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!

 

Posted by: penpatience | July 1, 2016

WRITE A MEMOIR — BLOG SIZE

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WRITERS WORDS:  “The one talent that is indispensable to a writer is persistence.” – Tom Clancy

 

JULY 2016 MONTHLY MUSING

WRITE A MEMOIR – – – BLOG SIZE

 

One of my most read Musings was, “M is for Mini-Memoirs,” posted October 2014. Since that time I’ve continued to study the craft of memoir writing and learned why reducing memories to pen and paper is important for past, present, and future generations. Many readers thrive on reading traumas, tribulations and triumphs experienced by friends, family members, celebrities and individuals that have overcome life’s horrific obstacles or experienced unexpected joys and achievements.

Recently, after reading a truly great memoir (listed below), I came to two realizations about memoir writing. After a few generations have passed, memories of these generations, unless written down, are lost, sometimes forever. Also, writing a memoir, never an easy task, could be time consuming. Many memoirs may take months or even years to write. I caught myself musing, the longer the life, the longer the memoir.

However, a memoir doesn’t have to be written from cradle to grave, a writer could choose a specific period or segment of importance within their life. I again recalled my Mini-Memoir post, and the possibility of writing short memoir snippets- Blog Size (500 words-or less) that could be accomplished, accumulated and retained toward the writing of a future memoir:

Blog-Size Memoir Snippet #1:

“I shut myself inside the cramped hospital phone booth and called my mother, tears streaming down my face the afternoon doctors advised me my son had rheumatic fever and a damaged aortic valve. He was only ten years old, school was out for summer break and together we spent most of it in a hospital room. He rested in a hospital bed and I sat alongside him in the usual and uncomfortable hospital chair. Our lives took on a new and unplanned path that day changing our lives forever.” (a beginning paragraph–less than 500 words)

Blog-Size Memory Snippet #2:

“I heard recently my high school Alma Mater will become a large apartment complex sometime in late 2017. It seems like only yesterday my older sister held my hand while we walked the four blocks from home to school on my first day of Kindergarten. All the children in our small town  of upstate New York walked to school from the first grade through high school graduation. When I think of all that walking back and forth regardless of prickly hot days, heavy rains, and cold snowy mornings with snow banks sometimes two feet deep, I realized how lucky we were to grow up in the fifties – a gentler and safer Era. I still remember my mother’s warning never to take candy from strangers. If I wanted candy, she would give it to me at home. I believe this was the method she used, like many other mothers, to protect their kids from dangerous pedophiles. I was not allowed to play on the way to school– I had to arrive before the first bell. I was allowed to dally on the way home and when I think about that particular leniency, it probably was because it gave my mother a slightly longer respite from the homecoming of five school-age children. We walked and rode bikes everywhere. We walked to Friday night dances with local friends, and the Senior Prom was held in the themed and decorated high school gym. No, we didn’t walk to that dance. My steady boyfriend at the time borrowed his Dad’s car. However, it wasn’t many years after my sisters and I graduated, the school merged with another in the district and kids from outlying districts took the bus to the new consolidated school.” (a memory less than 500 words)

About that Memoir: “The Autumn Balloon, by Kenny Porpora.

 “Porpora’s coming-of-age memoir is a brilliant debut.” –USA Today

I believe every memoir writer should read Kenny Porpora’s Memoir. Through a tumultuous, chaotic, and impoverished upbringing and living between two warring dysfunctional, but individually loving parents, “Kenny” wrote. Writing was both salvation and the catalyst that gave Kenny a different choice in life. What I liked most about this memoir was Kenny’s best friend– his dog, Wozels. If you are a writer who would like to write a memoir someday, reading this book could be very helpful.

Find more information on Memoir Writing: http://www.womensmemoirs.com, http://www.memoriesandmemoirs.com, http://www.thememoirnetwork.com

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

Posted by: penpatience | June 1, 2016

TO “BEE” OR NOT TO “BEE”

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Writers Words: “Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs” – John Osborne

“Mabel’s Table,” my fiction short story was published in the May 13, 2016 online issue of Page & Spine Fiction Showcase.  It’s still available for a free and entertaining read. Just click on the archives – http://www.pagespineficshowcase.com

 

JUNE 2016 MONTHLY MUSING

 TO “BEE” OR NOT TO “BEE”

 Spring! Tis the season when flowers are a-bloomin’ and bees are a- buzzin’. A long time gardener, I know if vegetables are to produce food for kitchen tables and flowers to enthrall with beautiful blooms, it can’t be accomplished without bees’ pollination. Although I’ve been stung multiple times over the years (Ouch-that hurt!), I realize bees and I must co-exist. Bees are not only important to humans; they play a crucial role in biodiversity. However, each spring when they attempt to build a hive under my deck, our tenuous liaison often ends in a sometimes contentious and sad removal. So far this year, I’ve been lucky—no hive just busy bees.

We take bees for granted. We forget that without bees there would be no honey, the sweet food made by bees foraging nectar from flowers. Beekeepers, called apiarists, keep bees to pollinate crops, collect their honey and other products that a hive produces: beeswax, pollen, and royal jelly. We grab a jar of honey from a green market or a store shelf not appreciating the hard work of bees and beekeepers. When I began to research bees, the information was mindboggling! I discovered there are over 25,000 types of bees (including the bad killer varieties) in the world and more species still awaiting discovery. I couldn’t cover so much extensive information in this short blog and decided to focus on one entertaining bee specie – the honey bee drone:

The drone bee is male. It’s interesting to note, the drone has no father, but does have a grandfather!!! Explanation: the queen who laid the drone eggs is the offspring of an egg fertilized by a male drone. However, drones are the offspring of eggs that have not been fertilized by a male. Biologists refer to this scenario as “parthenogenesis.” (Good grief, crazy sex and the offspring has no daddy!)

The male drone spends his time drinking nectar, mating (in the air, at that) and lazing around on flowers. They do little around the house (the hive).  (Sound familiar folks?)

Each colony will produce several hundred drones. Their main contribution is the act of mating. Mating tactics of drone bees emulate blokes congregating at a nightclub waiting for the Queens to arrive. Unfortunately, the Queens can only mate with so many drones leaving others in the lurch. (Too bad, better luck next time or were the unmated drones the lucky ones?)

The drone will die upon mating. This happens because the drone’s reproductive organs are torn away from its body when the queen flies off with the drones genitalia attached to her. (Lethal lady—shame on her!)

Drone lives are brief anyway. They may live for just a few short weeks, or, if lucky, may live up to four months. They’re thrown out of the colony by the end of summer and by the end of autumn, only a few or no drones will be around.  And they can’t get even. Unlike queens and worker bees, drones cannot sting. (Is that fair?)

If you are also a passionate gardener who doesn’t love but must be grateful for bees or would like to know more about bees and beekeepers, check out these great sites:

http://www.buzzedaboutbees.net, http://www.about-bees.com, http://www.wikipedia.org./bees

 

Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2016

FIVE THINGS MAMA NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT BEING A WRITER

Gaye Buzzo Dunnmargaretbuzzo(R) Mom

Writers Words:  The first page sells that book; the last page sells your next book. Mickey Spillane, Crime Writer

 “Mabel’s Table, a fiction short story is scheduled for publication, Friday, May 13, 2016 and can be read without cost in Page & Spine Fiction showcase (www.pagespineficshowcase.com)

MAY 2016 MONTHL Y MUSING

 

FIVE THINGS MAMA NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT BEING A WRITER

 

As long as most mothers draw breath, they are an unwavering presence and support in the lives of their children. Many don’t hesitate to let their feelings known and offer advice that sometimes falls on deaf ears. However, mothers volunteer it anyway.

If you tell your mother you’re going to pursue a writing career, she may clutch her chest and become speechless for the first time in your memory. Stunned, she’ll fail to communicate the following sage advice:

You can’t give up your day job. You won’t be able to pay the bills as an inexperienced writer. You’d be self-employed. It’s not a nine to five job with a paycheck every week and company benefits. You might have to sell that expensive gold Cross pen I gave you for graduation just to pay the rent. Maybe you should consider becoming a newspaper reporter and work for a nice newspaper here in town….

Writing is like solitary confinement. You won’t be chit-chatting with peers in the employee lounge during lunch break. You won’t have a boss reviewing the quality and quantity of your output every day. Writing is a lonely endeavor. It will isolate you from friends and family if you let it. You must exercise and balance writing with other extroverted pursuits or you may be called a “nerd.”

There’s too much competition.  There are some very successful writers out there and more joining the ranks every day.  Yes, some were initially lucky, but they are the few and far between. It takes a lot of hard work, persistence, talent and time to become a truly successful writer. Many writers like James Patterson, Harper Lee, John Grisham, Ernest Hemingway, and Stephen King became wealthy in their craft, but others have achieved less financial success. I don’t want to see you impoverished. Its okay to starve a bit when you’re young, but you must think ahead to your retirement years.

Writing is not for Wimps and Cry-Babies.  Editors and publishers are critical of authors’ submitted work.  They reject a story or article if it doesn’t meet their specific needs. It’s like that old saying, “different strokes for different folks.”  And God forbid you have spelling, punctuation errors or profuse eroticism and profanity. Forget it. All your hard work will bypass the “slush” and find a direct home in the circular file.

Readers are fickle folks. If they like your story, article or book they may tell a few reader friends how they really enjoyed your work. They may even take the time to write you a nice comment. However, if they don’t like it, they’ll pan it in monthly reader group, post a negative review on social media or tell others your book was “blah.”

However, once a mother’s child makes the commitment to a writing career, she will become the staunchest, most enthusiastic fan.  When you publish your first book, she’ll throw a big bash and introduce you to everyone she knows. “Have you met my wonderful Johnny – the writer?”

 

To: All the wonderful Mamas: Happy Mothers’ Day!

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