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?



Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2017

AFTERNOON TEA – Inspiration in a Teacup!

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



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

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

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

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

A few tidbits for thought:

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

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



Posted by: penpatience | April 1, 2017




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




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

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

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

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

Here are some valuable informational sites for families with children on the autism spectrum:,,,

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

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


Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2017


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

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

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




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

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

     Listed below are a few favorites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And …., a special one for writers:

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

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

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


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


Posted by: penpatience | February 1, 2017



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

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



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.


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


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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.




     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


SI Exifth[10]

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





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.

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