So I Took a Month off from Blogging

  • February 01, 2021
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There were no gigantic shifts in consciousness that prompted me to take the month off. I was feeling an apathy that most people are well familiar with in a time that’s dragged on too long this past year.

How did I spend the time? I continued with my foreign language studies, read a lot, watched a lot of K-dramas, and, most important, by week three had finally gotten over the block that was making me dig my heels in against working on book two.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t suddenly start writing ten pages a day, creativity bursting at the seams. I treated myself kindly, with a daily quota of 100 words a day, three days a week. If I wrote more, great, but as long as I met the quota of the day, I was happy. Building up those writing muscles takes the same amount of time and care as working physical muscles.

So I might continue blogging every Monday or I might skip a week or two. As far as I’m concerned, as long as I’m writing something, it’s all good. See you next week (maybe).

 

Is it Time to Purge Your Bookcase?

  • November 26, 2018
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“Too many books?” you cry. “How can I have too many books?”

It happens. Maybe others in your household have grumbled complaints or given you the stink eye as they tried to find a place to sit. Maybe your home is neat and clean but feels tiny and cramped.

A Farmers Market, Delicata Squash, and Laurie Colwin

  • October 01, 2018
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I went to the Pleasantville train station this weekend to pick up a friend and there was a farmers market set up in the parking lot. I’m a sucker for farmers markets. They always give me the feeling of a tiny village congregating to do their daily shopping, with the scent of fresh dill and apples in the air.

Happy Anniversary, Penheads!

  • September 17, 2018
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celebrate photo

Last weekend I celebrated the formation of The Penheads—25 years of writing in our group. Over dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Greenwich Village, we discussed our current writing projects and looked back at our past.

As I’ve said elsewhere, we didn’t immediately form into a perfect group like some mystical key-in-a-lock connection or love at first sight. We met when we all worked in the same office, the publishing division of a financial organization. It made sense: we gravitated toward fiction and it was a natural progression to form a writers’ group.

We’ve had only a few rules, but they’ve stood the test of time:

Keep the group number limited to five people. Sometimes it’s difficult finding time to meet, and a larger number would increase the difficulty.

All of us meet or none of us do. We each have different viewpoints and are necessary to provide well-rounded critiques. (There have been rare times when we didn’t adhere to this rule, but the lack in our dynamic was obvious. We’re all needed.)

As with any group, there have been ebbs and flows in the work we’ve done, but we’ve persevered. Writing is life.

May all writers be as fortunate to find a group that tells the truth when something sucks and gives suggestions on how to fix it.

Here’s to at least 25 more years!

R.G. Emanuelle

J. M. Levinton

Carrie Vaccaro Nelkin

Arielle Prose

Anne E. Wagenbrenner

 

 

* Photo by Nickgesell (Pixabay)

 

I Was Illiterate

  • April 22, 2018
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“Your child will never learn to read.”

That’s what my first-grade teacher told my mother on open school night. With one sentence, she consigned me to a lifetime of illiteracy.

Eclectic Reading or Who I Really Am

  • April 09, 2018
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I’m a reader as well as a writer. How else could I know the magic of books? Here’s my current reading list, which covers urban fantasy, thrillers, and crafting.

What’s on your reading list?

 

 

Why There’s No Picture of Me

  • March 11, 2018
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*

So far, my views have remained the same:

To Be or Not To Be…Seen

 

 

*Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ASL, My Novel, and Being a Little Evil

  • February 19, 2018
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In a prior blog I wrote how hard it is to describe the genre urban fantasy. Now I need to explain it in a different language. (Talk about ambitious. Heh.)

Learning ASL (American Sign Language) is not the same as learning English. The grammar of each is completely different from the other’s.

But signs are only half the language. Imagine talking in a monotone and saying “I’m happy.” No one would know how you meant it.

In ASL, facial expressions are the equivalent to tone of voice in English. It makes a difference if your eyebrows are drawn together or your mouth is puckered. Each nuance changes the meaning.

When my ASL teacher told us to make a video on any topic we wanted for fun, I wasn’t thrilled. I’m not comfortable in front of the camera (although I’m getting better at it). My teacher’s idea of “fun” vastly differs from mine. Then an evil thought crossed my mind.

My teacher doesn’t like reading books in my genre.

So I’m going to make a video in ASL, talking about my book Magical Ties. (Cue cackling laughter in the background.)

Considering my sparse vocabulary, talking about a book that includes demons, murder, and relationships is going to be a challenge.

But it’s good practice, a unique way of thinking about my story and how to make it appeal to someone who might be open to trying something outside their usual preference. (For the record, I don’t expect to change my teacher’s mind. We like what we like and that’s it. But it’s the closest I can have to “fun” in this situation.)

One final note: I’m not going to post the video. It’s going to be an amateur effort in a beginner’s class and there’s a steep learning curve. Maybe another video some day!

5 Steps to Deal with the Winter Blues (Part 2)

  • January 15, 2018
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One year ago I wrote “5 Steps to Deal with the Winter Blues.” The ideas work, but over the year it was sometimes difficult to do the things that would make me feel better. I thought about getting a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp but didn’t know where to start.

Sometimes it’s as easy as a search online. I started reading Winter Blues, Fourth Edition: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder, by Norman E. Rosenthal. It gave me information that helped me purchase a SAD lamp.

The current thinking is to use the lamp for periods of 15 minutes or so (up to one hour). I turn mine on in the morning and read while eating breakfast. Fifteen minutes later my timer dings and I turn off the lamp. It’s that easy.

But does it work? For me, I’d say yes. It’s not that I’m suddenly euphoric, it’s that I’m able to continue throughout my day with better feelings. Is it a placebo? Frankly, I don’t care. Whatever works to get me through the dark and cold and keeps the negativity from bleeding into my thoughts and sapping my will (without compromising my health!) is fine with me.

In case anyone is wondering, this is the model I bought:

Verilux HappyLight Liberty 10,000 LUX Light Therapy Energy Lamp

 

Up in the Adirondacks

  • November 06, 2017
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I spent a long weekend in the Central Adirondacks with a group of friends. It was exactly what I needed, the catching up, the laughter, and especially, those mountains surrounding me.

Day two began with a power outage that lasted most of the morning, and we fortified ourselves with cold cereal and muffins. By the afternoon, everyone was out, either hiking on trails, puttering along the lakes in a motor boat, or hanging out in their own cabins. I sat at the table in my cabin and began writing. The mountain facing me radiated absolute quiet but not silence. Peace steeped my bones, and my pen worked diligently across the page.

There wasn’t time to do a lot of writing, but that moment of solitude and clarity was the spark. At least it worked better than me trying to light the fireplace. For the record, what you’re seeing in the photo below is the newspaper burning. Alas, the logs were too damp to catch on. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

There isn’t much more to say except yes, it was hard to leave.

But here’s someone who was glad to see me when I returned home. And thankfully, the writing spark is still going strong.

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