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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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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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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April small stones

We called our April small stones April Smiles, Showers and Pearls, and indeed they were. Without further ado, here are the small stones I wrote last month. A beautiful day. A beautiful walk to the beach. And I’m not fooling. We had brunch and a trip to the park with our three-year old godson and his family today. Always a challenge, but always lovely as well. So much going on – house renovations, writing projects, and a wonderful visit with our deceased son’s best friend. I love that he is still in our lives. I’ve been working hours revising, thinking, editing, thinking. It’s exhausting. Looking at these awesome giant birds of paradise from my upstairs window. Nature is such a great inspiration. We had dinner 71 stories up last night. What a view of downtown Los Angeles: A beautiful bright sunny day for entertaining relatives from rainy Oregon. And it was so wet this morning I thought they had brought their rain with them. Today was a work day, not a writing da … [Read more...]

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A wonderful surprise

I got a huge and wonderful surprise yesterday from my author and poet friend Jessica Bell, of Vine Leaves Press. She tagged me in a Facebook post to tell me that my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On was on a list compiled by Erin Burba of BookRiot of the 100 Must-Read Biographies and Memoirs of Remarkable Women. As I looked at the list I couldn’t believe my memoir was among those written by the likes of Mary Karr, Joan Didion, Cheryl Strayed, Sonia Sotomayor, Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Anais Nin, Malala Yousafzai, Patti Smith, Katharine Graham, and Nora Ephron, memoirists and authors I’ve admired for almost forever. But it is indeed true. Leaving the Hall Light On is number 80 on the list. Here are the first twenty and the last twenty of the books listed. Please click on the BookRiot link to see the rest and to read the description of each book. The first twenty: Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock. The Liars’ Club … [Read more...]

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It’s time to start rewriting again

I apologize for taking so much time off from Choices. My temporary day job has been exhausting and as such has given me little time or energy to write here. However, I’ll be free of it early next week and look forward to getting back to my writing work. That said I attended a rewrite seminar last weekend to hopefully help me get revved up to work on my novel after a long hiatus working a proposal management consulting job. Some of the contents of the seminar were familiar – I learned a lot about rewrite and revision while working proposals in the aerospace business – and some things discussed gave me some new nuggets to incorporate in my work. Here I’ll try to give you ways to tackle your own drafts. The two-step process for writing a book are: Step 1 – write the draft Just get it out Don’t hang up with editing Don’t go to the Thesaurus to find a word. Lay all your cards on the table as fast as you can. And avoid tendency to write in chronological order … [Read more...]

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Getting back into the writing groove

Our Grand Canyon adventure and my husband’s healing process have taken me far afield from my writing life. Everything just seemed to stop on November 16. Interesting that I had carefully packed some paper and a pen so I could write a journal entry after my walk down the Grand Canyon that day. Unfortunately I never used them after hearing the news of my husband’s injuries and the challenge I faced in getting back to the rim and to the Flagstaff Medical Center to be with him. However, in this past week I’ve sat myself down at my writing desk and managed to write a couple of poems in response to Robert Lee Brewer’s poem a day challenge – that ended on November 30. And it felt good to “poem” (as Brewer likes to say) again. I am also putting together a new chapbook that I’ll submit for the Frost Place contest that’s due on January 1. Though I’m not back to my writing in full force yet – as you can see from how long it’s been since I wrote my last post here, I’m getting back slowly. … [Read more...]

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Nina Amir on creative visualization for writers

I've met Nina Amir several times and heard her speak at writers conferences, and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in her wisdom and advice about writing that she shares in her latest book: Creative Visualization for Writers: An Interactive Guide for Bringing Your Book Ideas – and Writing Career – to Life. I'm pleased to showcase Nina and her book during her WOW! Women on Writing tour. Please see the link below if you'd like to participate to win a copy of Creative Visualization for Writers. About Creative Visualization for Writers: An Interactive Guide for Bringing Your Book Ideas – and Writing Career – to Life: To become a more creative, confident, and productive writer, you need to focus your attention, visualize your desires, set clearly defined goals, and take action toward your dreams. Let Creative Visualization for Writers be your guide on this journey of self-discovery. You'll learn how to: Evaluate your beliefs and shed self-defeating behaviors. … [Read more...]

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August small stones

Now that I'm on day 16 of the September Pebbles 2016 challenge I thought I'd post my entire list from the Awake August 2016 Small Stones challenge. According to the page guidelines post "No advertising. No selling. Just your thoughts and ideas and have fun.This page is for your small poems and thoughts, please share and enjoy each others talents. Everyone is individual and that makes this page brilliant." When the Awake August challenge was over, people in the group decided to keep posting, so the page admins changed the challenge to September Pebbles. I'll post those sometime next month. A young girl with white-pale skin and wine-red hair visited for a week. We kissed goodbye this morning. The strains of “Unchained Melody” bring back memories of 1955 and two besotted teenagers swaying in time on a hot August night. A long walk with a friend on a hot summer day brings a connection of compassion, understanding, and love. We can’t stop talking. An orange-streaked sky … [Read more...]

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Writing small stones teaches focus and brevity

I joined the Awake August 2016 challenge to write small stones every day in August. I did the same challenge a few years ago (in January 2011 and 2012) and found the results the same. Writing brief poems, essays, descriptions, thoughts, and ideas are a worthwhile challenge. It has taught me to focus on a single thing and write briefly about it. Like the challenge creators, Kaspalita and Satya Robyn, say, it is a mindfulness writing booster. For more information about them and their work, visit their website, Writing Our Way Home: Engage with the world through mindful writing. So whether my first five days of small stones are what Kaspalita and Satya had in mind, here they are. What do you think? My August Small Stones A young girl with white-pale skin and wine-red hair visited for a week. We kissed goodbye this morning. The strains of “Unchained Melody” bring back memories of 1955 and two besotted teenagers swaying in time on a hot August night. A long walk … [Read more...]

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Busy times – it’s all good!

For the last ten days I was working in my old technical writer/proposal manager capacity - helping a small business write and deliver a proposal to the National Science Foundation. The proposal was due yesterday, and I'm proud to say we got it in electronically as required with two hours to spare. Within minutes of finishing the proposal work,  I changed modes and started thinking about the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference happening this weekend. I'm scheduled to appear on two panels tomorrow, and up until yesterday I had done nothing to prepare. This morning I went into my files and found notes from past panels I've appeared on, and  found what I needed to provide some good information on writing a memoir and building a marketing platform, using the social networks. (This blog was the first thing I did to start building my platform prior to the publication of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.) One more thing that's happening at the conference is an oppor … [Read more...]

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What do you wish you knew before you turned 40?

A few days ago, Naturally Savvy, for which I am the Savvy Over 60 contributor, posted my article: “Ten Things I Wish I Knew before I Turned 40.” I put a lot of thought into that article, and even though I came up with ten things as my editor suggested, I know it is still incomplete. I didn’t address religion, or money, or women’s equality – a subject so much in the forefront today. I also didn’t discuss marriage, or children, or what to do during retirement, or politics. The list is a work in progress. The list will never be complete. Perhaps to entice you to go over to Naturally Savvy to read my article and other articles I’ve contributed, I’ll give you a few examples from my list. But really I’d love for you to share your list either here or at the Naturally Savvy link. Only spend time with people you care about. Life is too short to feel obligated to be with people we don’t care about. Learn to excuse yourself gracefully. Gently fade away. And believe me they won’t mis … [Read more...]

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Do you have an organized place to write?

As much as I like to say I'm an organized person and that I have a place for everything, after reading Emily Johnson's suggestions, I realize I have a lot to learn and a lot to do. I'm very happy to welcome Emily here today. She has some great ideas on organization which will not be hard to implement. Here's Emily: A Little-Known Way to Boost Productivity: Workplace Organization by Emily Johnson  Once your workplace is well-organized, you can work faster as there is nothing distracting. In fact, your workplace impacts creativity, concentration, and cleverness. If you want to enjoy the working process, don't waste time on extra things, and grow revenue, pay attention to your workplace organization. First things first: answer the following questions. Do you…: ...have two zones for work and relax? ...set up a proper lighting? ...have an ergonomic office chair? ...keep your table clean? …use modern gadgets? If you have at least one negative answer, then you need to lear … [Read more...]

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Hemingway on writing and revision

I’ve been reading Brain Pickings a couple of years now. It is full of wonderful information about authors, artists, and the whole world of creativity. This past week’s issue was particularly interesting to me since I’m rigorously working on revising my novel. Arnold Samuelson, who spent a year with Ernest Hemingway in 1934, left a book called, With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba – discovered by his daughter in 1981 after Samuelson's death. The book contains the very valuable writing advice that Hemingway related to him. I’ll share some of Hemingway’s writing advice here, but please go to Brain Pickings for the real meat – or read the book: “The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is never write too much at a time… Never pump yourself dry. Leave a little for the next day. "The main thing is to know when to stop... When you’re still going good and you come to an interesting place and you know what’s going to happen next, that’s the time to stop. “The … [Read more...]

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I’m proud to say, “I am a writer.”

I subscribe to Joe Bunting’s The Write Practice. He sends me an email everyday on some facet of writing. Today’s was particularly relevant to me since he encouraged his readers to: “Be brave. Be bold. Claim your title. Say it with me: ‘I am a writer.’” That’s what I did yesterday while Stewart at the Apple store was helping me set up my new iPhone. When Stewart asked what I did, without hesitation I told him, “I am a writer.” And he wanted to know immediately what I write. It turns out that I’m still in my poetry practice phase, so I told him I’ve been getting back on my writing feet by writing two or three poems a day using prompts I get online. However, I also shared that I have a published memoir out, Leaving the Hall Light On, and I’m working on a novel. At that point I gave him my author business card. With that he shared with me that he has a degree in creative writing from a local university. And you guessed it. We were off and running. Within our twenty-thirty minute … [Read more...]

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More writing quotes

I love quotes - I can never get enough of them. I hope you like these. And if you do, please share some of your favorite quotes in a comment.       … [Read more...]

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Here’s Jennifer Roland on awakening your muse

My guest today is Jennifer Roland, author of 10 Takes on Writing - her interviews with ten authors who live in the Pacific Northwest. This is her second stop of her Wow! Women on Writing virtual book tour. Please welcome Jennifer and her words about finding inspiration about writing and how to keep our seats in the chair even when your muse has escaped out the back door. For me, walking - especially on the beach works. I look at the ocean, take pictures of the gardens I pass along the way, look up at the clouds, and pretty soon, I'm ready to sit down and write. Please share what you do to awaken your muse. Here's Jennifer:  How to Find Inspiration — Even When It Seems Impossible by Jennifer Roland As writers, we have a love/hate relationship with the muse. When the muse comes to visit, it’s all wonderful. The ideas flow. Every word is a little bit of magic, and they come together with ease. So what’s the problem? That darn muse doesn’t come every day. Sometimes, … [Read more...]

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“Writing is the painting of the voice!”

I think you must already know how much I love quotes - especially about writing. So I've amassed a few more. Please let me know if you resonate with any. … [Read more...]

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I’ll be at the Big Story Writers Conference on Saturday

A West Coast Writers Conference Production, The Big Story Writers Conference will be held this weekend at the Los Angeles Valley College from Friday, February 20 through Sunday, February 22. Here’s the program. For fiction, nonfiction, and screen writers it will be chock full of workshops, seminars, and lectures with forty speakers, veteran educators, industry experts, publishing professionals, literary agents, publishers, and best-selling authors. And I’m happy to say I’ll be one of them. I’ll appear on a panel discussing: How to Write a Book Proposal that Sells (geared to nonfiction authors) The panel description says: “Nonfiction authors have a special task of developing a book proposal that actually speaks for them -- even before the book is written. This panel of veteran authors will explain the elements of the proposal, and how to structure a successful one.” That special task can be very daunting. However, the main lesson I learned in writing my book propo … [Read more...]

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