I’ve been reading and reading and reading

Since I've been reading a lot during the coronavirus shutdown, I thought I'd share a few of the books I've read recently. I usually commit to reading twenty-five books on the Goodreads yearly reading challenge, and it looks like I might surpass that goal if I keep on reading like I am now. Here's a few I liked and recommend. American Dirt: Lydia Quixano Pérez runs a bookstore in Acapulco, Mexico, where she lives with her husband, Sebastián, who is a journalist, and their son, Luca. When a man starts visiting her store, buying books and striking up a friendship, she has no idea initially that he will be responsible for turning her life upside down. But Lydia and Luca will have to flee Acapulco, setting them on a journey they will share with countless other Central and South Americans-turned migrants. ...From the colossal opening chapter to the epilogue, American Dirt is a novel of crisp writing, urgent pacing, and remarkable empathy. It deserves the attention of a large au … [Read more...]

My coronavirus life redux

I'm in a writing group that usually meets once a month. Except now during the corona virus stay at home orders, we're meeting twice a month - what else do we have to do - in one of those ubiquitous Zoom meetings. By the way, that is working out very well. So mostly we write about how we're doing during this pandemic. And some of our writing has turned out to be pretty grim - and very honest about how we're feeling. That's how people in writing groups should behave, right? The piece I wrote at yesterday's meeting, using the prompt to write a lost or found poem, went like this: Today has probably been the worst of all days since we were told to stay home. I’ve lost my enthusiasm – even for sitting down and writing here this afternoon. No, don’t worry. I’m not sick. I’m just down in the dumps. And even though I’m still walking every morning and writing my April poem a day and journaling, I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything. Shouldn’t we use this at home time to write, co … [Read more...]

Poem a day coronavirus rant

I've participated in the Writer's Digest Poem A Day challenge in November and April since 2007. This April I'm having a tough time staying away from the coronavirus pandemic topic and how it's affecting me as I participate in social distancing. As a result many of my poems are about the COVID-19. Here's a small sample from the fourteen I've written so far, and please remember these are just first drafts. Write a new world poem. There are new worlds and there are new worlds. You could write a poem about discovery of an actual planet. Or maybe your new world is actually a state of mind—or a series of books! In a way, I consider each new challenge a bit of a new world. Let’s explore this one together. The outdoors near my home has become a whole new world for me. For years I exercised indoors in a dingy lit gym surrounded by folks I’d see everyday - some saying hi others too intent to break a smile. Now my gym is closed, and those folks are scattered in all direc … [Read more...]

Kindness matters – especially now

During these trying times, when safety and health are foremost, we know that kindness matters. I go for a walk every morning and pay close attention to keeping my six-foot distance from other people around me. Some practice the distance rule, while others pay no attention at all. Especially those wearing masks. They must feel that their mask takes the place of social distancing. I would say they are just rude and irresponsible. How hard would it be to do that little side step maneuver to get out of someone’s way on the sidewalk or walking trail? I found this quote a while ago: “Being rude is easy. It does not take any effort and is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem. Being kind is not always easy when dealing with rude people. Kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of person work and come to a great self-understanding wisdom. Choose to be kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time because kindness is … [Read more...]

Socializing during the COVID-19 quarantine is fun

One of the things that I find encouraging even as we are in the COVID-19 quarantine at home mode, is that we’re reaching out socially more. We’re doing FaceTime and Zoom and contacting family and friends by text and telephone. In the last couple of weeks our dinner party group has been sending each other fun video clips and quotes that are keeping all our spirits up. And tomorrow night – the night our dinner party was to occur, we’re getting together on Zoom for happy hour. It will be great to see each and chat for an hour or so. Here's a fun one: Socializing more has been on my list for some time. I wrote about it in one of my new memoir’s chapters. Here is what I wrote: Another thing that is important to my mental well-being is to get more social. I need to make more lunch dates for me and dinner dates and for Bob and me. We need to get out more instead of plopping ourselves down in front of the television screen every night at six to watch two hours of news. And while we’re … [Read more...]

What’s my coronavirus lockdown life like

The coronavirus, COVID-19, has indeed affected my life, as I’m sure it has affected yours. We’re all in it together to try to survive - helping ourselves and others to stay safe and healthy. I live with my eighty-three year old husband of almost fifty years, so his health and safety are on my mind much more than mine. He has had, over the last few years, mild pulmonary problems and is under a doctor’s care for high blood pressure. Fortunately, I don’t have any of the usual old folks’ ailments. I may be turning eighty in two months, but my body has never acted like it. So what’s my usual lockdown day like? First of all, I get up early. In the normal past I would get up before daylight and go to the gym every day. These days I wait until sunrise and then take a morning walk every day. I had until four days ago the perfect route. I would walk from my house to the beach and walk along the full length of the beach Strand. Unfortunately, the Strand and the beach are now closed, and … [Read more...]

Find out if you have a healthy relationship today!

Carrie T. Ishee began her WOW! Women On Writing tour of Seduced into Darkness just two days ago on March 23rd. We are very happy to welcome her here on Choices today. Her story of hope for survivors of abuse will surely captivate our readers. She has also written a guest post about the signs of a healthy relationship versus a toxic relationship and how to set boundaries to see if a person is safe for you. Here she is: A Healthy Relationship versus A Toxic Relationship by Carrie Ishee, M.A, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC,PCC, Author of Seduced into Darkness:  Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse I came to this wisdom when recovering from the psychological and sexual manipulation I experienced when I was a college student suffering from panic attacks and depression.  What was supposed to be a professional, healing relationship was hijacked and turned into an inappropriate personal relationship that focused on his needs, his wants, his desires.  I now support others to develop a h … [Read more...]

Quarantini, anyone?

I first heard of the quarantini from Jane Fonda a couple of days ago. She’s stuck at home just like the rest of us in California (the governor’s orders) and suggested we try one. Derek Brown, author of “Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World” and owner of the Washington, DC, cocktail bar Columbia Room, says, “It’s the drink you make with what you’ve got in your cabinets or freezer, and is best enjoyed with whomever you’re cooped up with — or perhaps a neighbor in need.” And  if you do have the ingredients, here’s Brown’s recipe: A Quarantini that can be made with common at-home drink ingredients. 1½ to 2 ounces of a not-necessarily-sweet base spirit, like vodka or gin — or another of your choice ¾ ounce of citrus (such as lemon or lime juice), whose vitamin C is great for immunity ½ to ¾ ounce of simple syrup to sweeten things up. (Simple syrup, as its name suggests, is simple to make. Just boil equal parts sugar and water until they … [Read more...]

We welcome Linda Rosen while on her WOW! book blog tour

Linda Rosen, author of The Disharmony of Silence, is on Day 10 of her WOW! Women On Writing book blog tour. Choices is pleased to welcome her and her thoughts about how being outdoors helped inspire her creative self. I know the feeling. I walk outdoors a lot - especially to the beach - and I always welcome ideas the eventually become part of my creative material. Here's what Linda has to say: Get Outdoors, Inspire Your Creative Self by Linda Rosen Why is it that I always come up with great dialogue while swimming laps with the sun glistening on the water? No, I’m not talking to myself out loud. Swimmers nearby would wonder about my sanity. It’s my characters who are talking to each other, in my head, and sometimes even arguing. Simply gliding through the water, hearing its soft splash as my hand reaches forward and slips down into the aqua pool, completing a stroke, relaxes my mind and when the mind is clear, creativity flows. One doesn’t have to swim to create gems. Being … [Read more...]

Assembling a Life by Martha Clark Scala

I met Martha Clark Scala at an Esalen Institute poetry workshop in January 2000 about four months after my son Paul took his life. The workshop was instrumental in bringing poetry writing into my life. I wrote one that weekend that Martha added to her piece, "I'm Not Contagious, published in a The Compassionate Friends newsletter. We have been friends ever since. I was particularly intrigued by her latest writing work - a biography about her father, Geoff Clark - called Assembling A Life, Choosing the Artist in My father (and Myself). The way she put it together reminds me of the sculpture discipline called Assemblage, where bits and pieces of found items make up the sculpture piece. I have one hanging on my office wall made up of a piano's hammers, pieces necessary to determine the voice of a piano. It is special to me because our son was an accomplished jazz pianist. About the book If you have any desire to honor a departed loved one by … [Read more...]

Our beloved high school friend had a stroke

Ten of us met for lunch last Saturday at El Cholo in La Habra. It was to be a reunion of sorts with high school friends and to welcome Ann and Jack who drove in from Tucson. Unfortunately, what we all hoped would be a happy reunion turned out very sad. There were tears immediately when Wendy and her husband Doug arrived. For some this was the first time to see her since her massive stroke in the fall of 2018. Bob and I and Lee and Chris had seen her six months earlier. In my mind she had not improved. Actually, she seemed much worse. But she insisted on coming out to see us all for what we learned later would be her last outing. In four days’ time she was going to be moved to a home that specialized in caring for stroke victims like her. The night her stroke happened she was giving a talk about her newly published book - one of many she has written throughout her life. Wendy, a professed Wiccan, had a Ph.D., and had been the head of women’s studies at the California State University … [Read more...]

I love romantic poetry. Don’t you?

Choices is so pleased to host the poet, Valerie Nifora. Her book of romantic poetry, I Asked the Wind, is her first published book, and it comes highly recommended as you can see below. Thank you WOW! Women On Writing for arranging for Valerie Nifora to visit Choices while on her virtual book tour - you must have known we love to read and write poetry as well. Love, the major theme in Valerie's poetry, is also a major theme in her life. Her guest post today shares her thoughts about what her children taught her about love. Yes, it's a miracle indeed. What My Children Taught Me About Love by Valerie Nifora When my first son was born, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Motherhood was not something that I ever thought I would tackle. What I learned in the sleepless nights, skinned knees, fevers and hospital visits, was that I love my sons in a way that I never thought possible. What my children have taught me about love, is it is limitless. It’s amazing how being r … [Read more...]

What do I see for the future

This is another possible chapter that I’ve written for my new memoir about aging successfully. Again, I’d love to know what you think. Would a memoir with these kinds of thoughts and information interest you?  I’m optimistic. I think Bob is caring about his body more. He’s gotten himself some pills which he thinks will help him get stronger and more in balance. I think his willingness to do something about his state of health is a good thing. I just wish he’d eliminate sugar and cut down on his alcohol intake. But I wouldn’t say that to him. Also, he’s committed to personal training once a week, spending another hour or so at the gym on another day of the week, and walking several times a week. That’s all good. We walked the other day and he’s definitely moving better and seems less wobbly. I think the illnesses of some of our friends have gotten his attention. They’ve certainly gotten my attention. I used to say I’d probably be ready to give up my health program as I got olde … [Read more...]

Today Sarah Dickinson tells us how to be self-aware in our writing

Today at Choices our WOW! Women On Writing book tour guest is Sarah Dickinson, author of Silver Spoons: One's Journey Through Addiction. Her book, told through letters, is an intimate and raw look at the current face of addiction and recovery. We're pleased to have Sarah here: Being Self-aware in Your Writing by Sarah Dickinson Every year there is anywhere from 600,000 to one million books published in the U.S. alone. While those numbers are indeed impressive it’s overwhelming when you consider the work and passion that goes into creating each one. Indeed, writers everywhere have an endless list of factors to consider before they can even begin their own “Once upon a time.” We could talk writing styles, technique, point of view, plot development or even character creation. Sadly, we do have to save those topics for another day. Because today, we are going to talk about being self- aware in your writing. You may ask why is being self-aware so important in writing. It matte … [Read more...]

Learn about marketing on social media today!

Jackie Rod, author of Georgia Stories On My Mind, is visiting us while on her Wow! Women On Writing tour. Please give her a huge welcome. Choices is especially pleased Jackie has shared her experience and expertise in marketing on social media. I know I very much need that kind of advice in marketing my own books. Here's Jackie. Marketing on Social Media by Jackie Rod Every writer needs an online presence, a platform. Having an online presence provides opportunities to engage directly with readers. Be consistent with your posts on social media. When you post regularly, your readers can see and engage with you. Post at different times of the day to increase the number of viewers who will see your message. Comment on the posts you are tagged in. It could be a simple thank you. When you make readers feel appreciated, they will likely become social media friends. You are building relationships with others online across miles, building a tribe. Your tribe can help … [Read more...]

Company is coming

Ever since my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, has been in print I’ve been a huge advocate of WOW! Women On Writing – a global magazine that promotes the communication between women writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers and readers. WOW organized my memoir book tour in 2011 and my historical novel, Papa's Shoes', tour in June 2019. In exchange I host on my website Choices many of the other writers that WOW! organizes tours for. Hosting is a great way for my blog to welcome new voices and new books – other than my own. And in keeping with that, in the next two months I’ll welcome five authors while on their WOW! Women On Writing virtual book tours. Each of them has written a guest post related to the substance of their book and writing. On February 10, Jackie Rodriquez, author of Georgia Stories on My Mind, an anthology of heartwarming stories shaped by local traditions and legends. In her guest post she’ll give us advice on how to market our writing on social media. … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday Bob!

My husband Bob is bright and shiny this morning on this his eighty-third birthday. Since just two weeks ago he had a bad bought of coughing as a result of bronchitis, I am very pleased he is doing so well now. Eighty-three WOW! So all I've got to say today is: Happy Birthday Bob - and I wish you many many more happy and healthy days - just like today.         … [Read more...]

Thinking about Kobe

It seems like the whole world is in shock since Kobe Bryant and his thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash this past Sunday. I certainly am. He was an inspiration on and off the court for many people around the globe. And we are left devastated after his sudden and tragic death. But not only that, it has brought so much sadness up for me since I experienced firsthand the loss of my son, Paul. Of course, that’s not the same as Kobe’s wife Vanessa’s loss. She lost her husband and her daughter – they always say it can be worse, something I’ve never wanted to believe. It seems like I gravitate to those who have suffered horrible losses – like Chris Erskine, a LA Times columnist who lost his wife and his son in the past couple of years. And today I read an article by another LA Times staff writer, Sandy Banks, whose column this week is about the loss of her husband twenty-six years ago, leaving her and their three little girls. One thing that popped out … [Read more...]

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...]