Should we let a family member read our drafts?

When I finished revision nine of my novel, I decided to let my husband read it. He’d been asking for a long time, and I always held back from letting him. I had heard early on that asking family members – especially such close ones – and good friends to read our work could be a problem. It they hate the work they would be reluctant to tell the truth, and if they love it, they may have a subjective rather than objective point of view. Well, I decided to risk it anyway, and considering how hard he worked on reviewing, I’m not sorry. He saved a copy and renamed it with his initials and started going through it – marking edits and/or typos in red font and inserting questions and comments along the way highlighted in yellow. He also created a separate timeline in a Word table. That is really his forte – he’s a numbers guy. And, he found a lot of inconsistencies in my dates (my novel is divided in three parts – each starting with a date in story’s history) and inconsistencies in the birth … [Read more...]

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Come on over to the Sunscreen Film Festival West

Our son and daughter-in-law's film, "Gentlemen's Fury," will be shown at the Sunscreen Film Festival tomorrow, Saturday, October 7 at 5 pm in Hermosa Beach, CA.  Please come on over and become a part of all the excitement. The film is hilarious. Go to  http://ssffwest.com/ for more info and tickets. Gentlemen's Fury is about a professional tennis player, Aaron Faust, who goes on a desperate mission to prove that tennis is not a soft sport by punching an opponent and joining a cult. He had a promising career as a professional tennis player. But he also had a few issues. Suspended by the ATP for brawling with an opponent, his life has taken a turn for the worse. During a particularly dark period, he encounters Dwayne, an intense and charismatic zealot, who recruits Aaron for Gentlemen’s Fury, an underground tennis league that just might not be strictly about tennis. Gentlemen's Fury stars: Ben Sharples, Jake Head, Audrey Ellis Fox, Kyle Leibovitch, Taishi M … [Read more...]

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Writing poetry again

I’ve been writing poems to Writers Digest Poetic Asides blog editor, Robert Lee Brewer’s prompts for years – at least since 2009 when I first entered his poem a day challenges in November and April. As a result, I have reams of poem-a-day poems, and poems to his Wednesday prompts. Right now, my Wednesday prompt document is eight-three pages and has 27,084 words. So when I decided to declare victory on my novel – at least for now, I thought: why not go back to my Brewer poem document and write poems for all the prompts I’ve skipped over? I missed quite a few in the last few weeks because I was working, and I’m sure there must be many throughout the document as a whole. Another thing I want to look at is: are there any good enough to submit for publishing? As far as I know there is only one – the first one on the list – that’s been published (actually twice). Here’s the prompt and poem. For this week’s prompt, write a box poem. This poem is either about a box or includes a box so … [Read more...]

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Traditional or self-publishing: that is the question

  It’s time to report back about the status of my novel. First of all, I’m happy to say I’ve completed revision nine. The purpose was to cut out unnecessary words and bring my word count more in keeping with the number agents and publishers suggest. After I added a lot of needed new material, as suggested by my critical assessment editor, my word count grew from 85,000 to 103, 052 words. So, my goal was to cut at least 5,000 of them. I’m happy to say I exceeded my goal, and cut 5,675 words. Hopefully I didn’t cut anything that I’ll have to put back later. My next job is to break up several long chapters into smaller ones. That is an easy fix. And now I feel I’m at a point to think about getting my book published. The question is, should I shop around for an agent or publisher or should I self-publish? That’s a question I never thought I’d be asking. I’ve always said I didn’t want to self-publish. I didn’t self-publish my memoir, so why go that route with my novel? … [Read more...]

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Honoring the International Day of Peace

In honor of the International Day of Peace on September 21st, my friends Alice and Richard Matzkin asked me to share this short heartfelt video with my friends. In these times of violence, hate, and imminent threat of war it is important to spread the message that we each have the capacity to cultivate peace within ourself and our loved ones.  Like a candle flame that is passed on from person to person, that peace can expand out and light the entire world. The video, narrated by author Richard Matzkin, is the Afterward from Richard's dual award-winning book, LOVING PROMISES: The Master Class For Creating Magnificent Relationship. The original music is composed by Grammy Award winning composer/pianist Roger Kellaway. "Peace in the world will not happen by force and decree. It will happen one heart, one mind, one person at a time. That person is you." This is the message of this short visual poem about personal responsibility for planetary peace. If this powerful truth has touched y … [Read more...]

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I loved the movie, Rebel in the Rye

I don’t care what the reviews say or what the rotten tomatoes score is, I loved the movie, "Rebel in the Rye." It kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Maybe it’s because I was and still am a huge fan of J.D. Salinger and his novel and short stories. And maybe it’s because I am a writer. My first thought as I left the theater yesterday is that I must tell my writer friends to see it. I think every budding writer should see it. The teaching of Salinger’s professor Whit Burnett, a lecturer at Columbia University, editor of Story magazine, and a mentor of young Salinger, played by Kevin Spacey, and the encouragement he got from Dorothy Olding, the loyal agent who supported the young Salinger throughout his career, played by Sarah Paulson, is something all writers should strive for. This movie also gave me a greater understanding of Salinger’s decision to become a recluse and never publish again. He suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome as a result of his World War II ex … [Read more...]

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Eric Trant returns to Choices. Hello Eric!

Please welcome Eric Trant back to Choices - his second stop on his WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. His new book, Risen, is in the historical supernatural fiction genre. How much more creative can a guy get! Before I go into details about the book, Eric will share his thoughts about a career in the arts - something I can seriously relate to. My husband worked his entire career in science and engineering (I like to call him a rocket scientist), and I worked as a technical writer in the aerospace business. However, both our sons chose careers in the arts. Our older son was an accomplished jazz musician and composer before his untimely death in 1999, and our younger son is an actor and movie maker. However, each found realistic ways to earn a living while pursuing their dreams - one as a computer expert, and the other is a tennis instructor. Eric Trant has some very wise words about the situation we and so many other parents find ourselves in. "Is a Career in the Arts … [Read more...]

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Review number 220 is a true gift

Thank you, Janine Ward, for this sensitive and insightful review of Leaving the Hall Light On.  I won't say more. The review speaks for itself. Inspirational. For anyone who has known untouchable, unimaginable grief that no one deserves and on one survives without lifetime scars, Madeline Sharples' Leaving the Hall Light On is a must read. It is a book that will shine light into the broken crevices of the soul, and if you are healing, if you feel you are alone, Madeline's book is the perfect company. It is her transformative story about accepting the grief of unanswerable questions, parenting into the unknown territories of mental illness, losing everything and deciding to live anyway. Along the way she describes it in detail, the intersections she crossed and why she turned the way she turned, proving that anyone can survive anything if we put our minds into it and one foot forward, one day at a time. Joy can return, it will never be the same but the capacity to accept what it … [Read more...]

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Eclipse – The Path to Totality

We saw the total eclipse of the sun in: Silverton, OR Silverton is in the path of totality for the Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017! Observers there will see (approximately) 1m 46s of totality! Here's what I've written about it so far. Eclipse – The Path to Totality We planned for months to travel to Oregon to see a total eclipse of the sun – the first time visible coast to coast in the US since 1918. My sister picked a gorgeous garden, the Oregon Garden, in Silverton for our viewing. She also invited friends and our nephew from Seattle and his family. Before we left LA people warned the crowds would be horrendous, the traffic bumper to bumper for miles, and it gave me pause. Should we still go on this trip to see a once in a lifetime occurrence that would last less than two minutes? Of course, we went. My husband, an amateur astronomer, would have it no other way. And we were not disappointed. We left Portland in the dark of the morning … [Read more...]

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Where I’ve been

I apologize for the scarcity of my blog posts lately. I've gotten very involved in a consulting job over at the aerospace company I used to work for and that has taken up most of my energy. And the problem  is, I don't see an end of the work in sight. Although I don't want to go on a complete vacation from blogging, I feel I have to cut back. I've already done that to my small stones writing regime, my work on my novel, and my attendance at  writing group meetings. Unfortunately, when I accept a consulting job, most everything else suffers. However, some interesting things have happened as well. I belong to a wonderful group called South Bay Cares that was founded as a source of education and to be an arbiter of positive action so that members can be the change that we want to see in the world. Our motto is: Educate. Empower. Engage. And a couple of weeks ago we hosted an event at our local independent bookstore: Pages: a bookstore with the cinematographer and two of the writer … [Read more...]

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July Journeys – small stones yet again

In July we were asked to write small stones about our journeys. That put me in a bind, since I don't like to announce on social media when I'm traveling. It turns out we did travel in July - to Chicago, Green Lake WI, New York City, and Washington DC, but none of my July small stones refer to that trip at all. I must say it was a great trip - one for seeing friends and family. We also went to the Art Institute to see Gaugin, Millennium Park, the Yale art museum, the Morgan Library, the Modern Museum of Art, a couple of great New York plays, and a most special adventure - a visit to the new National Museum of African American Culture on Constitution Avenue in DC. Since I'm working part time this month and taking a writing class, I've decided to take a little break from small stone writing. I'm happy I was able to keep it up for eleven months. For sure I'll get back into it when the rest of my life relaxes a bit. In the meantime, here are my July small stones, called July … [Read more...]

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Reading at Vroman’s Bookstore on August 6

I'm so excited about being one of twelve authors picked to read at this IWOSC event on Sunday, August 6 I just had to share it with you. If you live in the Los Angeles or Pasadena, please come on over to Vroman's Bookstore. Come hear what other members are working on. "IWOSC Reads Its Own" is Sunday, August 6, from 2 - 4 p.m. View this email in your browser IWOSC Reads Its Own   Sunday, August 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. – Everyone is invited! Twice a year IWOSC presents a special FREE event, “IWOSC Reads Its Own,” a spellbinding afternoon of eclectic, eccentric, and exemplary works – from poems to true stores to hilarious monologues and beyond, read aloud by distinguished IWOSC scribes. A dozen of IWOSC’s talented member writers will read short excerpts from their work. Their selections may be published, unpublished, or w … [Read more...]

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Still here – old memories and feelings of guilt

I received a surprise Facebook private message two mornings ago that brought up a lot of old memories of our deceased son Paul and many old feelings of guilt about what I could have done to save him. Even though he's been gone from our lives for almost eighteen years, those things can come up without warning any time of day or night. The note, I'm sure, didn't intend to promote those old feelings. It was a lovely compliment about my book and how my book will help the writer with her work as a therapist. However, when I read it at four in the morning, I was through sleeping for the rest of the night. Here's the message I received from a young woman who was in Paul's high school class at Crossroads in Santa Monica. I don't remember ever meeting her until she asked me to be her Facebook friend a few weeks ago. "For seven years Leaving the Hall Light On was on my Amazon wish list because I graduated from Crossroads with Paul. When we found out at our reunion that he had died fr … [Read more...]

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Honoring Bereaved Parents Month

Thank you, Donna McGrew Anderson, administrator of the Facebook group TCF* - Loss to Suicide and fellow bereaved parent, for posting this in honor of Bereaved Parents Month. "Even as I rocked on my knees, howling, I detected soft breathing behind the roaring. I leaned in, listened. It was the murmuring of ten million mothers, backward and forward in time and right now, who had lost children. They were lifting me, holding me. They had woven a net of their broken hearts, and they were keeping me safe there. I realized that one day I would take my rightful place as a link in this web, and I would hold my sister-mothers when their children died. For now my only task was to grieve and be cradled in their love." excerpt from CARAVAN OF NO DESPAIR released by Sounds True. "Although this piece speaks of Mothers, it applies to all parents who have lost their children. They have an overwhelming need to hold another grieving parent. To hug them, sit with them in the darkness, to say you … [Read more...]

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Small stones in June

We wrote Jewels of June last month. It's always fun to have a little bling in our lives. And Happy Fourth of July, everyone! It’s June 1st and the sun is as bright as a jewel. What happened to our usual June gloom? I’m feeling so sad and embarrassed for my country – sad, angry, depressed, and hopeless. We have tickets to see Wonder Woman later this afternoon. I can’t wait. Lynda Carter in the TV version was one of my heroes growing up. And this new movie is said to be flawless and powerful, a good example for girls. Definitely see Wonder Woman. Take your daughters, nieces, moms, grandmas and/or granddaughters! Support women's films! The men you know might like it too. Please accept my condolences for those who died during the attack in London on Saturday, and I wish speedy recoveries for the many who were injured - physically and emotionally. I am embarrassed by my president’s attack at London’s mayor. Cool, dark, breezy. Nothing jewel-like about this day. Not a bit … [Read more...]

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Three things

First. This is the last day the Kindle edition of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, will be on sale for $.99. So please grab your copy before midnight. Here’s what a few reviewers had to say about it: ...Leaving the Hall Light On left me in tears. It is a heart wrenching book; I could not put it down.  Anyone who wants to learn how to live with children or adults with bipolar disorder, must read this book. ...I could imagine that this book might be helpful for those dealing with bipolar disease or suicide in the family, but for those of us fortunate enough not to have yet experienced those problems, it also provides a very real look into how good but human people deal with the cruelty of fate. ...Suicide does not just end one life, it can destroy others. Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide is the story of … [Read more...]

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Novel successes and woes

I’ve been glued to my chair working on my novel for months: writing new scenes, converting dialogue into inner monologues, changing tense from present to past, creating new chapters where three asterisks indicated breaks in the text, and generally editing as I went through it over and over again. A little bit about my new scenes* process: I marked up my manuscript to indicate where (with page number) a new scene was needed and what the scene should consist of. I highlighted that marker in yellow. I then copied the marker and pasted it in a new document called New Scenes. I created the new scenes in the New Scenes document – without touching my original manuscript. When I finished creating the scenes I edited them several times to make them as mature as my original manuscript, already in its eighth draft. Then I merged the scenes into the manuscript, starting from the end of the book, so I wouldn’t mess with the page numbers And as I copied and pasted the ne … [Read more...]

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Peach Ping

Last night at the end of our Father’s Day dinner, our son asked me if I had my mom’s recipe for Peach Ping. And he wanted to know if I would give it to him – or better yet – make it for him. I told him not only did I have the recipe; I would gladly make it. And that simple question brought up a very sad memory. The last time I made it was in August 2013, a few months before our dear friend Cynthia died. I made dinner for our group of friends, including Cynthia and her husband, and baked my mom's peach ping for dessert. That was the last time all eight of us were together. I found the recipe in my mother’s recipe box. One of these days I will copy the recipes – each one meticulously typed on now-yellowed four by six cards – and publish them in a book to share with my family. Here’s the recipe for Peach Ping: 10 to 12           peaches ½ cup             butter or margarine 1-1/2 cups      brown sugar, packed 1 tsp                grated lemon peel 2                   … [Read more...]

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#Resist March/LA! Pride – what an event

Sunday June 11, I participated in the #Resist March with my South Bay Cares group. We took a bus from Manhattan Beach to Hollywood and Highland. We arrived at eight and started walking at ten in the morning, ending up in West Hollywood at Melrose and San Vincente. Although the march website said we would walk a little over three miles, my Fitbit said I walked over five. And I must say it was a great people watching and sign watching event. A highlight of the day was meeting and taking a group photo with  Ted Lieu, who is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing California's 33rd congressional district since 2015 (our district). And that's me with the pink hat standing right next to him. Also note our new South Bay Cares banner and logo and our great event T-shirts. Here are some of the photos I took.   … [Read more...]

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May flowers and memories (small stones)

I just finished my tenth month writing small stones. The only break was during  my husband's Grand Canyon accident and recovery in November - December 2016. Here are my May small stones, including a couple of photos I posted with the words. By the way, the admin of the small stones  Facebook page, Ger O Neill, creates a new name for our group every month. Last month the name was May flowers and memories. This month we're writing Jewels of June. May flowers and memories May Day and the beginning of mental health month. A great day for people watching and writing at a little café. Congress is trying to decimate mental health care. If they pass the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA), millions of Americans will lose their mental health coverage. Please tell your congress representatives to vote No on AHCA. How can so many things in my house go wrong at the same time? My stove cooktop, a water heater, and dryer are all dead. And service people are nowhere in sight. Frus … [Read more...]

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