July Journeys – small stones yet again

In July we were asked to write small stones about our journeys. That put me in a bind, since I don't like to announce on social media when I'm traveling. It turns out we did travel in July - to Chicago, Green Lake WI, New York City, and Washington DC, but none of my July small stones refer to that trip at all. I must say it was a great trip - one for seeing friends and family. We also went to the Art Institute to see Gaugin, Millennium Park, the Yale art museum, the Morgan Library, the Modern Museum of Art, a couple of great New York plays, and a most special adventure - a visit to the new National Museum of African American Culture on Constitution Avenue in DC. Since I'm working part time this month and taking a writing class, I've decided to take a little break from small stone writing. I'm happy I was able to keep it up for eleven months. For sure I'll get back into it when the rest of my life relaxes a bit. In the meantime, here are my July small stones, called July … [Read more...]

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The Cubbies and my brother Kenny

My brother was a diehard Cubs fan his whole life. And since I was always a “me too” kind of a sister, so am I. I had to cheer for the Cubs even when they were playing my home team, the Dodgers, in the National League playoffs this year. My Cubs and Chicago roots took over. But always on my mind during this winning Cubs season was my wish my brother were still alive to experience it. He would have been ecstatic. He never gave up on them and neither did I. One year for his birthday we sent him a replica of the Wrigley Field sign. My brother and I used to take the El train to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play many afternoons, so he loved the sign and the reminder of his go-to place as a boy. I was ecstatic when his Cubbies came back from one to three to tie up the series three all and force a seventh game. And I was ecstatic when his Cubbies won the 2016 baseball World Series EIGHT to SEVEN against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night. Who knows? Maybe they’ll do it agai … [Read more...]

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Memoir or fiction? That is the question!

David W. Berner, my WOW! Women on Writing guest today, and I have something in common. After writing memoir we both turned to fiction—stretching ourselves, as David says, as writers. We both took a true story, settings, and characters and made up things—let our imagination have its way with us—to enhance the story's effect. My fiction book—though not ready to be published yet—takes off in a whole new direction from the true facts. My family members would definitely know the people and places I write about, and might even have a problem with the way my fictionalized version of our family history turns out.  Well, I'll deal with that when the time comes. I applaud David for using his wonderful memoir, reporting, and teaching skills to become a successful fiction writer. His first fiction work: Night Radio: A Love Story, has already received rave reviews. Thank you, David, for being here at Choices today and telling us about your journey into fiction writing—a story I very much relat … [Read more...]

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Remembering Mom and Dad

This Mother's Day weekend I remember both my mother and my dad. My dad was born on May 7, 1903 in Poland (the first location in my historical fiction work). He died at age 72 from cancer of the bile duct system. My mother, born on February 12, 2008 in Lithuania, died at age 94 from old age.  Lucky for me, they met and married in Chicago Illinois, making me and my brother and sister first generation Americans. Here are a few photos of them.     … [Read more...]

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End of year movie binge

When I was a little girl my parents took me downtown Chicago to see movies that had a stage show as an opening act. I remember seeing Nat King Cole and Frankie Laine (not my favorite), but I found the movies the most exciting. Sometimes I’d go with my older brother, and I never minded that I had to watch his cowboy and war movie choices. As I got older I went with my friends and got to pick what I wanted to see – recommendations right out of the stacks of movie magazines I read from cover to cover. So I was a well-trained movie freak – and that hasn’t changed at all. In fact, movies became one of my biggest diversions after my son died in 1999 - something I wrote a lot about in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I could sit in the theater and forget about all the pain in my heart. I always love to go at this time of the year – when the new movies come out to compete for all the up and coming awards: Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild, Academy Awards – you name … [Read more...]

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Another novel character revealed

I've been missing my characters while my novel is in the eyes and hands of my beta readers. So I thought I'd share another one of the four main characters with you. I've patterned this character after my father, who in the novel is: Charles: son of Ira and Ruth Schuman. Ava Schuman's older brother Name – Chaim/Charles/Charlie Benjamin Schuman He appears as a little boy in the beginning. Physical appearance: As a grownup he is short – only 5 ft, 7 in. (only an inch taller than his father), slim, has dark curly hair – lots of it, very large brown eyes, olive complexion. Looks great in a business suit and tie. Wears rimless glasses Learns English very quickly – while he is on the ship coming over from Poland. Speaks pretty much without an accent though has trouble pronouncing Vs The deaths of his little brothers nag at him. He is very protective of his little sister and mother and father as a result. A good brother and son Very inquisitive and outgoing. He goes to coll … [Read more...]

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A Prologue or not? That is the question

I've heard a lot of pros and cons about Prologues. So I'd like your opinion. I'm definitely on the fence. And if I do decide to take my Prologue out, what should I do with the material? Please help me out. Please read my novel's Prologue and let me know what you think. 1906 Prologue As Ira Schuman pulls on his beard with one hand and twirls his payess with the other he looks at the steady stream of customers going in and out of the shop with the red and white awning. Some men wear their tallit fringes hanging below the hems of the heavy black coats and matching wide-brimmed black hats that rest lightly atop their bushy hair. Their beards and coiled payess appear long and straggly. But Ira eyes focus on the men who display short hair and smooth shaven faces. Since he’s been in Chicago one week already, he decides today is the day to go inside. He meanders around several card tables of goods for sale on Maxwell Street and enters through the shop’s open door. “Hello, Mister,” … [Read more...]

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My favorite uncle

In July 1949, my favorite Uncle Phil was killed in a plane crash in the Burbank California mountains. He was returning home to Los Angeles from Chicago where he attended a furniture and textile show and visited with family. I wrote the story below from my memory of the day we found out about the crash and that he was not one of the fourteen survivors. I couldn't let the month of July go by without a mention of him. Uncle Phil still has a huge place in my heart. "I Didn't Have Time to Worry" I was nine during the summer of 1949. My baby sister was a month old, and my brother was away at camp. I spent those long, lazy days being the big sister. I either helped my mom take care of the baby, swam in Lake Michigan a block away from our apartment in Chicago, or I was curled up with my nose in a book. I was the chubby girl with short, dark curly hair. My eyes were hazel and my skin had a deep summertime tan. And, I was already a romantic, hopelessly in love with my Uncle Phil, one of … [Read more...]

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Progress of a novel

I’m going to change course a little bit here and share about the novel I’ve been working on. Needless to say it’s a work in progress, but I’m intent on finishing it next year. The Q&A came from The Next Big Thing, an UK online publicity campaign for authors. However, the group of us here, ready and willing to participate in this blog-o-rama, had to back out because of lack of author interest. At least it got me revved up to work on my novel again, so that’s a good thing. What is the working title of your book? Papa’s Shoes. But this is really, really a working title. I worry this title will give the impression that this is a children’s book. The father in this story is a shoemaker, and in the end he agrees to make his daughter’s wedding shoes. Please tell me your thoughts. Where did the idea come from for the book? I got the idea while my husband was working on our family history. My aunt, my father’s sister, had written some stories about her early life, and some of t … [Read more...]

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Early Mother’s Day poems

My mother has been gone now for over eight years. But she lived a good long life. She was 94 when she died. I wrote the first two poems when she was in very ill health during her last year. I wrote the last poem after her death. Some mother-daughter relationships are tough. I know mine was. But even now, I few days early, she is on my mind. Rest in peace, Hilda. You deserve it. Dream World I look toward my mother's bed in its sunny spot by the window. The young nurse with her is smiling. They both are. She lies in bed, the light blue hospital gown she’s wearing has a tiny geometric print of triangles, squares and circles in shades of gray, burgundy and a dark blue. Her pinkish skin looks healthy, and her thin, white hair is brushed off her face. After the nurse leaves, she looks at me with wide, bright eyes and asks, “Do you want to play bridge? We need a fourth.” “I haven’t played in years," I say and she accepts that excuse, pointing her long painted nails … [Read more...]

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