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.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy holidays to everyone

Snow has mounded my world. Everything sparkles, including how I'm feeling. Best wishes to all for a wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Manifested a Parking Spot

The lot was so full that the line of cars puffed smog rings and left spoors of rainbowed oil on the asphalt. But I visualized myself pulling into a parking spot without waiting in line or circling the lot. And there was a spot nobody else was getting into. The Universe, reading my loud and clear visualization, saved it just for me. I pulled in and got out grinning. The grin turned downwards. There was construction on a sump pump and my spot was the most fragrant of all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The joy of all our learning braiding together

I was at the MOMA today (Museum of Modern Art) admiring a contemporary drawing by Glenn Ligon when I looked closer and noticed that there was text in it that was familiar to me. I read the title: Stranger in the Village/Hands. Yes, the text that was interspersed in the drawing (a collage really, made of glue, dust, ink and newspaper) was from an essay by James Baldwin that I had assigned in my essay class. It was about the shock of being the first African American to visit a small town in Switzerland. The text was overlaid with images of the Million Man March in 1995. A surprise like this is one of the pleasures of growing older. Everything you've learned comes together, grows richer from different fields of study and perspectives. Another pleasure of growing older is not dying younger.

I guess what made me think of this is that tomorrow is my birthday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some places to send your work

I'm always urging students to send out their work. Here are some "Where to Send's."

Upcoming AnthologiesDeadline:

11/15/09.Submit to: Diverse Voices Quarterly. E-mail attachments to: submit@diversevoicesquarterly.com.Theme: We welcome submissions from everyone, of all ages and backgrounds.Type: Poetry (5 poems MAX), short stories, personal essays (3,000 words MAX), and artwork/photography (2 images words MAX).

Deadline: 11/31/2009.Submit to: Untitled Anthology. Submit via e-mail (.doc or .docx attachment) to: susan@burwen.com. Please include your e-mail and phone number.Theme: Relationships between men and women that are almost successful in leading to marriage or a long-term commitment, but somehow don't work out.Type: Prose (8,000 words MAX).URL: TBA (NOTE: this anthology does not yet have a contracted publisher.Deadline: 12/01/09.

Deadline: 12/15/09.Submit to: Earth’s Daughters. PO Box 41, Central Park Station, Buffalo, NY 14215.Theme: Flesh and Spirit.Type: Poetry (3 poems MAX) and prose (1,500 words MAX).URL: http://www.earthsdaughters.org/themes.htm

Deadline: 12/15/09.Submit to: Fiction International. Harold Jaffe, Editor. San Diego State University, Dept. of English and Comp. Lit., 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-6020.Theme: Walls.Type: Prose. URL: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~fictintl/submissions.php

Deadline: 12/31/09.Submit to: A Cup of Comfort. Submit via online form: http://www.cupofcomfort.com/memberlogin.Theme: For Golfers.Type: Personal essays (2,000 words MAX).URL: http://www.cupofcomfort.com/CallForSubmissions Deadline: 12/31/09.Submit to:

12/31/09.Submit to: Whole Terrain. Editor, Antioch University New England, 40 Avon Street, Keene, NH 03431-3552, or e-mail to: whole_terrain@antioch.edu (preferred).Theme: The Scale of Significance. Type: Poetry (3 poems MAX), short stories, and essays (2,000 words
MAX).URL: http://www.antiochne.edu/news/news_detail.cfm?News_ID=733Deadline:

12/31/09.Submit to: Robot Hearts: Twisted and True Tales of Seeking Love in the Digital Age. E-mail to: red@lifesabitchbooks.com, or mail to: Life’s a Bitch Books, PO Box 4788, Baltimore, MD 21211.Theme: Looking for pieces that focus on the uniqueness of trying to make a human connection in this digital age.Type: First-person essays (5,000 words MAX).URL: http://www.lifesabitchbooks.com/anthologies/calls-for-submissions

Deadline: 12/31/09.Submit to: What Doesn't Kill You... E-mail (via attachment) to coeditor Murray Dunlap at murraydunlap@gmail.com.Theme: Stories of struggle (real or imagined, physical or mental).Type: Short stories or personal essays (10,000 words MAX).URL: http://www.press53.com/whatdoesntkillyou.html

01/04/10.Submit to: City Works Press. E-mail to: MammasPappas@gmail.com, or mail to: City Works Press, ATTN: Mamas and Papas, San Diego City College, 1313 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101.Theme: Motherhood or fatherhood, or the decision NOT to be a parent.Type: Poetry (4 poems MAX) and prose (2,500 words MAX). URL: http://www.cityworkspress.org/submit.html

Deadline: 01/30/10.Submit to: K.A. Sheahan, Healing EMA, 12618 La Cresta Court, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022, or e-mail Word document attachment and include in the body of the e-mail to sheahan.k@gmail.comTheme: Healing After the Betrayal of an Extramarital Affair.Type: Stories, essays, or excerpts where genuine healing has occurred (6,000 words MAX).URL: Please Google for more information.Deadline: 02/01/10.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Writing Book Reviews are Wonderful Opportunities for all of You


Here's my latest book review for Sounth Carolina Literary Review. I never would have read this book had it not been on the review list, and I'm so glad I did.

So many small lit magazines and webzines need reviewers. My students' feedback on what they've read proves to me that there are many reviewers among us. If you want to review books, poetry included, google lit matgazines, book reviews. Get a letter of recommendation from one of your teachers, and apply.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Farewell to Spring

The Brooklyn Botancial Gardens is a favorite place for me during all seasons, even winter. This photo was taken by my friend, Paul. As some of you know, because I grew up in Rockaway by the beach and baked myself every summer, sometimes intensified with a reflector, I can't be in the sun at all. To make the best of it, I have a collection of an artsy collection of umbrellas, this one Monet's "Waterlilies."

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Places to Break into Print

Don't be shy. Even if you've never published before, submit to these journals:

Deadline: 10/31/09.Submit to: Diverse Voices Quarterly. E-mail attachments to: submit@diversevoicesquarterly.com.Theme: We welcome submissions from everyone, of all ages and backgrounds.Type: Poetry (5 poems MAX), short stories, personal essays (3,000 words MAX), and artwork/photography (2 images MAX).URL: http://www.diversevoicesquarterly.comDeadline: 11/01/09.Submit to: The First

Line. E-mail (via MS Word or WordPerfect attachment) to: submission@thefirstline.com.Theme: Every story starts out the same: “Waiting for change always seems to take longer than you would expect.”Type: Short stories (3,000 words MAX).URL: http://www.thefirstline.com

Friday, October 2, 2009

New site for your writing:

A former student, Camerone Thurson, emailed me that The Whistling Fire is looking for submissions. It is gaining in its literary respect and while they do not pay or submissions it is a growing literary website which may help attract quality eyeballs and potential admirers to your work. They will also include your personal website link. http://whistlingfire.com She said the editors are a joy to work with.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

You can't make this stuff up!

I went into a hardware store today and noticed that on a display of toilet plungers was a sign "No Returns!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Big Sister's Advice

My older sister is constantly emailing me warnings and advice such as what diseases are contained in pigeon poop, etc. This email I pass onto you because it's actually useful.

For all CELL PHONE users:

1. The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to Establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked.

2. Have you ever locked your keys in the car? On Friday I managed to lock my keys in the trunik.

3. Hidden Battery Power
Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.

4 How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
Check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone: *#06#..
A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.If your phone gets stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

5. Free Directory Service for Cells.
Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800) FREE 411, or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Emotional Wildfire

I went to the beauty parlor for my monthly haircut. A woman walked in, shrieking because she was going to be expected to wait 15 minutes.

"I have two children," she bellowed, "and I have no milk in the house. I have a million errands. I could have gone to the cleanders first if only you had called me. What's wrong with you people? blah, blah, blah."

Well, listening, I began thinking, This crackpot is going to end up getting my appointment. Then I go up to the desk and say to the receptionist in a tone far more assertive than I'd ever use, "I hope my appointment won't be delayed."

A guy waiting for his haircut (unisex,) then dashed up to the desk, too. "Listen, I have to get back to work," he announced. "You better not bump me."

Next thing I knew, four customers were bellowing at the poor receptionist. At that point, I stepped back. This incident had become material. How do people who don't write survive?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some good places to publish

Deadline: 10/01/09.Submit to: A Cup of Comfort. Submit via online form: http://www.cupofcomfort.com/memberlogin.Theme: For Couples.Type: Personal essays (2,000 words MAX).URL: http://www.cupofcomfort.com/CallForSubmissions

Deadline: 02/01/10.Submit to: Rattle. E-mail (via pasted-in text) to: submissions@rattle.com.Theme: Humor. Type: Poetry and essays (5,000 words MAX).URL: http://www.rattle.com/callsforsubs.htm

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just back from Atlantic City

I go as a buffet-eater, not a gambler. Driving home there were warnings of a tempest. The wind rattled our car and the ocean lashed against the highway's railing. The sky was Gothic. A white car had somehow skidded off the road and ended up in the marsh. With the passenger door open, the half-drowned car looked like a bird with a broken wing, trying to take off.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Illustrated Childhood Nightmare

Stitches: a memoir is out in bookstores now. So many of you are both visual artists as well as writers that this graphic novel will inspire you. Here's my review of it for California Literary Review:


Thursday, September 3, 2009

I hope you' and your family and friends are safe from the wild fires.

One of my former students has been evacuated from her home. Another is on a mountaintop with smoke all around her while down below her mountain, her favorite quaint town and apple orchards are ablaze. How are all of you faring?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


This anthology is funny, touching, and wise, and contains an essay by me: "To All Grandparents in Waiting." It's a perfect gift for Grandparent's Day on September 13th and available at Barnes&Noble.com
and at Amazon.com

Monday, August 10, 2009

My first Yankee game in the New Stadium

The grass is groomed into broad stripes, diagonals if the sun hits it right. The lights are so good that an 8:00 p.m. game still looks like noon. At left is my son, Charles, my husband behind me (that' sme with the shadow all over my face. Then comes Karen, Charles' wife, my daughter, Heather, her husband, Jesse, my grandson, Jacen, and all the way down, my granddaughter, Rebecca.
Do you think A-rod was hit in the head on purpose?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Writing Blahs and What do Do About Them

I hate to admit that I was in a writing blah today, but was I ever! None of my thoughts seemed important enough to write about. Every time I got an idea, I'd talk myself out of it. "It's dumb." "You'll never find a market for it." "I have nothing to write about that's better than the last piece I got published." Oh, I couldn't swat these thoughts away, no matter how hard I tried.
Here's what I did instead:
1. I was working on a poem. Instead of reading more poetry, I read a play: The Children's Hour, by Lillian Hellman.
2. I told myself that I didn't have to write anything great, just write something. I could always look at it another day and see if it had anything to it. Just get something down.
What do you do to saddle your muse?

Friday, July 31, 2009

How Fetching!!

For anyone wishing to send a Birthday greeting, you might like this!


Monday, July 20, 2009

MY One-Minute Play, The Long Haul, will be part of a Sarasota One-Minute Play film festival

I'm taking an acting class and that got me into writing plays. This one-minute play will be part of a festival for charity in Sarasota Springs, Florida, in the fall. Here's my play which will be over in a blink:

SYLVIA MILLER: 50’s-60’s, attractive, but plump, stubborn with a sarcastic sense of humor. She should be wearing a long-sleeved loose-fitting dress. .
IRVING MILLER : 50’s-60. He’s wearing clothes appropriate for sitting in the sun.
SETTING: Boardwalk. SYLVIA and IRVING sit on chairs right next to each other to
simulate a bench. They look out over the beach, arguing with each other.

No, Irving, I’m not going to put on a bathing suit until I lose weight. Since I stopped smoking, I put on so much that if I went swimming whale watchers would have their binoculars trained on me.

You’re not fat, Syl. Look at that woman over there with her belly hanging over the bottom of her polka-dot two-piece. She’s got arms like hammocks and she’s out there, enjoying with her husband. I’ve got a surprise. I stuck our bathing suits in the trunk. The car’s in the lot right in back of us. We can put our suits on in a bathroom

You want to go swimming, go. You see that blonde in the black bikini with the thong bottom? And how about that slinky one with the backless suit that looks frontless, too. I’m not going out there with them on the beach to humiliate myself.

I can’t enjoy swimming while you’re here miserable. Look, there’s a woman over there way heavier than you. (He motions with his head.) Looks like she brought seat cushions with her. And that one, by the garbage can. with a Michelin tire of flab around her waist.

(Looking at him.) Irving, you must really love me. You’re the only guy here who is looking at women fatter than his wife.

Of course I love you, Syl. That’s why I kept after you to stop smoking. I want you with me for the long haul. I want us to grow old together while staying young. Let’s get our suits

I love you, too, Irving. (She takes out a tissue and dabs at her eyes.)

Come Syl, we can swim out up to our necks and hold each other like we used to. (He wriggles his eyebrows suggestively. There are tears in Sylvia’s eyes. He reaches out his hand and she takes it. They get up and turn their backs, heading toward the car.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Art of Grandparenting

My essay, To All Grandparents in Waiting, is in the anthology, The Art of Grandparenting (Nightengale Press) which will be out in September, just in time for Grandparents Day. Here is the link to the first press release about it.

Here's a sneak preview of the beginning of my essay:

To Grandparents-in-Waiting
Of all the things I wasn't expecting when I had a granddaughter it was that she wouldn't like me.
I knew just how it began. I was proud that my daughter, Heather, was nursing Rebecca as I had her. I enjoyed my granddaughter’s snorty sounds as she fed and I loved when her tiny dimpled hand rose to pat my daughter’s breast. But there wasn’t much time to bond with her. I was onlyhanded the baby when Heather and her husband, Jesse, went out. Putting the baby to bed was stressful to them. They had devised an elaborate and rigid bedtime ritual and didn’t want any deviation from it. The two of them were so sleep-deprived and frazzled that it was hard to say anything to them without getting into a big fight. They were in terror over whether or not she would sleep.
I remembered how it felt to be a new mother and want to do everything perfectly. When Heather was an infant I was so worried when she cried that I carried her on me in a snugglee even when I vacuumed the apartment.
“Put her down,” my mother-in-law used to say on every visit. “You have to learn to let her cry sometimes or you’ll wear yourself out.”
Maybe my mother-in-law was right, but I not only didn’t listen to her, with my hormones surging, I hotly resented her for saying it. Worse, when she babysat and I left breast milk in bottles for a feeding, my mother-in-law bought Heather formula instead.
“I wasn’t sure your milk was fresh,” she’d told me.
I felt like banishing her from our house forever.

The Art of Grandparenting

My essay, To All Grandparents-in-Waiting, will appear in this anthology coming out in September, just in time for Grandparents Day.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How exhilarating to write a book review! It makes you a sharper reader and enhances your prestige as part of the writing community. You can write your own sample reviews of books on a website such as Amazon or your own blog, and then contact places such as Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, literary magazines, etc. with your samples. They will send you a pre-publication galley copy that you are free to dog-ear. Your opinion counts and is needed. Here's my latest review for California Literary Review:


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How Moving Only 55 Blocks Changed My Life

In my class, Emotions Through Art: Infusing your words with feeling, the second week lecture and assignment is a "before" and "after," that is, choosing one of the major dramas of your life and writing how it effected you. What was life like before and then after. I remembered an essay I published in Rio Grande Review that showed how moving only 55 Blocks made me just as much a refugee as my father who had fled Russia. Here's the link for the essay.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trust the Word!

Remember the elaborate hat I made for my reading of my poem, Ziggurat Hat at the Paul Robeson Arts Center in Princeton? If not, you can go down a couple of posts and see me wearing it. Gummed stars twinkled on its big veil and a bluck feather was stuck in its grosgrain band. I used black masking tape stripes to suggest a ziggurat--a stepped-pyramid. Well, as some of you know, it was pouring that night, so I stored it in a Hefty Trash bag. After a couple of glasses of wine at the cocktail party, I left my trash-bagged hat there. No surprise, it ended up in the trash. When I was invited to read again at the National Arts Council in Gramercy Park, N.Y., I made a replica. This time, I forgot hat # 2. I was upset, but the reading turned out better without it. The big hat, I realized, had been a distraction. When the hat rose on my head through description, everyone could see it more clearly than if I had worn it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


REGISTER NOW FOR MY SUMMER CLASS, EMOTION INTO ART Emotion into Art: Infusing Your Writing with Feeling (Online)English X 406.252.00 unitsOpenonline6/24/2009$375Add to Cart-->How do writers make you laugh and cry? Designed for beginners and those who would like to spike up their writing and gain mastery, this course begins by exploring emotion-packed fiction, short prose, and poems to discover trips, tricks, and strategies for making readers ache, cheer characters on, reach for the Kleenex, or hold their sides with laughter. Through stimulating writing exercises, you are encouraged to find your own voice to create short writing (prose or poems) about yourself and/or fictional characters that can grab the attention of both readers and editors. Enrollment limited to 15 students. Online CourseJune 24 - July 29 6 meetings total$55 nonrefundable.
UCLA Extension main site for registration (or you can always call (310) 825-9971): https://www.uclaextension.edu/r/Course.aspx?reg=U8657&qe=true

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Terrific Opportunity to Publish and Earn Creidits as a Critic!

I've published in MEMOIR (AND). It's a wonderful journal that actually appears in bookstores. I have the poem published there in an earlier post. I hope you all try it!

Become a Reader for Memoir (and)
The editorial board is currently seeking qualified individuals to help read and critique the submissions we look forward to receiving during the current reading period.Readers work offsite using our online Submission Manager, creating their own schedules to fulfill a minimum commitment of three hours per week. They receive masthead credit, a complimentary subscription, and an invitation to attend a celebratory dinner upon each issue's release. (Not to mention our sincere thanks!)For more information, contact:
Kathy GuisAssociate Editorkguis@memoirjournal.com

Dear writers, poets, artists and photographers,Mark your calendars! The reading period for Spring+Summer 2010 (Vol. 2, Iss. 2) opened on May 1 and extends through August 15, 2009.
What We're Looking ForMemoir (and) publishes memoirs in many forms. The editors strive with each issue to include a selection of prose, poetry, graphic memoirs, narrative photography, and more. No submission is too unusual or traditional to be considered for publication.

The editors select the most outstanding submissions from each reading period and award four prizes: the Memoir (and) Prize in Prose or Poetry (Grand Prize, $500; Second Prize: $250; Third Prize: $100) and the Memoir (and) Prize for Graphic Memoir (Grand Prize: $100).
There is no entry fee. Submissions that do not win a prize will still be considered for publication. See our Contests page for more information.
How to SubmitPlease review our Submissions Guidelines regarding special formatting requirements that enable us to do blind reading. Then, submit via our website using our online Submission Manager, or mail to:
Memoir (and) PO Box 1398Sausalito, CA 94966-1398
We look forward to reading your work!
Joan E. Chapman and Candida Lawrence
Memoir (and)
(415) 339-3140
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The "I Love Lucy" Caper

Do you remember the Lucille Ball episode when she got a job in a candy factory and mistimed everything on the assembly line so that the chocolates ended up passing on the conveyor belt unwrapped or mummy-wrapped or in Lucy's mouth?
Well, last night I sent out a batch of poem to be (hopefully) snapped up by editors for publication. I used self-adhesive envelopes to keep a glueless tongue and facilitate the process.

The paper that covers the self-adhesive ended up curling on the carpet like marauding sea creatures or blanched snakes. I had stamps stuck to my toes and halfway through I discovered that I had a cover letter with an editor's name on it in an envelope addressed to a different journal. I had to peel open quite a number of envelopes to discover where the glitch was.

This morning, after I mailed them in the corner mailbox, I had a champagne-y sense of satisfaction at having gotten through it. I came home and turned on the news. Stamps had gone up 2 cents the day before. All those poems might be headed back to me!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Place to Submit Essays about Online Dating

Deadline: 06/15/09.Submit to: Lifebytes Book. E-mail (via Word attachment) to: bookeditors@lifebytesbook.com.Entry fee: None. Theme: Online dating. See URL for more information.Type: True stories (300 - 2,000 words).URL: http://www.lifebytesbook.com/guidelines.html

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Emotion into Art: Infusing Your Writing with Feeling (Online)
English X 406.25
2.00 units
Add to Cart
How do writers make you laugh and cry? Designed for beginners and those who would like to spike up their writing and gain mastery, this course begins by exploring emotion-packed fiction, short prose, and poems to discover trips, tricks, and strategies for making readers ache, cheer characters on, reach for the Kleenex, or hold their sides with laughter. Through stimulating writing exercises, you are encouraged to find your own voice to create short writing (prose or poems) about yourself and/or fictional characters that can grab the attention of both readers and editors. For technical requirements click here.Enrollment limited to 15 students. Online CourseJune 24 - July 29 6 meetings total
$55 nonrefundable.
Course Syllabus
Course Syllabus
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Quisque sem. Maecenas non erat quis metus placerat malesuada. Ut consequat dignissim quam. Phasellus posuere. Aliquam erat volutpat. Cras consectetuer dolor sit amet leo. Cras tempor diam eget risus. Quisque nisi justo, dapibus sed, ornare vel, feugiat ut, pede. Nam venenatis. Phasellus vel velit. Nam ac diam vel sem pharetra tempor. Curabitur rutrum convallis arcu. Sed ipsum. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Quisque neque.

Certificate Programs
This course can be used to earn credit towards the following certifications:

Certificate Program Title 1
Certificate Program Title 2

No Textbook Required

Friday, April 24, 2009

Submission Deadline, June 1, 2009

Submit to: Diverse Voices Quarterly. E-mail via (DOC or RTF attachment) to: submit@diversevoicesquarterly.com.Theme: Celebrating and unifying diversity. Submissions from all ages, all races, all religions, and all sexual orientations are welcome.Type: Poetry (5 poems, 40 lines per poem MAX), short stories and personal essays (3,000 words MAX). Artwork also accepted.URL: http://www.diversevoicesquarterly.com

Monday, April 20, 2009


Valerie Connelly, Publisher at Nightengale Press is putting together a collection of "letters" or essays to the new grandparent and grandparents-to-be from those who have become and are currently grandparents. The idea is to create a humorous, touching, honest book of perspectives for the grandparent-to-be. There will be as nearly an equal numbers of both men and women in this anthology as possible.


1) Interested published authors need to contact Valerie Connelly by Monday, April 15th expressing their interest at publisher@nightengalepress.com
2) Include a short bio and a listing of your published titles.
3) Please submit a working title with a short overview.
4) If you know another professional/published author who might be interested, please pass this idea long to them.

Valerie will contact you requesting you submit your essay by the deadline. Please do not send your essay until she contacts you.

Submit directly to publisher@nightengalepress.com

You will create a "letter" of 2,500 to 3,500 words, about your first-hand experience with grandparenting. This book is intended to bring to the novice grandparent the wonderful advice and wisdom of those who have (for lack of a less cliché expression) "been there, done that."

If you feel you need more guidance for your topic, or at least some sense of what Valerie is looking for, you may consider these ideas for use or inspiration:

1) First-timer's Expectations vs. the Real Thing
2) The Funniest Thing Happened on the Way to the Changing Table...and Other Humorous Events
3) Grandkids Say the Darndest Things
4) What Grandchildren Do to Light Up Your Life
5) Yes, You Can Give Them Back to Their Parents When...
6) Passing Along Your Talents and Skills to Your Grandkids...
7) When to Speak Up and When to Go Mute as You See Your Children Parenting Your GrandKids
8) How to Survive a Week with Grandchildren in your House
9) Traveling for the Holidays and Other Special Events, Such as Family Vacations, Trips to the Zoo, etc...
10) How to Successfully Spoil Your Grandchildren for the Better

Valerie be the Editor and will also publish the book at no cost to you. All participating authors get an equal portion of the net proceeds royalties, which may or may not make you happy to participate. But, rest assured your portion will be as fair and profitable as I can possibly make it. Of course, you'll be free to sell the book yourselves, and all pubcomps from sales through online sources and/or bookstores will be divided equally between the authors and editor. The publishing firm will take no royalty.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Do you Twitter and Tweet?

I just got on Twitter, but it feels like a threat. Will people stop reading books and just twitter and tweet their lives away? Will I? If you're twittering, please give me a tweet.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Register now for my Intermediate Essay class.

The title is Intermediate, but all are welcome. The focus is on gettng essays ready for publication and boy are there places to publsh them!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My reading at the Paul Robeson Fine Arts Center at Princeton University

Yes, it is I, wearing that hat. I made it for my poetry reading at the Paul Robeson Fire Arts Center at Princeton University. My poem, The Ziggurat Hat, in Eating her Wedding Dress (Ragged Sky Press) was about the hats my mother wore. I made this one out of a beach hat and a bunch of trimmings I bought in Michael's Craft Shop. You can't see it, but the hat also had a large black feather. When my mother would take me and my two sisters to department stores, she would tell us to follow the black feather so that we dont' get lost. I was so sorry I hadn't kept that hat, but even sorrier that after having a couple of glasses of wine at the reception, I managed to leave my hat at the center in a large hefty trash bag that I had used to keep it safe in a downpour.. And that's where it ended up. In the trash! There's going to be another reading on Jone 3rd, so I made another hat. It's not as great as the first, but c'est la vie.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Personal Sorority Sisters All Together

The balanced the camera on something and huddled together in the nick of time to get a picture of the four of them: Left to right: Gina Camerone, Terry, and Jeanne. It's so satisfying to see my homies.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

If anyone lives near Princeton University

I'll be reading my poem, The Ziggurat Hat, from the anthology, Eating Her Wedding Dress, (Ragged Sky Press) on Friday, April 5 7:30 pm- 9:30 pm
at the Arts Council of Princeton
Paul Robeson Center for the Arts
102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, N.J. 08542

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gulp. I didn't read the submission guidelines carefully when I sent in my one-act play. Here is the submission response:

We regret to inform you that you have written a really good play and, therefore, it does not fit into our CringeFest. Thank you for allowing us to consider your work. It was read aloud three times by professional actors and discussed by the whole company and resident directors. The decision was: you're just too good for us!
International CringeFest '09 takes place at the Producers' Club, July 20-August 9. We wish you the best of luck with this and all your other work. Please feel free to submit to next year's festival.

Thanks again!

Melba LaRoseMelba LaRose, Artistic Director, NY Artists Unlimited,

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Personal Essay Sorority Sisters

Meet Terry August, Gina Sorell, and Dr. Jeanne Kane. Camerone Thurson must have been taking the picture, because she's a major player in the Sisterhood. They met in my personal essay class and forged such a bond that they have regular reunions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Registration for my course, Writing the Personal Essay, Intermediate is NOW!

Come all ye personal essayists and memoir writers and writers of all genres:

Intermediate Personal Essay (Online) In The Art of the Personal Essay, Philip Lopate writes, "The personal essayist looks back at the choices that were made, the roads not taken, the limiting familial and historic circumstances, and what might be called the catastrophe of personality." This course is designed for those familiar with the personal essay form and who are ready to delve deeply into that "catastrophe of personality." The course focuses on guiding students in the writing and revision of one or more personal essays to be submitted for publication, as well as the study of markets and the manner in which those stories which sometimes appear to be the smallest moments expand to become memoirs. For those ready to stop regaling friends with their tales and to, instead, commit these to the page. U8287

Former students have gotten published in Notre Dame Review, a paying market, Persimmon (a status-y online journal), and one developed a book of poetry out of her essays that was published by a fine literary press!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The sun is coming out soon: Beware!

While most women get to go to the plastic surgeon for a lift, I have to go to get basil cells removed. I grew up near the beach at a time when no one knew a thing about the long term damage of the sun. Every time I pass one of those tanning salons and I think of all the people baking themselves in these UV coffins, I cringe.
The only upside of this is that my poem on this subject, Shaded, just came out in the South Carolina Review.


With basal cells rising on my body like dots
in a Seurat, I am la femme who walks stiffly
beneath the domed shadow from her parasol.

After my first summer
day of chasing piping plovers
that skittered on wiry feet

toward the tide, then kneeling
to scoop up crabs that tickled
my palms, I’d be housebound

a week, shirtless,
slathered in Noxema,
my nipples red dimes.

Soon came the frenzied scratching
with the edge of Mom’s metal yardstick,
then peeling off the pale flakes.

At puberty, anointed with baby oil and iodine,
I lay face up, a reflector held at my chin,
a silver chute for the sun’s rays at high noon.

Now the hem of my skirt skirts the yellow-
green grass. The sleeves of my tunic are down
to my wrists. I wear a brimmed hat.

My arm aches from holding up the parasol
I carry every day, not just Sundays,
on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Meet Dena Mohammed, Personal Essay Student whose writing I'm sure you'll all get to know one day.

Hello Everyone,
My name is Dena Mohammad and I am 29 years old. I am a former international Fulbright scholar and have been in the U.S. for a little over two years now. During that time, I worked on my M.A. degree in American Studies and Art History at the University of Kansas. And before that I did my undergraduate work in English, with a special emphasis on translation. I have graduated about six months ago and my husband and I currently live in the Washington D.C. area. I love it here! We are in the historic district of Old Town Alexandria, so there is a lot of history here!
My life's most cherished dream is to cultivate my skills as a writer and be a known and respected published author. In an ideal world where all is happy and balmy I truly cannot picture myself doing anything but holding on to my pen and paper! I am a pathological book worm and I am slowly building a huge collection of books that space is becoming our most pressing problem around our small apartment. I collect mostly academic works in Art History and Cultural Studies. Coming from American Studies, I have a special interest in such topics as the relationship between words and images, race, gender, the representation of men and women in art and literature, whatever that you can put under the huge umbrella of "culture"...Apart from that, I love the simple delicacies of everyday living: a good book on design and interior decoration, curling up with The Writer Magazine, a scrabble game with my husband, cooking, daydreaming!!!It would be foolish to list favorite writers for the list is too long : William Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain, Tamar Garb, The Brontes, John Kennedy Toole, Goethe...These names quickly come to mind...The personal essay has always been the kind of art form that I, almost subconsciously, found myself practicing! It is always so compelling as if it is the natural, unconditional reaction to life and its details.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My husband and I going into the woods

This was taken on the grounds of the Nassau County Fine Arts Museum by my cousin, Irwin Yatter.

See the tiny bejeweled ribbon knit purse?

My dear friend, our own Caroline Leavitt, knitted it for me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writing was like an arm wrestle today

I tried to write another scene in my new novel. Although the sensory details were right on and the dialogue showed insight, it all felt dead to me. But I forced myself to keep at it, staying in my PJ's until noon. Then I went for a walk and read a great essay, Werner by Jo Ann Beard. Although the essay had zip to do with my novel, it just came to me what was wrong with the scenes I was writing that day. I had forgotten the all-important tone, the overall feeling of the piece. Dread, I thought. It should be dread from the get-go. I went back and looked at it through the lens of fear. Yes, it's working!!!

What do you do when you're struggling with your writing?

Friday, February 20, 2009

March 7, ARTS DAY, LA


This free event offers aspiring writers, designers, filmmakers, and artists a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the subject matter, creative processes, current issues, and potential career paths of six major arts fields. In addition to Creative Writing and Screenwriting, participants can attend sessions in Design Communication Arts, Entertainment Media, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture.

The schedule of sessions, as well as videos featuring several former Arts students, is available online at www.artsdayla.org.

Please forward this information on to anyone you know who has an interest in the arts and lives in the Los Angeles area. In addition to our immersive sessions, the event offers a unique opportunity to meet and network with students and professionals in the arts, and is a positive and uplifting day for all involved. It's also free, and held on the beautiful UCLA campus!

If you or your friends and family have any questions about the event, don't hesitate to call the Arts Department at 310-267-4888. ArtsDayLA on Saturday, March 7th.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Opportunity to publish

An editor is collecting FICTIONAL COLLEGE ESSAYS for a FUNNIEST COLLEGE ESSAY anthology. She has an agent at William & Morris so if she gets enough fine examples, she should be able to get it published--no promises. Your high school kids are welcome to submit as well.
Her name is Jean and her email is funniestcollegeessays@yahoo.com

She's including an essay from me, AKA JOSEPH BREADSTEIN. Here it is:

College Essay
By Justin Breadstein

From the time I was in the Odyssey Program for gifted students in the third grade I wore the Harvard baseball cap that my uncle, Kenneth Breadstein lll, himself a Harvard alumni and major endower to Harvard, bought me. Of course, being respectful, I never wore my Harvard cap in class, only in the schoolyard and everywhere else. If you look at my photo closely, you’ll see proof. I have permanent hat head—thin hair on top and on the sides that bunches out around my ears. In fourth grade I almost won the science fair for my study of the social systems of ants, but someone jiggled the table, and my jar of ants crashed to the ground, and the other kids stepped on them. I would have been a shoe-in for the Thespian award for my part as the wandering minstrel, NankiPoo, in the Micado if my wooden sandal hadn’t made me slip off the stage while I was wandering. The citizenship award also would have been mine if in my speech I hadn’t mixed up one word. Instead of thanking my dedicated teachers, I thanked my “defecated” teachers.

In Middle School my teacher in honors history (all my classes were honors classes) said I would have won the Historical Society award for the colonial newspaper that I wrote, but the glue I used to put the newspaper together made the pages bleed into each other. If it had done that immediately, I never would have handed it in that way. Unfortunately, it waited until I handed it in to bleed. But my Bar Mitzvah was a huge success. My uncle, Kenneth Breadorth lll, gave me a thousand dollars towards my future tuition to Harvard, and only a small percentage of what he’ll give to Harvard when I’m admitted. Also, I was president of the Volley Ball Club. Because my wrist didn’t heal well, I began playing soccer. In eighth grade I could have gone to Yugoslavia with my soccer team, but I didn’t want my straight A average to slide, so I went to summer school to get ahead on earth science.

Once I got to high school, I not only threw my energies to clubs and teams, I also studied for Confirmation classes. Each week my rabbi had a lively discussion about such issues as politics, sex, education, sex, and international affairs. My favorite book in High School was Catcher in the Rye. I identified with Holden Caulfield who was in therapy like me. But I would never go to a prostitute like he did. I was the president of the debating team, the Star Gazers, the photography club, and the drama club. All the while, my face was in the glass case in the front hall every month with others who got straight A’s. And I didn’t waste my high school summers. For example, the summer of my junior year I went to The Mitzvah Corps at Rutgers University. We had choices. We could work in a soup kitchen or be a counselor at an inner city camp or in a camp for adults with disabilities or with senior citizens. I chose to do all of them. They said it couldn’t be done, but my uncle, Kenneth Breadstein lll, hired me a limousine so I could show up in each place for an hour a day. That Fall I won the Rotary Club photography contest with my photos of the astonished faces of the inner city kids and the homeless people when I showed up in that limousine.

I hope that you will accept me into Harvard. Not only will I be forever grateful, but my uncle, the endower, Kenneth Breadstein lll, will be forever grateful, too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

One of our our UCLA students, Ching-Ing Chen's novel of poems is just out!

Red Hen Press has had the good sense to publish Ching-In Chen's novel in poetry, Heart's Traffic. I just ordered it from Amazon. Ching-In was one of my writing students at UCLA Extension and I was always dazzled by her originality and brilliance. I bet you will be, too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Writing the Personal Essay Sorority Sisters

These talented writers met in one of my essay workshops. The personal essay is so personal that it can help you make friends for life. From left to right meet Gina Sorell, Camerone Thorson, behind her is Terry August and the one at the right is Dr. Jeanne Kane. They meet at least once a year. Maybe someday I will join them.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

At my son's wedding, Bernie (my husband) and I being lifted in chairs.

This is a tradition at Jewish weddings. I was clutching the chair. Y9u'd be surprised how much you pray when you're being held aloft by four sweating volunteers who've already had a bit to drink.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

At the Brooklyn Children's Museum with my grandaughter, Rebecca

I wish you were all with us. Really the museum is more like an indoor playground, but what magic for a rainy day!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My essay,Ess, Ess, is now out in the hilarious and helpful anthology, Feed Me

Feed Me!: Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image by Harriet Brown (Paperback - Jan 27, 2009)
Buy new: $15.00 $10.20

Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on Jan 27, 2009.
Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.