More beautiful words about Bob Sharples

Robert (Bob) Sharples z"l As we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is with deep sadness that I share the news of the passing of Robert Sharples, z"l, beloved husband of Madeline, father of Benjamin (Marissa) Sharples, and Paul z'l, and Eric z'l. Bob and Madeline have been members of our community since the early days of CTJ in Manhattan Beach, and are cherished friends of many. Bob was a true renaissance man; an exceptional aerospace engineer and project manager at Northrup Gruman (TRW) for decades, an avid traveler and student of life.  He filled his 83 years with accomplishment, beauty, charm, and worthy achievement.  He expressed courage and faith in facing confounding illness over the past year, and seemed to be on the path to a full recovery and a return to his active life. Bob was an engaging and sincere conversationalist, and he brought wisdom and a smile to all encounters.  He will be dearly missed by his family, friends, and colleagues. His li … [Read more...]

Rest in peace, my darling

Our brilliant Renaissance man, Robert Edwin Sharples, died after a long illness this past Sunday, November 22, 2020. Born on February 4, 1937 in Ridgewood Queens New York, he was eighty-three years old. He moved to California in 1961 and became a resident of Manhattan Beach ten years later. Bob had a long career in aerospace as an engineering manager and proposal manager. He managed numerous very large proposals for Northrop Grumman/TRW, including James Webb, National Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), and Jupiter Icy-moons Orbiter (JIMO). The sum of the winning bids for the list of proposals he managed is nearly nine billion dollars. He also worked on the development of the US Air Force’s Minuteman III MIRV ballistic missile weapon system, serving as the Manager of Systems Engineering and Test for the Minuteman Program Office in charge of the testing of the weapon system. Other management work included the development of real-time software for the H … [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 little bragging is in order

Since my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes, was published by Aberdeen Bay about a month and a half ago, it has received some fabulous reviews. And even a few requests for a sequel - stay tuned about that. Here are three five-star examples: A Love Story with Acceptance, written by Lisa. Oh my goodness, I enjoyed reading this book so much. The story line starts with Ira, father & husband, and his journey of leaving Poland to make a life for his family in the United States of America. Once in America, as he is saving money to bring his wife and sons to join him, he receives news that all but one son died of the plague. Ugh! He returns and takes care of business then returns to America with his wife left to raise their remaining son and the baby on the way. Ruth, his wife, mails a pink string to Ira once Ava is born. When enough funds allow, Ira sends for Ruth, Charlie (their oldest son), and Ava. This is when the story shifts from one of Ira and Ruth to that of Charlie and … [Read more...]

My first steps in marketing Papa’s Shoes

After almost five days off-line, I'm glad to say all is well with this site. It's updated and ready for a steady stream of guest posts and my eclectic thoughts about writing and life. Thanks for your patience. Now for a look at what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks to get ready to launch my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes: a Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, published this month by Aberdeen Bay. There is one word for it: Marketing. They say marketing takes up most of our time once our book has been published. And now that my book is out and available online I totally agree. marketing has been first and foremost even before that. So here's where I am in the marketing path. I've booked a Papa's Shoes launch at my local Manhattan Beach, CA bookstore {Pages} a bookstore, on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm. If you are in my local area, please come. it's a free event; however, Pages would like you to RSVP, so they can get an idea of … [Read more...]

My novel cover! Voila!

Here it is. What do you think?   Cover art by Jen Jenkins Dohner … [Read more...]

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. Fru … [Read more...]

Congratulations, Keith Alan Hamilton!

My poet and walking friend, Keith Alan Hamilton, has just released his new book of poems: Peace Out Poems about My Abnormalities Normality. The poems are about stigma, mental illness - including depression and bipolar disorder, and suicide. "I hope for those who read it, it will be of benefit to them.  There is a huge stigma overshadowing those who suffer from mental conditions like depression or being bipolar.  Even more so for those who have committed suicide.  That reality will not change until my type of story is told and understood.  To me, the stigma overshadowing a day-to-day survivor is even worse.  When you are a depressive with thoughts of suicide cycling in your head day in and day out..... it is far harder to survive and keep going than it is to submit.   It is easier to be considered mentally ill and medicated, or to have taken ones life than being someone who successfully copes day-to-day and is a productive contributor to life.  If we are going to show others that … [Read more...]

We’re taking the show on the road

Last December, Chanel Brenner, Alexis Fancher, and I read poetry about the deaths of our sons at Beyond Baroque, a literary arts center in Venice California. See my blog post about this event here. We're reading again this Sunday April 24 at 4 pm at Pages: a bookstore in Manhattan Beach California. We've modified the program a bit; however, we are carrying through the same theme: WRITING HEALING POETRY Turning Grief into Art We hope you'll join us. Each of us will read thirteen to fourteen poems. Mine are mostly in my memoir in prose and poetry, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Chanel will read from her book of poetry, Vanilla Milk, and Alexis will read from her poetry chapbook, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies. I can attest that the poetry is fabulous, and I know you'll like the refreshments as well. … [Read more...]

Calling all poets

Having just released Volume 3 of The Great American Poetry Show, it's time to start submitting to Volume 4. I've been working as co-editor of this poetry anthology for many years - this last release took five years from start to release - reading and evaluating hundreds of poems. However, the publisher and co-editor, Larry Ziman, always makes the final decisions about which poems eventually go into the anthology. Please visit the TGAPS website to submit (we accept previously published and simultaneous submissions) and/or order any of our three volumes. And if you do get a copy, please let us know what you think.   … [Read more...]

Thank you, Keith Alan Hamilton, for your beautiful photo and words

My dear friend and poetry and photography buddy Keith Alan Hamilton has created a blog to, as he says, independently publish online the art of its author ~Keith Alan Hamilton~ and other Artists. The blog's primary goal is to make available a freely accessible and affordable medium which will provide the creative spirit greater recognition, distribution & readership over the internet." Keith has also created The Hamilton Gallery where he showcases the work of other artists as well (including me). He has just surprised me with the most touching poem to accompany the photo he took when he visited my husband and me in Manhattan Beach . Thank you my dear friend Keith for your wonderful and kind words and spectacular photograph. I couldn't help sharing work with my readers.   when you have the realization you are experiencing the essence of greatness no matter how momentary the happening a sense of the spiritual emerges¦¦all in the cosmos appears wh … [Read more...]

Please welcome Toni Piccinini, author of The Goodbye Year

I'm so pleased to host Toni Piccinini during her WOW! Women On Writing blog tour. Her memoir, The Goodbye Year, is an inspirational, honest, and hilarious tale of Toni's approach to the end of an era in the Piccinini household. For many mothers, a child's senior year brings about a serious look back on the past eighteen. Every event from Halloween to Mother's Day becomes The Last Time. Toni Piccinini knows exactly what that's like, and in The Goodbye Year, she offers the loving support every soon-to-be Empty Nester needs. Think of Toni as your bossy-but-loving Italian auntie, with modern sensibilities and a packed pantry. With the wisdom she's acquired from saying goodbye three times to her own children, she reassuringly holds your hand while encouraging you through the insanity of the college application process, the rejections and the acceptances, and the teary dorm drop-offs. Even better, she reminds every mother that the best is yet to come freedom, creativity, flexibility, and t … [Read more...]

My writing life is heating up

Here's what's going on. This week I learned that one of my poems was accepted to appear in the Story Circle Network's 2103 Anthology, and that the proposal Eleanor Vincent and I wrote to present a workshop at SCN's 2014 conference was accepted. Our workshop is called Telling Healing Stories: Writing a Compelling Memoir. Added to the excitement is that the conference takes place in Austin Texas next April 11 through 13. I've always wanted to travel there, so here's my chance. I also began attending a weekly poetry workshop recommended by my writing friend, Chanel Brenner (see her guest post here). My first assignment was to bring in six copies of my portal poem which means that I read the first version of it at the first meeting and then I am required to rewrite and share the rewrites at each of our next five meetings. This poem had to be a first draft and one that makes me cringe when I read it. So I picked one I wrote at Esalen last summer that really got slammed by one of … [Read more...]

Africa Trip Part 5 – Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Because we only stayed in Lake Manyara one night and had the same guide, Ray, from our arrival there until we left Tanzania at the Kilimanjaro airport two days later, I've decided to lump our days in both places together. Plus, their landscape and weather are similar dry, dusty, with mostly red clay soil. After a long plane ride to Lake Manyara, Ray picked us up in an enclosed truck with an open roof where we could stand up and take our photos by leaning out through the top. However, since I'm so short, I had to continually climb up and down from my seat so I could get my camera and head out there. Once we arrived at the national park and had our picnic lunch we proceeded to look for game as we've done for the last eight days. And while I was beginning to feel ready to stop this, I began to click away with great enthusiasm, climbing up and down off my seat, and soon as I  saw more elephants, giraffes, and a lion relaxing in a tree.   We stayed at the Lemala camp at t … [Read more...]

Africa Trip Part 4 – Serengeti, Tanzania

After a plane ride, a long drive in a car with a young and sophisticated woman at the wheel, careful and thorough customs checks when leaving Kenya and later arriving in Tanzania, and another plane ride, we arrived in the Serengeti. It turns out the Serengeti is located just a couple hours drive from where we were in the Masai Mara, but because of some kind of feud between the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments the nearby border was closed causing us to unnecessarily spend hours and the big bucks to get to our first Tanzanian destination.   However, all was forgiven when our guide Nathan met us at the airport. Throughout our three-day stay there, he took us on what I thought were the most interesting game drives of our entire time in Africa imagine seeing a mother and baby rhino before we even arrived at our next tent camp, the Olakira.   On that first drive we also saw two kinds of vultures, storks, hippos, elephants, and Masai giraffes. But the rhinos were the find o … [Read more...]

Africa Trip Part 3 – Masai Mara, Kenya

After our two nights in Samburu, we flew to the Masai Mara region in the southeast corner of Kenya. Here at 6000 feet altitude, the weather was cool. And each night while there we experienced enormous rains, such that our guide Simon insisted on rolling up the sides of our jeep and giving us ponchos to wear. However, the animal and bird sightings there were spectacular. Even in the air before we landed we saw wildebeest, zebras, and giraffes below  - though in Masai Mara the giraffes, instead of being reticulated with patches of color outlined in white, are spotted. The zebras, the common Burchel, are smaller with wider spaced stripes than the Grevy's (my favorite because of the swirly look). Every zebra has unique stripe formations. Simon picked us up at the airport and was our guide during our stay. He also took us on a game drive as soon as we landed over a landscape called the Savanna large plains with sporadic trees, mostly Acacia. And almost immediately he showed us … [Read more...]

Africa Trip Part 2 – Samburu, Kenya

We left our Nairobi hotel bright and early on Sunday morning, September 2, and flew via Air Kenya to our first safari stop, Samburu, Kenya. The flight was approximately one and one-quarter hours, and every seat in the twin-engine plane was full. We landed in Samburu on a dirt runway and as soon as we deplaned we met our guide, Bon-i. Take a look. No words could describe his wonderful African costume and beaded accessories. Almost immediately he piled Bob and me and our traveling companions, Joel and Susan, and our duffle bags, various backpacks, jackets, hats, scarves, and camera equipment into his open-sided four-wheel drive vehicle, and we set out on our first game drive.   Bon-i, who is very knowledgeable about the game and birds and landscape of the Samburu reserve, told us right away his goal for us was to see the Samburu special five: Grevy's zebra (a larger animal with narrower stripes than the plain zebra), Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, and the beisa … [Read more...]

Africa Trip Part 1 – Nairobi

Since so many people have asked about our trip to Africa, over the next few weeks I'll share some highlights at: Nairobi, Samburu, Masai Mara, Serengeti, Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro crater, then back to Nairobi. Part 1 - Nairobi We arrived at the Nairobi airport at 2 am. The place was practically deserted and that was good, since the main terminal's welcoming hall, destroyed by a fire two weeks earlier, was nothing more than a large tent. We got our luggage quickly and met our tour group driver, Martin, outside. Since it was so early in the morning Martin said we should have no traffic, and we'd be at our hotel  the Norfolk in about ten minutes.By the way, I keep wondering if the airport fire was a warning from the terrorists who attacked the mall in Nairobi several weeks later. But we'll never know about that for sure, will we?  And then almost right after we left the airport we passed a horrific accident. The car involved looked like it went through a mangler, and we learned … [Read more...]

Wonderful book club experiences

In the last week I've had two opportunities to discuss my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, and most specifically bipolar disorder and surviving suicide at two book club meetings.  One was in the San Diego area, about an hour and a half from my home; the other in Palos Verdes Estates about ten miles south of where I live. Both of the invites came from long-time friends. Even so, I felt very honored to be asked.  And since I feel the intimacy and the openness of a book club discussion is a wonderful way to promote a book and a cause, I don't mind traveling long distances to attend.  On Friday night I met with ten women. Yesterday eighteen women huddled around me firing questions left and right.  That's how I like it. Though I might say a few introductory words, I like the discussion to be in the form of questions and answers. That way I can discuss what my audience wants to hear.  And both groups wanted to discuss the … [Read more...]

Does changing a book cover grow sales?

About a week or so ago, my publisher, Mike O'Mary of Dream of Things, suggested we change the cover of the ebook edition of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I suspect the main reason was that sales were falling off, and the book needed a little boost. However, in his explanation to me he said:   I decided to recommend a cover using a photo of Paul. I picked the photo of him as a college freshman. It's a great photo of Paul, and I think a lot of potential readers will be hooked by the image of a handsome young man who looks happy and healthy. He looks like someone you'd want as your own son or brother or partner. They will identify with him before they even know what the book is about.  I think all of that will be enough to get more people to read the description of the book -- and once they read the description, I believe they will want to read the book because they will be stunned that such a thing could happen to a person who could have been their own son or … [Read more...]