Saturday, March 31, 2012


Characterization isn’t about the fool at your last holiday party everyone laughed at then dissected on the drive home. It’s the life of your hero, heroine, and all secondary characters beyond their height, weight, and eye color in your novel.

Let’s do a cast call.

Starring Roles;

Johnny the Hero
Liz the Heroine

Supporting Cast;

Fred – Johnny’s best friend
Pam – Liz’s best friend
Marge – Johnny’s mother


Taxi Driver

Of the above group, the only roles needing a characterization are the stars and supporting cast. The Walk-Ons are too minor to worry about.

Award-winning author Beth Anderson, mentor extraordinaire, spent many a long night explaining to me why writing a characterization is important. Since we don’t have forever here, I’ll crunch it down.

The writer must know the history of their characters. Their past events are what make them be the people they are today. It is what has driven them to be honest, strong, or steal. You won’t know why your hero runs into the burning building to save the heroine if you don’t understand his history.

So how do you so this? Very easy, but time consuming. Don’t fudge on this. It’s too important to writing a novel that will impress an editor.

The stars need an extensive characterization. Following is the process;

1 - Park yourself at your computer. Each characterization will take several hours so relax and enjoy.

2 - Choose one of the lead characters.

3 - Imagine you are that person. We’ll use Johnny for the example.

4 - Just type. Bang out his life starting at boyhood. Write in his voice. It’s amazing how your phrases will alter as he ages. Bring him up to the starting point of your novel. Include every detail no matter how unimportant it may seem. Let your mind run on and you will be Johnny, living the high points of his youth and what drove him to the man where your story begins. You’re in Johnny’s point of view. Did he pee his pants in third grade? What really happened? What did he see, smell, and feel inside?

Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Just type. No one else will ever read your work.

Do this with your heroine as well.

You have finally finished your stars. It’s time to begin on your supporting cast. They’ll take much less time since they aren’t nearly as important. You don’t have to start in their childhood. Type up a brief bio, something similar to an obituary of a famous person.

I took Beth’s method one step farther to help me drop the back-story, which we’ll discuss Friday, into my novel.

Below are the four easy steps;

1 – Print out each characters history.

2 – List all the highpoints on a separate sheet of paper. The order doesn’t matter.

3 - As you write your novel drop in a line or two of back-story at the appropriate time to enrich the action of your character.

4 – Cross off the lines used and write next to them which page you’ve inserted it.

This method will help you build stronger characters with real motivation your reader and editor will love.
Sloane Taylor

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sun, Sand and Sex

It’s hard to resist the allure of the sun.  In the early morning its rays beckon me to come to the beach, following my Adonis just as dawn announced itself, first with pink, then buttery orange colors.  The slim sickle of the moon is disappearing, giving way to another hot day.
The air is full of smells, more pungent in the early hours of the day, of seaweed and little critters that lay scattered on the silvery sand, stranded over night by the receding tide.  Sea gulls start their morning feed, parading down the beach in search of fish bits and sand fleas.
The chosen spot on the sand, flattened by our bodies, now feels smooth and warm under us.  I stretch my exhausted limbs and reach for the tanned man beside me.  His hands run the length of my body, caressing my curves, and placing one on my breast.  His fingers feel the line of my lips, nose, and eyes.  He places two featherweight kisses on my eyelids.
I open one lid, blinking against the sunlight.  Waves are crashing on shore.  Content with the world, I close my eye again.  I don’t want to come back.
But it wasn’t the ocean; it was the rain outside that was banging on the windowpane.  Drops splattered from the roof onto the windowsill.  The room felt chilly and the only aromas permeating were those of Patrick frying bacon and eggs in the kitchen.  I crawled out from my duvet.
The actual coastline was sunken in autumn fog.  The seagulls had taken cover out of sight.  Below my window, people in the little estate got in their cars to go to work.  Reality was waking up.
(Excerpt from : Next Time Lucky) 
Siggy Buckley
ran an author interview with me plus a book giveaway yesterday. If you want to win a copy or read up on me.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


There's a certain recurring dream of mine which takes place up in my old stomping grounds of Boston. I've had this dream many times throughout the years, and now I find it haunting me for the past two nights. I'm always wandering the streets of Southie, where many of my close friends and I spent the majority of our time in the early 2000's.

Everything looks exactly like I remember it, although time has passed in my dream along with reality. It's always present day, with the acknowledgment of time passed, and it always stars a revolving cast of friends I once held dear. Anyway, I won't bore you with too many details of a dream that only its protagonist would find interesting. But, I will say that I boy I once loved deeply, who was my world for quite a few years, always makes an appearance. It never lasts too long and it's hard to describe the nature of the interaction. It's bittersweet and warm. It feels like getting lost while being found. But it always reminds me of love. So I wrote him a note to say Thank You and I shall post it here:
For the second night in the row, I've dreamt of a time that used to be. Walking down streets past red subway stations and Irish pizzerias. But I realize it's not a journey back in time, it is a journey back in place. For every night that I walk those streets, catching up with familiar faces I thought I'd never see again, we marvel at how long it's been since I've been back to that place. And it's great to see these people.. people whom I hope I'd recognize if I saw them in the waking hours. But then, right on cue, yet somehow unexpectedly, you always show up. Usually on that steep street that overlooks the water if you're standing right at the top of the hill. And we don't know if it's ok to see each other and catch up as friends, though we always want to. And we remind each other that at some point we were family. So we make plans that involve meeting up at a later time that never comes because the hours on my alarm clock pass quicker than those in an imaginary world. But it feels nice, how perhaps it would be if I booked a plane ticket out of curiosity to see if Guinness is still served warm because the owners of that pub are more authentic than those in a land of palm trees. And I don't want to know how real or unreal the vision is, I just want to say thank you. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for the love.
Jennifer Stengel 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Kind Gentleman

Barcelona’s. His first Saturday night. Delicious Italian food lured the crowds. Pete Barcelona himself offered him a waiter’s job after he’d read about Dan’s older brother Vince dying in Afghanistan.
At one of Dan’s tables sat an elderly couple and a wheel-chaired young war vet who’d lost both arm and leg, but not his smile. Dan thought of Vince as he carried final plates away.
Then the soldier said, “Check, please.”
Dan felt in his apron the crumpled bills of generous tips and said, “Folks, a kind gentleman who was sitting over there picked up your tab, tips and all!”
By Salvatore Buttaci 
published on : 
The ideal anytime gifts!   Try on a fitting pair of shorts!  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Story of Nerja

  The story starts in Newfoundland on a reservation, were a young Cree Indian is standing by an aircraft. As he waits to fly to Edmonton for a pow-wow. Usually he would not be allowed to go, as he is the younger brother but today the tribes called an emergency council and his brother is off the reservation. So Harry has no option but to go.

 The story take Harry and ex-serviceman now pilot Dick across the ice-fields of the North West territories and on to Lac La Biche, Alberta. Lac La Biche is about half an hour flying time North North West of Edmonton, as the plane crosses the lake. Dick notices problems and has to take drastic action.

Alan Place

Monday, March 26, 2012

The First Outing

$10.00  The price of a parking ticket that allowed me to have one hour of freedom from home confinement.  A bowl of soup savored  in a corner of the restaurant where my walker could be tucked away from public view.  I’ve become a public spectacle as people watch me struggle with a walker through doors of the doctors’ offices, up an elevator and down a hallway.  Maneuvering around  my town proves next to impossible as the town  grew before the era of ADA so steps sandwich both front and back doors of stores.
I finally screamed “no more” to struggling with the walker, navigating through tight doorways, steps, and long hallways after a 20 minute walk from the waiting room to the CT scanner dragging the cast and my broken body down this never ending hallway.  Quite simply refusing to leave the scanner room, the technician sent my son to find a wheelchair.  Being the last appointment on a beautiful Friday afternoon does yield some power.  It’s just as well that I cannot maneuver about town as I still have not been granted any non-bedrest time by the doctor.  Absolutely no weight on the foot constitute my doctor’s orders.  That’s asking almost the impossible.
Three weeks have passed since “the incident” resulting in a shattered linzfranc joint during a quick adventure in Costa Rica.  I’m now sporting cast  number two; this time Barney purple but just as uncomfortable as the
original cast. Not liking what the x-ray showed during last week’s appointment, the doctor sawed off the original blue cast to take an actual look at my foot.  “It won’t cut you” does not sound very believable when you feel the saw blade against your skin.  Apparently, he needed the strength of Samson to pry a cast off of my foot as he kept cracking it open and tugging.  Each tug sent a pain jolt through my foot.
During the past three weeks, I’ve experienced many firsts:  MRI, CT scan and moving to total dependence. I’ve regressed from crutches to a walker as I kept falling; falling in the bathroom; falling in the bedroom; falling down stairs. The most troubling first is that my son has to lift me up from the floor.  When did he gain the strength to carry me?  No longer a bi-ped, I have learned to crawl, crab walk up and down stairs and pull myself to standing.  At this point in my recovery, I have reached  total exhaustion.   Healing takes  more energy than I ever thought possible, especially since I consider myself fit due to years of yoga and hiking.  Apparently, my body requires more resources now than I have tucked into reserve.
Now at my third week, a decision still remains concerning surgery.  Are my bones healing?  Can they heal?  What happens to the shards from the shattered bones?  Do any ligaments work?  I don’t know yet.  What I do know is that I have no control over any of my toes.  My toes, the only part of my leg I can actually see, are still blue and cold to the touch.   Something in my foot twitches uncontrollably.  I can feel that vibration almost constantly and sometimes even see its effect when my middle toe twitches feverishly.  The pain has receded to a constant throb centered at my arch.  I try to ignore it.  Or if it becomes too much, I just pile bed pillows on top of the cast and bury the pain under feathers.
I joke about an awesome shoe sale as my Jimmy Choos will no longer fit my foot.  My days of sexy heels and sassy sandals are over and it’s time to start browsing  the flats and clogs pages of Zappos.  I’ve got time before shoe shopping so there is no rush to find the perfect flats.  Sometime this week, I get the results of the latest CT scan; perhaps a new cast and hopefully a decision about surgery.  Mobility…that is what I want more than anything else.  After that, not to feel so utterly helpless.  Those two things matter more than anything else at this point.  More than even a new pair of shoes.  My how priorities have changed in three short weeks.
Cheryl Stahle

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trying to Catch the Social Networking Bug

Try as I might, I haven't yet been able to catch the social networking bug.  Unlike other bugs that I work hard to avoid, I've been hoping to catch the fervor for social networking.  Up to now, I've been immune.  I am on Facebook, which has allowed me to find some long lost people in my life and to allow some of them to find me.  And it's a good way to see what two of my granddaughters are doing.  But -- I haven't been bitten by the bug.
I have opened a Twitter account, but only follow President Obama so far.  I  have added people to my Linked-In account and must admit feeling awed at how much some people make use of it.  I briefly Branched Out, but let go of the branch for lack of knowing quite what to do with it.  As for all the others too numerous to name, I haven't even tried.
I've been told over and over and over again that social networking is MANDATORY and THE KEY to becoming known as an author in today's world.  Most likely true - as many have shown regardless of whether their books are deserving of fame or not.  While "going viral" is much sought after, the very word "viral" gives me an unsavory feeling.
I watched the movie, "The Social Network," to figure out what I was missing.  The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, according to the movie, only had one real friend in college whom he eventually betrayed.   A genius geek, he was far more fascinated by the computer technology than linking friends.  That actually helped me to understand why I feel mostly alienated from this modern, impersonal way of making connections.  While not exactly fake friends, they are friends you never have to see, speak to, or truly know.  In fact,  "friends" is a misnomer for these relationships.  I'm used to a different kind of friendship.  I don't even like the image of "networking" or "world wide web" since computers and all the information forever indelibly available therein are also used for nefarious purposes, reminding me of the flailing flies that can't get away from the spider.
Since I'm old, the drain on the precious time I have left to live looms excessive.  Were I born today, I would most likely not feel intimidated by computers or wary of how they might abuse me.  Would I be a more successful well-networked author, or would I still be inundated by the sheer masses of people screaming "me, me, me" in the pack?
And so I search out "how to's" for using Linked-In, Facebook, and Twitter and hope I can make them useful before they, too, are obsolete and replaced.
Suellen Zima

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Brush Pick-up


I drag bags of leaves,
pages of the book that told
last year's story, month by
month, day to day, the frost speckled
Spring nights, simmering summer solitudes,
a glass of wine and good company on front porch.

I drag them to the curb. A T-rex kind of truck
will rumble, growl tomorrow  this precious history
ground  into a  hopper,  pages
from other chapters, other
neighborhoods regurgitated
at the county mulch pile.

A body ambitious enough with containers
any size, and pitchfork, shovel, to load
mulch to carry back to fertilize, to feed,
Free, for a new year's garden. So many stories

intermingled.  It makes no sense. Maybe
an archaeologist would  know how
to read layers,  thickness and color;
could explain to the uninitiated what happened
a crime scene defined. The nostril-
stinging tang of rich rot floods the air.

I remember you, grown weak, small as a child,
urgent, afraid, body burned by radiation designed
to save your life, your bowels loosened from hacking
at the mulch mountain.  I said to you " No matter,
we, and everything about us, are washable."
How your light body hung, hitched, on my rigid hands
for steadiness. How heavy your shame.

As if this burning process, this essential weakness
of the cells that created the problem in the first place
should not have happened though this storyline
threads through all of us, runs through my head, sparked, no doubt,
by that fragrance of things rotting in peace. I release your arms
again and again in my dreams, but I cannot put you down.
It seems you find the crack in my sleep to slip in,
to remind me that once, years ago, you loved me
like no other.

I wonder if the winds will blow up
later, knock the bags over, strew the stories
over the pavement, down the streets until nobody,
especially not me, remembers any more.

Rachael Z. Ikins 
Artwork for sale at
Publications, books for sale at
Ask The Girl Arts (@pet services) on FaceBook

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hello, My Name is

The doctor told me I’d be fine. As long as I took the pills, I’d never hurt anyone; at least, not again. But even as I sit in this chair, surrounded by people who are supposedly just like me, I can feel it.
It’s a strange, funny-looking name, isn’t it? Schizophrenia. It’s almost a beautiful word. But there’s no beauty behind it. There’s no beauty in what I did. There’s only shame.
There’s only shame in the way I carried the knife into their room. I do love them, mom and dad. And they’re okay, I promise. They tell me I’ll be okay, too. But they’re just playing along with the doctor. How can I be okay? Really okay? It doesn’t make any sense.
It’s all just words. Words mashed up in my head. Words that take the shape of one so called person. Words that take the shape of a voice. How can they tell me I’ll be okay when this voice tells me I’m not? I can’t be okay, it just can’t be true.
Even now, as I sit here with these people. Their name tags all the same as mine. They put me in a group with these people. How can I sit here with them? They’re not like me. No, not at all.
I’ll bet the doctor told them they’re okay, too. Maybe these people are all okay. I’m the one who isn’t okay. It’s just me. I’m so alone. Well, I’m not always alone. There was… her
Even she told me I was okay. I was so blind. How could she lie to me? I told her I loved her. Or did I? Did I tell her I loved her? Or was it the voice that told her? Maybe that damned voice was the one that ruined everything. She never did tell me she loved me, though. Maybe she never did. It’s all my fault, anyway.
I guess I’m not really alone. Not completely, anyway. I’ve still got my voice. Well, both of them. He’s friendly sometimes. But, most of the time I can’t stand him. Even when he yells at me he tells me I’m okay, but I know what he really means. He tells me. He tells me he’s lying. He tells me about what he wishes he could do to me.
To be honest, I haven’t taken my pills in several days. I’ve been feeling better lately. I think. One day I almost felt okay. And then I woke up. I woke up feeling worse than ever. My head pounded as he screamed at me. He told me I’d never be okay. I wish I could make him stop. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know who he is. But, he thinks he can stay here with me. I don’t want him to stay, please don’t make him stay. I can’t take it.
I think I can handle it. I’m feeling better now. He’s not here today. No. I sent him away for a while. It’s amazing what substances can do to make you feel better. This bottle is all mine, and now it’s empty. I sure do feel good. I almost feel like I’m floating. I think. Wait, no. Something isn’t right here.
Where am I? Oh no, he’s back. What happened to my chair? Where are the others? I miss their name tags. I wish I could look at them one more time. Is that a siren I hear? What’s this in my hand? How did this get here? Its edge is so sharp. How did I get this? When did I get home? I’m starting to get scared.
The voice is talking again. He’s such a menace. I don’t like him. I really don’t like him. I wish I could use this to make him go away. It’s so sharp. I’ll bet it would cut right through him. No, no wait. He’s a part of me. How could I do that to a part of me? It’s who I am, right? Who am I? I don’t know if I know. I don’t know if even he knows who I am.
The voice is gone again. My bottle is empty, still. I wish I had a new one. A new bottle, even a new voice. Maybe a nicer voice. Maybe a voice that doesn’t lie to me. A voice that doesn’t tell me I’m okay. A voice that doesn’t lie to me.
Now I’m back again. Back in the chair. I wonder how I got back here. When did I leave? Did I ever leave? I’ll bet if I was okay I’d know when I left. The name tags are here again. Good, I missed them more that I thought. I’ll bet everyone is jealous of my name tag. I’ll bet they think theirs is okay. Theirs isn’t okay. Mine is better. Oh, the voice is back.
Welcome back voice, I can’t say I’ve missed you.
I’m okay, but I’m really not. This voice is so annoying. I don’t know how much longer I can take the voice. It’s always bearing down on me. I don’t know if I can take it.
Such wonderful name tags. They all read the same, too. Hello, My Name is. Hello, My Name is. Hello, My Name is. What is my name? Does my voice have a name? He’s come back again. I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay?
Hello, My Name Is? And I’m not okay.
Chris Stocking 
Copyright © 2012 by Christopher Stocking
Twittter: @Chris_Stocking
I had to write a monologue for my Creative Writing class that, when read aloud, is three to five minutes in length. It has no personal relationship to me, nor is it about me at all, actually. It was just a random idea that came to mind after my teacher read one of his that had been published about a criminal in the electric chair. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Your Grammar is Attractive

So lately I've been really attracted to guys who can spell properly, who know the difference between you're and your, even their/they're/ that weird? I hope not. I mean, there are some guys who are attractive like so (referring to the picture of Daniel Radcliffe) and then there are those who I see spelling properly and they go up in my books, although I don't doubt for a second that Mr. Radcliffe has perfect grammar.

Is it too much to ask for? Why can't everyone just learn these things? Maybe that's why I find people more attractive when they use grammar correctly, because when I see "your good" or "your welcome" IT MAKES ME ANGRY and sad, and I get really upset for no reason.

So yeah, just learn guys. Just learn. I think there should be a "teach your friend" day where we each post on our statuses the difference between each. Like so...

YOUR -- "your" as the possessive form of you, referring to something that a person has, something that belongs to the person in question, or the person you are talking to.
YOU'RE (You are) --"you're" is a contraction of "you are".

THERE -- Use there when referring to a place, whether concrete ("over there by the building") or more abstract ("it must be difficult to live there")
THEIR -- Use their to indicate possession. It is a possessive adjective and indicates that a particular noun belongs to them.
THEY'RE (They are) -- Remember that they're is a contraction of the words they and are.

I can't believe they're leaving their children there, alone!
(Above Examples courtesy of Wikipedia)

They are the main culprits, and if you have more then please add them on in the comments.

I don't hate you if you are getting these wrong, I just want you to learn them so that I don't have to hate you, but as soon as you know them they'll stick with you forever. And then I can love you. TIP: When writing Facebook statuses and tweets, please just look over it...perhaps read it aloud, if you do spell something incorrectly then your credibility goes down. It really does!

Do any of you guys know how I feel?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Alum Brings Job Advice

Every expert learned somewhere, and Western Illinois University alumni Paul Rega learned his lessons at the unemployment office. Now, Rega will share his experiences with students with his new book "How To Find A Job When There Are No Jobs."
Author of one of Amazon's Top 100 job hunting books, and president of Paul J. Rega & Associates, Rega hopes that his collection of personal stories and insight of the business world can provide some form of guidance for college students wondering what comes after graduation.
Rega is also a well-known research professional and career coach, and is passionate about having the opportunity to shed light on the dark areas of establishing a career. Rega describes his book as the book he wishes he had after graduating.
Rega graduated from Western in 1981 with a degree in biology, and like many college students, he was unsure of how he could find his place - a question which was emphasized months later when he found himself sitting in an unemployment office in Illinois. Now, the head of his own executive search firm and author of one of the top job-hunting books available, Rega recalls what got him through the earlier stages of his journey.
"As I was sitting in the unemployment office, this elderly gentleman leans across the desk he was sitting behind, and gave me probably the best piece of advice I've ever received. He said to me, ‘Push on, no matter how disgusting," Rega said with a laugh.
Rega faced both adversity and triumph. His first job with Fisher Scientifics established the Self Defense Academy still operating in Macomb today, but his career also had a moment where he lost all of the employees of his business firm.
"The one thing I would tell students now is to not let yourselves get discouraged. I'm going to be honest, there are going to be times where the bulk of people you are trying to find employment with won't get back to you," Rega said. "The one thing I would tell students looking for work after graduating is to go after what you're interested in. Don't just take a job as a truck driver if that's not what you want to do, because you'll be doing it for a very long time.
"If anything, I would suggest working part-time to work towards your goals for the future," he added.
Fourteen years in the making, "How To Find A Job When There Are No Jobs" covers a variety of topics from Rega's personal perspective. The book offers in-depth explanations of how to develop a resume, the importance of having an education, utilizing social media, how the business world functions and other topics of interest.
"This book is something you can pick up on right away, and I think it would be a great help to any student trying to pursue their post-graduation goals," Rega said.
Readers can follow @Paul Rega on twitter
Paul Rega
First pinted in The Western Courier

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    What the World Needs Is More Mothering

    Yeah, that's right
    More mothering
    Everybody out there’s walking around acting big  
    Looking for appreciation and hoping nobody'll see inside

    Well, don't let'em fool you
    Doesn’t make any difference if they’re big or small
    Important or nobody
    They’re just pretending over hurt selves
    Because once they grow up no one tells 'em they’re special any more
    You know, special in a mothering way
    Deep inside they feel empty
    And they try to fill up that chlld place by acting confident and smart
    Hoping nobody will know they’re not sure all the time   

    We’re supposed to grow up and act like adults
    Strong and all
    Impressing everybody with how important we are
    But that little child inside just keeps looking for someone to take notice
    To say nice things about 'em        
    Let 'em know they’re all right
    That what they do counts
    You know, gentle like

    Well now
    If you don't have any money or some big time job
    You still have something to give
    That makes you important

    All those people out there are looking for a smile
    Someone to listen to ‘em
    You can do that       
    You’ve got plenty of that
    And it's free, so you can give away all you want

    No need to go moving in with ‘em now
    Just be nice         
    No  “Look at me in your face"  attitude
    Slap that pearly white shine you got right on 'em
    Smile and listen to what they have to say

    Take your time now      
    It's a gift       
    Remember that
    You gotta' give it away without thinking twice
    And don't go standing around waiting to get it back
    Then you’ll just be lonely too

    c   7/10/09

    Monday, March 19, 2012


    To contemplate.... in contemplation.... contemplatio in Latin.... a time when a person travels inwards to commence a journey of quiet solitude  or a gentle meditation. Very often we find ourselves in this frame of inner observation without realizing it. To reflect with intention on our life..its passing by...

    Her index finger gently supports the frame of her face and thoughts. Gazing into the distance, seeing yet not participating. Being but invisible to those that surround her. Lost with intent to others but aware and present within her own .
    She embodies complete elegance even during those very spiritual moments of contemplation.. To be with one's thought when the world is dancing around you is a true gift.

    Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing.”

    The above quote goes with the image.

    Savira Gupta
    My blog: Reflection

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    A Poet's Reading

    This a first for our site, an innovative approach which surely will catch on soon. Are you all experimenting with vlogs? Later in the day, Sal also sent me this poem which I publish here too. Siggy

    Sal Buttaci reads two of his poems at the Neighbor's Art Center.
    Please take the time and see how this works. It might give you an idea or two. I'm trying to master the intricacies of video clips and vlogs. Youtube is here to stay- and successfully so. It seems to be the future of FB too.
    Salvatore Buttaci
    A leprechaun once told me
    “the Irish have the luck,”
    so pretending I was Irish
    I acted like a kluck,
    waving four-leaf clovers,
    broguing  in the green:
    “top o’ the morning” all over,
    the likes you’ve never seen.
    Then I asked the little fellow
    where I might find that pot of gold
    and he laughed so hard he bellowed,
    “That’s a legend that’s quite old.
    The only way to riches
    is work hard and persevere.
    There ain’t no other hitches.
    that’s what makes the gold appear.”
    Now he’s gone forever,
    but each year on Paddy’s Day,
    I chant in my endeavor
    to let magic come my way.
    The gold that I was seeking
    is an angel in my life:
    Of what lassie am I speaking?
    Why, begorra, she’s my wife!
    (C) 2009 Salvatore Buttaci

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    This ice cold party beverage is green as a Leprechaun’s hat and perfect for a St. Patty’s Day party. You may have had this punch or something similar at birthday parties or holiday celebrations. If so, you might have wondered what exactly is in this sweet concoction. This beverage is pretty sweet, but it’s also undeniably yummy.
    • 1 46 ounce can grapefruit/pineapple juice
    • 1 cup lemon juice
    • 3 packages lemon/lime Kool-Aid
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 ½ quarts 50/50 soda
    • Lime sherbet ice cream
    Combine all of the first five ingredients and refrigerate until chilled. Pour in a punch serving bowl. Add the 50/50 soda right before serving to ensure the most carbonation.  Add ice cubes and several scoops of sherbet ice cream.
    Tip: Freeze an ice ring to float on top instead of ice cubes. Place scoops of ice cream in the center of the ring.
    Makes 1 gallon or 32 4-ounce servings.

    Other than that:
    Half-million pack Dublin for St. Patrick's Day
    DUBLIN (AP) — An estimated half-million people crowded Saturday into central Dublin to view the St. Patrick's Day parade, a focal point for Irish celebrations worldwide and the start of the tourist season in debt-battered Ireland.
    Bands from Britain, the United States and Russia joined thousands of Irish volunteers on Saturday's two-hour procession down Dublin's major boulevard, O'Connell Street, across the River Liffey, past Trinity College and concluding outside St. Patrick's Cathedral.
    In his St. Patrick's Day message, Catholic Cardinal Sean Brady offered prayers to the estimated 50,000 citizens who have emigrated in the past year to escape Ireland's weak economy.
    Unemployment stands at 14.4 percent despite the resumption of emigration at levels last seen in the 1980s. Ireland has been forced to raise taxes and slash spending for four straight years and since 2011 has been dependent on foreign loans to pay its government bills.
    Seventeen government ministers have left Ireland this week to lobby 15 countries for increased investment and tourism. Prime Minister Enda Kenny is grand marshal of Saturday's parade in Chicago.
    "I am keenly aware of the huge numbers who have emigrated from Ireland in recent times, especially those who felt they had no choice," said Brady, spiritual leader of 4 million Catholics in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    "May the memory of St. Patrick, who was himself carried off from his homeland at the age of 16, sustain all those who have left our shores for other lands," Brady said, referring to the saint's legendary background as a slave imported from Britain. "May the example of Patrick's faith in God, who comforted and protected him, protect and comfort them also."
    The Catholic Church in Ireland also launched an online information pack for emigrants.
    Brady was presiding Saturday over a special service honoring both St. Patrick and the Vatican's new diplomat to Ireland, New York-born Archbishop Charles Brown. At a service in Armagh, Ireland's ecclesiastical capital located in Northern Ireland, the two men planned to bless sprigs of shamrock for the congregation and then take part in Armagh's own parade.
    Saturday's Dublin parade is just one of more than 50 across Ireland, many of them rowdy village affairs. The capital is also running a four-day St. Patrick's Festival through Monday that features live performances and amusement park rides in several parts of the city center, although the fireworks show has been canceled, another casualty of austerity.
    The city's two most popular tourist attractions, the Guinness brewery and Dublin Zoo, both offered nods to the day's mix of patriotism and partying. Zoo animals were being fed special mixes of oranges and vegetables, mimicking the green and orange of the Irish flag, while Guinness was offering free admission to any visitors named Patrick.
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     Posted by the Ex Farmer's Wife

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    The Details of Artistry

    I finally was able to see the Oscar Best Picture of the Year last night.  I found "The Artist," well - very artistic.  Because the film did not have words to distract my attention, I was more observant of details.  And that started me thinking how it is the little details that elevate art, writing, music, dance - just about anything - to the level of artistry.

    The movie was back to basics -- no special effects a la computer technology.  Instead, there was the feather that gently floated down - and  landed on the ground with a loud thud.  A hanging suit jacket became a caressing lover.  When the word Bang! quickly appeared on the screen, I felt the quick emotional shift from sadness at a man shooting himself to relief that it was instead only a car hitting a tree.

    All these years later, why does that image of a woman wrapped in the mysterious hooded cloak looking out to sea remain in my memory from "The French Lieutenant's Woman?"  How can I still see the color of a child's empty coat amidst the black and white of "Schindler's List?"  Why do those haunting, hostile, young woman's green eyes still stare at me from a cover of National Geographic?  Details make the difference.

    And so the writer, poet, artist, and musician must continually search for just the right words, strokes, colors, notes, until they can hear the sweet click of it falling into place.  Details are the challenge and the joy of creativity.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Letter from an Agnostic

    Usually I have more questions than answers. Maybe that is part of the reason that I lean toward being an agnostic.
    I have had debates with atheists about the definition of agnostic so I know that people define that word in different ways. I know many atheists think the evidence strongly leads to the belief that there is no God.
    Part of my agnosticism entails being flexible with the definition of god. I think that many times people are intentionally vague about god. They don't have and can't offer a definition. Why would anyone want to interrogate someone about his definition when it might lead to animosity? Why not let it be vague? Why not interpret the word god within the context of his sentence? Sometimes people may mean inspiration, placebo effect of hope, the web that holds society together, the strength of the camaraderie of the group, the awesomeness of mother nature, or some vague delusion that helps them make it through some dark period of life.
    I might answer my own question in a couple of different ways:
    1. They might know something that I don't know
    2. I should not let people hang on to stupid beliefs
    3. I love the good debate
    I think those three reasons are perfectly acceptable reasons for asking someone for her definition of god after she uses the word in a sentence. I, however,still plan to resist the temptation. I do not think the following is a good reason for asking someone to define what she means by god: Everyone needs to agree on the definitions of all words before a conversation can be meaningful. Again I would like to emphasize that I think that few (if any) can define the word god satisfactorily. I feel it is better to just use a definition that makes sense to me when I hear the word god used in a sentence. Interrogating someone about his definition of god might lead to animosity. As I grow older, I want to learn to communicate in such a way that animosity isn't created during the dialogue.
    Sometimes I will interpret the meaning to be inspiration whereas another time I might interpret the meaning to be the placebo effect of hope. Perhaps I might say "would you mind if I use the word inspiration instead of god when I interpret what you are trying to tell me since I am an agnostic?" If the context of the sentence calls for another interpretation then I might substitute something more appropriate for inspiration. One of the uses of God that completely baffles me is when someone tells me she bases her morals on God. That seems a dangerous statement. Whenever anyone uses the term god in an attempt to control or condemn other people then the wording has gone beyond the benign. It has become dangerous although I still believe that a skilled
    communicator can discuss morals without debating the definition of god. If the person means that god speaks directly to him then I would assume he means the voice in his head. We all have that inner voice and we have to discern which ideas are good and which are not so good.
    If people mean that god speaks to them through a holy book or another person, then I guess I would have two follow up questions:
    1. Do you follow the advice even if it makes no sense?
    2. Could the person (giving you advice) be wrong?
    I am reading a book called Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong by J. Mackie. It has me thinking that the discussion about morals, values, and/or ethics is a serious one with serious consequences to our society. I hope that free thinkers will join in that discussion without getting lost in the god debate. It isn't about god. As I said in the beginning, I believe that most people use the term god in a very vague way. If you get stuck in
    debating god's existence, then you may never move forward to the really important stuff.
    Susan Ert-Ker

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Do Writers need Press Releases?

    A press release used to be the prerogative of the commercial domain, i.e., big businesses who launched a new product, opened a store, or went public… to give you a few examples.
    Things have dramatically changed in the publishing world as we all have experienced. We all know the predicament: self-pub’d authors know that they have to do their own marketing − even before they even have published their oeuvre. Fellow writers, we’re here because we’re networking, using different platforms to get our piece out. Writers Get Together ( was created to get this extra exposure in order to attract new readers – and potential buyers! − Wherever they may come from, wherever they may have been hiding until now.
    Nobody else is doing it for you. That’s a fact and not a troll truism.
    Even publishing-houses expect their writers to—or so I hear. I haven’t been in this situation. I did everything around my book myself− well with the help of a designer, editor and some well-wishing mentor friends that helped out occasionally. So from its inception to pushing it out into the world of fierce competition and fight over placements on popularity charts (Kindle) we gather experience as we go along. We learn different important snippets of information on many sites that are relevant to getting noticed.  
    Press releases or news releases as they’re also called now are part of luring potential buyers to your book or author website. The guidelines point out that their primary function is not a sales pitch; instead some news about your book −or other products you want to launch − should be the center of a press release.  
    Googling “free press releases” comes up with a long list. That’s where I started and I take it you want to save money and start with freebies, too. I found: “The Big List of Free Press Release Distribution Sites”. It is Big—or long, containing almost 40 rather similar sounding names. I mention some at random to give you examples:
    Free-Press- (wherever that may hail from − it reverts quickly to a" .com"). I won’t elaborate on another part of the alphabetical order starting with “Press”: Press this and Press the other. You get the drift.
    It takes more time and stamina to work your way through those than any author has. Then there are links from some site names that relate to others, increasing the already overwhelming numbers.
    But like with Internet Dating sites(you know I like to switch the conversation to my favorite topic): Is it worth your while to go to freebies or should one spend money on this service? The old adage comes to mind: “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”
    Often enough you start out on a free one only to be told at the end of the process when you have filled in all boxes that now is the time to upgrade: To a better service with more exposure presumably. Often enough, I dropped out at that stage when my credit card details were required.
    Maybe that’s where I should have started my research: Which one is worth its while? I should have followed a friend’s advice. Whatever he buys, he goes to rankings of the product first; that and consumer reviews. What is their ranking? −if there is such a thing.
    Sheer lack of time and boredom did not let me finish the aforementioned Big List. I keep going back to the ones that were free and where they sign-up process was painless. Yes, some are a pain in the neck!
    Once you’ve mastered the process, future ones are kind of child’s play. Well, writer’s play! Somebody still has to tell me how it works for them. Do you  use free ones o do you pay for this service. The fees range from $20 to $100.Tell me here on WGT or our FB page. I will tell you then which ones I’m using.

    In a nutshell:

    1.     Learn the ropes of a Press Release (see: guidelines)
    2.     Choose  topic
    3.     Select (several) websites
    4.     Keep track of where you post what in an Excel spread sheet. Vital! You lose track pretty fast.

     Does that look professional? Would it enhance your website?