arrow heads from smooth, flat stones.”

The Week That Was!

What a great week!  Besides the freezing cold and snow that surrounded most of the Eastern seaboard, except Florida which, as everyone knows, is really another country, it was an exciting week. (Trust me, it doesn’t take much!)  The wonderful writers/bloggers in Write by the Rails, started their blog tour. The reading has been excellent…some anecdotal, some about their books, all good!  I learned how to get up and running with my blog and web page.  Thank you Katherine Gotthardt!  I’m always excited to meet new people, especially those that are willing to teach.  So, that’s my first bit of excitement.

I live in a condominium and am President of the association.  It’s been seven years of hard labor, but has been worthwhile.  We still struggle, however, with the drug element brought in by some tenants.  Fortunately, I’ve built a pretty good rapport with our local Police Department and have come to know some of the officers, personally.  They really are a great group and I appreciate all they do to help our little community out.  This week, our security cameras picked up a real life COPS episode!  Talk about exciting!!!  You go guys and dog.

Have had friends in and out, all week.  God bless them! They know that when the weather is bad, I’m in. I love that our friends feel so comfortable in our home.  They are all family.  It’s a good thing.

Last but not least, getting an “A” grade from my cardiologist and presenting him with a signed copy of PQ. It wasn’t so long ago that I was in terrible pain and he sat with me when I was so miserable that I didn’t know what to do. He was so happy with getting the book and being able to share it with his girls, 9 and 11, after he read it first!  Phillip, you did good!

And last but not least, the thing that bella Napoli is known for and part of my life’s blood, pizza!  Thick or thin?  Chicago or New York? Sausage or pepperoni? A topic for another blog but, it’s all good!

Told you…it doesn’t take much.

Truth or Dare…A Gnome’s Recipe

Is this recipe a fantasy?  Maybe, maybe not.  It sure sounds good, especially on a very cold Virginia day.

Phillip made this sauce in the Vast Enchanted Forest after he and Edward hadn’t eaten for a whole day. They had just left the Farmer’s Market where Phillip said his “good-bye” to a very unhappy Ivy.  What had happened afterwards, Phillip did not know until Azur broke the news.

It was evening when Phillip and Edward entered the Forest and they were exhausted.

There were many Tree Folk in this part of the forest.  Groups of them line the curvy path and appeared to be engaged in important conversations with one another.  Their twiggy hands pointed and gestured.  One of them glanced over and gave Edward a little wink as the travelers walked by.

Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost, “The Staring Statues”

Edward, the squirrel was always hungry and enough was enough.  He knew that Phillip could not go much longer without food so,

He jumped from tree to tree, for a good hour, while Phillip looked over his maps (they were lost, at this point).  One of the Forest Fathers even helped by shaking his branches and allowing Edward to gather all the fallen nuts!  Phillip then made the sauce with some maters he bought from a dwarf at the Farmer’s Market.

Five or six small ripe maters will make enough for one gnome and one hungry squirrel.

Finely chop the maters up into a hollowed out rock or a saucepan that’s been coated with a little oil.  Simmer the maters until some of the water cooks out.  Put a handful of crushed hazelnuts into the mater sauce with some salt and a bit of black spice (if you have it) and cook until thick.

A perfect meal for day old tater buns and if you’re lost in a vast forest.

…Appendix F: Phillip’s Mater Sauce with Hazelnuts


The Appendices, B-F are recipes that I adapted.  Some important ingredients have been omitted and revised to coincide with the story. Still, an experienced cook could improvise and make with his or her child. Actual recipes will be reprinted here or in an upcoming cook book!

By the way, the artwork for The Vast Enchanted Forest is brilliant!  Please look at the Twisted Oak Press website:, where you can by beautiful art prints from Phillip’s Quest, as well as other art from my collaborator, Dean Kuhta.

You just never know…(la deuxieme partie aka part two!)

Before I begin another blog on how one never knows where life, and blogging will take them, I want to thank ALL of you for viewing, reading and/or commenting on my blogs.  It’s exciting to me, especially because these days, during the “polar vortex,” I remain homebound.  So, i’m thrilled to be able to connect to people all over the world!  Too cool! So, this ol’ girl thanks you for making my life a little more interesting!  Please feel free to comment and/or ask questions regarding “Phillip,” my jewelry, or just moi!

So, to continue…One of my biggest thrills was reuniting with my other Brooklyn cousins.  This time, on my Dad’s side.  Don’t talk to much about the “Old Man.” because, well, to put it bluntly, he was not quite right.  In fact, most of that side of the family were not quite right.  That, is the Sicilian side.  

I reunited with the Rolanti side in 2004, via the internet and through my “dead” cousin, Tommy.  God rest his soul.  Unfortunately, now, he really has passed, but for more than twenty years, the Old Man had told me was dead because he was gay! I’ve let go of a lot of things in my life, but that.  

Tommy was the youngest in the family.  About five,  (I think?) years younger.  When we were growing up, my Mom and I used to go to see my Uncle Victor and Aunt Vera in the Bensonhurst/Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn.  My Uncle used to sometimes drive all the way to Queens, pick us up and drive to their house.  I loved going there because there, I wasn’t the youngest; Tommy was. My cousin Lorraine, who is only nine months older than I were  two of a kind.  We loved the same things.  We still do.  She is the L’Ora of my jewelry line through Bella L’Ora Jewelry and Design. I digress.

My fondest memory is my Mom giving us a quarter($.25) to go get a “slice.” If you have to ask what that means, you’re not a New Yorker or you’ve never been to the City. I can remember, as we were walking down the street, I think 71st Street, to Mario’s, the aroma of the best pizza you ever ate! And, we, Lorraine, Tommy and I had a whole twenty-five cents.  Back then, pizza was ten-cents a slice! Enough for Lorraine, me and well, not for Tom.  Talk about a dejected look, which he perfected, in his later years, it was enough to make you melt!  And melt we did…splitting our pieces so that he got some.  Actually, I think he made out better!

I totally lost contact with all of the Rolanti cousins until 2004 when I was, for whatever reason, Google-ing, our sur name, my maiden name.  I had looked a hundred times before with no results.  It’s an odd Sicilian name and not quite right…seriously.  It had been changed from the actual Sicilian spelling of “RULLANTI,” (did I get that right, Lorraine?) to “ROLANTI,” when my grandfather Francesco, came to America in 1898.  Then, somewhere along the line, it was again incorrectly transcribed: ROLANDO.  So, some of the brothers were ROLANTI and some ROLANDO.  All, not quite right.  Lorraine’s dad, Victor, being the most sane of them.

One morning, for giggles, I once again typed in ROLANTI.  Low and behold, I see:Thomas Rolanti, with the band “Rubberlegs” yada, yada…and there was a website. I originally thought, this must be an obit, but it wasn’t!  So I sent an email and I thought, this is nuts.  A few days later, the phone rang and there was Tommy.  We cried for a long time. I just wanted to hug him.

I got to see Tom, Lorraine, her husband Takeo and my older cousin Vic, in the Summer of 2005. A gift from the Angels. My cousin, Tom passed in 2006, he was honored at PFLAG, that year. My cousin Lorraine was the Maid of Honor at my wedding in 2007.  We speak very, very often. Really, we have never been apart.