My life changed in an instant

I started my long-awaited consulting job this past Wednesday and with that my life’s daily routines  changed in an instant. I get up more than an hour earlier so I’ll have enough time to workout before I have to be at work – at 7:30 am!!!! Also, the amount of time I have to train for the Boston Overnight walk in June has been cut in half. I drive to work rather than walk downstairs to my home office. I need to be dressed in business clothes with makeup on rather than in my grubbies and no makeup when I work at home. I haven’t watched any television for the last several days – I sure miss my daily dose of Jeopardy – nor have I read one word of any of the books stacked on my beside table. But most important of all, most of my writing time has been snatched away. So far I’m clinging to daily journaling – usually right before I go to sleep, but my other writing has stopped. I was going great with the April Poem A Day prompts – until this week. Though the prompts stopped … [Read more...]

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Draft five of my novel is with five beta readers

  Last June I sent Draft Four of my novel-in-progress to five beta readers. This past Sunday I did it again. I sent Draft Five to five different beta readers. I also sent the manuscript to one of the first five beta readers and asked her to let me know if she thinks I created any damage as a result of all the cuts, changes, and rewrites I made to this latest draft - to comply with current guidelines for lengths of novels, I cut almost 9000 words. Hopefully, I left enough in tact that I didn't ruin anything. However, I have a safety net. I have saved every single draft of my novel. I can always add something back in if necessary. You can probably tell from the above, I consider getting my novel out in public both scary and exciting. However, it gives me a much-needed break from it. I've asked my readers to send me their comments by June 30 or sooner, so now I have time to blog, write some new poetry (I plan to participate in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem A Day Challenge t … [Read more...]

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Ageism doesn’t apply

I’m Going Back to Work I wasn’t looking for consulting work when I retired in April 2010 at the age of seventy. I was intent on working as a creative writer rather than a technical writer and proposal manager. For me it was either now or never. And I succeeded. In the last four and a half years I had my memoir published, I’ve written for several websites, I’ve written poems for two books of photography, and co-edited three poetry anthologies. Now I’m knee deep in revising my first novel. So really I have no time to work a day job, as they like to say. Actually, in the last couple of years I worked a couple of short-term consulting jobs – helping a group of engineers write proposals to the U.S. government. And it was easy-going back. I found that once I walked in the door I got into the swing of the work immediately. It was like I’d never been gone. Of course after doing the kind of work I did for almost thirty years, I shouldn’t have had any doubt that I could still perform … [Read more...]

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Writing work check-up

On January 5, 2015, I wrote a short writing to-do list for the coming few months. Today, since it's almost the end of January, is a good time to take stock. I'm pleased to report that I'm moving right along on my novel revisions. I've incorporated my red lines and yellow highlights into my online Revision 4 chapter files up to page 124. That means I have only 54 single-spaced hard-copy pages to go. Of course that doesn't mean that I'm finished finished. As I've revised I've tagged many many pages that I need to go back to. Like yesterday for instance. I was working on Chapter Seventeen which required that I add a new subsection at the chapter's end. I wrote it. I stepped back from it, I thought about how John Updike writes incredibly detailed descriptions, and I realized I wrote only the bare bones so far. I need to go back to that little subsection and add and add and add more. Remember the old adage - show don't tell? Well my bare bones only tell. I haven't written the scene t … [Read more...]

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A new poetry project

Poetry has been on my mind this past week. I submitted a new poem to the Writer's Digest poetry contest, and I sent several poems to my friend Keith Alan Hamilton as my first contribution to our joint endeavor of an anthology of poems and smart phone images. I'm also again participating in Robert Lee Brewer's November Chapbook Challenge although as of today I'm about six days behind. Since I won't share the poem I submitted to the contest, here are a couple from my project with Keith. I'd love to know what you think. Morning Walk I walk in the dark of the morning. watching as gray clouds move toward the horizon’s edge, and the sun begins to peek out. It’s almost a tug of war, the dark gray versus the sun’s rays that burst forth to take over the night sky. Then, almost in an instant the sun’s warmth rests on my shoulders and I forget the chill of the dark.                 The Lone Poles The pol … [Read more...]

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Meditation practice

I’m meditating again with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. Their latest twenty-one day series started on August 11 and goes to the end of August. As they say:  “Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience™ makes meditation easy, fun, and inspiring, offering daily guided audio meditations via an online, interactive program. Enjoy easy access to the daily program anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone, tablet or computer. Join our global community on each 21-Day Meditation Experience. Together, we will create lives filled with increased peace, joy, and wellbeing.” I usually meditate before going to bed. It relaxes me and better prepares me for sleep. My husband chooses to meditate in the morning right after he wakes up. But when is not the operative word. What’s important is making the time to do it. That’s what I really like about these Oprah and Deepak 21-day meditation experiences. They get me back into it. Without their prodding, I don’t meditate regularly. After our … [Read more...]

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The blog-a-day-challenge is over

  Today is the last day of my self-inflicted July blog-a-day challenge. You can probably hear me breathing a sigh of relief as I look out my office window. Though I’m glad I achieved my goal - there were many times in the month when I was tempted to call it off - I’m happy to tell you that I’m not ever going to do that to myself again. Here’s why: Thinking up a blog subject thirty-one days in a row is hard. As a result I know my posts were repetitive and sometimes uninteresting. I should have asked more writing friends to make guest appearances to help mix it up a bit. It was time-consuming. It took me more time to decide on a post subject than it took to write about the subject. It put unneeded pressure on me. What did I need that for? Well, I decided on this scheme while I was waiting for comments on my novel from my group of beta readers. I felt I needed another activity to keep me busy. I was definitely wrong about that. I also pressured myself not … [Read more...]

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Keith Alan Hamilton’s photo at Times Square

I'm so excited for my poet and photographer friend, Keith Alan Hamilton. His photo, Transition Flutter-Fly, will be shown at New York City's Times Square this very day. He'll be in the crowd with a butterfly shirt on, so if you're in the vicinity, please go by and say hi. Give him a hug for me too - I wish I could do it myself. I've known Keith for several years. We first met on Facebook when I joined the Poets, Writers, Photographers, Musicians, Artists ~ Networking group he created. We later met for dinner in Boston, and he also visited my husband and me in California. We discussed putting together a book of poems with images. That is still in the works. I've written several blog posts about Keith and his poems and photos (see this one). His devotion to his creativity is catching. Here's Keith's butterfly photo: And here's a photo of Keith so you can easily recognize him:     … [Read more...]

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Works in progress

Today is a good day for sharing some poems – written in response to Robert Lee Brewer’s weekly prompts on his website Poetic Asides. But please understand that these are all works in progress – if I ever submit them for publication alone or in a collection, they will undergo much-needed editing. Prompts 1. Write a poem about an unstoppable force Can’t Stop Writing I write I’m compelled to write articles, blog posts, my novel, my poems. I cannot stop the force that makes me write and I don’t want to. But it leaves me no peace from my spinning mind and its continual search for the right words in every piece. 2. Write a poem that deals with cruelty More Cruel than Safe We see the young man through a narrow slat in his door. He lies naked on cold cement. A thin quilt covers him. He has no bed or other furnishings. Scratches and cuts cover his body. One gash goes from his wrist to past his elbow, another on his arm‘s underside. Self inflicted wounds, … [Read more...]

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April PAD challenge poems

To stay on the poetry theme, I’m going to share a few of the poems I wrote during Robert Lee Brewer’s April 2014 poem a day challenge. This year he asked a daily guest judge to determine each day's winner. I haven’t heard any results yet, but no matter. I feel like a winner just having produced thirty poems during the April challenge. Day 7 Write a self-portrait poem. Two Self-portraits Dorianna sits lonely and forlorn in my attic. Her wrinkles deepen her liver spots multiply and enlarge her hair grows dirty white, straggling down to cover her sagging breasts that splay over her bloated belly. The joints of her hands swollen, stiff, grow more immobile by the day. All the while I live downstairs. My face clear, almost devoid of age, my figure svelte and supple, my legs always yearning to keep moving. Here I sit tapping my fingers quickly on the keyboard to keep up with my racing mind. I wonder when Dorianna and I will meet. Day 16 Write an elegy … [Read more...]

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Why poems are in my memoir

I should have posted this during April poetry month, but better late than never. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: a Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide consists of a mix of prose, poetry, and photos. And if I could have put music into it I would have. I originally dreamed about publishing a memoir in poems. I had a finished poetry manuscript early on and since poetry came out almost miraculously from my pen soon after my son died, I thought telling his and my story in poems would be most appropriate. But I was soon convinced the poems could not stand-alone. My book would lack the details, characterization depth, and the thoughts and feelings of my husband Bob and surviving son that were necessary in the telling of our whole family’s story. The poems provided the chapter themes and emotional impact, the prose provided the details and descriptions, and the photos helped to make the story seem more real. Early on I was introd … [Read more...]

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Poems for Cynthia

I have been holding these poems in very close. They are personal and sad, all about my friend who died at the end of December. I wrote them in response to Robert Lee Brewer’s November 2013 Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge. Here’s the dedication I wrote: This chapbook is dedicated to my cherished friend Cynthia Rayvis Godofsky November 5, 1946 – December 28, 2013 At the outset I decided to write a poem about Cynthia adhering to the daily prompt no matter what it was, hoping that my words might help keep her alive at least until the end of the challenge. Thankfully I was successful in weaving Cynthia into each daily prompt, and she kept rallying throughout the month. As you will see from these poems, she had a lot of love in her life and constant loving care during her last days. I’m sure that love helped keep her alive almost a month after the challenge ended. I thank Cynthia and her family for being my muses for this November 2013 PAD Chapbook Challenge (all poems written from … [Read more...]

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Nature ~ IQ: “Let’s Survive Not Die!” by Keith Alan Hamilton

My friend Keith Alan Hamilton has written a profound book of poetry, Nature ~ IQ: “Let’s Survive, Not Die!” and I want to brag about it a little bit since it just went up for sale on Amazon in early December 2013. Right now the paper back edition is for sale, but by the end of this month he’ll give away free Kindle editions so that people who read his words can freely share it with others. Keith says, “My goal was to have as many people as possible take advantage of the freely accessible way I’ve communicated my thoughts. I offer those who choose to read my words the opportunity to hear my call to action regarding the survival of humankind. I also waited until the last part of 2012 to promote the distribution of Nature ~ IQ: “Let’s Survive, Not Die!” in PDF format (free download) to demonstrate a positive voice that focuses on the most vital needs and issues of the people.” Here’s the blurb I wrote when it first came out at The Hamilton Gallery, where he shares his and others’ … [Read more...]

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My six-year old website has a new look

In case you’ve wondered where I’ve been, I’m happy to say I’m back to blogging with a whole new look and a new blog host site. I’ve moved, thanks to a wonderful web master and domain host, from Blogspot to WordPress. I felt after six years it was time for a change. Plus I’ve heard from my many blogging friends that WordPress will much better serve my needs. Come back in a few months and I’ll let you know if I find that to be true. Right now I’m knee-deep in questions and problems. First of all I have no idea how to even post this. It’s like going back to Square One. But I’ve found, via my trusty friend Google, a WordPress support document called: First Steps with WordPress. If it successfully helps me post this, you’ll know I learned something. If not, well, what can I say? Then I have to learn how to edit. When my archives from Blogspot got transferred over, most of my careful formatting went by the wayside. Line spacing is all over the place and the text is no longer wrapped ar … [Read more...]

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Africa Trip Part 6 – back in Nairobi

We spent our last night in Africa in Nairobi at the same hotel where we started – the Fairmont Norfolk. It was nice to get back into civilization again with a working wifi system, a TV, and a lovely place to have dinner. We retrieved our luggage containing our city clothes that we had stored there, and immediately sent a big load to be washed.   The highlight of our stay in Nairobi, and probably one of the main highlights of our whole African trip, was meeting a young Nairobi man, Pascal, for breakfast the next morning. I had heard about him through my friend and writing instructor, Ellen Bass, and our tour director, Anastasia’s Africa, helped arrange the meeting. My husband Bob and I spent an hour with him talking about the Kenyan orphan situation – out of 30 million people in Kenya, 1.3 million are orphans caused by HIV/AIDS and cancer deaths of the parents – the economy, the Chinese poaching, and the corruption in the Kenyan government. After breakfast we walked into Na … [Read more...]

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Welcome to my guest blog fest

For the next three and a half weeks I’m going to turn Choices over to the voices of other wonderful and experienced writers. I’ve asked twelve people whom I’ve either met personally or online to tell you about their lives, their writing, and their marketing experiences. I feel so fortunate that they have agreed to be my guests and participate in this blog fest. I hope you will keep coming back to read more and more as the days go by. You’ll find the information interesting and very helpful. Here’s my guest blog fest lineup in order of appearance:   August 24: Susan Weidener An author, editor and former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Susan leads writing workshops and started the Women's Writing Circle, www.susanweidener.com a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia.       August 26: Deborah Kalan Deborah has been writing about real life since she was in the fifth grade and received a diary with lock and key fo … [Read more...]

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Fun poetry prompts

View from Highway One, Big Sur, California Getting back to my poetry workshop in Big Sur a couple to weeks ago, I’ll give you some fun prompts where we were asked to write poems using a list of prescribed words. We also discussed: Controlling image poem – where an image, such as a tree or a broom, is something for the readers to hang onto while the poem takes us for a ride.   Long armed poem – scoops in a lot of information, goes on and on, and is tied together in the end – somehow. Leap poem– where the poet leaps into seemingly unrelated material and then ties it all together by asking a question or making a statement over and over. It’s also possible to write a leap poem by telling a story and then leaping into metaphor. Lyric poem– it has a song-like element that uses repetition of words and sounds, also asks a question or makes a statement over and over. Rhyme could definitely work here as well. Persona poem – a monologue in the voice of the character th … [Read more...]

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Poetry revision is no different than revising our other writing

Every morning during the poetry workshop I attended last week at Esalen, one of our three instructors gave us a poetry craft talk. The workshop, which was called Writing and Knowing and was led by Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar, gave me a lot of new information about how to write - and revise - poetry. As promised, I'm going to try to relate some of the things this wise trio of poets taught us. Ellen discussed revision - and this information sounded very much like what I've heard about revising memoirs, novels, and works of non fiction. Revising poems takes a lot of work. As she said, we must work at it. In fact, she said, good poets like to revise. Here are some of her hints: Keep original versions so you can go back and compare Simply cut out the bad parts - easier said than done Distinguish between the essential and non-essential Pretend it isn’t your poem when you sit down to revise - I love this idea   Delete unnecessary opening lines, r … [Read more...]

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Kindle Nation newsletter applauds my publisher, Dream of Things

Kindle Nation Bargain Book Alert: Four Best-Selling Memoirs for 99 Cents Each – Plus Three Bonus Books! August 15, 2013 By Kindle Nation Publisher Mike O’Mary Dream of Things is an indie publisher with a reputation for finding and publishing high-quality memoirs. Each of the memoirs offered today for 99 cents has 50+ reader reviews and ratings of 4+ stars. “We focus on memoirs and creative nonfiction,” says publisher Mike O’Mary. “Our goal is to provide readers with distinctive voices, meaningful books.” So far, it looks like Dream of Things is succeeding. Check out this great line-up of memoirs – all at ONLY 99 CENTS August 15-17. * * * Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera (159 Reviews, 4.6 Stars): “How come people who have experienced such trauma write so well? So raw and funny that it almost makes me want to have horrible things happen to me so my writing will improve.” Joel Stein, Time Magazine columnist   … [Read more...]

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So what’s the bottom line on the conferences?

Just a few observations after my panel appearances at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference on Tuesday, June 11 and at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15. Venues: Santa Barbara was much more upscale. It was held at a lovely hotel that overlooks the beach. GLA was obviously done on a budget at LA Valley College. The meetings were held in classrooms instead of conference rooms. Linda Joy Myers, Marla Miller, me, Eleanor Vincent Panels: However, I think the panels went well for both. In Santa Barbara I was a panel member discussing building a platform with a master moderator, Marla Miller, presiding. At the GLA I moderated three panels: memoir, platform, and poetry. Excellent experts were on all panels so we had lively discussions and lots of questions from the audience. Since the poetry workshop was a roundtable everyone participated in a give and take discussion throughout. In the end I think we provided useful information with lots of … [Read more...]

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