How I spend my time

I’ve been working on a new memoir for the past year or so about aging successfully. One chapter is like this one about how I spend my time. So I’d like to try my thoughts out on you. Would you be interested in a memoir with information like this? I spend a lot of my time at my desk in my writing room. I d write a lot but I must make a true confession – I also spend a lot of time on the internet and on social media because I have a great relationship with my Facebook community. This morning I got out of bed at five forty-five, went off to the bathroom, got on the scale after shedding my pajamas, and then I dressed in my leggings and shirt to go to the gym. Once there, I vary my workouts. Lately I stay on the elliptical for about thirty-five minutes and then walk on the treadmill for twenty-five to give me a full hour of cardio and about nine-five hundred steps. I am truly obsessed, probably motivated by my Fitbit, with getting at least twelve thousand steps every day. After … [Read more...]

What I read in 2019

2019 This is my journey in books for 2019! TOTALS I read 7,023 pages across 27 books SHORTEST BOOK: 64 pages The Love Poems of Rumi by Rumi LONGEST BOOK:  624 pages My Life So Far by Jane Fonda AVERAGE LENGTH: 260 pages MOST POPULAR: 602,483 people also read Educated by Tara Westover LEAST POPULAR: 0 people also read When We Almost Drowned by Jessica Barksdale MY AVERAGE RATING FOR 2019: 4.7 HIGHEST RATED ON GOODREADS: Mindful Dementia Care: Lost and Found in the Alzheimer's Forest by Ruth Dennis it was amazing 5.00 average MY 2019 BOOKS MY LAST REVIEW OF THE YEAR Saving Papa’s Tales by Richard Ebner is an extremely strong example of good memoir writing. His story of a father son relationship that includes conversations about their past history and events of the present times – including the pa … [Read more...]

Where did I go?

I apologize for my long absence from here. I spent from December 8 to January 9 working on five proposals over at the aerospace company I retired from in 2010. I've done a few gigs there before, but this one was especially grueling such that it gave me little time for myself, let alone to pursue any of my usual writing and reading projects. My new memoir sat dormant, my reading was almost nil - though I finally finished Toni Morrison's Sula in the first week of January. It literally took me over four weeks to read about one hundred and fifty pages. Also, I didn't write any poetry or my favorite small stones (little two-three line observations). And, needless to say, my review of my friend's six hundred page book stopped cold in its tracks. Even my daily gym workouts had to be curtailed. Though I thought I'd start right up again this past Friday - my first day off - I could barely keep my eyes open to do anything. All I wanted to do all day was sleep, and so I did. I also slept … [Read more...]

Happy New Year Everyone

It's almost the end of a very stressful year. Let's all rejoice in the new year 2020. Let's look forward, not back! Here's some good words to keep in mind during the new year as well. Much love to all. … [Read more...]

What to know to appear on a writer’s conference panel

The following article was published on December 18 at: I'm so pleased to have another article there. How to Prepare to be on a Panel Discussion By Madeline Sharples I’ve been on many panels at local writer’s conferences. And just having finished appearing on a panel, some of the things I’ve learned have come into focus. Here’s my list: Know your topic cold – make sure you know the topic you plan to speak about very thoroughly. On my recent panel we discussed writing best-selling memoirs, something I know a lot about. My goal was to convince the audience to find a way to write a memoir with a universal theme – that will appeal to readers beyond the author’s family and friends. We also discussed the differences between memoir (a small portion of a person’s life story) and an autobiography (a total life story) and the differences between memoir and fiction. A memoir is nonfiction. Know who your panel mates will be and their backgrounds – usually the faculty is listed wi … [Read more...]

Writing in the Dominican Republic revisited

Instead of just referring to my post about Lindsay de Feliz, I've decided to copy and paste it here. That is because I learned yesterday that Lindsay was brutally attacked and murdered in her home country, the Dominican Republic. I am so saddened and shocked by this news, I just feel I have to share about the wonderful work she was doing when she was alive. I loved her memoir, What About Your Saucepans? and recommend you all read it. Plus she was such a great supporter of the work of her fellow memoir writers. Rest in peace, Lindsay. I will miss you very much. I send much love and condolences to your family. Writing in the Dominican Republic MARCH 25, 2018 BY MADELINE SHARPLES 6 COMMENTS (EDIT) I met Lindsay de Feliz, author of What About Your Saucepans? and Life After My Saucepans, through a wonderful Facebook group called We Love Memoirs, and it was instant admiration. Her story is gutsy, heroic, and so, so different from my own that I had to share it with you. When I asked … [Read more...]

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...]