Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2017

AFTERNOON TEA – Inspiration in a Teacup!

WRITERS WORDS: “Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head.  It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” – Ann Patchett 

MAY 2017 MONTHLY MUSING 

AFTERNOON TEA – INSPIRATION IN A TEACUP!

     A coffee drinker most of my life, I never gave much thought to drinking tea. Like many other people in our country, I ‘m addicted to that jolt of caffeine every morning before beginning my day. The coffee pot is a fixture on the kitchen counter and ground coffee is a never-run-out- of staple in the pantry.  Yes, I occasionally drink tea and when I do it is with a Lipton tea bag dangling over the side of a cup of boiling water from a teakettle. Blah!

It wasn’t until I retired from the day job, visited a couple of tea cafes and became a writer that my attitude toward tea changed. What really got me hooked on taking time out for an afternoon tea break was celebrating my sister’s birthday this past winter at an English Tea Room located in Carefree, Arizona not far from her home in Phoenix. Tea was served in lovely English bone china tea cups and beautiful teapots hung from ceilings, lined shelves and graced glass-topped tables with a chosen tea of choice. Oh, and the goodies! Crumpets, scones with Devon cream, tiny cakes, cookies and pastries, tea-sized sandwiches with cucumber, salmon and an extensive selection of black, green and herbal teas. It was a cherished and relaxing afternoon.

This past year, when time permitted, Afternoon Tea became a new and welcome habit, a time to take a break from chores and discuss the issues of the day with friends. I never expected that duplicating an afternoon tea ritual would benefit my writing projects, but it did. When the weather is agreeable I sit outside on deck or patio, listen to the birds calling and singing in the nearby bushes and trees with a cup of my favorite black cinnamon tea and a favorite blueberry scone. Before I know it my mind empties, wanders about, and reflects about nothing and everything and very often the creative juices flow along with another pour from the teapot. When the weather is inclement and I can’t sit outside, I move inside to a favorite chair with nary a TV or radio to distract from my quietude. I pick up a pen and pad and free write or edit the work from the day before. Unfortunately, and many writing coaches counsel against it, I can’t stand to leave the previous day’s work with glaring typos or non-working words. I sip my tea while I read and edit the former day’s work before continuing on with the story.

When I began this Musing on Afternoon Tea, I discovered a plethora of information on tea’s origins, processing, benefits, etc.; too much to write about in a short post.

A few tidbits for thought:

  • Historical notes indicate tea originated in China some 5000 years ago around 2727BC.
  • All types of teas originate from the same evergreen tree shrub: Camellia Sinensis. More than 3000 varieties of this bush are grown in mountain areas around the world.
  • England’s Duchess of Bedford was credited with beginning the Afternoon Tea ritual which dates back to the 19th century.
  • Some helpful websites:
  • Short and Stout Tea(NY): www.shortandstouttea.com, The Whistling Kettle(NY), www.thewhistlingkettle.com ,Facts about tea: www.learn-about-tea.com/facts
  • English Rose Tea Room (AZ): www.carefreetea.com, The Tailored Tea (NY): www.thetailoredtea.com.

You may already be a tea drinker, but if you haven’t yet steeped yourself in the Afternoon Tea indulgence, this new pleasure awaits. And, whatever your interests or hobbies, may your creative juices flow along with your favorite tea!

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | April 1, 2017

NICHOLAS AND ME


 

 

WRITERS WORDS:  “We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

APRIL 2017 MONTHLY MUSING

NICKOLAS & ME

     When I sat down to write the Musing, I recalled April was National Autism Month and Autism, a disorder not entirely understood, has touched our family like so many others. It’s often difficult to grasp 1 in 88 children are on the autism spectrum, including 1 in 54 for boys. I’m an experienced grandmother. I’ve been blessed with eight grandchildren—5 girls and 3 boys. The oldest grandchild is twenty-six, the youngest age six. Each one is special in their unique way, but Nicholas, now age eight, is special in a manner different from the others. And so it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my special grandson—Nicholas.

When Nicky was two years old he didn’t speak. After a visit to a New York physician, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The words “non-verbal” hit our hearts like a lightning bolt. Despite this new heartache, Nicholas’s family set out on a path to protect, nurture and provide the necessary assistance to help him succeed. We spent hours getting information from online sites leaving no stone unturned. Fortunately, he resided in New York State and was able to have intervention therapy during that early period. However, when the family made a necessary move to a southern state, the services dried up like stale prunes. His mother and I became warriors on his behalf and, in many ways, we, like many other parents/grandparents are still at war. (see postscript)

Photos were pasted all over the refrigerator including a water glass, foods and pertinent household items. Over time and direction, Nicky pointed to what he needed or wanted. He became and still is a whiz on an I-pad, and over the next few years, Nicky began to speak and put words coherently together. Today, Nicky is more verbal and a smart little guy with a strong desire to learn. However, his worst enemy is his hyperactivity and inability to sit still for any length of time. He has been and remains fascinated with how toys and household items are put together and what makes them work.  Light bulbs are unscrewed from lamps and many toys and household items have been reduced to a pile of parts and pieces (enough to drive the sanest parent insane) with his favorite screwdriver. For a time he was fascinated with the dishwasher and thankfully, that attraction passed. However, he has developed a keen interest in automobile engines—piston, spark plugs, etc…….

However, autism does not define who Nicky is. He is a sweet, social little boy and like any child with siblings, likes to sometimes torment his younger sister. The first time he hugged this grandma remains a special day in my memory. This past holiday season, Nicky flew by airplane (a challenge for him, his mother and other passengers) to visit me. He saw snow for the first time and for a young boy who hates to keep his socks and shoes on, threw on my old boots and played in a leftover snow bank with his sister. While visiting, he helped his father replace a damaged ceiling light/fan unscrewing the pieces of the old one and piling them up for the recycle bin. And recently andfor the first time when I was on the phone speaking with his mother and I shouted “hello Nicky,” he yelled back, “hi gramma!”

Here are some valuable informational sites for families with children on the autism spectrum: http://www.autismspeaks.com, http://www.rethinkautism.com, http://www.autism2ability.com,www.asatonline.org.

Postscript: Every child on the autism spectrum is unique and different from any other. Unfortunately, available services vary from state to state as well as professionalism and training of educators, teachers and aides in the nation’s elementary schools. Parents/grandparents need to communicate with their respective state/local congressional representatives and local school systems regarding the special needs of their autistic children. These children require knowledgeable, educated and well trained school administrators, teachers and aides in all elementary schools. Additionally, there are many children on the spectrum that could and should be integrated and mainstreamed in regular classrooms rather than segregated with other children with different special needs.

Light it up Blue Today and Everyday!  Change can happen! Let your voice be heard!

 

Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2017

SAY IT WITH SAYINGS!

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Writers Words: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 –page book. Write a good one.” –Brad Paisley, Singer-Songwriter

 “THE BIG DIG,” my narrative non-fiction essay has recently been published in the “Comin’ Up Roses,” February/March 2017 issue of MaryJaneFarm Magazine: www.maryjanesfarm.org

“CEMETERY PLOT,” fiction short story is pending publication in the newly transitioned The Storyteller Anthology Magazine. www.thestorytellermagazine.com.

 

MARCH 2017 MONTHLY MUSING

SAY IT WITH SAYINGS!

     “Do as I Say, Not as I do.”  My Dad said that to me many times over the years when I was growing up. Both Mom and Dad were smokers, admitted it was a “filthy habit,” and although they smoked, I should not. So, with the exception of giving it a try, choking half to death and a brief adult trial, I did as Dad said, not as he did. Consider this: his generation didn’t have the medical knowledge on nicotine addiction or the health hazards caused by smoking and yet they didn’t want this abominable habit inflicted upon their children.  Another of Dad’s favorite sayings: “If your ship is to come in, you must put your oar in the water.” Whether it was his saying, or learned elsewhere, I never knew. I only knew that if I wanted something in life, I had to work for it.  Add my own favorite:  “Helping hands are at the end of your arms.”   I believe most of the time individuals can help themselves through most problems without the expectation that others will do it for them.

What are Sayings? Sayings can be defined as a collection of short, pithy expressions identified with a particular person, especially a political or religious leader. Per Wikipedia: “A saying is any concisely written or spoken linguistic expression that is especially memorable because of its meaning or structure.” Many times these short, succinct words can drive a point across faster and more efficiently than a lengthy or wordy harangue.

     Listed below are a few favorites:

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, and others build windmills.” –Chinese Proverb

“Life is always going to be stranger than fiction, because fiction has to be convincing and life doesn’t.” –Neil Gaiman, Author

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” –Confucius

“It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.” –Sinclair Lewis

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” –Victor Hugo

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The ax forgets; the tree remembers.” – African Proverb

“Spirit is always there within you, shining with the brilliance of a thousand suns.” –Deepak Chopra

“Nothing is to be more highly prized than the value of each day.” –Goethe

And …., a special one for writers:

“The pages are still blank but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”  –Vladimir Nabakov

     OK, now it’s your turn! Send me one of your favorite quotations/sayings in the Comment Section of the site.  I’d love to feature them in a future Musing naming the original author and individual who submitted it.

     And, here’s another great site for Readers and Writers: Gary McLaren’s, “Writers Unplugged.” www.writersunplugged.com  and www.garymclaren.com

writersunplugged-garymclaren

Gary McLaren is an Author and Digital Entrepreneur. His first website: Worldwide Freelance ( sign up for your free newsletter)! He’s written and published a number of independently published books: A Quick Guide to Social Media for Writers; The Indie’s Author’s Guide to Publishing EBooks; and The In-Flight Magazines report.

READERS:AND MOST IMPORTANT…. DON’T FORGET TO LIGHT IT UP BLUE FOR NATIONAL AUTISM MONTH THIS APRIL!

Posted by: penpatience | February 1, 2017

2017 SMART GOALS –FOR READERS & WRITERS

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“THE BIG DIG,” my narrative non-fiction essay has recently been published in the “Comin’ Up Roses,” February/March 2017 issue of MaryJaneFarm Magazine: http://www.maryjanesfarm.org

WRITERS WORDS:  “If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, you’re a writer.” –- R. A. Salvatore

FEBRUARY 2017 MONTHLY MUSING

2017 SMART GOALS—FOR READERS & WRITERS

S pecific  M easurable  A ttainable  R ealistic  T ime-bound

It’s the beginning of the New Year and many of us, still in the throes of post-holiday spirit, have made goals we hope to achieve in the coming year. Perhaps we chose to lose ten of the gained holiday pounds, vowed to keep fit with diligence in our chosen exercise program or, finally, dust off that partially completed short story that has been pushed to the side of the desktop gathering dust.

I’ve often said in previous posts, that goals are commitments that must be met. I also indicated that sometimes extenuating situations and emergencies might interfere with planned goals and although a goal had to be temporarily postponed, one should not lose sight of it. However, all too often a goal falls to the wayside forgotten in the turmoil and challenges of everyday life. Why is that? I believe it’s because the goals we made weren’t SMART GOALS.

A seminar memento from an earlier business career titled, “Smart Goals,” can be applied as an inspirational or how-to message for almost any endeavor and is especially beneficial for writers in meeting their different writing projects.

     An Example:

Goal:  This year I’m going to write a memoir, two short stories, a non-fiction essay and complete the “dust collector” short story that’s been dormant far too long. (Hmmm… goals appear vague, uncertain, indefinite, ambiguous…)

Specific: I’m going to dust off that short project and finish it. It’s been sitting for over six months.

Measurable:  I’ll write 500-750 words on this project three days a week for approximately two hours per day.

Attainable:  I’ll complete this project barring any real emergencies. (Running out of coffee, wine and inspiration are not emergencies)

Realistic: Is this an achievable goal? Can I do this? Remember that old nursery rhyme, “The Little Engine That Could?” — It puffed, “I think I can. I think I can.”  However, writers should puff: “I know I can! I know I can!”

Time-bound: How long will it take to finish this story? Well, three dedicated days per week @ 500-750 words a day, the writing time should be complete in approximately two months.

HOO-rah! The goal has been met.  The story has been completed within the planned time frame.

However, keep in mind, additional time for resting the document, editing, rewriting, writing circle critique and, if you have one, reading by a beta-reader will consume additional time. Perhaps consideration should be made for these tasks within the original goal or a subsequent one. The sooner the “dust collector” has been removed from dormancy and submitted to publications/publishers, the better!

Each writer has different priorities and time constraints. If a writer has a full-time job and a growing family, the attainable writing goal will be affected by this demanding lifestyle. Writing goals, most likely, will be measured in much longer time-bounds.

A professional full-time writer’s goals will encompass many specific goals with deadlines that must be met. It’s a chosen career path that provides the majority of the writer’s annual income. Projects must be measured accurately with realistic time-bounds.

And, most writers can relate to that poor little engine that doubted he “could,” puffing along through unforeseen obstacles, rejection slips, critique slings and arrows and inspirations that somehow dissipate when the going gets tough.

BUT…Writers that utilize Smart Goals techniques puff along despite these many uphill battles:

“I know I can!  I know I can.”

Writers: Check out this great site for writers: The Writer Interface.  http://www.thewriterinterface.com.

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Mary Rosenblum, Published Author, Writing Teacher/Coach, hosts this site that offers multiple services, writing tips and information for writers of all genres.

Posted by: penpatience | January 1, 2017

A NEW YEAR – A NEW VOICE

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WRITERS WORDS:   “Tell us a story about transformation…Every story is “the caterpillar and the butterfly.”  – Blake Snyder

COMING SOON – Narrative essay, “The Big Dig,” is pending publication in the February/March 2017 issue of MaryJane Farm Magazine.

 

 

A NEW YEAR — A NEW VOICE!

     I sang in the high school chorus. I was an Alto and when I attempted to sing Soprano my voice squeaked on the high notes. Lower Bass notes were achievable, but harmonizing in the highest register had me squawking off-key.  At the time I didn’t worry too much about reaching that lofty level; I just enjoyed singing in the range where my voice was comfortably on key. Additionally, I often became annoyed with the many required practice sessions. A young adult at the time, the realization that practice and repetition would result in a more successful performance may have eluded me. However, that old adage, “wisdom comes with age,” is very true and cannot be denied.

Today, I realize if you don’t use your voice, the voice you once had will rust, deteriorate and, perhaps, lose its ability to sing well or at all. Two words come to mind: Practice and Repetition. Whether I speak of a singing or writing voice, without constantly singing or writing, notes and words become sloppy, stale and sluggish. If you want your voice to reach solo status, you must do the work without procrastination. I hear you—easier said than done! Balderdash! Sing or write as often as possible (a shower is a great place to sing and let your mind roam for new writing ideas). On a coffee break, take a pen and pad with you while you sip from that hot steaming mug and hum a favorite tune under your breath….:)

The results of passion and constant attention can be measured in improved singing and writing skills. Perhaps an opportunity to sing a lead might be offered or a long term writing project may come to fruition with an agent offer or short story acceptance; both signs of growth in your singing or writing craft.

I recall my first writer post, “Finding My Voice,” written in February, 2012. I wrote, “While I continue along the writing trail, I know my voice will change and grow with new and continuous writing experiences. My ultimate goal is to develop a writing voice that sings loud and clear, in perfect pitch, on key with a rhythmic beat—and never gets lost in the chorus.”

My singing voice has been allowed to atrophy (on purpose). I was never a great singer. However, my writing voice has grown with hard work, passion and persistence, continual practice, rejecting rejections and some good luck in sending a story to the right place at the right time. I’d like to think I’m now flying solo and have left the chorus behind. However, not one to rest on past laurels, I’m hopeful this New Year will continue to grow my writer voice with continued practice and repetition…..and a lot more good luck.

 Tell me. What new plans do you have for invigorating your writer voice in 2017?

Best wishes for that new voice, new success in your writing endeavors in this New Year-2017.  Be safe!

Badge-FFW-150x150[1]PS. I’m a fan of Hope Clark’s site: Check it out!

 

Posted by: penpatience | November 29, 2016

HO! HO! HO! TIS THE SEASON…

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WRITERS WORDS: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

 

DECEMBER 2016 MONTHLY MUSING

 

HO! HO! HO!   TIS THE SEASON….

Hey folks – it’s that time of year again! A time when everyone traipses “over the river and through the woods” with “sleigh bells ringing” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” leading the way. A spruce tree’s tied to the back of the sled for trimming on Christmas Eve when Grandpa’s big, baritone voice bellows “Silent Night” and Grandma brings out trays of home baked cookies, eggnog, cocoa, then sneaks Grandpa a beer encouraging him to belt out another verse of “O Come All Ye Faithful.”  And yes, “we hung stockings with care hoping that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”  If only……

The approaching Yuletide season had me musing about present-day Christmases against Christmases of years past. I asked myself, has Christmas gone to the dogs?

Today, the commercial, retail bombardments begin before Halloween costumes are taken from the shelves. There’s Black Friday, Online Monday, and Small Business Saturday in support of home-town businesses. Some folks quickly gobble down holiday fare and high-tail it over to a mall to catch the one day only holiday special. Cash registers “jingle, jingle all the way.”

For some of us in past generations, childhood holiday recollections were different. It was hopeful, not assured big ticket items like bicycles, wagons, trains, trucks, and special dolls of the season would miraculously appear under the tree Christmas morning. An expectant, hopeful spirit infused the holiday season. Christmas morning, when good old Santa delivered that coveted gift or two, kids would play while holiday dinner aromas wafted through the kitchen and family members came by for dinner–most often, a  relaxing, enjoyable day away from daily work routines and family issues (yes, sometimes old squabbles surface during holiday gatherings.) And children believed in Santa Claus until some smarty-pants kid in grade school squealed, “you dummy, don’t you know there ain’t no Santa Claus” or they found Mom’s hidden stash of  holiday gifts stuffed in an upstairs closet.

Share with me this crazy Christmas “ditty” that popped into my head while writing this musing sung to the tune of “Oh Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone:”

Oh where, oh where has my Christmas gone

Oh where, oh where, can it be?

With its costs so high and the spirits so low

Oh where, oh where did it go?

So, has Christmas really gone to the dogs?  Nah! Although the holiday spirit may be buried beneath a heavy dose of commercialism, underneath the enormous pile of ripped away gift wrap, many different religious and spiritual beliefs continue to flourish. This holiday season I may bark in commercial protest but I know if dog bowls are kept filled with spiritual bones the true spirit of Christmas will prevail and thrive.

Dear Readers and Writers: Above all, remember to remain safe this holiday season. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t overload electrical circuits with too many lights. Keep a live Christmas tree watered and unplug it when you’re away from home.

Merry Christmas – Happy New Year to you and yours.

Posted by: penpatience | November 1, 2016

PARDON MY TURKEYS!

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WRITERS WORDS: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

 

NOVEMBER 2016 MONTHLY MUSING

 PARDON MY TURKEYS!

I’ve never been fond of turkey. However, because my extended family has always loved turkey; the traditional stuffed turkey-bird has graced many a table at family gatherings over the years.

This afternoon, while I sat on the back deck drinking tea and enjoying colorful fall foliage, I heard the weird gabble-gobble of wild turkeys that inhabit the wooded wild areas behind my community complex.  It’s hunting season in upstate New York and, due to the past year’s mild winter, increased herds of these wild birds will soon be diminished when shotgun blasts and bow and arrows find their mark. Perhaps culling the herd of overpopulated turkeys is beneficial; New England winters can be harsh for wildlife survival. Sipping the tea and warmed by the sun, I decided to research the history of turkeys in America’s favorite holiday.

The 1621 Thanksgiving historically marked the Pilgrims first autumn harvest. However, the American turkey tradition did not begin with these early pilgrims. “While no records exist of the exact bill of fare, Pilgrim chronicler, Edward Winslow, noted in his journal the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the three-day event. Wild—but not domestic—turkey was plentiful in the region and a common food source for both English settlers and Native Americans. But it is just as likely the fowling party returned with other birds the colonists regularly consumed such as ducks, geese, and swans. Herbs, onions or nuts might have been added to the birds for extra flavor…….Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag Indians arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on a spit over a smoldering fire and colonists might have used some of the venison to whip up a hearty stew.” (Excerpt — HISTORY.com.) It is noted that Pilgrims held a true Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 following a refreshing 14-day rain which resulted in a larger harvest. William DeLoss Love calculates that this thanksgiving was made on Wednesday, July 30, 1623. (Excerpt-Wikipedia) I noted, although wild turkeys were surely consumed during this early century, wild turkeys were not a centerpiece for annual harvest thanksgivings.

When the cacophonic noise of the wild turkeys moved away from my hill disappearing deeper into the forest of trees, I reflected on their four hundred year evolutional survival. Throughout these years, these turkeys have evaded seasonal obstacles, starvation, and hunters’ stew pots.  President Obama and many Presidents before him have pardoned a domestic turkey in what has become an annual White House tradition. I’m hopeful the wild turkeys in the Northeast woods will experience a similar pardon throughout the holiday season and approaching winter. The hill wouldn’t be the same without their noisy gabble-gobble.

THANKSGIVING

The Year has turned the circle,

The seasons come and go.

The Harvest is all gathered in

And chilly north winds blow.

 

Orchards have shared their treasures,

The fields their yellow grain.

So open wide the doorway-

Thanksgiving comes again!

–Author unknown

Dear Readers/Writers:  HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | October 1, 2016

DO-DO NOT RECUSITATE (DNR)….a story?

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WRITERS WORDS: “Everybody has a book in them but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” –Christopher Hitchens

OCTOBER 2016 MONTHLY MUSING

DO – DO NOT RECUSITATE (DNR)……..a story?

The expression, DO NOT RESCUSITATE (DNR), is most always associated with end of life choices often due to medical conditions or emergency situations. Also known as no code or allow natural death (AND), it’s a legal order written on a legal form or in a hospital to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) in respect of patients’ wishes. Many elderly individuals have Health Care Proxies and/or Power of Attorneys indicating their decisions with regard to resuscitation—a most difficult choice under any circumstance. And then, there are people who choose not to address their demise but leave end-of-life to faith and destiny. (Note: A DNR does not affect any treatment other than treatment which would require intubation or CPR. Patients who are DNR can continue to receive chemotherapy, antibiotics, dialysis, or any other appropriate treatments.) I have a Health Care Proxy and DNR and mused about this topic one recent afternoon while sorting through an array of business folders. I thought about and asked myself why couldn’t end-of-life resuscitation also be relevant to stories and manuscripts?

My musing focused on DNR application because that very afternoon I received another nicely written rejection on a submitted short story. A story I thought, originally, was quite good. After countless rewrites, edits, two ending changes, two contest entries and submission to four fiction publications the story continued to be “declined.” The problem!  I couldn’t figure out why this particular piece was dying on the vine. It bugged me. I was ready to end its life– No editing– No revising—No additions—no deletions—no rewrites. Nada- No!  I was through with it.  I recalled the evening the light bulb came on and the title for that particular story emerged in a flash. Protagonist names jotted on paper ended with one standout name immediately chosen. The main character suffered from a painful thorn in her paw that continued to fester long after marital betrayal and the death of her errant husband. She never intended the volatile retaliation and revenge to cause any real harm but, unfortunately, it did. And unlike Sleeping Beauty, the main character was an aged non-beauty and “did not live happily ever after.”

The first time I wrote the story in required flash fiction for a minimum 250 words  publication, the editor advised she really liked the story, but not the ending…..so she passed.

The second time I expanded the story to approximately 500 words, submitted it to a contest, a nice rejection letter followed.  I was not “the winner.” And so on…..and on…

While I sit here writing this musing, the offending story lies in its titled folder, individual manuscripts matched with applicable “declined” letters, and has not yet hit the shredder. I ask you, my readers, should I attempt one more time to “resuscitate” this troublesome piece, or let it die its natural death?  It does not have a DNR.

Readers/Writers: What would you do?  Blog comments appreciated!

PS. For Health Proxy information and forms, there are many applicable websites: http://www.healthny.gov and http://www.popularforms.net are two examples.

HAPPY READING AND WRITING!

Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2016

READ FIRST! WRITE SECOND!

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WRITERS WORDS: “Whatever it is you write, putting words on a page is a form of therapy that doesn’t cost a dime.” – Diana Rabb

 

SEPTEMBER 2016 MONTHLY MUSING

READ FIRST!  WRITE SECOND!

I learned from my mother at a very young age the importance and joy of reading. Her wise words, “if you can read, you can learn and do anything.” Always, in our home, there were books—all kinds of books. I grew up with the Collier’s Encyclopedia (no internet then:), Junior Classics, children’s books they now call “YA” or Young Adult.  Mysteries and Zane Grey paperbacks hung out on living room end tables, bookmarks in place. Library loaned books were carried back and forth, read and returned. Over time, I became a proliferate reader of fiction, non-fiction, essays, college texts and introduced and read Dr. Seuss, nursery rhymes and kid’s books to my three children. I have always believed the more you read, the better you write with reading an important precursor of becoming a good writer.

Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, states in one of his best-selling books, “On Writing:”  “If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot…..every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones……..and we read in order to experience different styles.”

The craft of writing is no different than other crafts. We read recipes and follow directions before cooking a new and untried entrée. We read instructions on electronic and household purchases before we activate them. We read texts and training manuals, online and in print, to learn and apply new skills necessary to remain employable in various job markets. When writers sit down to write, I believe that subliminal information from previously read materials becomes incorporated and reflected in writer prose. Vocabulary usage is expanded, story ideas are formulated, grammar and punctuation is emulated from well-written, edited publications. Prior readings are often the catalyst for  inspirational ideas that bloom inside writer minds at unexpected times and occasions.

Reading to improve the writing process is an ongoing endeavor. Over time, I’ve read many writing craft books and publications that I’ve found helpful in improving my writing projects.  I share them with readers and writers as valuable tools in crafting future writings:

“On Writing”  – Stephen King; “Fire Up Your Fiction”  – Jodie Renner; “On Writing Well”  – William Zinsser; “On Becoming a Novelist” – John Gardner; Self-Editing for Fiction – Renni Browne and Dave King; “Bird by Bird” – Anne Lamott; “Super Structure-The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story, “27 Fiction Blunders and how not to make them, “Just Write –(3) books by James Scott Bell; “Structuring Your Novel-Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story – K.M. Weiland

Writer Magazines: 

The Writer’s Digest
Poets & Writers
 The Writer

HAPPY READING AND WRITING!

Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2016

GARAGE SALE MANIA

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WRITERS WORDS: “Geniuses can be scintillating and geniuses can be somber, but it’s that inescapable sorrowful depth that shines through—originality.” –Jack Kerouac

 AUGUST 2016 MONTHLY MUSING

GARAGE SALE MANIA

Tis the season–for garage sales! Garage sales in the Northeast begin with the spring thaw and continue until the first serious snowfall. They pop up like weeds along the roadsides and flourish throughout most communities.

Popular for many years now, I’m often dumbfounded by garage sales’ continuous popularity. So much preparation for nominal monetary returns, and yet they have huge followers among bargain hunters who traipse from sale to sale most often on early Saturday mornings. They’re out foraging for doodads, toys, used furniture, tools, jewelry and home goods galore believing they will score that one great bargain for a few dollars—a steal of a deal!

This past spring in early June our community hosted its Annual Garage Sale. I don’t usually participate in these sales, but I had some “stuff” and decided to join the brouhaha one last time. I designated the spare room as the collection point and soon, an old George Forman grill sans an on-off button, a used shredder, a plastic hose holder minus the hose, some unused cutlery, an old golf bag with clubs, and an assortment of items classified as bric-a-brac and knick-knacks filled the room. The advertised sale hours were 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The day of the sale I had just put out a few large items when a Chinese customer stopped by at 8:15!

The Saga of the used Shredder: The customer did not speak English. He gestured toward the shredder.  I shook my head and pointed. Did he want the shredder?  He indicated he wanted to see how it worked. We walked over to my outside outlet, and I showed him how the shredder worked. He smiled and walked back with me while I put it down again. Did he want to buy the shredder?  He looked at me, smiled, shook his head no and sauntered off.  I resumed lugging the remainder of the sale items outside hoping I would get it all in place before nine o’clock.

What a day! Customers came in droves. A middle aged man seemed interested in the old set of golf clubs ($10). He was teaching his son to play golf, would I take $5.00 for the clubs and bag. I grit my teeth. No, they’re old, but a good set. Not a bad price to pay to see if your son will like the game.  We compromised at $9.00.   A couple came by and stood in front of the shredder.  “Look honey, it’s almost like the one we bought at the store yesterday.”  No sale there. A couple of slightly used beach towels were grabbed at $1.00/each. An unopened bottle of “el-cheapo” perfume (Phew) went for $.50. And so it went.  However, this former business professional had the secret to success.  The night before, I dug up medium size offshoots from some of my favorite and overgrown perennial plants, put them in recycled pots (saved over time) and priced them below garden shop retail prices.  They sold like hotcakes!

Back to the shredder…ten minutes before closing time, a customer stood before the shredder, looked over at me and said, “Does it work?” I answered “yes.” He asked for a demonstration. I trudged over to the outlet one last time, and my old, well-used shredder performed like a champ. I sold it to him for $5.00—FINAL CLEARANCE  🙂

Garage Sale Notes:

  • Don’t throw unsold items in the trash can. Donate them to your favorite charity.
  • If a customer appears to be in genuine need, give the item away as a “Freebie of the Hour.”
  • Writers: A variety of visual and intrinsic character traits abound in folks that attend garage sales—perhaps an unusual trait or two might be included in one of your future writing projects.
  • HAPPY READING AND WRITING!

 

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