The above image shows you what it looks like when you go into Kindle Vella (KV) to read. I read on my laptop or my phone. I don’t own a Kindle or an iPad or tablet.

In my opinion, it is a bit strange, because it is trying to mimic a book page, but it ends up being long and thin.

But, I love it. It’s fun getting it ready, posting it. I love creating my goofy polls, which, honestly, no one is taking, but I am trying to make them anyway, just in case, and, also, because they give you a little insight into me.

In many ways, this is not the kind of book me, today, would write. I had the idea, I sadly must admit, quite some time ago, but being an adjunct I never had time to finish it. And that is why I started saying, “Finish your damn novel!” because it is what I say to myself, inside my head, all the time.

This book, frankly, was inspired by the book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Bien, and not by The Godfather by Mario Puzo, though I read that too, as a kid, and loved it, but I was under the age of 10, and I haven’t read it since. LOL. No, this definitely was sparked by my O’Brien loyalty. I love that novel, and I taught that novel as often as colleges would allow me to, for over 20 years. O’Brien’s writing is some of the best. I would venture to say I have whole sections of the book memorized. And, of course, I’ve sold many copies of the book for the man.

(Small side story, I wanted to go to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, but I never applied, because my boyfriend begged me not to. My grad school poet friend applied and got in, and she told me that O’Brien came as a guest lecturer, and she and he were an item. I asked my friend to ask O’Brien to sign my book, but she refused. I don’t know whether or not her story was true, but I know that soon after our friendship fizzled because she would always make plans with me, and then cancel them because she brought some guy home from a bar. “Oh, Baby Di,” she would say, “I miss you, but I need to fuck Jake some more today. Can we exchange those theater tickets for next week?” More or less, she has what I really thought I wanted, a published book of poetry (or two) and a full-time creative writing gig. Her parents could not be persuaded to be interested in their children, and I think we shared that need for attention from some authority figure. In any case, I never got my book signed. I wonder if she got hers signed.)

This is not the kind of book I thought I would write, but have loved writing it and sharing it. It feels so different from me in topic and tone, but I do like my wordplay, and that definite feels like me to me.

I’m going to put in the first chapter here, in case venturing to KV is not your thing, and I’d love to know what you think. My biggest hope is that the book, though on a stereotype, the mafia novel, does not come across as “been there done that.” I hope I have freshened it up a bit.

Will releasing it on Kindle Vella first create any buzz for the eventual paperback? I don’t know, but I really am loving the process, and I hope Simona finds herself some readers.

To see the book on KV, click here.

Last week’s chapter/episode was called “Waking the Dead,” and it was the first chapter where Simona, the mother of Angel (who is, of course, Simona’s son) is alive, and we both see and hear her, the priest, Father Vuono, and Angel’s father, Remo. This week the chapter/episode is called “Waking the Living.” Can Angel get his shit together to do what his boss needs him to do? His Uncle Chickie is sure gonna try to get Angel to do just that.



One of the first things I like to have on my tree is a remembrance of pets past. Bebe was a tiny Yorkshire terrier that my father bought my mother for her birthday when I was 16. She spurned my mother and moved into my room, and later moved out when I moved out, and stayed with me until I had just nudged past 32. She was a great woman: feisty, in control, discerning (obviously!) and she liked me best. I made that heart when I was 16 out of an aluminum tray. NOT high art, but the love is there all the same.


This one is for my current dog, Oliver. When he was a puppy-still (just over a year old) he came from an over-crowded hi kill shelter to the DELCO SPCA and then to a foster, and then us. I bought a pack of wooden ornaments for Sophie to paint as a craft, and this one she was supposed to paint Oliver, but he, spay terrier puppy mutt, got it and chewed it up. This is self-decorated by Oliver then, as he is still a snazzy puppy mutt almost 8 years later.


This is is one of the first ornaments I eve bought for myself when I had my first tree in my apartment. It is from my beloved and dearly departed Pier 1, and it is made of some sort of reed or palm, and is a Santa head shaped like a half moon. I was deeply into all things moon in those days, so I am sure that is part of what attracted me to it. I though it was folks-arty, which I am, and a clever interpretation of Santa. And I have had it now… well… since the 1980s!


This is an ornament that someone gifted to me because of my love of Asian food in general, and I was going through a heavy pho period at the time. OMGosh I love pho. I love the Asian custom (at least in China and Vietnam) of having soup as breakfast. I love soup for breakfast!

I have to tell you a funny pho story. You may not know this, but pho is actually pronounced FUH. Someone once razzed e about it. “Oh! You’re one of those people who has to say Eeee-ron instead of I-ran, aren’t you? And so you have to say FUH instead of FOE like a normal person.” Hmmm… yes, for better or worse, I am the person who cares about the pronunciation, and if they say FUH in Vietnam, then so will I.

In any case, the funny part is when we lived in the San Fernando Valley there was a restaurant name Pho King.

Do you get it? You do if you pronounce it correctly. 😉


This is an ornament I bought for Sophie, for her future grown-up tree. It is on of her favorite (and one of my favorite too!) foods: cotton candy! What’s not to like?


Sophie was still teeny when I bought this, handmade on Etsy, to help with her Rapunzel obsession. Sophie wore a blond braid on her head every day for two years after seeing Disney’s movie Rapunzel. We all really liked that movie actually, except for the song, “Mother Knows Best,” which I love but can never get out of my head! In any case, Rapunzel is a one of the more girl-power Disney films. We looked it a lot, and Sophie’s preschool was so nice about letting her attend in her blond braid and tutus every day.


When Dave and I got together he already had some ornaments of his own, and this was one of them! Batman, scaling the tree in the center of Gotham. We also have the Millennium Falcom, R2D2, Spiderman… and that tells you a lot about Dave right there. LOL. He also owns some creepy elf-like decorations from the 1960s that should have probably stayed in the 1960s. I’m just sayin’….


I have a wonderfully talented friend who has made me many ornaments over the years. This year she sent me some of her handmade jewelry for my birthday, and she’d put them in boxes she made from old cards. This one was so adorable I stuck a hanger on it and added it to the tree!


This was also from the same friend. RGB was a hero to both of us, and we went to the 1/21/2017 Women’s March on Washington together. My friend and I met in 1974. Yeah. She’s that friend.


When we were living in Delaware, we were only 9 miles from the beach. That was amazing. One year I bought a wreath at the Holly festival there that had this little guy on it. I love him. And I miss being by the sea. I hope to someday be able to look out of my house directly at a body of water. It’s one of my dreams.


When we decided to leave Delaware, we went looking for a place we’d feel comfortable in terms of our values, and a place that had a good (better) school situation for Sophie, and the Los Angeles area had that and two family members too. However, looming large on the list was also D.C. I love D.C. It is lively, fun, into politics, which I am too, and feels like it may be more open to diversity than where we were at the time. One wonderful thing D.C. has is free stuff! Yes, you have to pay to park, but the museums, the National Mall, and the National Zoo, all free, and all fabulous! AND, we always used to rent a weekend at a hotel in December: holiday markets, Zoo Lights, and all the politicians are gone, so the hotel rooms are cheap! Cheap hotel, free admission! You just need to drive there and pack food to eat in order to have a truly inexpensive vacation! It’s almost 100% walkable (for those of you who motor on your legs at all). It’s a great time of year to go, and a fun city in general.


Last in this post (although there are so many more ornaments on the tree) is one of Sophie’s mittens from when we first met her in China. We only have one, and this mitten, I remember, was waaaay to large for her teeny-beany fingers. I love it.

Many of my friends have trees that are worthy of Neiman Marcus, gorgeous, shiny, color-coordinated displays that they change and upgrade every year. And they are lovely, and make me feel luxurious whenever I am able to visit them.

My tree, has always been the same: a live tree, usually fat as Santa, and short, with ornaments gifted or collected or created over the years that may have no connection to one-another… aside from me. My tree always gives me that Crotchet-family feeling of warmth, and enjoying our “not much.” I think I may have often had meager Christmases as an adult, to be frank, but they have always managed to have a tree, and something good to eat, and something good to drink.

I absolutely love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday.

What do you have on your tree?


Aside from world peace and all that good stuff we all want….

All I want for Christmas, purely for myself, is 50 likes!

It feels kinda awful asking, bothering people nice enough to read my goofy blog by asking for likes, but please give me a like!

Merry Christmas to all! (And to all 50 likes? Maybe just to all authors… lol.)


Okay, I am pretty sure this is the original Paul vocal, but not so sure it is the original music. HOWEVER, I am using this clip anyway because you get to see my boyfriends… and Paul gives me that conspiratorial wink at the end. Yeah, 1968 Paul wants to get with me. And you know what? He can. Oh yeah. The door is always open for that guy.

Sally Star, Philly peeps, always played this song on her show on her birthday. She had a crush on Paul too!

O-STARR — Sally Starr, the gun-totin’ cowgirl who rode a palomino with a silver saddle and introduced millions of children in the Philadelphia area to Popeye, Clutch Cargo and the Three Stooges.

My brother, Billy (nicknamed Ear to his friends, but always Billy to me) and I loved Sally and the Beatles. Hell, I wanted to be Sally. I mean, look at her! In fact I am sure my brother introduced me to Sally (and I know he’s responsible for The Beatles), and he and I loved The Three Stooges and Bullwinkle! My poor baby sister, Lee, came a lot of years later, and she missed out on all of that. 😦 But I know I definitely wanted a sister, not a little brother, and in that aspect I lucked out. And my brother, as usual, was gracious about me winning (we had a bet; he bet on brother).

I have NEVER liked being sung to. First of all… SHY PeRSON! For fucks’ sake, please don’t sing to me in a public place! OMG, people. Secondly the song Americans sing is almost a dirge; it’s slow and boring and awkwardly high in the middle. My favorite part of it is the “and many more” I always add. Otherwise it kinda blows. Birthday by the Beatles (like most British things over American things) is better. Waaaay better.

But the Beatles song, “Birthday,” makes me glad to be alive. And YES, shy or not, I will freaking karaoke and dance, while sober, if you dance with me! Can’t we go singing and dancing? OMG, why did all the singing and dancing stop in 1986??? I have more in me!

Today is also the day I first held Sophie (though I think it was 12/21 in China), and pretty late at night, after we flew 2-3 hours from Beijing to Nanchang in a plane that sounded like an old broken down escalator or monorail. We were sure we were going to die, but we had no choice but to get on that plane and go, and then drive 2 more hours through the cold dark to Nanchang proper to receive the best addition to our lives that we (Dave, my spouse) and I could ever imagine. Poor Sophie had been waiting in the lobby for 4+ hours, bundled up like it was arctic winter, so she was as red as a beet, and her nanny handed her to us, and then all the SWI staff headed out for the two hour drive home. Just like that, the only people Sophie had ever known left her and disappeared. Well and truly dumped, with us. They left her with the weirdos. And ever since then my birthday has been more lovely and more sweet, and less about me, which is good too.

Aw, my spouse brought me flowers this morning. Amazing!

And I am currently wearing about 8 new pieces of jewelry (why be subtle on your birthday folks?) that my life-long friend and talented artist Krissi made me, including this gorgeous bracelet (green is my favorite color too!):

As for this song… the lightly veiled reason for this shameless post about my own birthday, I could listen to this any time of the year, and all day long. It’s a great song! It’s all about rocking out, and so is this old lady! Listen to it; you’re gonna love it. And hey, you should own The White Album anyway. ON VINYL. That’s right, buy a record player and experience it!! I love vinyl! More snap crackle and pop than Rice Crispies!

So yeah, they say it’s my birthday ((my happy birthday as my sister always says), and it freaking is!!

I’m glad it’s my birthday… happy birthday to me…


Anyone who knows me well has heard me rave about Tom Robbins. One story that I especially like about him is that, along the path of his career, he found drumming. Like Ringo, drumming, but more like a drum circle sort of drumming, as I understand it. Why?

If you know Robbins you know he is a slow writer. He’s not cranking out a book a year, and he is, for me, perilously old now… meaning I might not get another book out of him.

Robbins, one of the most unique writers ever, uses drumming to help him find the music and rhythm in his writing, and also to fight procrastination. When the mind wanders, as Robbins’ mind surely must, the drumming helps him refocus on his writing.

What can you do with a writing coach? You can meet, as often, weekly, or as little, every other month, as you like, but when you meet with me you will have to hand over some of your writing: a page, a chapter… you’re going to get there. We can work on your schedule; we can read your work to each other to check on the music and rhythm in your writing; we can try exercises; we can craft your online author presence. I help you give your writing the time, grace, and respect it needs, and I make you accountable so that you finish your damn novel. Robbins has a dozen books. That is not enough for me, and I wish he had more. Those books have gotten me through some dark nights, and some long days. Who is waiting for your book? Who will you rescue from a long dark night with your story?

Coaching is so reasonable and so worth it. For $50/hour, and you can split that into 2 half hour meetings if you like, you get editing, planning, encouragement, a clear head, and the friendship you need to get your book done. When you’re Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, I can help you wake up and get to the keyboard. And it’s my favorite thing to do, after reading Tom Robbins, that is.

BTW, late bloomers, did you know Robbins was just on the cusp of 40 when he published his first book? And it took him 2 years to write it?

And did you know that all coaching inquiries come with a free hour-long Zoom meeting to talk about what you want and if coaching is right for you?

If you really want to be a writer, and you have an idea, or many ideas, but you just don’t know if you can do it… if you just don’t know if you are an author, but you want to be, coaching can get you there.

Good luck with your book~

Much love~ Dianne, possessor of an MA and an MFA, writing teacher and encourager for over 20 years, and Tom Robbins’ #1 fan. My favorite book: Still Life With Woodpecker.

Find out all about coaching, shoot me an email (dianne@devilspartypress.com) or fill out the nice form Dave made.


Luanne was my teacher back in the day!


Anthology looking for submissions. The deadline has been changed to January 15, 2023. Also, just so you know, Ana Castillo had to step away from editing. The other information on the flyer is correct.


HoLeY mOLeY… thanks to a concerted effort by family and friends, 29 humans have read and liked my first two episodes! Amazing, and I thank you!

THIS is, currently, only available to read on Amazon. You have to sign in to like it, and, Amazon is currently only allowing USA-based folks to read and like. As is usual with Amazon, they want to see if people are interested before they wade all the way in.

I have a new episode/chapter coming out on Friday, 12/9, and I wonder if I can get to an even 30 readers by then!

I am really curious if people will be interested in the book through the whole process, chapter by chapter.

At the end, we’ll publish it as a paperback.

In the meantime, if you want to take a look, please do. Writers like me live and die based on someone exactly like you being kind enough to take a look. Yes, you have to be signed in and in the USA to leave a LIKE, but the first 3 chapters/episodes are FREE to read!

Last week I sent an email to everyone I could think of, and that helped.

And, I have to say, it was super-awkward asking. It is tough to ask people for help and favors. I am very good at doing favors, but very awful at asking.

Are you able to easily ask for help?

Please consider helping me by reading a chapter or two if you’re able, and thank you so much!