Three new published poems!

I'm very proud to let you know I have three poems in this new anthology that just came out from the Story Circle Network. Living on COVID Time: Sharing Stories, Sharing Lives in Prose and Poetry from Story Circle Network (Real Women Write) Paperback - January 3, 2021 by Story Circle Network(Author), Susan F. Schoch(Editor), Brooke Warner(Foreword) As its Amazon page says: Real Women Write: Living on COVID Time is Volume 19 of this annual anthology of prose and poetry by members of Story Circle Network, an organization supporting women writers and asserting the importance of women’s stories. But it is a volume unlike any other. The 52 authors of the 80 pieces in this collection were writing in response to an unprecedented global pandemic. The virus spread through a year filled with many other profound challenges and changes, while these women were writing about their lives, engaging with experiences and emotions that were uniquely their own. These selections capture m … [Read more...]

Thinking about becoming a ghostwriter?

Our Choices guest today is Jann Baylon. She writes about ways to make money as a writer by being a ghostwriter - a very inspiring occupation. I worked as a technical writer and editor for most of my writing life.  That is another fine source of income for a writer. Now let's read what Jann has to say about ghostwriting.   Becoming a Successful Ghostwriter by Jann Baylon Image Credit: Pixabay Once upon a time, there was a common narrative that writers couldn’t easily make a living. The idea was that an audience was simply too hard to come by for all but the most successful writers — those with major book deals, or notable columns in newspapers and magazines. It’s still true today that writing is only lucrative for a small percentage of highly successful (and often lucky) individuals. But this is true in many lines of work. And looking past the idea of significant wealth, it is now the case that plenty of writers find ways to make good money. This is largely thanks … [Read more...]

Crazy about books? Meet LitNuts!

Choices is happy to introduce you to LitNuts. Here's what they are all about. For Readers So, LitNuts brings you books of short stories, essays, or poetry that many other newsletters refuse to include (because collections don’t sell as well as novels). LitNuts also features new releases and award-winning books that other newsletters exclude because of price. (Many newsletters feature ONLY ebooks priced at $2.99 or less, which is fine – but not all great books are $2.99 or less!). And authors, you'll be happy to hear that LitNuts founders Mike O’Mary and Kathleen Meyer handled publishing and marketing for an indie press for more than 10 years. This is important because that means they understand the challenge of getting your books in front of readers. For Authors LitNuts is an affordable vehicle that focuses on indie books and has engaged subscribers. Their goal is to help authors increase their book’s sales rank with online retailers, generate more reader reviews, and cre … [Read more...]

A terrific voting poem

I took writing classes from Jack Grapes for many years. I wrote much of my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On there. And still I go to an occasional workshop or poetry refresher. Jack has always been my favorite writing instructor. And he is a wonderful writer and actor as well. I received the following poem in an email the other day and feel it's very much worth sharing with my readers here. It validates the importance of voting and now that we finally know the results, it confirms how voting is a  power we must not throw away. I voted. I hope all of you did too. Hopefully you feel as happy with the presidential election results as I do. Here's Jack. Lori and I voted yesterday. We got to our local polling place at 9am, an hour before they opened. That great art-deco building, the Saban Theater, on Wilshire Blvd. Got a parking spot directly in FRONT of the place. Sacre Bleau! We expected long lines. Except for the guy taping up voting directions and an American flag, … [Read more...]

A writer’s home office

I firmly believe that a writer should have a special and private place to write. And in fact I've written about that subject many times - quoting Virginia Woolf and her adage that a writer have "a room of one's  own." See my previous post on this subject posted on February 4, 2018 here: A room of my own – revisited, which is heavy on the personal touches as described below. This post will walk you through what such a room needs in order to make your space usable, comfortable, and necessary to further your writing career. A Room of One’s Own: The Value of a Writer’s Home Office Writing is possibly the most flexible of professions. One only needs to tap into their creativity, and, of course, break out their writing toolkit — which in this day and age mostly consists of a computer. You can be anywhere in the world tapping away on your keyboard in the early hours of the morning. But if you’re serious about turning writing into a viable career, discipline is a must. What can re … [Read more...]

Writing advice from the experts

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

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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 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...]

My Author Learning Center interview clips

Last March I sat down with the Author Learning Center  President Keith Ogorek for an interview about writing, getting published, and marketing. As its website says: The Author Learning Center (ALC) is a one-of-a-kind online author education community designed to help educate, motivate, and support you at every stage of your writing and publishing journey, including marketing your book.  The ALC offers content on writing, editing, publishing and marketing from a variety of industry experts, agents, best-selling authors, publicists, and editors. In addition, the ALC gives you access to unique tools, the Book Launch Tool and Author Circles, to help you reach your goals. Here are the topics and the interview clips. In the future I'll post other ALC interview clips. Getting a Publishing Deal for My New Historical Novel, Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-Town America (Aberdeen Bay). Getting Reviews and Testimonials Through a Virtual Book Blog Tour … [Read more...]

Some more favorite writing quotes

I think it's time to post a few more quotes about writing. I think they encourage us to keep sitting in that chair and keeping our hands moving on the keyboard or on paper. I collect quotes. I hope you'll join me. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”—Louis L’Amour “Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”—Stephen King “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”—Elmore Leonard *** Thank you for indulging me on this quote trip. I hope you'll share your favorites in the comments below.  … [Read more...]

My reinvention story

How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my age I fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. I studied journalism in high school and college and wrote for the high school newspaper. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and had no idea what I would do professionally with it. I had wanted to work as a journalist and actually completed all the course work for a degree in journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But family illness caused me to transfer to UCLA for my senior year, and UCLA didn’t offer a BA degree in journalism. So I was stuck in a city I didn’t know and where I hardly knew anyone, trying valiantly and unsuccessfully early on to get a writing job. Then I gave up. It was 1962. There were not a lot of jobs for women writers in those days, especially in Los Angeles. Then someone suggested I try the growing aerospace business in southern California. With that, I called Douglas Aircr … [Read more...]

What do you think about these quotes about writing?

One of my friends collects interesting quotes about writing. He sent me these the other day. He must have known I collect writing quotes as well. Though I don't agree with all of them, I'd love to hear your reactions. Please comment below. “It’s a lousy, stupid thing to do. You start out thinking people are going to admire you and love you and respect you, but really, nobody gives a shit. It’s a terrible life.” ~Nelson Algren “Writing is like prostitution. First, you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally, you do it for money.” ~Moliere “If you can’t annoy somebody there is little point in writing.” ~Kingsley Amis "In him [and I'm sure today he would have added "and her"]  no simple feeling exists anymore. All that he sees, his joys, his pleasures, his sufferings, his despairs, become instantaneously subjects of observation. He analyzes in spite of everything, in spite of himself, without end, hearts, faces, gestures, intonations . . . … [Read more...]

What’s happening?

Isn’t it funny how some of us start conversations with people these days with this question: “What’s Happening?” And then the poor person being asked the question is in the hot seat having to come up with a quick and meaningful answer. Well, my answer today is: writing is happening in my life. I feel like I’ve been at my computer these last few days since the new year and even before the holidays, almost non-stop. And that’s a good thing. I gotten myself back into writing small stones, which are a couple of lines about anything. This month I started writing one every day, concentrating on a theme that has to do with something I observe in nature. By the way, I’ve written small stones for years, but recently took a break from them. I’m glad to be back. There’s a Facebook group in case you’re interested in joining in. This month they’re called January resolutions – the name changes every month. My main project, however, is my new memoir about aging. I wrote a list of thirty topics … [Read more...]

Writing up a storm

I got a note back from a writing friend after I congratulated her on her new book of poetry. She said she hopes I’m writing up a storm. We met years ago at a poetry writing workshop at Esalen in Big Sur California. Plus, I took two of her classes through UCLA’s writers program: How to Write Your First Novel and her Novel Three class. Well, I think I am writing a lot. Today for instance I’ve already written to two poem-a-day (PAD) prompts – one to make up for yesterday and one for today. Plus I have this list of writing yet to accomplish: this blog post, another thousand words or so of my new memoir, and my everyday journal entry that usually goes about five hundred words. That’s a big assignment, but isn’t that what we writers are supposed to do? Another thing that’s on my writing plate is querying small presses, hopefully to get them interested in publishing my novel. So far I’ve queried three. It’s very slow going and, as I’ve said before, a scary one. My son is an actor and … [Read more...]