Thoughts of gratitude in the new year

The holiday season has come and gone once again. As always, I view it as bittersweet. The holidays bring up too many reminders of my son Paul who died just three months shy of his 28th New Year’s Eve birthday. We visited his gravesite on his 45th birthday – as we do on his death day and birthday every year. I also view the holiday season with gratitude. Besides my continued good health, the love and support of so many family members and friends, and my ability to live a productive life, that I can even think in terms of being grateful is a miracle. However, as bad as life was after Paul died, and as much as I continue to miss him, I have found out that with such a tragedy come unexpected gifts. Paul’s death has made me a stronger person, physically and emotionally. It was as if I accomplished getting stronger through brute force. I met and interacted with people who had been through similar experiences; I took writing classes and workshops; I went back to work outside my home with … [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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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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New writing and old

I've started to write about something new. I haven't a clue yet where it's going so I don't want to reveal the topic yet. I just want to let you and the world know. That's a way to keep me accountable. I can't go ahead and disband this new writing project because I've now put it out there. You all know and I know you'll keep me going. I'm also going through some poems I've written over the years. I'm looking for material to submit. I wrote the one below back in 2011 at my favorite poetry workshop at Esalen Institute in Big Sur California. Unfortunately my favorite three poets/instructors, Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar, aren't doing this workshop anymore, though I went to a workshop at Esalen with Joseph about a year ago. That was wonderful as well. So the theme for this poem was "changeability." We were asked to make changes from line to line, using word series, thoughts, length of line, and language. Other aspects of this theme are: anaphora - repetition of th … [Read more...]

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My Choices guest today is: Jennifer-Lynn Keniston

My Choices guest today is Jennifer-Lynn Keniston, author of Afta-U. Here she tells us how she balances the fear and thrill of writing dark novels. Like Jennifer-Lynn, I believe that balance is the key to success in all our live's undertaking. I welcome Jennifer-Lynn, and I wish her huge success in all her writing. How to leave the rollercoaster of emotions on the page/computer screen when stepping away from writing a dark novel by Jennifer-Lynn Keniston As a child, I could ride all the rides in an amusement park including the big rollercoasters with daring declines and twisting turns. From what I can recall, a rollercoaster ride can be both thrilling and terrifying. When I sit down to write more dialogue and piece together a dark novel, it is like I am sitting on an amusement park rollercoaster all over again. And I’m hoping I haven’t eaten too much cotton candy and fried dough before the ride starts. Emotions begin to battle one another. Now a days though, I have vertigo so I c … [Read more...]

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Happy New Year

I'll wait until 2016 to write about what's next for me and my writing life. This is the time to ring in the new year. Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for being here with me since November 2007.       … [Read more...]

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A couple more PAD poems

Today I completed Day 14's poem. I'm almost half-way through Robert Lee Brewer's November 2015 Poem a Day chapbook challenge. Though I'm not ecstatic about my product, I am happy that I'm writing a poem a day. My long-term consulting job and vacation took me out of my writing routine. This challenge seems to be helping me get back to it. Day 9 Write a work poem. For some folks, writing is work (great, huh?). For others, work is teaching, engineering, or delivering pizzas. Still others, dream of having work to help them pay the bills or go to all ages shows. Some don’t want work, don’t need work, and are glad to be free of the rat race. There are people who work out, work on problems, and well, I’ll let you work out how to handle your poem today. Three things saved my life after my son died: writing, working out, and working. No, I don’t consider writing work. It’s my healing balm, whether I’m creating a poem or ranting in my journal, the more I write the better I feel. … [Read more...]

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A couple PAD poems

I'm knee deep into poem writing these days. Here's a couple from the first four days of the November 2015 poem a day - PAD - chapbook challenge. I haven't done a careful edit of these yet, but you'll get the idea what I was up against given the prompts. I always enjoy Robert Lee Brewer's prompts. They are designed to stretch our skills and give us a topic we can have fun with - or not. Day 2 Write a surrender poem. A person can surrender to the authorities or a mob, but people can also surrender to a feeling or to music. Or leftover Halloween candy (at least, “my friend” has had that problem). I hope you surrender to your poetic impulse. It was almost 11 pm when he arrived at Grand Central. Tall, lean, perfectly quaffed in a hand-tailored sports jacket. But not to look too stuffy he wore it with jeans, an open collared blue shirt, polished tan wing tips, and carried a scuffed old briefcase. He walked through the station without looking side to side, with an air of con … [Read more...]

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I love The Handmaid’s Tale

I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and I can’t even wait to finish it to praise it. Atwood’s imagination and writing are enthralling. She makes me want to study with her to learn how she does it. This is a book about an imagined time, yet the story is so believable – how a woman who once had a job, money, a husband, and a child now is no longer even allowed to read. Her ovaries are her only redeeming feature. She now must lie with the Commander and his wife once a month, hopefully to give them the baby she conceives. Atwood writes: “But isn’t this everyone’s wet dream, two women at once? They used to say that. Exciting, they used to say.” The Handmaid is the narrator. In a particularly beautiful passage she discusses time: “There’s time to spare. This is one of the things I wasn’t prepared for – the amount of unfilled time, the long parentheses of nothing. Time as white sound. If only I could embroider. Weave, knit, something to do with my hands. I want a … [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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“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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Meet Eric Trant – author of Steps!

Please welcome Erik Trant, best selling author of Steps. He's here for his second blog tour stop with Women on Writing - WOW! Eric's subject is very dear to my heart since I spent a lot of years squeezing  my creative writing aspirations in between the proposal deadlines I had to meet working my day job in the aerospace industry. Even now, my writing life has gone by the wayside for a few months while I work a consulting job. I can barely eek out a journal entry each day. However, I truly believe my work as a technical writer/editor and proposal manager taught me the discipline I needed to become a published author. Eric's insight into this topic teaches us how we all can benefit from a second career. Here's Eric. Part-Time Authors: How a Second Career Improves Your Writing by Erik Trant I suppose the dream is to begin writing around year ten, publish somewhere just north of puberty, bang out a Masters of Fine Art at the local institute, and scoot your way onto the best-seller's … [Read more...]

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My stress meter

I have a built-in stress meter. I can tell how stressed I am by how loud my tinnitus sounds. When I feel relatively balanced, I hear very low wave-like sounds that seem to come from one ear. When I’m stressed the tinnitus sounds like crashing swells blowing through my head from both sides. So I was interested to read a recent New York Times article titled “How Exercise May Protect Against Depression,” given that “even mild, repeated stress can contribute to the development of depression and other mood disorders in animals and people.” Mood disorders, mania, and depression run in my family, so I need to actively make sure I lower my stress level. I’ve been exercising almost all my life, and I do it every day – first thing in the morning. Exercise was especially useful after my son Paul’s death fifteen years ago. That outlet kept me sane then, and it still does. That is, at least for a while. For example, I exercised this morning – sixty minutes of cardio followed by a little iro … [Read more...]

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A walk for suicide prevention

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know how obsessive I am about writing. My life is about the actual writing or thinking about writing when I'm not at my computer. I also am obsessive about exercise. I workout in some way every day - either at the gym or taking long walks in my beautiful beach neighborhood. Working out and writing were instrumental in saving my life after my son Paul died by suicide in 1999. Since my son's death I've also become obsessive about working toward erasing the stigma of mental illness and helping to prevent suicide. I've volunteered and participated with others whose mission aligns with mine. I've also written much about mental illness and suicide here and in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. This coming June 27-28, I'll take an amazing journey in Boston - another way to memorialize my son and show what I stand for.   The Out of the Darkness Overnight Experience is a 16-18 mile walk over the course of one nigh … [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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The Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference is this weekend

This coming Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28, I’ll be moderating two panels at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference. According to its program materials: “West Coast Writers Conferences presents a full weekend of panels, workshops and presentations by educators, noted speakers, and industry professionals focused on the craft and business of writing. “This conference differentiates itself by presenting individual program streams for (what we call the 3-A’s) Aspiring,Active, and Accomplished writers. Topics are offered in progressive streams, so you are immersed all weekend in an exciting and educational environment. You chose your level of participation and areas of interest, and may crossover to other levels at any time. Speakers and panelists are selected based on who is best suited to the curriculum, so you get the most informed workshops and presentations. Along with some perennial favorites, we are pleased to include important new voices and industry experts.” … [Read more...]

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2013 reflections

I like to reflect a bit at the beginning of a new year, so here goes. 2013 for me and my family was a mixed bag. My husband Bob and I traveled a lot – I think more than any other year in our lives together (to Denver three times to visit family; to London, Kenya, Tanzania, Dubai and Paris with dear friends; to Oakland to spend a weekend with another friend, and this month to Savannah, Charleston, Miami Beach on our own, and then on a Caribbean cruise – again with our family – all sixteen of us). We also hosted several rounds of visitors – cousins and friends – who stayed in the guest room of our home. Bob had two surgeries in 2013 – a complete hip replacement in early January (that made the bells and whistles go off every time he went through an airline security check) and carpel tunnel in late November. And even though the timing was very soon before we left on our Africa plus trip, I drove up to Big Sur California on my own to take a poetry workshop at the Esalen Institut … [Read more...]

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Robert Davis: about writing, publishing, and demons

This is a first for Choices - a guest post by an author of a book of horror stories. However, the writing life of author, Robert Davis, is something all authors can resonate with. And maybe it's time for us all to wander around some other genres. Who knows? We might end up liking them. Please welcome Robert with a hearty congratulations on the launch (TODAY!) of his book. Writing, Publishing, and Demons by Robert Davis Hmmmm, writing a guest blog…For a week of firsts, I have one more to add! First of all I would like to thank Madeline Sharples for allowing me to blog today. It is great to see how many people support independent authors. My first book Rakasha: Legend of the Hindi Tiger Demon has been released on Amazon today, July 5, 2013, in both Ebook and POD. I have written for years and years and years, since the fifth grade. While I chose not to think back to how long ago that really was, it was a while back. For all this time I have written, edited, and deleted a t … [Read more...]

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My guest, Belinda Nicoll – drumroll please!

I'm so happy to have Belinda Nicoll here today. She is the author of the memoir, Out of Sync, which I read and reviewed a couple of months ago. For me Out of Sync to be more than a memoir. It is an adventure story, a travelogue, a history of our changing times, and a philosophical view of the world and life, as she adjusts to moving to America from South Africa with a new husband. I highly recommend you pick up her beautifully written book. And I'm so grateful to Belinda for answering my long list of questions. Here goes: 1. What does the title of the book mean? My memoir explores the concept of change—despite a series of harrowing events that demonstrate how quickly adventure and excitement can devolve into chaos and despair, I believe that change, however merciless, is always the most profound catalyst for personal development. The title of my book—Out of Sync—captures the condition that permeated all aspects of my life in the ten years following our expatriation to the … [Read more...]

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A wonderful resource for all writers

The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description needs a new name. It should be called “Every Writer’s Bible.” It needs to be read and reread. It needs to be carried around with you. It needs to get worn and tattered with underlines and margin notes because you keep referring to it so often. Author Sharon M. Lippincott likes the word savor – a perfect word for this book. It’s one to be savored throughout all your writing endeavors no matter in which genre you write: nonfiction, life story, memoir, fiction. You’ll find what you’re looking for to help you write better descriptions in this book. This wonderful resource is an anthology of Sharon Lippincott’s posts from her blog, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. She says, “I find the topic of writing description endlessly fascinating and will continue to explore and post about it as long as my fingers keep moving. Meanwhile, use the tips in this anthology to practice writing and stretching your imagination. Your writing … [Read more...]

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