Posted by: penpatience | December 1, 2018

WINTER SURVIVAL……WHAT TO DO?

WRITERS WORDS:  “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

WINTER SURVIVAL……WHAT TO DO?

 

DECEMBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

Winter—it’s not for sissies and definitely not always a wonderland in the most dreaded season for folks living in our country’s northern climes.  We brace ourselves for the onslaught that comes with this seasonal change with some trepidation.  What will it be like this year? Lawn mowers are exchanged for snow blowers, shovels replace gardening trowels and Ice Melt is purchased before the pumpkins shrivel and fall’s leaves are bagged for pickup.  And, baby, it’s getting cold outside.

However, many sports enthusiasts cannot wait until snow falls.  They embrace the season anxious to hit the many ski slopes, snowmobile through snow laden park trails knowing that their favorite hot toddies await their return.  It’s a special time for children of all ages. Bundled up in winter snowsuits, boots with heads covered in warm caps with ear-flaps, they happily glide on sleds, toboggans down local hills and ice skate on frozen rinks and ponds.  What’s not to love?

Well, there’s the challenge of driving in snow covered road conditions during heavy snow storms making commutes a torturous and often unsafe drives.  Snowplows barrel by your driveway after you’ve already cleared the mess and backing up the car. The weather man warns of another “Nor’easter” forecasting potential “mixtures” of sleet, freezing rain, blizzards and blustery winds that pelt exposed skin like sharp, painful needles.  What are winter survival options besides praying for an early spring?

Here are some solutions:

The month of December is filled with good cheer and happy spirits of Christmas and New Year holidays. Families look forward to a White Christmas that also helps Santa’s reindeers navigate  family chimneys. Glad tidings prevail especially after downing Grandma Mildred’s much-loved holiday “punch.”  Tough it out! Winter weather gets a pass in December.

Become a Mini or Maxi “Snowbird” and escape to Florida, Arizona and other warm weather states for a brief vacation or throughout the winter months.  Beach it and hit the golf courses. Note, the number of snowbirds and overcrowded highways have increased over the years.

Take a walk after the streets and sidewalks are cleared. Breath deep and watch your breath visibly fade into the brisk, refreshing air. (I don’t recommend walking in weather below zero and only if your health is suitable for this type of exercise.)

Are you a gardener? This is the season to pore over seed and garden catalogs to plot vegetable and flower garden varieties for next year and decide to replace blooms and plants that didn’t meet your expectations.

Winter is the perfect season to go online and take the A.A.R.P or A.A.A. Defensive Driving Course. New cars have been technologically upgraded and roadways (think roundabouts) have been updated. Drivers of all ages and especially seniors not only become safer all seasonal drivers but some insurance companies recognize this achievement by offering a deduction in their auto insurance premiums. (You’re safer on treacherous roadways and also save $$$🙂

Music lovers rejoice. If the blizzards blow over the weekend, hunker down and cook a special dinner and dessert while playing your favorite tunes and dance around the kitchen.

You’re never too old to build a snowman!

Writers—this is your chance to focus without outside distractions. Grab a glass of your favorite drink, (mine happens to be wine), munchies (cheese and crackers) and cuddle up with a good book or edit a Work-in-Progress manuscript.

So…..Sing along, first verse– LET IT SNOW

“Oh the weather outside is frightful

But the fire is so delightful

And since we’ve no place to go

Let it Snow- Let it Snow- Let it Snow”

Songwriters: Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn  Copyright: Warner/Chappell Music

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

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Posted by: penpatience | November 1, 2018

GOBBLE, GOBBLE – ALL YEAR ROUND

WRITERS WORDS: “We may all have arrived here on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

NOVEMBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

GOBBLE, GOBBLE – ALL YEAR ROUND!

 

Its turkey time again–Time to gather together with loved ones and friends in the special celebration of Thanksgiving. Annually, folks crowd airlines, buses, trains and cars to spend this special holiday weekend together. Most folks spend the day happily stuffing themselves with turkey and all the trimmings, playing catch up on the past year, watching football with many heading off to the stores right after dessert to catch early bird sales in advance of Black Friday. What is especially encouraging this time of year are community members who donate time and money to feed the hungry and homeless insuring everyone has an opportunity to participate in a festive dinner sharing good will and good food.

All too soon this special time of camaraderie, good food and shared memories falls into the shadow of Christmas. The Santa Claus charge begins before the turkey leftovers are stowed in the fridge with the hoopla rush finally ending on Christmas Eve. I contemplated while writing this article on why did the feel good feelings and thoughtfulness evaporate so quickly after a day of giving thanks? Then again, maybe they didn’t.

My mind traveled back to childhood Thanksgivings with family always held at Mom’s house. Dinners were always great, but what resides in my mind is the legacy Mom left to her children. Along with good times we always had home-baked from scratch apple and pumpkin pies for dessert—never; ever did a purchased store pie grace our table. After the families grew and expanded and we convinced our aging Mom to pass the baton, my sisters and I continued to carry on the home-baked pies tradition. Perhaps, a home baked dessert might appear a small gesture to be thankful for, but we were always appreciative of Mom’s special efforts and talents.

I mused. Life is full of unexpected and, sometimes, unwelcome surprises. This past year many tragedies have occurred within our country and abroad. A believer that climate change has and will continue to affect our lives, I note we’ve experienced horrific forest fires out West, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and resulting tsunamis throughout the South, East, Central states and islands overseas. Add in mass shootings of innocent people, political parties posturing in lieu of working together across the aisles and, HEY, what do we have to be thankful for???

Life happens while we’re making other plans. (Still my favorite adage) One day we’re on the GIVING end and the next we’re unexpectedly on the RECEIVING end of assistance. Let’s go back to my Mom for a minute. Mom was always thankful to be on the Giving side of life and she shared with others within her resources. I know, had her situation been reversed (and I was grateful it never happened) she would have been thankful for the kindness and help of others. Too many Americans have lost their homes, their livelihoods and loved ones never believing a day would come they’d become Receivers instead of Givers. Bear with me while I share a saying that “popped” into my head:

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” (we’ve all heard that one) and then I thought:

“A smile a day makes someone’s day” Sometimes a gesture as small as sharing a smile can make a difference in someone’s day whether you’re a Giver or a Receiver.

I believe folks who’ve experienced the good fortune to be Givers and the unfortunate situation of Receivers are more apt to keep generosity alive throughout their lives—what some folks in this generation might call, “Paying it Forward.” Right now, I feel fortunate to be a Giver and hopeful that many folks reside in that “same boat” as quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr. in this month’s Writers Words. And… I’m always grateful for a leftover turkey sandwich (forget the diet-don’t hold the Mayo) with a slice of cranberry and a tad bit of leftover stuffing on toasted rye!

Best wishes for a Happy, Safe, and Healthful Thanksgiving Holiday!

Posted by: penpatience | October 1, 2018

WHAT’S IN YOUR LIBRARY?

 

 

 

WRITERS WORDS: “He who owns books and loves them is wise.” –Roger Duvoisin

OCTOBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR LIBRARY?

Fall is falling again!  It’s that time of year for the annual bookcase clean-out and precious treasures dust-off. I’m sure some readers might consider this a dreaded task; for me it’s a labor of love. The main bookcase has five shelves and the procedure is to stack the books and accompanying memorabilia in separate stacks on the floor. I attack the wood with Murphy’s oil cleaner, the easy part of the job. The difficult decision is what books to keep, share with the library, donate to charity or (oh my heart!) just discard in the recycle bin. Historically, very few books have left the shelves to make room for new keepsakes. Truthfully, I cannot remember when I last recycled a book.

Here’s the problem. Every time I dust and must decide on a book’s status, I begin to reminisce. I picked up a first book. “There Are No Children Here,” the story of two boys growing up in the other America by Alex Kotlowitz. Mr. Kotlowitz writes about urban affairs and social issues for The Wall Street Journal. His story about two boys growing up in a public housing complex in Chicago disfigured by crime and neglect is heartbreaking but an ultimately inspiring story. I wrote on the inside cover my name and the date August 17, 1991 with a note to myself in 2010: “A keeper, one of my “favorites. I wrote a paper on it.”  No question. Back on the shelf!  On to the next…”Presumed Innocent” by Scott Turow with a date of purchase: August 18, 1987.  Hmmm…how many times have I read this book and seen the movie? No, I can’t part with it. Okay, here’s a novel some of you might not know or remember, but the author was one of my Dad’s favorites–“Riders of the Purple Sage,” by Zane Grey. It was Zane Grey’s all time classic and he has been called the greatest novelist of the American West. The note on the inside cover said I purchased it on May 2012 while traveling with my daughter in Payson, Arizona. Original cover price was $3.99. I picked it up at an antique shop/flea market for $2.00.  I wonder if a writer today would pen this sentence: “You can’t save him now,” replied Tull, stridently.” (How can I pick on Zane Grey because I don’t like the adverb?)  You know the answer to this one. Dog-eared and worn-looking, it’s going back on the shelf.

Here are a few more of my favorites that will remain with me till “death do us part.”

“Catch Me If You Can,” by Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. (He autographed the book for me when he spoke at a conference I attended.)

“My American Journey,” by Colin Powell with Joseph E. Persico

“Swim with The Sharks, without being eaten alive” By Harvey McKay

“The Bridges of Madison County,” by Robert James Waller

“Empire Falls,” by Richard Russo

“The Glass Castle, Half Broke Horses,” two memoirs by Jeanette Walls

“Queen,” by Alex Haley

There are too many keepsakes to list here, but I did choose a few to share with the library:

“Border Music,” by Robert James Waller

“Women & World Religions,” by Denise Lardner Carmody

“The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus” (I have two copies)

 

One shelf is dedicated to books on the writing craft. Many times I’ve been tempted to pitch the entire “kit and caboodle” into a dumpster when writing hasn’t gone well or a rejection missile arrives in my e-mail. Discouragement aside, I’ve not yet tossed the books! Here are a few cherished writing craft books that are forever entrenched on the shelf:

“On Writing Well” – William Zinsser; “Fire Up Your Fiction” – Jodie Renner; “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” – Renni Browne & David King; “Just Write” – James Scott Bell; “Bird By Bird” – Anne Lamont; “On Writing” – Stephen King; “Super Structure-The key to Unleashing the power of story” –James Scott Bell; “On Becoming a Novelist” – John Gardner

Last but not least is the bottom “everything” shelf. Although technology has somewhat done away with hard copy dictionaries, I’ve retained two hard cover Collier’s Dictionaries and their Junior Classic collection minus a few  shared with my children I ask myself why I do this chore every year when I rarely discard many reading treasures. I comfort myself knowing, at least, I’ve removed an annual accumulation of dust-bunnies.  However, there is no maintenance required to clean up my E-reader Library—I just hit “Delete:)

Readers, share with me a special book that is a keeper in your Library. I’m always seeking a few new treasures to add to my special shelves.

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | September 1, 2018

CALL IT! – HEADS OR “TALES”

 

 

 

WRITERS WORDS: “I want people to understand gambling is not a bad thing if you do it within the framework of what it’s meant to be, fun and entertaining.” –Michael Jordan

 

SEPTEMBER 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

CALL IT! –  HEADS OR “TALES”

One day this past August after spending some time in Saratoga, New York, I thought about how Saratoga County comes alive every year during the summer months. Its track season at the Saratoga Race Track, coupled with patrons enjoying the popular Saratoga Casino and Saratoga Lake with neighboring townships happily accepting the influx of equine fans and wealthy and not so wealthy gamblers from across the state and country. A lot of gambling going on….

I mused about Kenny Rogers and his famous song, “The Gambler.” Hum along with me with some song words that are—oh so true!

“If you’re going to play the game, boy, you gotta learn to play it right. You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run…..you never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table, there’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

Sage advice in that song and many times not heeded. However, I believe, taking chances is ingrained in our American culture. Who doesn’t like to take a chance now and again? Why not take a chance on the horse with the huge haunches, pretty white marking on his forehead, funky but meaningful (to you) name that you  believe will go the distance?  Haven’t we all received multiple invites from Publisher’s Clearing House to fill out forms that will allow us to win $1,000 every week for life? And who hasn’t experienced the Casinos with the frenzied atmosphere of noisy slot machines, the slap of cards on Blackjack Tables, the whirling sounds of balls spinning in Roulette Wheels amid the clink of drink glasses and lost dollars?

I recall an occasion not too long ago when I visited a Casino with a friend. While my friend went off to a Blackjack table I decided to find and play a slot machine. A twenty dollar bill in my hand, (I am not a high roller) I sat next to a young woman, noticed she had a credit card inserted in the machine (Was she crazy?) We chatted a bit and she advised me she came to the Casino because she was a little “short” on the rent money this month (and I’m thinking, my God, she’s betting with a credit card.) I’m of the belief that computers and electronics have removed some of the fun of playing slots. Many of you might remember how years ago in Las Vegas actual coins fell from the machines in an avalanche of quarters when you won. What an “upper” to gather coins in your hands sometimes picking up spillage from the floor!

I often muse life is one big gamble. Every day we venture out hoping the day’s happenings are what we’ve predicted and try not to be disappointed when they don’t materialize. So hum along with me—one last time with Kenny Rogers:

“Every gamble knows

That the secret to survivin’

Is knowin’ what to throw away

And knowin’ what to keep

‘cause every hand’s a winner

And every hand’s a loser

And the best that you can hope for is to die

In your sleep.”

My Dad used to say, “if your ship is to come in, you must put your oar in the water.” He  was lucky enough to die in his sleep.

And remember, just as alcoholism/drugs and smoking, gambling can easily become an addiction. If you think you need assistance in controlling your gambling, here’s a site that may be of assistance: www.gamblersanonymous.org.

 

Dear Reads & Writers: Don’t gamble on your health and safety!  Be safe and well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2018

PUBLIC SPEAKING–TAP! TAP! CAN YOU HEAR ME IN THE BACK?

WRITERS WORDS:  “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.-–Dale Carnegie

AUGUST 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

PUBLIC SPEAKING—TAP! TAP! CAN YOU HEAR ME IN THE BACK?

 

Have you ever experienced stage fright when asked to give a speech? When it’s your turn to step up to the microphone and give a presentation, introduce a noted professional or recite your poetry or prose in front of an audience, do you panic?  Are your hands clammy, your heart pounding in your chest and your face wearing a worried frown hoping the microphone won’t malfunction?  Well, you’re not alone. Presenting yourself in front of an audience a first time can be daunting.  I share with you my true story…. (And yes, it was a long time ago)

I was an evening student. I was tired after a long and busy day at work. I headed over to a local college to attend the first night of a communications class. I raced through a Burger-King drive-thru, attempted to scarf down a grilled chicken sandwich and a cup of coffee when stopped at the red lights. It was my experience most times the first evening of a course is easy. Professors usually takes attendance, provides a course overview,  hands out the syllabus and students leave early. Not this time. Students were given five minutes to interview a neighbor seated to their right and give a three minute presentation in front of the class.  When it was my turn I walked to the front of the class and drew a blank. A red blush was beginning to creep up my neck when I finally pointed to my next-door student and said, “What did you say your name was again?”  My classmates laughed and cracked-up—even the professor had a crooked smile on his face.  Was I a success? I still don’t know, but I can tell you I aced the course.

Public speaking was and is a necessary skill not only in the business world but in most everyone’s professional life. Unfortunately, many individuals may be shy, introverted folks and  lack the self-confidence to speak in public, but alas, they must! Do any of you remember Dale Carnegie? Many organizations in the past and present sent reticent staff members in need of these skills to a Dale Carnegie Course.

Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) was born in Missouri, educated at Warrensburg State Teachers College. He was a salesman and aspiring actor, traveled to New York and taught adult communications classes at the YMCA.  In 1912, the world-famous Dale Carnegie course was born. A prominent lecturer of his day and a sought after lecturer to world leaders, he authored several best-sellers. Perhaps, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was one of his most popular and influential books. He founded what is today a world-wide network of over 3,000 instructors in more than 80 countries. (www.dalecarnegie.com)  (Excerpted from a copy of my aged but saved Dale Carnegie Golden Book)

Dale Carnegie training principles have helped many individuals gain self-confidence and interpersonal skills to become successful speakers. During my professional years, I gave many presentations and I would like to say practice does make—almost perfectJ However, there were a few speaker annoyances I witnessed over time:

We’ve all heard a speaker shout “Can you all hear me in the back?” We’ve listened to paper shuffling,  noticed not enough eye contact and finger-linking to turn pages amplified by a microphone. Jokes told that were “questionable” or just not funny. My personal pet peeve was a speaker taking too many questions after the conclusion of a presentation.   Limit question time frame to no more than twenty minutes. Attendees are stiff from sitting and it’s time to head to the bar for refreshment or grab our coats and go home.

Dear Readers, Do you have a speaker tale to share?  My comments page awaits you.

 

Posted by: penpatience | July 1, 2018

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

WRITERS WORDS: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact in the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” –Jane Goodall

 

JULY 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

It’s time–time to send your written masterpiece out to publisher/magazine markets. Many writers breathe a sigh of relief when a project is finally completed believing the remainder of achieving publication will be easier. HA!  Perhaps, but just as writers should study the writing craft (and it’s never over), the knowledge of Copyright, Permissions and Rights also require advance knowledge before submitting your work. Unfortunately, “one size does not fit all,” and yes, “different strokes for different folks” applies to writer markets.

My initial goal was to write stories and articles for magazine markets. I was lucky. My early writing education included an annual copy of “The Best of Magazine Markets for Writers” and a writing class workbook that provided up front, “how to” information assisting me in avoiding many pitfalls that might have been more harmful than any early “rejections” I received.

Magazines request and purchase certain rights to publish manuscripts. Some common rights purchased by magazines may be: All World Rights, All World Serial Rights, First Rights, Electronic Rights, First North American Serial Rights, Reprint rights, One-Time Rights. Definitions referencing these rights are available on many writer sites and too lengthy to define in a short blog, but knowing they exist and checking them out in submission guidelines is very important. That said,

BEWARE of All World Rights: “The publisher purchases all rights to publish your work anywhere in the world any number of times. This includes all forms of media (both current and any that may be developed later). The publisher also has the right to all future use of the work, including reprints, syndication, creation of derivative works, and use in databases. You no longer have the right to sell or reproduce your work, unless you can negotiate for the return of certain rights.”—The Best of Magazine Markets for Writers-2014

Basically you just threw your baby away with the bath water. Your beloved story is no longer yours.

New and emerging writers are often very eager to publish their work; too often pertinent inquiries may be overlooked. Some helpful information:

    • Writing published in the United States prior to 1923 is in the public domain. Material may be quoted without permission but the source should always be cited.
    • When you want to quote another writer’s words in a manuscript you’re preparing, you must get that writer’s permission. Without permission, you could be sued for copyright infringement. Example: My blog posts are copyrighted. No one can copy any of my posts, or part of any post without my permission.
    • Payment methods vary by publication. The most common are payment on acceptance or on publication. Of course, writers prefer upon acceptance. Publication may be delayed, or not published after all. Some magazines offer a “Kill Fee.” If they decide not to publish your article, a writer would, at least, receive some sort of compensation in exchange for the work.
  • So no, a writers’ work is never easy. Fraught with obstacles other than writing a great article, story or novel, there’s all the legal ramifications, submittal guidelines, publishing deadlines, query and cover letters, locating beta-readers and good critique and on and on and on… So why bother writing? Most writers write because they are passionate about their work. They’re not happy people unless they are creating and writing in their favorite genres. Many writers have shared their lives in meaningful memoir (i.e. Jeanette Walls-the Glass Castle) or like the late Stephen Hawkins opening our minds to the mysteries within our universe.

 

The following sites may be helpful: http://www.authorsguild.org, http://www.publaw.com/legal, http://www.predators&Editors.com or http://www.pred-ed.com

Dear Readers and Writers: Be safe this  4th of July!

A Safety Lecture in 56 Words

It takes one minute to write a safety rule.

It takes one hour to hold a safety meeting.

It takes one week to plan a safety program.

It takes one month to put it in operation.

It takes one year tow in a safety award.

It takes one second to destroy it all with one accident.

                                  –Author Unknown

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | June 1, 2018

ARE GREETING CARDS PENDING EXTINCTION?

 

 

 

 

WRITERS WORDS: “No matter what people tell you, WORDS AND IDEAS can change the world.” –Robin Williams

 

JUNE 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

ARE GREETING CARDS PENDING EXTINCTION?

Greetings! Greeting cards have been a staple in my life since my son colored and cut me a handmade Valentine in kindergarten. Add two daughters and I became the recipient of a treasure trove of handmade birthday, Mother’s Day and holiday greetings many retained to this day.  Years later and before Internet and Telecommunications advancements entered our lives, every birthday and Mother’s Day greeting cards were awaiting pickup in my mailbox. There were humorous ones that made me laugh, thoughtful verses that made my heart soar and I cherish the final birthday greeting Mom gave me before her death with “Love Mom” written in her beautiful cursive handwriting—a special keepsake for sure.

Today, I realize we live in a fast-paced society. Technology changed but has not always been a positive influence in the methods individuals utilize to communicate with each other. What technology has provided is convenient options to keep in touch with out of town family members and friends such as Skype, E-mail, text and cell photographs to name a few. Social media sites now unite people on a world- wide basis—a connective phenomena unavailable in previous centuries.

What I find disheartening is the proliferation of inane trivia, opinionated rants and rampant advertisements polluting what should be an arena for sharing noteworthy events in daily living. Although we have great new tools at our fingertips, I find it difficult to find value in folks continually hunched over cell phones on every occasion and in almost all public places. However, recalling my role as a former safety professional, I champion the expedient ability to reach emergency personnel via cell phones when necessary. Yet, I’d like to think we’d all benefit from the meshing of old and new communications and occasionally step away from the addicted overuse of today’s technologies.

I’m a writer and we pen and pencil wielders spend large segments of time utilizing computers and social technologies that assist in the writing craft. Nevertheless, throwing away pen and pad will never be an option. New story ideas, character names and attributes that surface unexpectedly are quickly jotted down on available pad and paper that most writers keep around for just such “aha” moments. Short poem and verse ideas for greeting cards may also surface when triggered by inspirational sights and happenings. Yes, greeting cards are available online, but, for me, it’s not the same as strolling through greeting card aisles attempting to find just the right card for that special person and time.  And…one cannot include a hand-written note, gift card, or special occasion check in a Face-book or text message:)

Sadly, I sense the tradition of sending and sharing specialty and seasonal hard copy greeting cards is on the wane.  It’s a time consuming task to sit and write greeting cards to local and far away friends when daily activities and Christmas holiday preparations take precedence.  Also, like everything else, the cost of cards and postal stamps has increased in past years. However, think about elderly friends and family that no longer have access or embrace new technology and how a “thinking of you” greeting they could hold in their hand might brighten their day. There’s no better way to express condolences, sympathy for individuals who have suffered grievous losses in their lives—and don’t forget that hand-written note.

Readers, should you have an interest, there are many sites available to assist enthusiastic, talented and creative people in writing poetry and verse for greeting cards. One of my favorite writer sites is Hope Clark’s Fund for Writers. Check out this article: http://www.fundsforwriters.com/how-to-break-into-the-greeting-card-industry.  Also, Hallmark Card Company needs no introduction and accepts submissions: http://www.hallmarkcards.com. There are many other card companies listed on the Internet but perhaps you might want to design, photograph and write verse for your own original creations.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Happy Father’s Day to Dad’s everywhere!

 

 

Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2018

THE PEN VERSUS THE TROWEL!!!

WRITERS WORDS: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” –Cicero, Roman Philosopher

 

MAY 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

THE PEN VERSUS THE TROWEL!!!

The birds are back. I heard the varied trills, tweets and calls in nearby trees and bushes along with melting snows and the emergence of perennial blooms pushing up through damp earth. I mused if Mrs. Robin might rebuild her nest underneath my deck again this year. I still recall watching three babies take flight abandoning the now unnecessary abode.

“April showers that bring May flowers” didn’t quite happen as it should this year. The winter thaw in upstate New York has been slower than normal complete with teasing temperatures fluctuating up and down with frustrated residents more than ready to trade snowshoes for sandals. However, very soon in this month of May, if you’re a rabid gardener like me, the call to the outdoors cannot be denied.

It’s time to watch tulips and daffodils bloom and the emergence of day lilies and other spring perennials. Time to plan for planting new species, replace non-surviving plants and dig out the dratted working tools—rakes, shovels, mowers and my beloved garden trowel, an all-purpose tool that’s been my do-all buddy for too many years to count. The trowel and I have both aged. The trowel’s wood handle is worn but the blade still sharp with its owner also worn and hopefully just as sharp:)

If you’ve taken the opportunity to read my “About Me” page, you’ll know that two of my three passions are Writing and Gardening (Golf has temporarily migrated to third place passion).  Well, conflict is not new to writers or gardeners. I recall a statement I read by James Scott Bell, Author of “Just Write” (www.jamesscottbell.com) and other self-help writer publications: “without conflict there is no story.”  Ah yes, there is conflict in my life this spring. I need, want and must be happily working in my small gardens. BUT, I have already fallen hopelessly behind on writing projects in this New Year, 2018. And what about that first Novella I planned to begin? Add in family and social activities – Yikes!

Always a habitual planner, you’d think the solution would be easy- Nada!  There are times when I follow a whim and “Just do it!” as Nike often intones. It’s difficult to choose between your passions under the best of circumstances but when time constraints must be considered a resolution becomes more complex. And then– an AHA moment occurred. The light bulb in my head lit up!

A few years ago a romance short story titled, “When the Lilacs Bloom,” was published in December 2014 (The Storyteller Magazine) and a narrative non-fiction essay in November 2014 titled, “Throwing in the Trowel” (Mary Jane Farms Magazine).  Perhaps it’s again time to combine my two loves: writing and gardening.

BINGO! My mind raced ahead to a favorite environmental place, The Pine Bush, a National Natural Landmark and Environmental Discovery Center located almost in my back yard.  The writing juices are tentatively flowing. Should I write Creative non-fiction, a mystery fiction short story or an article yet to be determined–so many possibilities! Throw in a heavy dose of self- discipline to insure both outdoor and writing passions are fairly shared in upcoming months–conflict resolved.

Dear Readers, located in my front garden for many years is a weathered wrought-iron garden stake with a lovely poem inscribed on it. It’s a beautiful reminder of blending two loves– writing and gardening:

The Kiss of the Sun for Pardon

The Song of the Birds for Mirth

One is nearer God’s heart in a Garden

Than anywhere else on earth

                        –Dorothy Frances Gurney

MAY YOUR MONTH OF MAY BE SAFE AND GREEN!

TO ALL MOMS– HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

 

Posted by: penpatience | March 31, 2018

SENIOR (WRITING) MOMENTS

WRITERS WORDS: “By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.” –George Burns

 

APRIL 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

SENIOR (WRITING) MOMENTS

Many writers today may not have chosen writing as an initial career but decided to bravely cast their line into the writing waters later in life. Many enjoyed earlier, fulfilling careers before the compulsion to write burgeoned inside them or the writing passion could no longer be denied. Witness a few past U.S. Presidents along with many famous celebrities, who, in later years, have taken advantage of fame and notoriety to pen best-selling books. And don’t forget old Aunt Agatha’s contentious, tell-all family memoir that left her ostracized by family members until her death at age 88!

Seniors today are unlike the stereotyped seniors of former generations. Today, when an individual’s age crosses the “over fifty-five” threshold, this senior status may only be reflected with the receipt of the first of many invitations to join the A.A. R.P. Think about a new attitude epitomized in this fun saying found in an all senior publication titled, “the Whisper Walker” distributed in Southeast Florida: “When I get old I’m not going to sit around knitting. I’m going to be clicking my Life Alert button to see how many hot firefighters show up.”—Author Unknown. As a side note, The Whisper Walker is published, written, edited and distributed by a dedicated group of seniors.

Although it’s difficult and challenging to pursue writing projects at any age, a great article, “Publish Your First Book after 50,” by Scott Hoffman (Writer’s Digest- March 28, 2008 issue) highlights mistakes some mature writers often make. However, regardless of age, writing requires hard work, discipline, research and an ability to endure critique and rejection of your writing projects. Here are a few writers whose hard work and due diligence has brought them success later in life:

Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book, “Little House in the Book Woods,” at the age of 64. “Little House on The Prairie” followed later.

Frank McCourt, his first book, “Angela’s Ashes,” was published at the age of 66.

Raymond Chandler published “The Big Sleep, at age 51.

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas published her famous “Everglades: River of Grass,” when she was 57. (Yes, the tragedy at the Parkland, Florida high school bears her namesake.) She lived to age 108.

Anna Sewell published “Black Beauty,” despite health issues when she was 57.

And, although not a writer, Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses) became a famous folk artist painting in earnest at age 78.

So, Mature Writers, it’s never too late to write that memoir, short story, essay, article or your first book.  Listed below is a short list of publications that might be of interest for senior writers:

Reminisce, Good Old Days Magazine, Today’s Senior, AARP – The Magazine, Reader’s Digest and Senior Times. Persimmon Tree, a literary journal, only accepts submissions from women 65 years old and over (www.persimmontree.org.). Ageless Authors, www.agelessauthors.com is another interesting publication that might be of interest.

When I sit down to write, I remind myself that age is only a number and the more numerical history in the writer, the more history the writer may write.

 Happy Reading and Writing!

A reminder….April is National Autism Month. Last April 2017, I posted, “Nicholas and Me,” in honor of my wonderful grandson, Nicholas. I invite you to reread it again in honor of all autistic children. And don’t forget to light it up blue in April!

 

Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2018

HOW TO CREATE A WRITER RESUME

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

MARCH 2018 MONTHLY MUSING

 

HOW TO CREATE A WRITER RESUME

 

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:  http://www.writing-world.com  (Moira Allen-Editor)  http://www.thebalance.com (writer resume example) and http://www.anneneugebauer.com (writer resume template)

HAPPY READING AND WRITING!

AND READERS, NEXT MONTH, APRIL2018 IS NATIONAL AUTISM MONTH. DON’T

FORGET!!! “LIGHT IT UP BLUE FOR AUTISM.”

 

 

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