Don't be fooled by the grim-faced picture. It was the only unblinking one. For me, words are worth a thousand pictures. I'm looking forward to saying hi to all of you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Meet Gina Sorell

Hello cyber friends!My name is Gina Sorell and I am an actor and writer living in Los Angeles. I moved to L.A. two years ago from Toronto. after eleven painful months of adjusting, i found that there is a lot to love about it, especially that it is home to UCLA's Writers Program. Thanks to the writers program I have met many wonderful writers on line and in person and have had the amazing fortune to study with great writers like Rochelle Jewel Shapiro. My debut novel, Navel Gazing, is currently finding itself a terrific agent... and I am inching my way towards starting a second novel. And thanks to Rochelle, I am now working on a memoir style collection of essays about my family.Please stop my blog at http://www.sorellsays.blogspot.com/ to say hi!Best,Gina :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Meet Linda Marie Prejean

Teachers way back said I should go into journalism, or make writing a career in some way. So in typical fashion I did the opposite. I learned to speak Japanese, became an international flight attendant, a Psychotherapist, went on hiatus, dropped out of a Ph.D. program, did my time in Hollywood as a commercial actor, and now have so many stories I have no choice but to write. My favorite job was as Administrative Assistant to the writer of The French Connection. Here I am, many years later, toying with entering the Screenwriting program at UCLA.

I'm married close to forever to Jim - 43 years. Our favorite time together is on our sailboat, the Dani-Lin. He¢s a great Captain and soon we¢ll head for Catalina Island. Jim and I live in Southern California near our son, Kevin. We have two exceptional grandchildren. My passion is getting up early each day and training my horse, Brisa, for show jumping competitions. We are trained by a coach for the Olympics who is in Beijing at the moment, hopefully winning a Gold Medal. I love writing, riding, singing, shopping and well, life in general.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Meet Valerie

After taking Rochelle's level 1 class online @ UCLA extension while acting on a television show that films on location in Vancouver, Valarie's excitement for personal essay writing increased exponentially. She mentioned her love for this class to a publicist for the series that she was on and she suggested her to the editors of tvguide.com to post a celebrity blog about her adventures while filming a the show. It positive reception has increased her drive to publish some personal essays, complete the historical fiction novel she's been working on set in antebellum New Orleans, and work on a book of personal essays focusing on the surreal world she has experienced as a part of the entertainment industry and dating in L.A. while "almost famous."

Meet Carla Serenko

Carla Serenko is a brilliant writer in my Writing the Personal Essay class. She's a mail carrier in Florida and is working on a mind-blowing book of essays about the ins and outs of her job.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Meet Camerone Thorson

I am a high tech marketing consultant during the day, a mom all the time, a really bad cook, a great party planner, a terrible wife, a great stimulator of the econonomy, and a lover of life and words. I just completed (or will have after your class) my certificate in creative wrtiting from UCLA and will start an MFA program this fall.

I love to blade (as in roller), do yoga and pilates, practice thecraft of writing, take photos, and make cards for friends. My husband would be happy if I could make a profit- hah!!

I have had almost as many lives as a cat, starting out as an assistant buyer of lingerie in B.Altman's many moons ago, then a stint in HR, and then a consultant in the high tech arena, oh yeah,, worked as a high school sub teacher in Norwalk CT in the mid '80s, and then moved to CA where I moved to the first county to go into Chapter 11. Did I mention I lived in the first city to go into chapter 11 (Bridgeport,CT) too?

Life motto: have passport will travel - when it looks like you are being run out of town, get in front and make it look like a parade!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Meet Lake Mcclenney

Lake is one of my "Wow What a Writer" students in my Intermediate Writing the Personal Essay class at UCLA Extension. She's a retired psychologist who would never be a psychologist (again).She's happily unmarried to her sweetie for 35 yrs. They have 2 kids (ages 38 & 39) and 7 grandchildren. They live in a pack of 12 feet - 4 of ours, and 8 for two dogs, Kavi, their "baby", an alaskan malamute, and Scout, who adopted them because he loved their puppy - and because they take long hikes every day. She live in SoCal, but was born in Berkeley & is a northern California person thru & thru.

Every time Lake reads a newspaper, checks online, or hear news media people who feel free to do psychological analyses of every person's actions instead of REPORTING, she feels insulted. Gee, she only went to school for ten postgraduate years to do that! Especially when it is analyzing why some famous man (ahem, John Edwards, or and not to forget Bill Clinton, Gary Harte, and by the way, the groper, Arnold Schartzenager, had sex illicitly. Gee, that's a tough one, must have been some deep-seated neurosis that led to it!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meet Vicki Broadrick

In 2000, Vicki closed her private practice as a marriage and family therapist and moved to a tiny town in the San Bernardino mountains. She’d been coming up to these mountains since she was six months old. Her great grandparents were one of the first logging families there.


Vicki is teaches Eartly Childhood Education for the certificate program at UCLA extension. She’s also working on a book of exciting essays in my class about:

  • Internet dating as a senior

  • Escaping wildfires

  • Escaping snowstorms

  • Escaping black bears, coyotes, mountain lions

  • Escaping the men she dates.

In each essay, her sense of adventure, fierce independance, ingenuity, and the love of nature and laughter shines through.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pearl Curran, most fortunate psychic!

The most fortunate psychic-turned-writer that I’ve ever heard of was Pearl Curran, a St. Louis housewife. She never had to study writing at all, never even had to rewrite. Her writing career began when she started fiddling with the Ouija board. “Oh, why let sorrow steel they heart?” the Ouija board spelled out. “Thy bosom is but its foster-mother, the world its cradle, the loving home its grave.”
In July, the true author, the spirit who had delivered the flowery lines spelled out her name—Patience Worth, a seventeenth century Quaker. Louise discarded the Ouija board for a pen and paper and continued channeling (receiving messages) from Patience until Pearl’s death in 1938.
Through Pearl, Patience channeled her plays, poems, and novels, most published to critical acclaim. (Oh, that Patience would give me the time of day!) There was a lot of doubt as to whether Pearl was really channeling. After all, she may have had that talent locked inside her, waiting for the right moment to emerge. Even the naysayers were bowled over in 1928 when Pearl, who transcribed in modern prose what Patience supposedly told her, channeled a medieval bucolic poem, an idyl called Tekla that historians agreed was written in an Anglo Saxon dialect dating back before the thirteenth century. Since Pearl had very little education and could never have done this on her own, Tekla was considered proof that the prolific writing was indeed coming to her from Patience.

Monday, August 11, 2008

How I went from being a psychic to being a writer too

My Russian grandmother, my Bubbie, Sarah Shapiro, had been well-known in her shtetl for her predictions, cures, potions, and salves. Along with her pale blue eyes that turned up in the corners, I inherited her psychic gift and have been a phone psychic for thirty years.
My writing career was also launched by a psychic—the late Vincent Ragone, such a brilliant clairvoyant that my name had been on a seven year waiting list to get an appointment with him. In March of 1985, a week before my appointment, he phoned me. <>
“I’m canceling all my appointments,” he told me. “I’m no longer seeing private clients.” <>
I was crushed. “Isn’t there something you can tell me?” I asked.
He waited a beat. “You’re going to publish a love story with Simon & Schuster,” he announced.
The only writing I had ever done was for term papers and elementary school essays on How I Spent My Summer Vacations. I thought perhaps that he was no longer doing readings because he’d lost his psychic powers. And then I got an image of stitched-together squares of fabric, a quilt. The Memorial Quilt commemorating the victims of Aids.
“I’m so sorry,” I blurted out.
He was quiet for a few moments. “You do readings by phone, don’t you?” he asked.
“I can tell everything about everyone else,” he said, “but I hardly ever know anything about myself. I must ask you a question. How much longer do I have?”
I sucked in my breath. I had never let myself see the time or circumstances of anyone’s death. What if I couldn’t stop? What if I went around seeing it for everyone? For my friends and family? How could I go on? But I had the sense that Vincent, a man who had lived sparely, who, I could tell from the open hand I saw in my mind, had given generously to others, was really asking me how long he had to live for himself, to travel and read and do what he hadn’t gotten a chance to. I got an image of a tombstone with his name on it, but the tears in my eyes were blurring the dates.
“I know I shouldn’t have asked such a question, but thank you for giving me the answer,” he said.
What answer? I thought, so startled that I knocked my jaw with the receiver. Had Vincent been able to read the numbers on the tombstone I saw? Or maybe just by having asked out loud he had received his own answer.
A few months after that phone call, I began to keep a journal, not because of what Vincent had told me. It still seemed preposterous that I would ever write a novel. But doing readings, although exhilarating, is a bit like exhaling. All that’s left is as invisible as carbon dioxide and I needed something I could hold in my hand, look at, a record of my day. After my children began elementary school, I took a poetry workshop just to meet people and ward off loneliness. Over time, my poems became longer and longer and broke from any form. Slowly, over seven years, my novel, Miriam the Medium emerged.
When I landed an agent, I didn’t tell her about Vincent’s prediction. I was afraid she’d think I was being too controlling. Besides, what if Vincent was wrong about the publisher? Only another psychic could know how fleeting and vaporous psychic images can be, how easy to misinterpret. Clients have come to expect a high level of performance from me. They almost get blasé when I tell them that the cap on their left upper molar doesn’t fit right or that their brother is in hock. I’m the one who is sitting on the edge of my sit, thinking, You mean I’m right? It was a miracle enough for me that I had actually written the book. I just sat back and waited to see what would happen. But when my agent brought me to Simon & Schuster, sitting in the office with all the editors and PR people, I felt a heat on the top of my head and my shoulders as if the sun had somehow burst through the New York office building just to shine on me. I leaned close to my agent.
“Simon & Schuster is going to buy my book,” I whispered, and they did.
She credited the prediction to me, but I knew who the credit belonged to. I thanked Vincent Ragone in the dedication to my book.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Nostradamus, The Historical Psychic

I had to resort to Nostradamus for Dummies by Scarlet Ross to learn the meaning of Nostradamus’ predictions. Nostradamus was not only writing in a dreamlike state, he also had to be careful around both royalty and the church if he wanted to keep his head firmly attached to his neck. The church considered the esoteric arts witchcraft. To be really safe, most of Nostradamus’ predictions weren’t published until his death at the age of sixty in 1566. <>
I can picture him in the 1550’s, climbing up to his attic on the third story of his second wife’s house in southern France. He’s wearing his long scholar’s robe and the three-sided hat, the sign of a physician. There’s sadness etched into his face from the death of his wife and two children. And one can probably sense anger, too. Although he had developed a lozenge made of a powder pulverized with three to four hundred roses plucked before dawn that helped people survive the plague, no one wanted a doctor who couldn’t save his own wife and kids. Marrying a rich widow has given him solace and time for his real interests such as alchemy, the Kabala, astrology, Egyptian mysticism, and numerology. From a bowl of water resting in a brass stool (a tripod), he anoints his robe and his feet. He sits down at his desk, a quill in hand poised over an empty page. Then he gazes into the surface of the water, watching the play of candlelight upon it. He focuses hard. His breathing slows. Just as his body is separated from everyone around him, his thoughts begin to separate from his mind. He is not only a man aware of himself gazing at the surface of the water, but is also able to see himself doing it as if from a distance. Patiently, he waits for a vision of the future to appear in the water’s reflective surface. When it does, he dips the nib of his quill into his inkpot and writes the prophecy down in the form of a quatrain, a four-line poem.

The young lion will overcome the old one
On the field of battle in single combat:
He will put out his eyes in a cage of gold:
Two fleets one then to die a cruel death.

Voila, it’s the prediction of King Henry ll’s death. King Henry ll had a lion emblazoned on his shields and banners. In 1555, when this prophecy was published, it caused such a ruckus that the king’s wife, Catherine de Medici, ordered Nostradamus to come to court to explain himself. Kill the Messenger was what royalty did for a bad prediction. But Nostradamus talked his way around it and all was forgotten.<>
Then in 1559, during a jousting tournament, Henry’s opponent was the head of the Scottish guard who also had a lion on his shield and was younger than the king. When the opponent tried to knock Henry off his horse, his lance missed the king’s chest. It splintered and went through Henry’s helmet which is the “cage of gold” and also his throat. A fleet is a wound. Nostradamus was right. The king lay in agony for ten days from his two wounds, a cruel death as Nostradamus had written.
People at court suggested that Nostradamus must have planned the king’s death. But Nostradamus managed to get off the hook again.

Check out this eye-popping divination for Napoleon’s attack on Milan in 1796:

The speech delivered before the attack,
Milan taken by the eagle through deceptive ambushes;
Ancient wall driven in by canons,
Through fire and blood few given quarter.
(C III – 37)

<> That’s exactly what happened. Napoleon and his bedraggled, hungry troops had been fighting the Italians for months with barely any help from France. Then Napoleon delivered that brilliant speech referred to in line one, convincing his men that if they rallied and took Milan, they’d be able to sack not only Milan but all the countries around it. The soldiers rose up and fought, looting valuables, including art treasures, not only filling their stomachs, but their pockets, too. <>

<>No one at the time could have imagined that World War I wouldn’t be “the war to end all wars,” but Nostradamus foresaw both world wars.

The scourges passed the world shrinks,
For a long time peace and unpopulated lands:
One will travel safely by air, land, sea, and wave,
Then the wars stirred up anew.
(C I – 63)

They will think they have seen the sun at night
When they see the pig half-man:
Noise, battle, fighting in the sky perceived,
And one will hear brute beasts talking.
(C I – 64)

<> “The world shrinks” refers to one country annexing another after WWI. Nostradamus foresaw plane travel and “the wars stirred up anew.” In quatrain two, he visualizes the searchlights and explosions that made the night sky into day. The pig half-man refers to the leather snout-nosed masks that fighter pilots wore. And from the line about the noise, it’s plain that Nostradamus not only saw visions of the future, but heard them, too.