Will I be able to exercise until I die?

  Today a man at the gym got on the treadmill next to mine and told me I had never answered his question of a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t remember him asking me a question or ever even speaking to me before, so I asked him to repeat it. What he wanted to know was how long are we going to keep up on all this exercise, and without missing a beat, I said until we die. He made a face, so I suspect he didn’t like my answer, but that’s the way I feel. I’ll certainly do it as long as I can. I ended the conversation by saying we can support each other as when we see each other at the gym since we’re both there every day. I asked him his age – seventy-six – and when he told me I exclaimed that I was older much to his surprise. And then we introduced ourselves. He’s the second Mike I’ve seen and said hello to for years at the gym. It's nice to know their names after all this time. Even though I say I plan to exercise for the rest of my life, I have to admit it's getting harder an … [Read more...]

November was a busy writing and reading month

I started this month's blog posts writing about what was going to happen in November. So I thought I'd end November with a review of what I really did - that is, relative to my writing and reading. I just completed  poem number thirty for the Writer's Digest poem a day chapbook challenge. And it was easy to guess the prompt. Robert Lee Brewer instructed us to: "...write a the end poem. It’s the end of the first draft phase of the challenge, so there’s that. But you can also reach the end of a book, journey, or conversation. But journeys never really end, and this challenge will continue on as well. Look for next steps tomorrow." And of course that prompt was right up my alley. I'm working on a new memoir about aging and how I'm planning for the end of my life. I know the subject is a little maudlin though it's not far-fetched. In 2020 I will turn eighty so it's on my mind. Here's the poem I wrote to that prompt - remember it's just a first draft: I’m writing down thou … [Read more...]

Welcome back, Barbara Barth!

Choices is so pleased to welcome Barbara Barth back for her second visit, thanks to WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tours.  She was first here in June, 2010, so of course lots has happened in the meantime. One thing for sure is she's written a new book called The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. And in the last ten years she has been fortunate to have many girlfriends who keep her company and lift up her spirits. Here's Barbara and how she's thrived surrounded by her girlfriends. My Women Friendships by Barbara Barth  I am always perky in my writing, always upbeat, and hate to complain, but of course, I do at times. My girlfriends know that about me, which is a wonderful thing. I can gripe, let my hair down, and not worry someone will judge or criticize me. Instead, a downbeat moment becomes laughter and I need that. Girlfriends that are kindred spirits, some I’ve known all my adult life and some more recent that I’ve cliqued with, who are strength when I feel a bit lost, … [Read more...]

Please don’t mind my asking

I'm going to be blunt. This post is going to blatantly ask you to buy a copy of my historical novel Papa's Shoes (Aberdeen Bay, April 2019). It's sales are very slow; however it's gotten some fantastic reviews. Hopefully after you read the three latest ones, you'll want to read Papa's Shoes too, and even write a five-star review of your own. 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book! November 12, 2019 Format: Paperback Oh, this was such a wonderful book. I thought the author captured the time period so well and really brought me close to what it must've felt like for someone to be new to America and trying to assimilate and get comfortable. The family relationships were done so well and the Yiddish terms used throughout the book just added to the experience of feeling close to this family. Honestly, the ending of the book enticed me to want to know more about what happens in this family and I hope there is a part two! *** 5.0 out of 5 … [Read more...]

Poem a day samples

I've been starting my writing day off by writing to the Writer's Digest November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge daily prompt. I've found it's a great way to jump-start the rest of my writing for the day. As usual I don't find writing the response very hard. But I've always written my poems rather quickly. That doesn't mean I don't go back to reread and edit them. I just put down the draft quickly. I also like trying to figure out how to respond to some very quirky prompts. Another thing I do before I begin my own writing is read the Writer's Digest poetry editor, Robert Lee Brewer's, poem to his own prompt. They are definitely worth taking a look at - some of his poems are a little quirky too. With him, almost anything goes. And since you haven't joined me in the challenge , I'll bring a few prompts to you.  Although I won't publish my entire poem results from these prompts, I've share a few lines. That's in case I want to submit them elsewhere that won't consider a poem … [Read more...]

What’s happening in November?

To begin with I joined the November poem-a-day (PAD) chapbook challenge, always led by Robert Lee Brewer, Writer’s Digest poetry editor. He does this challenge twice a year. The next one will be in July. I think it’s a wonderful exercise. He provides the prompts which are sometimes silly and not like anything I would choose to write about on my own, yet they give me the little bit of push I need to keep at my poetry writing. Today is Day 4 and the prompt is: For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Night (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: “Night Hawk,” “Night Rider,” “Night and Day,” “Night Watchman,” or even “Nightmare.” I haven’t written to this prompt yet, but I will share what I wrote to the Day 1 prompt: Write a once upon a time poem. The title of the poem could be “Once Upon a Time,” or the first words could be. Or you could do what I did in my attem … [Read more...]

Why Trump needs to be defeated in 2020

I don't normally post such blatant political writing, but this one is so spot on, I wanted to share it with you. It's no secret I'm all for defeating Mr. Trump in 2020. This piece convinces me even more as to why. Thank you Nate White for writing it. Posted by ANGELO GOODE | PHILIPPINES VICE-CHAIR AND DATABASE MANAGER June 24, 2019 Article shared by Democrats Abroad Philippines Member Frank Holz, “sent to [him] by a friend, that encapsulates the man we must beat in 2020 (June 24, 2019). Someone asked "Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?" NATE WHITE, an articulate and witty writer from England, wrote this magnificent response: "A few things spring to mind. Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, fun … [Read more...]

A Happy Truth by Daisy A. Hickman

Daisy asked me to read an author's review copy of her lasted book, A Happy Truth: Last Dogs Aren't Always Last, and I'm delighted I did - even though I told her in advance that I'm not a dog person. Just last week our next door neighbors lost their dog who had been their family member for the last eleven years. They are truly grieving over their beautiful Annabelle, but have decided not to replace her. Maybe when they read Daisy's book they will change their minds. About A Happy Truth: Last Dogs Aren't Always Last (in Daisy's words): Do beloved pets hold the key to unlocking the human spirit? Have you ever lost a dog, a cat, but vowed never to get another one? Too sad. Too complicated--is it the right time, the right dog, the right season? But as Daisy Hickman's inspiring memoir reveals, the real story is MUCH bigger than a simple yes or no. Getting from one beloved pet to the next can be an awkward and emotional transition, however. Never "just a dog," "just a cat," after fin … [Read more...]

Stop the stigma

Today CBS television presented an hour show about the need to stop the stigma of mental illness. This is a subject very near and dear to me. As I state in the piece I've posted below, I truly believe that had my son been open about his bipolar disorder and got the help he needed from family, friends, and doctors he could still be alive today.  Click here for access to the CBS show. And here are my thoughts: How Do We Stop the Stigma of Mental Illness? My family is rampant with mental illness. But as far back as I can remember not a one of my relatives used those words. My mother told me my grandmother had a “nervous breakdown” after her oldest daughter, my mother’s sister, died of uterine cancer. She was hospitalized and given electric shock treatments and then she seemed fine. Also two of my uncles had to be hospitalized for “depression.” In good times one uncle spoke five languages, remembered stories of his childhood in Lithuania and Russia, and told the corniest j … [Read more...]

My website is back on the air

After five days of being off-line, my website, Choices, is back on the air. And with the promise that it will never go down again. Thank you to my server and maintenance managers, Francisco Artes and Tom McGuire! These guys have my back. Starting tomorrow, I will resume my normal posts. Hopefully, you my devoted readers, will give let me know what kinds of things you'd like me to write about. Until then, please remember I'm the author of these great books - a historical fiction novel and a memoir, and I'm always looking for more people to read them: and … [Read more...]

Yes! Writing is calming

Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer, published by She Writes Press, is a memoir about how Antoinette Truglio Martin found the courage to navigate her first year of breast cancer treatment. It’s the story of how a community—colleagues, family, friends—rallied to support her. The book is moving, brave, informative, and occasionally funny—and it speaks to us all. I turned to journaling when my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and after his suicide death. The page became a healing balm for me. Eventually I included those  journal entries in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Suicide and Surviving His Suicide. Like Antoinette, my writing kept me calm and focused. Here is her essay on how she benefitted from writing in her journals and emailing her community after her cancer diagnosis. How Writing Calms the Nerves by Antoinette Truglio Martin I don’t run. I don’t sit still long enough to mind my brea … [Read more...]

Why I Write and What I Write

I wrote the article below for the Southern Writer’s Magazine’s Blog a few months ago. It is still very relevant now. Why I Write and What I Write At this point in my life by all rights I should be retired. I’ve just turned seventy-nine, and no where does it say I need to keep sitting at my computer every day and write. But I do sit there – usually from ten in the morning until about two in the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll even go back for more later in the day. I got into this habit in the early 2000s when I started writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On (Dream  of Things). That expanded to writing poetry, essays for my blog and other people’s websites, and journaling. By the time my memoir was published in 2011, I was already working on my historical novel, Papa’s Shoes, which has just been released by Aberdeen Bay publishers. And that’s not the end of it. I still write poetry – I write at least one poem a week except in November and April when I write a poem a day to me … [Read more...]

Seven days, seven books

I have accepted a challenge from Linda M. Rhinehart Neas to post seven books I love, one book per day, no exceptions, just covers on my Facebook timeline. Each day I'll ask a friend to take up the challenge. Let's promote literacy and share some good reads. Here are the covers for the seven books I'll post.               Of course these are not all the books I've come to love. That would be a huge list. Please share your favorite books here, and let me know if you've read and liked any of the books I've posted above. … [Read more...]

Two not-to-be-missed movies

I think you know this about me already. I'm a movie freak. I'll go anytime anywhere. Besides the interesting things and wonderful acting I see on the screen, I like the diversion - one of the things that helped save me after our son, Paul, died. So with a date with friends on Saturday night and a completely open day on Sunday I had two opportunities to go the movies this weekend. And I felt we really lucked out. Saturday night we saw Official Secrets and on Sunday we saw The Goldfinch. I highly recommend both. Official Secrets tells the true story of British Intelligence whistle-blower Katharine Gun who, during the immediate run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, leaked a top-secret NSA memo exposing a joint US-UK illegal spying operation against members of the UN Security Council. It stars Keira Knightley, who plays the whistle-blower Katharine Gun; Ralph Fiennes, her attorney, and Matthew Goode, a sympathetic reporter. All were terrific. If you don't know the story you'll find a real … [Read more...]

Thank you, Linda Appleman Shapiro, for your kudos

Thank you, LInda Appleman Shapiro, for your five-star review of my historical novel, Papa's Shoes, recently published by Aberdeen Bay. I hope it encourages many of your readers to find out what's between its covers. PAPA’S SHOES by Madeline Sharples A Must Read!  I was invited by WOW! Women on Writing's virtual blog tour to write this review for PAPA’S SHOES. It has been my great pleasure to do so, especially because I am the daughter of immigrants, similar to those who fill the pages of this remarkable story.  On the dedication page of PAPA’S SHOE’S author Madeline Sharples refers to her grandparents’ courage when immigrating from Poland  to America at the turn of the 20th century and apologizes for her audacity in fictionalizing their story. I immediately felt compelled to experience that “audacity.”I was then held in her grip from the very first page, as she immediately brings to life the many complexities common to all immigrants – the adjustment to a new world with its new wa … [Read more...]

Remembering Paul in poems

In twenty more days it will be twenty years since our son Paul died by suicide. Please bear with me for these days. It's going to be hard to live through them. I told someone yesterday that even after so many years the memories of the day we found him dead are still vivid, and the grief is just as ongoing and encompassing. It is with such sadness that I look at this photo of him smiling next to his girlfriend.  It was  probably one of the last times they were together. I wrote a lot of poems about Paul and his death over the years. I still write poems about him. I'll share some here. A Stone Called Son I sleep with a stone. It's gray and small enough To fit in the palm of my hand. One side is smooth, the other Has the word, son, cut into it. And when I put the stone In the crook of my index finger I can read the word with my thumb. I like to place it between my breasts And feel its coolness on my chest. It quiets the pain in my heart And slows down my he … [Read more...]

My Author Learning Center interview clips

Last March I sat down with the Author Learning Center  President Keith Ogorek for an interview about writing, getting published, and marketing. As its website says: The Author Learning Center (ALC) is a one-of-a-kind online author education community designed to help educate, motivate, and support you at every stage of your writing and publishing journey, including marketing your book.  The ALC offers content on writing, editing, publishing and marketing from a variety of industry experts, agents, best-selling authors, publicists, and editors. In addition, the ALC gives you access to unique tools, the Book Launch Tool and Author Circles, to help you reach your goals. Here are the topics and the interview clips. In the future I'll post other ALC interview clips. Getting a Publishing Deal for My New Historical Novel, Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-Town America (Aberdeen Bay). Getting Reviews and Testimonials Through a Virtual Book Blog Tour … [Read more...]

On a conference panel? Come prepared

Since the publication of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On (Dream of Things), and now the publication of my historical novel, Papa's Shoes (Aberdeen Bay), I've been asked to appear at many writers conference panel discussions. Actually I've been asked to speak on my own - which I did once - but I always prefer to among three to four others on a panel. This last Friday evening I appeared on the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference panel "Writing a Best-Selling Memoir" with four other authors. One authored two biographies of well-known television stars, one wrote a book she called a fictionalized memoir, one was an agent and lawyer who discussed some of the legal issues of writing memoirs, and the moderator, who was a public relations specialist and editor. That said, I was really the only true memoir author on the panel. By the way, the agent/lawyer emphatically said there is no such thing as fictionalized memoir. It's either fiction or memoir, but not both. And I emp … [Read more...]

Joan Baez’ new song is going viral

As a teen ager and young adult, Joan Baez' songs were my fave. I even got to hear/see her in person at the University of California at Berkeley  when I went up there to visit my sister. I still listen to her on my iPhone. I have several of her songs uploaded there. So, it is with great pleasure to share the latest song that she recently published. Here's the article that was published on Thursday, April 06, 2017 by Common Dreams. Joan Baez Goes Viral With 'Nasty Man,' a Protest Song for the Trump Era "Here's a little song/about a man gone wrong/while building up his evil empire" by Nika Knight, staff writer Joan Baez performing in 2015. (Photo: Getty) Joan Baez, protest singer of the peace and civil rights movements of the 1960s, has gone viral with a protest song for today's Trump era, called "Nasty Man." The song features roses in the Rose Garden telling President Donald Trump … [Read more...]

Let’s erase the stigma of mental illness

In the aftermath of the mass killings and injuries in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio this past weekend, I've been thinking a lot about the role people with mental illness play in such events. Mental illness runs in my family. My son suffered with bipolar disorder and as a result killed himself almost twenty years ago. But none of the mentally ill people I know (or knew) are violent. My son was a gentle person - so were  my relatives - unless you characterize suicide as a violent act. I don't. I agree with his doctor who said my son had to release the pain he was in and that's why he took his own life. I'm also on the side of a study done in 2017 by MentalHealth.gov. They say: "It is a myth that people with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable." The Fact Is: "The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to … [Read more...]