A September 11 story – redux

September is always a sad month for me - the anniversary of our son's death on September 23 and the anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy on September 11. How fitting that the Flight 93 National Memorial's Tower of Voices was just finished by Paul Murdoch and a team at his Los Angeles firm, Paul Murdoch Architects. It marks the site in Western Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 struck the earth on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, killing everyone aboard. An architectural rendering for “The Tower of Voices,” designed by Paul Murdoch Architects, in collaboration with a team of engineers, acousticians and one composer. (bioLINIA / Paul Murdoch Architects ) The tower is outfitted with 40 aluminum chimes, one in honor of each passenger and crew member. *** Flight 93 came into focus in our California community shortly after the crash when my friend and jeweler was asked to repair and clean jewelry recovered from the crash site. Here is the story I wrote several years ago ab … [Read more...]

Writing advice from the experts

Some great quotes to get your started on your writing journey.   … [Read more...]

A final report – hopefully!

The last time I reported on my husband, Bob’s, health was July 31. At that time he was still in hospital for the second time in less than a month. I finally brought him home on August fifth, but I must say I didn’t see much improvement until late last week. He was sleeping a lot during the day and night, not eating much, and finding it very hard to get around even with his walker. It was very discouraging - such that I kept telling him I didn’t know how to take care of him. I did, however, keep feeding him. I would make him a smoothie first thing in the morning using Boost with twenty grams of protein, fresh fruit, yogurt, and some sorbet - all flavor coordinated. At first that was enough breakfast, but after a few days he asked for more food - like a couple of fried eggs, a piece of toast with cream cheese and jam on it, or some cheese and crackers. That was the first good sign. As a matter of fact, he started talking about what foods he’d like to eat later in the day. I didn … [Read more...]

VOTE Biden/Harris on November 3

A dear friend sent me an email this morning with the following information. Though he says these points are strictly his, I am in total agreement and decided to share them with my Choices readers. Though I don't get too political here, there are times when it's important to do so. Now is one of those times. We must VOTE and vote Trump out of office. Our democracy depends on it. On November 3, please vote for the Biden/Harris ticket. Here are my friend's words: The Biden/Harris team has now received the Democratic nomination. Now we all must evaluate whether Trump is qualified to stay as president for another four years. Here is my personal analysis of his ability to continue as President. TOPIC: COVID-19 Pandemic Trump said "It is what it is" in a recent interview with Axios. Our President said the Pandemic is under control and the death toll “is what it is." From the beginning of the battle against the virus Trump has declared that the Pandemic is under control and is going a … [Read more...]

Read Absolute. It is a wonderful poem!

I've been reading a poem-a-day in my email input box for years. And every once in a while I come across a poem that seems to take my breath away. The one I'm sharing with you today is that one for now. I hope you love it as much as I do. Congratulations Jacqueline Woodson for your wonderful poem. Absolute Jacqueline Woodson The summer I was ten a teenager named Kim butterflied my hair. Cornrows curling into braids  behind each ear. Everybody’s wearing this style now, Kim said. Who could try to tell me I wasn’t beautiful. The magic in something as once ordinary as hair that for too long  had not been good enough now winged and amazing  now connected  to a long line of crowns. Now connected to a long line of girls moving through Brooklyn with our heads held so high, our necks ached. You must  know this too – that feeling  of being so much more than you once believed yourself to be so much more than your too- … [Read more...]

Yup! A perfect read for these times

I'm so happy to brag that my historical novel, Papa's Shoes, received three five-star reviews in the last week. I hope you'll pick up the book and read it while you're at home during the coronavirus shut down. Then be so kind to write another five-star review. With huge thanks!!! Where I Got the Idea for Papa's Shoes While my husband was writing our family histories some twenty-five years ago, he interviewed some of the elders in our family and collected writings by others. I became very intrigued with what my aunt – my father’s sister – wrote about her life as a young girl when she was well into her eighties. That she wrote a whole page describing her friendship – as she called it – with a young gentile teacher named Merrill Faulk. He would pick her up at her family home and take her to school plays and concerts and then out for a bite afterward. She also wrote that her brother (my father) objected so strongly that he got the family to move to Chicago to get her away from this … [Read more...]

From good to bad overnight

I’m glad to say this month is over. It’s been an awful one. Of course this summer has been hard for all of us now that the coronavirus is reattacking us, but we’ve had other health issues in our home. Yesterday I had to call the paramedics to take my husband Bob to the hospital. His second time there this month. And yesterday’s episode was such a shock. Just the day before he was feeling pretty good. He was eating again, able to walk fine with his walker and go up and down the stairs all right, using his cane. And he even had an online conversation with his doctor who said he looked so well, he didn’t have to see him again until October. When I tried to get him up yesterday and get ready for an in-person doctor’s appointment, he lay there in bed for another hour dozing. I finally had to force him out of bed, and he did manage to get out and use his walker to get to the bathroom. He even gave himself a sponge bath. But afterward it was hard to get him to get dressed. I brought … [Read more...]

Please welcome adventurer, Rita Pomade

We are so happy to host Rita Pomade during her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book/blog tour. Rita is the author of the memoir, Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, the story of two people who meet in Mexico and fall in love.   And we thank Rita for writing this wonderful guest post: The Benefits of Spending Time Abroad When I was a child I refused to finish my porridge and was told to think of the starving children in China. I remember asking where China was and being told it was on the other side of the world. At five years old I started to dig my way there. I dug a hole so deep a board had to be placed over it. The next summer I returned to my hole, and shoveled until I hit water. My trip was aborted. The exploration of another culture would have to wait. As soon as I could afford it, I was off to Mexico. I stayed seven years. My foray into this foreign culture expanded me in every way possible. Its landscape was different from anything I’d known before, from its vast deserts … [Read more...]

More ten-minute poems

I'm still writing a poem every day and actually spending only ten minutes on them. My favorite subject these days is the seemingly coming downfall of our current president - Number 45. The polls, if they are right, sure show Joe Biden way ahead. And you'll see if you read my poems, I'll do everything possible to avoid using his name in them. Here are three: 1.He pulled another fast one. In the middle of the night, Asking the Supreme Court To cancel the Affordable Care Act And take away health insurance From 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and total health coverage from 23 million Americans. It’s a mean, amoral, and insensitive act Smack in the midst of New COVID-19 cases and deaths Breaking all-time records in the U.S. in a single day. Notice how I refuse To even write down his name? 2. Last night our so-called president Held a rally at the Mt. Rushmore site In South Dakota, without adhering To social distancing and Mask wearing p … [Read more...]

Important stuff these days

Here are a few things that are happening these days in the form of little poems. I usually write a poem a day  about what's going on in my life at home and what's going on with my most unfavorite subject: POTUS. I never spend more than ten minutes on this exercise. Gofer Girl My new name is Gofer. I’m now assisting my husband Starting first thing in the morning Until he stretches his body Out on our bed at night. He’s injured. He has ruptured And very painful tendons In his left ankle and can barely walk. This thing is, this injury didn’t happen From a fall or a missed step Or a turned ankle. His doctor says It was caused by an antibiotic Called Fluoroquinolone, which when prescribed Should have come with a black box warning. Well, my husband wasn’t warned. The prescribing doctors just gave him This antibiotic willy-nilly, seemingly not caring How everything would turn out. Just Perfect His chances of reelection Are getting worse and worse With each pa … [Read more...]

I Am Not! by Rachel Boehm is brutally honest!

I'm very honored that Anne O'Connell, publisher of Rachel Boehm's new memoir, I Am Not!, asked Choices to participate in this first virtual book tour. Plus Rachel has generously written a guest post for us about her mantra - "Whatever happens, I'll handle it." Here's Rachel: Whatever happens, I’ll handle it.  by Rachel Boehm, Author of  I Am NOT! The affirmation has been my mantra for about 13 years; said now with ease and conviction, a confidence that would surprise the person I was when I first learned it. Thirteen years ago, I began my journey of healing and reclamation after years of verbal and emotional abuse from school and workplace bullies; gender bias; perfectionism; and disordered eating as I sought to achieve societal and industry norms (I was an actor and singer). Thirteen years ago, when I walked into a therapist’s office, I could not have envisioned the vibrancy of my life today. As if my life and vision then were lived through the Inkwell filter on Inst … [Read more...]

How safe is the oncoming reopening?

My small beach city is beginning to open retail stores, restaurants, businesses, and indoor and outdoor recreation areas. My main question is which ones of these venues should I walk into, where would I be the safest? So many people congregate together now, without the mandatory face masks that I feel almost any place is still unsafe – especially since the virus cases and death numbers are rising steadily every day. And the funny thing is when I walk about my town wearing a mask, trying to keep my distance, others look at me as if I were nuts. This morning, for example, I took my usual big long walk and passed many people without masks and without making any attempt to move away from on-coming me. Should I then continue walking or just take my chances? Since I started these walks the day after my gym closed on March 23, I don't see why I would give up that risky activity now. Although truth be told, I stay away from the Strand, my former favorite place to walk.  Way too many pe … [Read more...]

Could it get any worse?

In my writing group yesterday our prompts were to write a gorgeous poem or something from our everyday live during the coronavirus tumult. I picked the later. Here goes: To make matters worse than they already are, my husband had a mishap last week that was very worrisome. Last Monday he decided to sweep up some leaves on our front walkway and he fell against the brick wall, scraping his right arm so badly that the skin was hanging off it. He came upstairs to tell me he fell and showed me his injury with blood dripping all over the place. I took him to urgent care with a plastic bag over his arm and after a short wait, they cleaned it and wrapped it in gauze and sent us on our way with a prescription for Tylenol with a bit of codeine in it. They also took x-rays since not only did his arm hurt, he had a bump on his knee and sore ribs. Thankfully nothing was broken. Wish I could say that was the end of it. But by the time we got home blood was already seeping through the bandages. … [Read more...]

Sport fishing with a feminist twist

I usually post a photo of my guest author's book first. But today I have to post the author's photo first - it is so amazing. Thank you, Sarah Stonich, for this great pose and for agreeing to visit while on your Wow! Women on Writing tour and write such an interesting post for Choices. Drumroll, Please! Here's Sarah Stonich! Sarah is the author of Fishing, the first installment in a trilogy filled with hilarity and heartbreak that approaches the essential question.....when should life be steered by the heart, not the rules? Here's what Sarah has to say about inviting authors to your book group. Invite a writer to your book group? Absolutely. Writing is a solitary business, so getting out to meet readers can be a treat for authors. In these days of social distancing I really miss physically attending book clubs and meeting readers. Thankfully, there’s Zoom, Skype and other platforms, so my schedule of bookclub visits hasn’t slowed down much. Now more that ever, it fee … [Read more...]

Walking – one step at a time for change

Every morning I leave home at seven to take a ninety-minute walk. I’ve been doing that since March 23 the day after my gym closed because of the coronavirus  quarantine. My goal is to walk at least eleven thousand steps a day, and so far I’ve been doing that. But every day I ask myself isn’t time to quit already? My upper left leg hurts and still I walk on, my right big toe hurts and still I keep going, and I getting bored with it. Frankly, what I’d like to do is get back to the gym – and that’s not possible yet. Gyms will open up again during the last stage of Governor Newsom’s reopening plan and even when it does, I’m not sure if I’d want to go over there and get too close to everyone else working out. That’s the way I am about venturing out anywhere these days. And the latest George Floyd protests and riots and looting have only made me more scared. The crowds assembling all over the country will be sure to infect each other, and we’ll be left with coronavirus case and deat … [Read more...]

What I think about these days

A friend recently asked me what I think about during the many hours a day when I’m not very busy with my writing or cooking chores. And surprise, surprise, I said: Donald Trump, a person I have no nice thoughts about whatsoever. He is a bad man and a bad president. I don’t want my life to end before we have gotten rid of him. I also think about death. I equate my death with two things: keeping safe from the coronavirus and keeping safe from Donald Trump. In my mind, they go hand in hand. In fact Donald Trump is the reason the people of our country have been so affected by the virus – Donald Trump lied that it was a problem when it first came to the forefront. He didn’t want a nasty thing like a virus pandemic to wreck his chances of getting reelected. So he pushed questions and information about it away. Even now when we have had over one hundred thousand deaths in the United States, he still won’t talk about it. He says and does anything he can to divert our attention away from … [Read more...]

What it takes to write a book

Getting my first novel published just over a year ago is undoubtedly the thing I’m most grateful for. That it wasn’t hard to find a publisher for it and that I found a wonderful illustrator to do the cover art also were part of that mix. However, the work leading up to it was hard and long. I started writing the novel in 2010 at a UCLA four-day workshop called How to Write Your First Novel. I decided to take that class to get away from the frustrations of trying to get my memoir published. I was querying like mad but nothing was working, so a change in pace was necessary. I already had an idea – taken from the life story my aunt wrote not long before she died. She wrote about a young man – actually a teacher – who took her to school plays and concerts when she was a senior in high school. When her brother – actually my father – found out he wasn’t Jewish, he made his family move to Chicago from their small town in mid Illinois so that she could find a nice Jewish man to marry. … [Read more...]

And you thought you were finished: the revision process

For some unknown reason the post below (originally posted on November 16, 2016) disappeared from this website. So I'm reproducing it again now. And it makes perfect sense since I'm knee-deep in revising my new memoir. *** My publisher advised me to revise the second half of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, almost entirely when she decided to publish my book. To that end I used many of the steps I learned while working as a writer-editor-manager of proposals to the U.S. Government to revise my book. Here is my revision process. 1. Plan before doing. I created a revision plan based on notes from my publisher and advice from my first reader. Then I got my publisher’s buy-in. 2. Read before revising. Since I hadn’t looked at my draft for almost two years, I read it front to back with my revision plan in hand. I marked up a hard copy with a red pen and made no electronic changes until I was through. Wow! did I find lots of things to edit, including typos, awkward sentences, repe … [Read more...]

Introducing Save the Cat®

Today we heartily welcome Save the Cat's WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR of Save the Cat! Structure Software and Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. About Save the Cat!® Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation. Find out more about Save the Cat! by visiting their website. About the Save the Cat Structure Software Save the Cat! Story Structure Software is adapted from the Save the Cat! methodology to help screenwriters and novelists unlock the fundamentals of plot and character transformation. The Story Structure Software is a virtual writer bo … [Read more...]

Mental illness and suicide go hand in hand

This year for my May 20 birthday I’ve asked my Facebook friends to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in memory of our son Paul Sharples who took his life on September 23, 1999 after a seven-year battle with bipolar disorder. The point here is that we need to erase the stigma of mental illness to save people from suicide. The two go hand in hand. Here are my thoughts on  erasing the stigma.   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 jokes to anyone who would listen; but w … [Read more...]