Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2018


WRITERS WORDS: “Life is always going to be stranger than fiction, because fiction has to be convincing and life doesn’t. –Neil Gaiman, author





Resumes are an ongoing resource for hiring managers. A Human Resources Director for many years, I mentioned in an earlier post resumes may make or break an applicant’s opportunity for consideration. Grammatical, spelling errors and extraneous personal information and, most important, not meeting required qualifications will send a resume into a reject pile with a gracious “thank you but no thank you” response. These basic no-no’s aside, a professional resume is often a key element in securing an interview appointment. Although most resume requirements remain the same today, resumes, like many other documents, have been affected by technology and industry changes.

In the past, an “Objectives” paragraph was a mainstay header in a resume. However, some applicants may alter their personal objectives in response to an advertised position tailoring the paragraph to meet the open position. Today, I believe, in lieu of an Objectives overview, writing a brief professional summary outlining your writing qualifications and history would be a more self-promoting, marketing tool.

A Writer Resume requires the same basic parts as other careers: Qualifications, Work History, Education and Awards- Memberships. Qualifications should include all professional writing experiences, i.e. editing, copywriting, desktop publishing, publications, corporate/business and any other relevant experience. (Hey! Did you write a best seller:) Work History, beginning with the most recent work experience, should include Job Title, Dates and, again, a brief description of writing activities. If Work History includes other employment not relevant to writing, include it. Additional skill sets advises a potential employer of your versatility and employability. Education should include any college degrees beginning with the most recent and working backwards.  Also include previous employer “on-the job,” vocational training, online course studies and any other education that might be relevant. List Military Service, Organizational Membership and Awards as applicable.

Personal information, the ending paragraph within a resume, usually listed a candidate’s hobbies and interests. Today, I feel that a personal information paragraph is passé and suggest including only a personal hobby if it’s applicable to a job posting. Recruiters today research potential candidates through social media and internet sites often locating information regarding an applicant before requesting an interview.  Note: Media sites (i.e.-Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blog Sites) should reflect professionalism. Political or religious rants, negativity, or any other derogatory statements that could be misconstrued or deter a potential employer should never be posted. However, if you’re an artist, graphic designer, photographer, etc., posting samples of your expertise are always a positive addition.

Additional Points to Ponder:

A Resume should be one page, two pages maximum in length.
An accompanying cover letter is mandatory for most employers (include why YOU are the best candidate for the position and how your skills will benefit the organization).
A resume should not be a list of performed tasks. Emphasize your skill sets and how they contributed. (10 years as a competent editor resulting in a promotion to Managing Editor for XYZ Publication).
Brief, concise entries are important. No recruiter wants to or will wade through long, wordy paragraphs and extraneous details.

Should every writer have a resume? What about the novice writer just testing the writing waters, a self-employed free-lance writer, or an unknown writer working on publishing that first completed book?  I’ve always been a firm believer everyone, whether an individual’s background is sparse or extensive, should document their professional history in writing.

The following are a few great writer resume sites:  (Moira Allen-Editor) (writer resume example) and (writer resume template)






Posted by: penpatience | February 1, 2018


WRITERS WORDS: “Do one thing every day that scares you. “ – Eleanor Roosevelt




GEE – Musher command for a right turn

HAW – Musher command for a left turn

MUSH! HIKE! ALL RIGHT! LET’S GO! – Commands to start the team

I have always been enthralled by “The Greatest Race on Earth®” – The Iditarod. The Iditarod is a dangerous race with dogsled teams traveling through rough terrain, mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests and miles of windswept coast in temperatures often below zero. An Anchorage newspaper in 1983 stated “the word Iditarod comes from the Ingalik Indian word Halditarod which was named for the river where the town was built. It means distant place.” Mushers cover approximately 1049+ miles in ten to seventeen days beginning from Anchorage in south central Alaska to Nome, on the western Bering Sea coast alternating northern and southern routes each year. I believe it is the ultimate challenge of man and beast, a race led by a musher (adult male/female racer) and a lead alpha dog in a dog pack comprised of approximately 12-16 dogs.

Why am I so enamored by the Iditarod? Pitting a team of one musher and 12-16 dogs against Alaska’s harsh landscape along a treacherous route with long hours of darkness, through blizzards and gale force winds, over hills, mountain passes and rivers in competition with other talented teams, to me, is mind-boggling.  So much can go wrong and often does. Accidents happen. An injured or sick dog must be left behind at the closest checkpoint “drop-off” and cannot be replaced with another dog during the race. Mushers have become lost or injured and often must also drop out from the race. And without hard, year round work and training, chances for winning the race are slim to none.

I thought about the enormous task of choosing, caring and training a dozen or more dogs. A musher cannot choose any husky (any Northern type dog). Dogs must be chosen for temperament, intelligence, strength and the ability to work together with other dogs as a team. It’s not an easy choice. Multiple dogs put together naturally react to pack mentality and in a pack you must have an Alpha (leader) dog. Although the musher is the true Alpha Team Leader, communication and a close relationship between musher and lead dog is necessary for success. The lead dog must understand musher oral commands to lead the pack and sled in the right direction. And dogs will be dogs. Rivalry and dog fights between two dogs must be resolved with the dogs separated from each other on the team. All breeds (Siberian Huskies are recognized by the American Kennel Club and usually have blue eyes) of sled dogs are working dogs and require special food in large amounts to maintain energy in the race. They must wear Booties on their feet to avoid cuts and sores. Sleds and equipment, food and health care of the team are expensive. Training and care of the dog team is a year-round endeavor. It takes money, time and patience.

What intrigues me the most about the Iditarod? It’s not a dog race (think horse racing at Belmont or Greyhound racing in Florida). It’s a musher and dog team working together overcoming human and nature’s obstacles to win a competition and achieve a difficult and challenging goal. Although there has been criticism from animal rights groups calling the Iditarod dog abuse, I believe most mushers love their dogs, provide good care and cooperate with all necessary health regulations.

Listed below are a few interesting Iditarod facts:

  • The first Iditarod race was March 3, 1973.
  • The largest number of mushers to finish a single race was 77 in 2004.
  • Mary Shields, in 1974, was the first woman to complete the race.
  • Libby Riddles, in 1985 was the only musher to brave a blizzard becoming the first woman to win the race.
  • In 1986 Susan Butcher broke Rick Swenson’s record set in 1981. (Susan was a four time winner: 1986,1987, 1988, and 1990)
  • Rick Swenson, the only five time winner: 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1991 is now the only musher to win the Iditarod in three different decades, a record that will probably never be broken.

Interested readers can learn more about the Iditarod within the following sites:,,


Note: Iditarod fans! The 2018 Iditarod race will begin on Saturday, March 3, 2018!



Posted by: penpatience | January 1, 2018


WRITERS WORDS: “Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” – Tom Stoppard





It’s the New Year again -2018 this time around. The “FA-LA-LAs” of the holiday season are past leaving the great, good, bad and ugly of 2017 behind. Its winter time across our great country and depending on where you live, the weather temperatures have dropped, the days have grown shorter and the homebound work commute is often in darkness. Most residents residing in the Northern states bundle up against the biting cold, shovel endless snowfalls, and whisper “Hail Mary’s” when their vehicles slip and slide over treacherous highways (and yes, it sometimes snows in the Southern states: Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama had snowfalls this past December) These cold, bleak and often sunless days are what I call the January Blahs!

However, it is again a New Year, an opportunity for new beginnings, new inspirations, new plans and renewed hopes for our future as a people and a country. The other day while reading the morning newspaper, I tried desperately to avoid horrific headlines of murders, sexual harassment disclosures, states-wide hurricanes and windswept fire devastations, political unrest, mass-shootings of innocent people and, after reading the comics to boost my spirits, I flipped to the next page and noticed the daily Horoscope.

Although I occasionally read the Horoscope, more for a lark than anything else, I don’t put any credence in the Day’s rating: a 10 ranking being the easiest day and a 0 the most challenging. That particular day the nine astrological signs rankings ranged from 7-9. No easiest 10 day or 0 challenge days were noted. I wondered –What! No 1-6 rankings?  Here were a few statements regarding physical activities under the signs:

“Physical action provides satisfying results.”

“Physical activity is more fun together.”

“Energize your work and health through physical exercise for about six weeks.”

“Back up romantic words with physical efforts.”  ( Hmmm…)

“Pour physical energy into professional endeavors.”


Some other statements across the board:  “You’re making money.” “Make financial plans with your partner.” “Move forward boldly in your career.” “Cash flows with more intensity over the next six weeks” “Give in to romance.” “Clean closets, garages and attics”(!No Way) “Use your power for good.” “You’re growing stronger.” “Collaborate with someone interesting.” “Meditate in Nature.”

For readers who are astrology followers, there is a plethora of online and hard copy historical information available. Here is a very brief overview blurb:

“Astrology,(not to be confused with Astronomy) in its broadest sense, is the search for meaning in the sky. Early evidence for humans making conscious attempts to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes by reference to astronomical cycles, appears as markings on bones and cave walls, which show the lunar cycles were being noted as early as 25,000 years ago. This was a first step towards recording the Moon’s influence upon tides and rivers, and towards organizing a communal calendar.” (….) “Western astrology is founded on the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies such as the Sun, Moon and planets, which are analyzed by their movement through signs of the zodiac (twelve spatial divisions of the sky).  Western astrology is a form of divination based on the construction of a horoscope for an exact moment, such as a person’s birth. It uses the tropical zodiac, which is aligned to the equinoctial points.”  (Wikipedia-12/2017)

While researching astrological information for this Musing, I found it a welcome respite from reading printed traumas. It was pleasant to digress into an entertaining refuge for a brief period of time and laugh at nonsensical numbers advising me whether I should expect an easy or more difficult day. Perhaps it was also subconscious avoidance of facing the ongoing regurgitation of gruesome news that impelled me to seek the more enjoyable columns. Hopefully, the January “blahs” will soon pass and this New Year, 2018, will usher in renewed hope and generate the necessary improvements to put a “Humpty Dumpty” country back together again.

On a positive note, this writer, born in April under the astrological Aries sign, read some encouraging words the other day. “Winter changes provide creative inspiration. Get your message out.  AND “Get into action with writing, publishing and communication projects.”

What a way to begin the New Year…..despite the January BLAH, BLAH, BLAHs!


Posted by: penpatience | December 1, 2017


WRITERS WORDS: “I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”-James Michener




     Once upon a time there was a young girl named Margaret Ellen Weldon. One of ten children, she was born in Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma. The daughter of a farmer and rancher, she grew up with a great knowledge and appreciation of nature.  Called “Marge,” she began writing in her high school years, but writing was put on hold after marrying a railroad engineer and moving to Nevada where she raised two sons.

     Marge became a member of our family when her son married my sister and over the years she became a proud grandma of two granddaughters and two grandsons. Later, during her retirement years, Marge moved again to a ranch in Oregon where she resumed writing.

     Time passed. When Marge’s husband died; she sold the Oregon ranch and moved to Phoenix, Arizona to be near her only surviving son and grandchildren. One day, and it was only by chance, my sister was helping her elderly mother-in-law with household chores when she opened a bureau drawer and discovered saved snippets of prose and poetry Marge had written and collected over many years. Enthralled with the find, Michelin and Marge ditched the housework that day and after reading many poems decided they were good enough for publication.

     Marge named the poetry collection, “Random Thoughts,” and her book of poetry, published in 1989, won the Silver Poet Award from the World of Poetry. Her son, Jim, escorted Marge to Sacramento, California where she accepted the award. She was 85 years old.


There will be peace when all is still;

      No Life exists upon the hill,

Nor in the Valleys or Ocean deep

The sun shines on no time to keep.


No records show the winds that blow,

      The rain that falls, or depth of snow.

Ages may roll and leave no trace of the human race,

Upon this earth, or out in space.


Laughing waters may abound,

     No ears exist, there is no sound.

No songs to greet the coming spring,

There are no birds, their songs to sing.


Seasons come and seasons may go,

     There is no one to reap, no one to sow;

No bombs to burst forth in the sky;

No hearts to bleed, no eyes to cry.


No bells to ring on Christmas Day

No happy children’s voices say

     “Merry Christmas!”

For silence reigns upon the hill,

And there is Peace; stark Peace.

     Oh, Peace be still.

Random Thoughts – Dedication Excerpt:

“I dedicate this collection of poems to my parents for their work, love and devotion to the home where they brought up ten children; and for the privilege of growing up in a free and creedless atmosphere—where on festive occasions I enjoyed both my grandfathers who fought in the Civil War, one on the North, the other on the South, and see them gleefully watch their grandchildren skip to the tunes of Yankee Doodle and Dixie Land, and to my children and grandchildren for their effort to provide homes, where inquiring minds are not afraid to ask questions or seek answers.” –Margaret E. Weldon, Glendale Arizona, November 1989

Marge Weldon died in a warm Arizona winter in the year 2000. She was 94 years old and left her family cherished memories and an enduring love of nature.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year!




Posted by: penpatience | November 1, 2017


WRITERS WORDS: “If you made a list of all the things you could be grateful for the list would undoubtedly be longer than your misfortunes.” –Catherine Pulsifer





     Thanksgiving, the holiday that falls between Halloween and Christmas, is, in my opinion not what it used to be. Commercial marketing goes all out stocking shelves for Halloween with many folks spending millions of dollars annually in honor of fright night. Although Thanksgiving décor is also displayed, it’s been viewed as a forerunner to Christmas festivities with holiday items for sale in stores before the Northeast’s colored leaves drop to the ground. Thanksgiving dinner dishes linger in the kitchen while folks run to the mall for that first door-buster of the season and others camping out before sunrise on “Black Friday”—bah Humbug!

So what is the true meaning of Thanksgiving? I believe it’s a special time to be thankful for what we have and a reminder to be grateful for the people, friends and family we have in our lives. It’s a time for transforming bountiful harvests into Thanksgiving feasts, and eating pumpkin pie before napping or watching football (No, I’m not a fan) with family and guests. It’s a time of inclusion, sharing our largesse with those less fortunate and setting traditions that future generations might memorialize.

     An informational Excerpt: “Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in Canada, the United States, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.” (Meaning of

This year with our country in unprecedented turmoil with hurricanes, fires and terrorist activities causing devastating losses to our populaces, it’s especially important to be grateful for the opportunity to give thanks to family, friends and emergency responders this holiday season.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for:

My youngest daughter’s survival so far from breast cancer;

My sister’s recent visit from Arizona and a good time spent together;

Family and friends located in Florida unharmed by Hurricane Harvey;

Good eyesight allowing me to read and write my Musings;

Support from many readers and followers who have faithfully read my Monthly Musings since 2012;

Publication of stories/essay in 2017;

Our Armed Forces and Veterans who’ve kept the United States free and safe for generations;

My birth in the U.S.A. – the greatest country in the world!

Share with me on the Comments Page:  What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, 2017?

Dear Readers/Writers: I share with you a Safety Slogan from a Safety First newsletter I wrote for a former employer years ago:





Posted by: penpatience | October 1, 2017


WRITERS WORDS: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” –Vince Lombardi


Note:  “Cemetery Plot,” my fiction short story, has recently been published in The Storyteller Anthology Magazine, September, 2016 Quarterly Edition-a transitional delayed printing. Available through or





      I had no particular topic in mind when I began rummaging through some old files from past endeavors and discovered “The Winning Edge,” a company newsletter I wrote as a Human Resources Manager years ago. Not only did it bring back fond memories of an enjoyable career, but many newsletters I found were applicable to most career paths—including writers and authors.

A Winning Edge Excerpt:



Success is not a pie, with only so many slices to go around. The success of others has nothing to do with your success.

Nor is your success measured by what others say or what others accomplish. We all have the tendency to compare ourselves with others. But the happy people in this life know it’s not against others that we compete.

The Late Henry Fonda once said that a thoroughbred horse never looks at the other racehorses. It just concentrates on running the fastest race it can.

On our track to success, we have to fight the tendency to look at others and see how far they’ve come. The only thing that counts is how we use the potential we possess and that we run our race to the best of our abilities. (Source: Dennis Waitley & Reni L. Witt: In the Joy of Working)

While I reread this newsletter, I thought no matter what success other writers experience, their success should not adversely impact on other writers work. Additionally, when reading a successful new book by a well-known author, it’s an opportunity to learn from their prose and should not be perceived as a comparison to our own writing efforts. Yes, it’s difficult sometimes to believe in our creative skills, sighing, “I’ll never be able to write as good as John Grisham, David Baldacci, James Patterson, Ernest Hemingway, Jeannette Walls, James Lee Burke and many other successful authors.”  However, when self-doubt casts a shadow over individual artistic abilities especially if a writing project is not going well, passionate, dedicated writers will persevere….

When I dug deeper into the old archives I found a poem that might provoke renewed inspiration and a gentle push for writers seeking The Winning Edge:


When things go wrong as they sometimes will

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.


Life is queer with its twists and turns

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out,

Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow

You may succeed with another blow.


Success is failure turned inside out

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you can never tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.  – (Author unknown)


Dear Readers/Writers:  BE SAFE!

October Safety Slogan: “Lifting’s a breeze when you bend at the knees.”  –


Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2017


WRITERS WORDS:  “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” –Plutarch

Note:  “Cemetery Plot,” my fiction short story, has recently been published in The Storyteller Anthology Magazine, September, 2016 Quarterly Edition-a transitional delayed printing. Available through or




What is character? Definitions are many, but character can be defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual; a person in a novel, play or movie; a printed or written letter or symbol; a characteristic especially one that assists in the identification of a species.

Many attributes build and develop character. Mental, physical traits and environmental conditions contribute to the development of each individual.  Consider Mama’s constant admonitions, Daddy’s scolding, tough times, easy times, poverty, inherited wealth, family struggles, serious illnesses, ethnicities, genetic disabilities— circumstances of birth, place and environment all blending together to determine who we are as an individual.

This month I mused about the thousands of useful characteristics writers have at their fingertips in developing characters for stories. When I thought of the multitude of descriptive traits, a childhood memory popped into my head! Do any of you remember Mr. Potato Head? It’s a children’s toy, a brown plastic potato filled with strategically places holes where children can insert interchangeable parts. Insertion of various parts — ears, noses, eyes, hats, arms, legs, lips, etc. and, Voila! A new Mr. Potato Head emerges with each physical change.

Let’s build a writer potato head….

A middle aged man with sagging jowls, a drooping eyelid, thick lips, prematurely bald with variable colored tattoos covering his right arm, left leg and upper back (not a pretty sight at the beachJ ) Hmm….maybe he might be a biker dude; a foster parent for homeless kids; an ex-con on probation; a  Casino Blackjack dealer; or a college English professor teaching Creative Writing….

Hey! This is fun. Let’s build again…

A twenty-something, tall, pencil thin, blonde-haired, freckle faced Nun wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and orthopedic tennis shoes under a traditional long, black Habit. She ditches the Habit after evening prayers, waits until her fellow Sisters are asleep then, silent as a mouse, sneaks out the convent to, perhaps, rendezvous with one of those tattooed gents mentioned above….

Another great pastime for writers is people-watching. I’ll never forget the disheveled, wrinkle-faced woman in a too-big, grey, raincoat stumbling along a New York City street on a cool, fall day. She was carrying a large, brown, paper bag by her side and stopped at the curb across from me waiting for the red light to change. The light changed. When she stepped off the curb the bag broke spewing broken glass and spilled booze on the street corner. She kept on walking still holding the empty bag’s paper handle as she crossed. Surely, this inebriated, unfortunate lady could be a wayward sister to a main character in a future story….

It’s a difficult task for writers to come up with unique characters for their work. However, visual inspirations can happen on any street corner.

There’s a new Potato Head opportunity just waiting for you!

Readers & Writers: September Safety Slogan: “A spill, a slip, a hospital trip.” –    Be Safe!



Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2017


WRITERS WORDS: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” –Benjamin Franklin

Note:Cemetery Plot,” my fiction short story, has recently been published in The Storyteller Anthology Magazine, September,2016 Quarterly Edition-a delayed printing. Available through www.thestorytelleranthologymagazine or





I watched an old movie recently titled, “Iris,” starring Judi Dench and Kate Winslet. Kate Winslet portrayed a youthful Iris while Judi Dench represented Iris’s elder years. Iris was a twentieth century novel writer. Many scenes depicted Iris sitting at her desk writing with a fountain pen on an unlined pad. Movie goers could view the beautiful penmanship of the penned words when the camera panned in over Iris’s shoulder. In the background, Iris’s husband sat in an adjacent small office two-finger typing her notes and pages on a Remington manual typewriter. Fast forward to the twenty-first century passing by electric typewriters, fax machines, land line telephone systems and early IBM computers to present day technology. Today, most people utilize various technological communications using an alpha-numeric keyboard on cell phones, I-pads and laptop computers, etc. Pens, pencils, of course, are still utilized, but I mused how many folks actually write (not print) with these age-old and still abundant tools. What happened to good Penmanship?

Penmanship is a technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. Today, this is most commonly done with a pen, or pencil, but throughout history has included many different implements (…..) an individual’s style of penmanship is referred to as “handwriting.”(Wikipedia-7-7-2017) Cursive writing (also known as script or longhand), is any style of penmanship in which some characters are written joined together in a flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing faster.  Formal cursive is generally joined, but casual cursive is a combination of joins and pen lifts. The writing style can be further divided as “looped,”  “italic”, or “connected.” (Wikipedia-7-7-2017)

Students of my generation learned to write and print in lower and upper case letters in grade school.  Writing skills were learned through repetitive practice through middle school and graded along with other studies. Claire Suddath wrote in the August 3, 2009 issue of Time Magazine: “Don’t blame computers for bad handwriting.  A shift in educational priorities has left an entire generation of Americans with embarrassing bad penmanship.”  Unfortunately, I can relate to Claire Suddath’s comments.

Many times during my business career numerous applicant resumes landed on my desk. Most were well typed, articulate, and sometimes written with the assistance of recruitment consultants—a best foot forward! However, a completed company Application of Employment told me more about an applicant than the pristine resume. Many times I encountered spelling errors, “See Resume” shortcuts sloppily half-written, half-printed across an indicated area, some words were illegible, sentence structure, where required, was shortened, scrawled or again, “see resume for details.” Although there were many well-written applications, too often the writing reminded me of hurried hen-scratch—a guessing game to decipher a “g” from a “q,” an “o” from an “a,” etc.

Consider: “The recent established Common Core State Standards, the standardized educational benchmarks for U.S. public schools, omit cursive as a requirement. Some states, including Indiana and Hawaii, had dropped cursive from their curricula in favor of keyboard proficiency as early as 2011.” (CBS News-“Is Cursive Writing Dead”-7-7-2017)

I believe good penmanship/cursive writing is still needed in everyday life. Legal documents, various business professions demand and expect writing proficiencies. Additionally, I note that hard copy greeting cards still exist along with online salutations. I prefer receiving hand-written Valentine, Mother’s Day, Happy Birthday cards in lieu of text messages, e-mail pop-ups, Facebook or other social media acknowledgments.  Cherished to this day is one of the last birthday cards I received from my mother before her death: Love, Mom—written in her lovely handwriting.

P.S. Written on the pad in my handwriting in the above photo: “Now is the time for all good writers to come to the aid of good Penmanship.”   Gaye Buzzo Dunn

Dear Readers and Writers: It’s summertime! Be Safe!


Posted by: penpatience | July 1, 2017

HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES – Are you afraid of ghosts?





WRITERS WORDS:  “One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” – Jeannette Walls, Author





Sum-Sum-Summertime, the livin’ is easy and lighthouses are beckoning. Lighthouses have been historically heralded as symbols of maritime safety with Fresnel lens the bright beacons guiding mariners through treacherous seas. Every year I try to visit at least one lighthouse that is open to the public. I like to immerse myself in a lighthouse’s specific history and climb the steps for a spectacular ocean view. I never realized that that some lighthouses in the United States are considered haunted and thought to have ghosts. It was through reading about a lighthouse that had served mariners for over a century that I discovered—Ernie, the ghost of the New London Ledge Lighthouse!

The New London Ledge Lighthouse perched out in Fishers Island Sound at the mouth of the Thames River was built to supplement the New London Harbor Light in coping with increased boat traffic to New London Harbor.  It was completed and placed in operation on November 7, 1909, a unique three-story building incorporating Colonial Revival and French Second Empire designs. Keepers kept coming and going and the lighthouse survived the 1938 hurricane with waves crashing up to the second floor and keepers taking refuge in the lantern room. Later in 1987 when the lighthouse was automated the keepers left, that is– all except for Ernie, the Ledge Lighthouse ghost!

Facts about how Ernie came about are hard to come by but stories abound. The assumption is that Ernie was a lighthouse keeper at Ledge Light sometime between the 1920s or 30s. He had a younger wife who lived ashore. She ran away with a Captain of The Block Island Ferry (my guess is she didn’t like living in isolation surrounded by the relentless sound of the sea.) Desolate and lonely its surmised Ernie jumped or fell from the lighthouse roof, his body never found. Visits to the lighthouse from a paranormal and medium came up with a tentative name of John but couldn’t confirm a surname. Whether Ernie ever existed is now a moot point. The stories have become legend and Ernie haunts the lighthouse to this day. He turns on the foghorn on clear days. Boats are mysteriously untied. There are cold spots inside the lighthouse, strange noises and whispers occur and sometimes a keeper figure appears in a window or is sensed pacing about. A song, “When Ernie Sets the Table” sung by Matty Kaspak contributes to the numerous tales surrounding Ernie.  So, is Ernie the only lighthouse ghost?

No, Ernie is just one of many lighthouse residents. Many lighthouses listed in the top ten haunted lighthouses in the United States claim to have ghostly apparitions and activities.  A sampling:

Point Lookout Lighthouse-Maryland:  It’s often called America’s most haunted lighthouse with documented paranormal activity since the 1860s. Ann Davis, the spirit of the lighthouse’s first keeper has been seen standing in the doorway. Disembodied voices and strange noises have been recorded on audiotape. Figures lost during the Civil War have been seen wandering the basement and grounds searching for graves that were moved a century ago.

St. Augustine Lighthouse – Florida: the voice of the 12 year old daughter of the lighthouse’s builder who drowned near the building can sometimes be heard. A large, dark male figure has been seen in the basement, possibly the spirit of a former caretaker who hung himself in the lighthouse.

Plymouth Lighthouse-Massachusetts: John and Hannah Thomas were the keepers in 1769. John was killed in the Revolutionary war. Hannah was the first woman lighthouse keeper. Some believe Hannah still roams the lighthouse looking for her husband. Once a man and his wife were sleeping there and he awoke to find Hannah floating over his wife. He believed that she thought her husband had come back from the war.

Presque Isle Light-near Alpena, Michigan: The tale is told that a lighthouse keeper’s wife went insane because of loneliness of her husband’s job.  He imprisoned the madwoman in a cell below the lighthouse and she spent her last days shrieking insanely.  It’s believed her screams can still be heard today.

I’m sure there are skeptics that don’t believe in ghosts believing an unusual noise is just a high wind blowing through an open lighthouse window or the ebb and flow of noisy seas crashing on rocks below. However, keeper lives were often perilously lost. Isolation away from friends and families took a huge toll on lighthouse keepers living solitary lives with only books, chores, and a bright light shining over dangerous seas for company.

I believe “Ernie” may still be pining away for his lost wife, hanging around the New London Ledge Lighthouse continuing to cause supernatural havoc in the hope—someday, his fickle wife might return.

ERNIE! Turn on the foghorn for me.  I’m hoping to stop by this summer!

Readers and Writers:  HAPPY 4TH OF JULY-Safe travels to all this summer –be safe!

Posted by: penpatience | June 1, 2017


WRITERS WORDS: “Writing is like a sport, it’s like athletics. If you don’t practice, you don’t get any better.” –Rick Riordan





I’m a Fan. I believe writers benefit from participation in personal and online critique groups. Writing is mostly a solitary pursuit. Sitting in front of computer screens, researching online and in local libraries, writing on endless sheets of paper is isolating and getting together with fellow writers on a regular basis keeps writers from becoming nerdy hermits. Critique groups provide opportunities for writers to read and receive assessment on their writing but also listen to and offer comments on other writers’ work within the group.

Everyone in a Critique Group is a Writer.  The group should be respectful, non-judgmental and kind to provide a supportive and creative atmosphere. All levels of writers from novice to experienced and published writers are welcome in most groups. Group guidelines vary by group but, generally groups have established scheduled times and meeting places, identify the acceptable and unacceptable genres, and often limit the number of participants to allow for ample time for everyone’s participation. During the meetings, many eyes and ears are critiquing the writing (not the writer 🙂  recommending edits, changes and “what if’s” and allow additional chat time to share information on contests, writer sites/blogs, publishing, craft and writer resources.

Naysayers or foes of Writer Critique Groups might point out a few issues that make the experience less than favorable. For instance, time constraints—too many writers with too little time for individual participation and constructive feedback.

An Example: Two years ago, I attended a Writer’s Group while visiting in Southeast Florida. The Group was scheduled for Wednesday evening from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. I arrived at 6:50 P.M. only to see over fifty people seated around a very large table with other seats scattered peripherally around the room already filled. I sat down in an empty seat holding a short story recently published. Unfortunately, the Group Leader spent over 30 minutes speaking on  Adverb Usage leaving only 1 ½ hours for writer participation. Guidelines were 5 critiques only for each writer via hands raised with no rebuttal by the writer (time constraints). By 8:45 P.M. there were many writers that didn’t have an opportunity to read. Unfortunately, with no genre restrictions, the last writer read a time-consuming scientific non-fiction paper that was lengthy and difficult to understand outside the scientific community, definitely not appropriate for the group. I discreetly left the room at 9:10 P.M. noting this particular group was not for me.

Additionally, feedback should communicate effective critique. It’s not an effective critique to say “I liked it.” Be specific. What did you like or dislike about the writing? Did the writing hold your attention? Did the tension escalate? Was there conflict the story seeks to resolve? Does the dialogue sound natural?   And in fairness to group members, make sure you come prepared with a piece of your own writing to read and a pen and pad for note taking.


Critique VS Criticism:  = Assessment VS. Disapproval = Evaluation VS. Censure = Comment VS. Disparagement = Review versus Judgment.

Hopefully, you’ve already located a group in your community. If not, check out your local libraries or community Writers’ Associations for in-person groups. For online support groups, you might find the following sites helpful:,,,,,,


Tell me!  What has been your experience with Writer Critique Groups?

I want to know! Are you Fan or Foe?



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