Writing Life

I am Jan Krause Greene. I explore the vast capacity of the human heart as a novelist, poet and storyteller. My first novel was released in August of 2013. I currently have three other works in progress.

One Studio’s Blockbuster; One Author’s Horror Story

This is an important case for authors to follow. I am particularly concerned by it because there has been interest in making my novel I Call Myself Earth Girl into a movie.  What follows was originally posted by Chris Galford on his blog, The Waking Den on Wordpress.com:



I have a horror story for you.

For our protagonist, we have a scrappy physicist turned novelist, who developed what can only be described as one of the most massive blockbusters of recent years. I know, so far out there, right—how could someone possibly relate? Well for starters, let me drop another name on you:



Do you remember Gravity? Flailing cameras? Spinning stars? Shrapnel? Sandra Bullock dancing through Earth’s atmosphere? Yes, that Gravity. Well, did you happen to know that Tess Gerritsen is also the person that birthed that particular entity, originally in novel form? I thought not. Yet it plays quite heavily into the why of this horror tale.

Now suppose you take this character and kindly tell them that they don’t need to be paid for their job…and certainly not for the work that came of it. No doubt that’s quirked a few eyebrows. Well, that’s precisely what has happened to Tess Gerritsen. You see, Gerritsen is presently involved in a very nasty little lawsuit over the theft of her property—the aforementioned Gravity—by a little company named Warner.

From “The Gravity of Hollywood: When It’s Okay for a Studio to Steal Your Story” by Matt Wallace:

It seems author Tess Gerritsen sold the rights to her novel GRAVITY to New Line in 1999. In exchange she would receive credit, a production bonus, and net profit points if the movie were made (not only is that never a given, it’s rare).

In 2008 New Line was “acquired” by Warner, who then went on to make the movie GRAVITY from Cuarón’s supposedly original screenplay concerning a medical doctor/astronaut left adrift in space after satellite debris kills the rest of her crew.

The novel GRAVITY is about a female medical doctor/astronaut trapped on the International Space Station after the crew is killed in a series of accidents. Later, as they developed the film, Ms. Gerritsen wrote scenes in which satellite debris broke apart the station and her protagonist was left adrift in her EVA suit.

Sound familiar?

The facts had at this point intrigued me on the level of juicy gossip.

Again, I admit this shamefully. I’ve lived and worked in Los Angeles for almost five years. It jades.

That’s when my lady (who, incidentally, is a brilliant attorney) dropped the ATOM BOMB OF HORROR RADIATING AT THE HEART OF THIS STORY.

Nikki went on to explain to me that author Tess Gerritsen was NOT suing Warner Bros. over copyright infringement or intellectual property theft.

Ms. Gerritsen admits openly and freely that Warner had every right to make the movie GRAVITY, utilizing her story as they saw fit.

She sued them because they brazenly screwed her out of the credit, payment, and profit she was guaranteed from the movie clearly (at least to me) drawn from her work.

The court doesn’t seem to dispute any of that.

This is the horror bomb part.

What both the court and Warner Bros. argue is Warner is under no obligation to honor the contract New Line made with her.


See, the problem was, Warner hadn’t bought the rights to the book. Rather, they bought out the company that had—New Line. Fairly standard fare in the business world, actually; same thing goes for patents. It’s one of the reasons companies do so like to gobble others up, in fact—so they can get access to their hoards. Unfortunately, Warner has argued that while buying up said company has entitled them to its prizes, it has not bound them by the same contracts that enabled those prizes in the first place.

Thus, they have refused to credit Ms. Gerritsen (who has not in any way debated Warner’s right to publish the movie—merely their refusal to pay her for it), or even pay her. Anything. Which really just seems like the latest par for the course round of writers getting shafted for their hard work. What’s more, as writers and readers continue to rumble and rage about the present state of the publishing industry, about the state of writing, and what creators do or don’t deserve for the trouble, this incident leads to a particularly troubling entry into the debate: that of the legal.

Unfortunately, with studio versus author, we find ourselves at a legal crossroads. Whatever happens here (and the court has currently ruled to dismiss Tess’s case, in Warner’s favor), we’re going to find ourselves with immediate precedent for future cases—and thusly, for the industry at large. Don’t see the big deal? Say the court rules in favor of Warner. To Warner, it’s a solid chunk of change in the immediate, and for Tess Gerritsen, merely no gains on something she’s already not being paid for. That’s the immediate case, though.

In the future, other courts and judges can point to that ruling when they inform authors that studios need not pay on an optioned story—merely because that studio purchases another that had ACTUALLY negotiated the contract under which it was optioned. Essentially, there would be a massive loophole in the rights of authors when it comes to their own creative property—and studios would be able to operate with a lot looser restrictions on how they run their businesses. At least, when it comes to capitalizing off other people’s work.

Right now it’s comics that studios seem to be making huge profits off of, but they have always made a good chunk of their change from the literary scene as a whole. I doubt many moviegoers even realize how many films have that lovely little, “Based on…” disclaimer contained somewhere therein. Adapting books is a huge business, and I think fellow writer Emmie Mears said it best: “The least they can do is ensure those who thought up the stories are compensated accordingly.”

And if you haven’t read the article by Matt Wallace yet, which goes much more in-depth into the issue, and hits things far more eloquently than I, do so. Especially if you’re an author. In the same vein, you can get the story straight from the author’s own mouth, here: “Gravity Lawsuit Affects Every Writer.”


Talking writing scheduals with Jan Krause Greene, author of 'I call myself Earth Girl'

Thought I would share this. Author and playwright, Alex Clarke interviewed me for her blog. You should check out her other blogs. She is a very fascinating person!




The Writing Process - From Inspiration to Publication

writer image  

Recently, I was asked by Danielle Boonstra to participate in the IC Publishing Summer Blog Tour in order to share my insight into the Writing Process. I think it is so interesting to read about the unique ways writers go about our craft and I am happy to share my own approach in hopes that it might be encouraging to others who find it challenging to commit to a regular writing routine.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Sheri Andrunyk.

Sheri is the founder of I C Publishing (sponsor for this blog tour) and the I C Bookstore, entrepreneur expert, and author of Working From Home & Making It Work and Hearts Linked by Courage. She is extremely passionate about providing more choices and high level support to other writers, business professionals, wellness coaches, and spiritual mentors.

How Do You Start Your Writing Projects?

In reality, my projects usually find me before I find them.  Back when I had a newspaper column with a deadline I started writing about an hour or two before deadline, but the idea had probably been marinating in my subconscious for a few days. When I sat down to write, the words just flowed, almost magically, it seemed to me. It was the easiest kind of writing I have ever done. Comparing that to my writing now, I have to admit that I think much of the ease of the process came from having a deadline to meet.

Now I don't have a deadline and it takes me a lot longer to get started. The ideas grab me in the least expected places and then they nag me to write about them. I might be going for a walk and notice something about a tree that reminds me of something about life in general and I say to myself, "I should write a blog about that."

For the rest of the walk, I keep hoping that I don't forget this insight. If I have my mobile phone with me I usually call my land line and leave myself a message. If my husband (poor patient man!) listens to the voice mails before I do, he is likely to hear me ruminating about this new idea. Not in just one message or two - more than likely, there will be three or four!

By the time I get home, however, the reality of my daily life in my four-generation household sets in. There are grandchildren to play with and my almost 99-year-old mother to care for. So I put off writing the blog. But, if the idea is good and really does resonate with me, it will remain a nagging presence in the back of my mind. It is almost as if it is saying to me, "If you don't sit down and write this soon, I am going to keep interfering with all your other thoughts. So get to it!"

 That, of course, should be enough to get me to the computer and it usually does. But once I sit down to write I am likely to be waylaid by email, Facebook, etc. Usually, I end up writing the blog late at night on the day before I have a really busy schedule. It is almost as if knowing that the next day won't provide any time for writing is what gets my creative juices flowing. As you can see, I am easily distracted from what I intend to do and I write best under pressure, which is why the writing process for my novel required me to literally get away from my family, friends and online life for a period of intensive writing.

Writing my novel ~

When I finally decided to fulfill my lifelong dream of writing "the great American novel" I decided to turn my allotted week in November of 2010 in my parents' Newport timeshare into a writing week. My husband was my only companion. He spent the days sight-seeing, visiting museums, reading, and eating (all things I really love to do with him!) and I was able to concentrate completely on writing the novel from 8 a.m. until about 6 p.m each day. Then we would go out to dinner and I would talk about what I had written. This is where   I Call Myself Earth Girl was born

The hours flew by. I felt as if I had been writing for two or three hours by the time 6 pm arrived. I had tons of energy and felt very happy during the entire week. I dreamed about the story almost every night.  For me, this immersion was the perfect way to get started and I made so much progress that by the 7th day I had completed the first half of the book. By that time, I had also revised my goal from "the great American novel" to "a really compelling story."

How Do You Continue Your Writing Projects?

As you may have gathered from what I have already written, I am not very disciplined about making sure I have daily writing time. To be honest, I really want to change that. But in the recent past my writing projects have fit in when and where they can.

Blogs don't take me that long to write. I only need an hour or two from start to finish. I always have a backlog of ideas and topics so that is never a stumbling block. If I had the time, I could write three blogs a day and never run out of ideas. Some times this is very frustrating because I can't find the time to write about all the things I really want to explore through writing. I think it is important to emphasize that I really do mean "explore" because most writing for me is also a process of discovering more about how I think or feel.

With my novel, I needed another period of immersion to continue with the process. So a year after the first week, I spent another 7 days at the timeshare with my husband. I wrote from morning until dinner time and finished the book the night before we checked out. (We had a late dinner that night - a very celebratory one!) To be honest, I could have used more time, but I had a burning desire to finish this story and I did not want to wait another year to do so.

I would not actually advise other writers to use this process unless you can get your weeks of immersion much closer together. It can be very frustrating. I thought about the book on some level almost every day for the year between writing weeks. But I did not outline it or try to set up plot points. I did not want the year in between the writing sessions to interfere with the flow that I had while writing with intensity during my writing week.

Each day as I wrote I just let the words come. I did no revision during these two writing weeks. The story revealed itself to me and I simply tried to add details to support it and keep it coherent. Much of what I wrote actually surprised me. Writing the messages from the spirit in the story told me things about what I believe that I had never put in words before. I discovered a lot about myself while writing this book.

How Do You Finish Your Project?

I knew that my first draft needed revision and I knew I wanted to find a publisher. So, I spent my timeshare week the next year doing the revisions and looking for a publisher. Luckily I was able to complete both tasks during that week.The main reason I could find a publisher so quickly was because a friend told me about a publisher who could be queried online without the help of an agent. Once I had signed a contract, I spent time revising without the benefit of a week away. I managed to fit the revisions into my daily routine, wedged here and there between my family obligations. Of course, having a contract had the same affect as having a deadline. I knew I had to make steady progress to in order to submit the final manuscript. I completely changed the first chapter and even added a character who has turned out to be an important figure in the sequel.

All in all, it took me from November 2010 to November 2012 to write, revise, and find a publisher. From November 2012, until February 2013, I worked on revisions. The book was released in August of 2013. One of the things that held it up was how long it took me to settle on a cover. But I am glad I took the time - I love my cover! Actually, I love the whole book.  So, despite the fact that it took so long, it was definitely worth the time and effort.

What’s One Challenge or Additional Tip That Our Collective Communities Could Benefit From?

Trust yourself!!

Trust the process of letting words flow. I know so many people who get stalled out in the writing process because they worry about being skilled enough, unique enough, interesting enough. My advice is just keep writing. You can always "fix" it after you have finished, but if you self-censor and self-criticize while you are writing, you may lose your authentic voice.  If you are inspired to write, don't let self doubt stand in your way.

I do Finding Your Voice writing workshops with individuals and groups in order to help aspiring writers to find, or reclaim, their authentic voices.

Passing the Pen

And with that, I pass the pen to one of my favorite fellow writers, Kathleen O'Malley. I met Kathleen shortly after my book was released and I was immediately drawn to her warmth and insight. We have appeared together at various events talking about why and how we write. Check out her links and be sure to look for her post on July 16th.  Check out her links and her post on July 16th!

Kathleen O'Malley, DC is passionate about transforming lives. She is an integrative wellness chiropractor, mentor to adolescent and young women and has authored two inspirational books - Messages from Within: Finding Meaning in Your Life Experiences and Messages from Children and What They Can Teach Grown-ups.

Find Kathleen on on Twitter @KOMalley and at her website.

Thanks for reading and following the IC Publishing Summer Blog Tour.

Jan Krause Greene is the author of I Call Myself Earth Girl, a novel which explores how a woman gradually opens herself to mystic wisdom when she discovers she is pregnant and is convinced that she conceived the baby in a dream. She is currently working on the sequel, as well as two other books. She also helps individuals embrace their authentic voices through Finding YOUR Voice Writing Workshops.





Jumping off the cliff on wings of words


After Maya Angelou's death, I heard the replay of radio interview from 1986. She talked about how she became mute after she was raped as an eight-year-old child. To know that she chose to cloak herself in silence for years after the rape tells us how much the rape wounded her spirit. She revealed that as an adult, when something had upset her deeply, she was still drawn to protect herself again with that same silence. In other words, she wanted to hide her vulnerability by silencing her very voice.

Maya angelou as a child
Maya angelou as a child

                                                       Maya Angelou as a young child                                               Photo from thesource.com

After hearing this, I wondered how choosing not to speak helped her. I think that she must have silenced her physical voice as a way to strengthen her inner voice; that as a child she knew instinctively that giving physical voice to the voice within means letting people know you. Your inner voice, after all, is what makes you who you are. When so much had been taken from her already, she was not willing to share that part of herself with anyone.  The only way to keep it safe was silence.  If one is going to survive in a world where a man will rape an eight-year-old, then one must make sure the inner voice is strong and sure and can not be taken away no matter what.

Angelou explained that she strengthened her inner voice by listening. She took in all the sounds in the world around her - sounds of work and sounds of play, speaking voices and voices raised in prayer, voices making music, instruments making music, sounds of joy and sounds of grief.

She did not just hear these sounds. She absorbed them into her being, resulting in her amazing speaking voice. But she also "listened" to words another way - through reading. She loved poetry. She copied it out of books. She read it as a form of companionship during her long self-imposed silence and she memorized it. But she never spoke it aloud until a beloved teacher convinced her to try when she was about 11 years old. The beauty of the poetry coming from her own lips broke the silence. She began to speak again.

She was strong enough to share her inner voice because she had been given access to the innermost thoughts of others through poetry. She had felt the deep connection one can feel to others' hearts and souls simply by reading the words they wrote.  She realized that just as she had been moved to tears of sorrow, and of joy, by other people's words, they also could grieve and rejoice with her if she shared her words with them. When she freed her voice it grew powerful enough to move and inspire millions.

As a writer, this strikes a chord with me because most writers want to affect readers in the meaningful way that Angelou did.  And, of course, writers are often known for their voice. Editors and publishers, we are told, want writers with a distinctive voice.  We are advised that to be successful, we must have a strong voice. What does this really mean?

I think that in writing, as in life, the voice within wells up from the subconscious. We can try to develop a certain voice in our writing as if it is the same thing as tone or style. But it is neither of those.

A writer's voice, I believe, is that same private voice that Angelou protected with her silence. Just as she strengthened hers by listening and reading, writers can strengthen theirs in a variety of ways. But, here's the tricky part, a lot of that work happens without our really knowing it.  In order to write with an authentic voice, writers need to spend some time really getting to really know themselves. This is one reason journaling is so helpful to writers.

 A writer of fiction will not write about herself, but her "selfness" will always be in the story. It is what makes fiction authentic even though it is not a true story. A poet may write about himself, or about a bird, or a car, but the poet's selfness is always there in the poem.  Your voice as a writer is the part of you that is reflected in the writing even though you are not in the poem, short story, or novel.  It is your essence giving heart and soul to whatever you are writing.

Sometime writers work so hard on the craft of writing that they lose their voices. They judge, criticize, refine and revise too soon. Their authentic voices are lost before they have a chance to emerge.  Many would-be writers give up because of this.

My advice is to take Ray Bradbury's advice when it comes to writing: "Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down."

Instead of searching for your voice, trust that it is there. Because it is. It is the ineffable thing that is filling you up inside as your heart beats madly and you hope against hope that your fragile, new found wings wing will keep you from falling.

As you learn to take flight, look around. You might just see me flapping my wings wildy trying to stay air bound yet again. See you in the sky!



A few words about my writing

Look on the Books page of this website for news about my already published book and my books in progress. Every so often I will be giving free books to people who come to this page, so check in now and then!

I CALL MYSELF EARTH GIRL  (released August, 2013)

I Call Myself EG because

What if you discovered you were pregnant and you believed you conceived this child in a dream? What if you tried to end the pregnancy and failed? Gloria’s world is turned completely upside down when she discovers she is pregnant and she knows her husband can not be the baby’s father. Her recurring dreams about a young girl who calls herself Earth Girl initiate a quest for understanding that leads her to question the nature of time and the possibility of reincarnation. As she is exposed to mystic wisdom through the voice in her dreams, she learns not only about herself, but also the many facets of family love and acceptance. Her journey of self-discovery ultimately connects her to the future in a way that she could never have imagined.


Preview Image

I am currently working on two more novels and one true story.

Both novels have tentative titles – In Earth Girl’s Time is the sequel to I Call Myself Earth Girl, and The Valley of the Free People, a historical novel about St. Lucia.

The true story is about Michael Bardellini, a young man from Milford, MA who was the victim of a hit and run driver while riding his bike. His incredible determination to overcome his debilitating injuries and to live a life of meaning and purpose inspires me every day. I feel honored that he has chosen me to share his story.

I Call Myself Earth Girl has received some great reviews!

Check them out on my Amazon. com page using the tiny url above.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my recent reviews on Amazon.com:

“From the moment I picked this book up I could hardly put it down (but with three young kids, I had to – quite often). It is rare to find a combination of witty writing and gripping plot in a first novel, and it is not easy to turn spiritual themes into a fun and inspiring read. I call Myself Earth Girl does just that, and takes readers on a journey of discovery that keeps them on their toes until the very end. Highly recommended as a summer read, something to take on your vacation and to savour as you have time to reflect on life and what might be awaiting beyond it. Inspiring, entertaining and thought provoking.”    Daniela Norris

Just a little poem

Hi Dear Readers, I have not posted a blog in awhile because this month I have been really busy going to book events. It has been a great month of meeting people, reading from my book, participating on panels, and increasing my sales. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. But now I  need to rest a tiny bit and then turn my focus back to writing.. In the meantime, here is a poem I wrote a few years ago. Shortly after writing this, I signed a contract with a publisher.

In My Dreams

flying person


In my dreams I fly – in and out of windows, above mountains, between trees.

I don’t need wings to carry me.

I fly because I am light and free.

In my dreams.

In my dreams, I swim in deep, blue waters.

I jump off cliffs into the waiting ocean.

I rise to the surface and keep on going, up, up!

Right up to the sky.

I fly at night, the stars and moon lighting my way.

In my dreams, I am the leader of important causes.

I speak truth to power.

I bring healing to the hurt.

Food to the hungry.

Justice to the oppressed.

In my dreams, I make a difference.

What I do matters.

I am making the world a better place.

I will be remembered for what I have done.

In my dreams.


In my waking life, I do laundry.

I sweep, dust and vacuum.

I shop. I cook. I eat. I sleep.

I drink lots of coffee and not enough wine.

I take care of my mother.

I babysit for my grandchildren.

I go for walks with my husband.

I watch TV. I read.

Sometimes I even write.

In my waking life.

I tend my garden.

I watch the sunset.

I think great thoughts.

And I long to be the person in my dreams.

I long to do the things that matter;

To make a difference -

To know that in some way the world is better because I was here.

In my dreams, there is no question about this.

I am a person who can fly.

That is proof enough.

But in my waking life,

I measure my importance in small things -

A word of gratitude from my mother.

A smile when my grandson sees me at the door.

My husband’s warm embrace.

This is my real life - the life that says

“You are no different from anyone else.

You can not fly. You are earthbound;

tied to the earth by those you love.”

And sometimes, not very often, but oh so gloriously,

I feel myself rising to the sky on wings of joy

and, oh yes, I am awake!

This is my real life too.




Introducing Renee Novelle

Dear Readers,

Some of the fun of having a blog is getting a chance to introduce and promote other authors. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Renee Novelle. She is a woman with many talents -author, journalist, screenwriter and blogger.  Not only that, she is amazingly prolific.


I asked her how she manages to get so many books out so quickly. Her answer:

I made a deal with the devil... Lol, no just kidding. I'm very focused when I write. And I think all my years in journalism provided a great lesson in writing tight prose on a tight deadline. It also helps that I have a short attention span. After two months or so I get bored and need to move on to the next story. I prefer to have a book completed before that happens or it may sit on my computer unfinished for years!

True to her word, she has a brand new book coming out this week.  The Boyfriend List  is a light, New Adult romance about friendship, trust, and learning to let go in order to embrace what real love can offer.


Here's a little Q&A with Renee:

Me: Is there a message you’re trying to get across the readers? What’s the one thing you want readers to think when they have finished your book

Renee: Providing entertainment is my primary goal for my readers. But after that, I would love for them to put down the book and look a life a little differently. Be a little happier, think a little deeper, question a little more. That’s the beauty in a book that you can’t necessarily find in all other art forms.

Me: When did you know you wanted to write a book?

Renee: I’ve always loved writing, but it wasn’t until I was about 11 or 12 that I felt the need to write a full-length book. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the idea. 

I can't resist commenting!  Obsessed for sure. In 2013, she released 3 books! Calculated, Driven and Reflections. I'm impressed. Very!

Me: Where’s your favorite place to write?

 Renee: I write in my office most frequently, or as I’ve termed it, my writing cave. There I’m surrounded by my personal inspiration and things that have meaning to me, and it really gets my creative juices flowing.

Me: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Renee: Practice all the time! Write everything, at every opportunity. Jot down your ideas and hone your skill until it shines. I don’t think there’s any such thing as being the “perfect” writer, it’s all kind of a beautiful learning process, but always strive to make each work better than the last. And grow a thick skin because readers have lots of opinions.

Me: What’s one thing about the writing process that you think every writer should know?

Renee: That promotion takes WAY more work than I ever thought. But it’s a very necessary part, and can be really enjoyable once you start making contacts and developing relationships.

Again, I can't resist. Promotion does take tons of work. It was the biggest surprise for me as a new author....and developing relationships with other authors and bloggers is the pleasant reward for all the hard work of promotion.

Me: What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

Renee: I actually really enjoy the editing process. Writing that outline and skeleton draft can be brutal. But then cleaning it up, adding the detail, making the characters really come alive, that’s absolutely heaven.

Here are some ways to buy her brand new, hot-off-the-press book!

Amazon - The Boyfriend List
Barnes & Noble - The Boyfriend List
Smashwords - The Boyfriend List

You can connect with Renee here. I am sure she would love to hear from you. 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ReneeNovelle

Twitter - https://twitter.com/RS_Novelle

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/RSNovelle

A funny thing happened on the way to this morning

Manet painting woman writing

                                                                      Woman writing - Edouard Manet, sketch

This week I was a guest blogger on B.C. Brown's Books site. Her home page says "Because weird is good...."

Not sure what that says about me, but I am open to all interpretations!

Here are a few excerpts, but please go to B.C's page and read the whole thing.  Even better, please leave a comment there to show your appreciation to B.C. for sharing her blog.

Excerpts (don't look for continuity...these are just sentences picked out of the actual blog.

A funny thing happened to me last night. Funny as in strange or unexpected. Not "funny ha-ha" as my dad used to say.

So, there I was working hard at not thinking. The only problem is that when I work hard at something - no matter what it is, even relaxing - I end up wide awake. Last night was no different, except that I was wide awake and really angry.

I could literally feel the anger in my forehead....

I was filled with anger and I hated myself for it. Not because I am such a good and kind person and I knew the anger was mostly about feeling sorry for myself. Equally, not because some of the anger was justified and righteous and I was mad at myself for not expressing it to those who deserved to hear it.

And then something shifted. I decided to think about love. Not romantic love, but the other, bigger, broader kind of love - love of life, love of nature, love of the universe.

Yes, I do have a sort of love affair with the universe - all that space with stars and planets and energy and possibility that somehow brings people and ideas together and fuses their energy into something new.

Within minutes, I had a feeling that I have not had since my book was picked up by a publisher more than a year ago. I felt peace. Most particularly, I felt peace about the book and its potential readers...the people who would appreciate it would somehow find it. The message that I hope to spread would be heard by those who will respond to it.

It doesn't have to be a bestseller... It can simply exist. I can let it go out into the world without me. I can focus on the next thing I write, instead of trying so hard to promote this one book. I can let it do its own thing.

In a way that I can't really explain, a sleepless, angry night brought me insight and peace of mind. Sure, I hope people want to read my book. But I no longer need them to.


Funny thing is I had no idea what I would write about when B.C. offered me a guest blog spot. I didn't think it would be about not worrying about how well my book does. I thought I would write some lofty words on what it means to be a writer. Yet, I ended up writing about not needing my book to sell.

Ironically, at the very same time that I was writing about not worrying about how the book does, I was also getting a lesson in how to promote it. B.C. provided me with a really simple, obvious, straightforward, no-gimmicks method. I can't believe I had overlooked it. She included a description of the book and she posted the buy links! And, guess what, sales picked up again!  Genius.

So from now on, I will post them at the end of my blog too. Only makes sense, right? If someone, clicks on a link and buys the book, fantastic. If no one, does, that is not quite fantastic, but it is no longer something to lose sleep over!


Blogging and world peace

ID-10065199 I  just had a thought while I was reading some of the blogs I follow


The blogging community is made up of strangers from different countries and from different communities within our own countries. We are different ages, genders, sexual orientations. We have different types of educations. We are probably from different social classes. Most likely, we have different views about politics, religion, music, entertainment, and family life. Most of us will never meet in "real" life. We know each other only from our blogs.

Yet, we share our thoughts, feelings and ideas with each other openly. Some of us even feel like friends.

By and large, we treat each other's blogs with respect, sometimes even with reverence. We disagree with posts occasionally, but we don't seek to dominate, invade, or destroy each other's blogs. Most successful bloggers share advice with those of us who don't have many followers. We want to see all bloggers flourish.

forpeace6 (1)

All of this makes me think that blogging may help us avoid war and conflict. If we can learn to bring the same collaborative approach to our geo-political interactions that we bring to our blogging, there may be hope for a peaceful future.

I know this sounds naive, ridiculously simple, even pollyanna-ish. I know it doesn't address any of the complex problems that we face. Still, I feel that because bloggers have created communities without geographical boundaries, a seed of peace has been planted. I believe it can be nurtured. I hope that it will.

If you want to know more about Bloggers For Peace, please check out http://everydaygurus.com/category/peace/

seeds of peace

Introducing a fellow writer with a cat and a whimsical sense of humor...

Welcome to David Prosser! Let's see what he has to say today. david prosseroscars-book-cover

What is the title of your book? What genre?
The  latest book is called Memoirs of a Superior and is in the humour genre. Anything different and the world would wonder what was wrong. I'm not cut out to be serious.
Is this your first book?
Regretfully not. This is the fourth book inflicted upon an unsuspecting public. The first three are part of the Barsetshire Diaries Series. To confuse issues, Book 1 starts the story, Book 2 is a prequel and then 3 returns to continue the Original story.
What is this book about?  (brief synopsis)
Actually I cannot take credit for this book. It was written by Oscar who considers himself the star of the three earlier books. As my cat, though he prefers to be called a Superior he wished to pass on details of his adventures and his words of wisdom to all kittens who would follow him. He includes human kittens in that since they should recognise his magnificence too.
My own personal advice to readers is NEVER to let their cats read this lest they get ideas not intended to benefit we Longlegs.
What inspired you to write this particular book?
Actually I think blackmail is a better description than inspiration. I made the error when I was writing to refer to Oscar by his real name. He threatened legal action If I did not 'kindly' supply him with his own blog from whence these musings came.
Do you enjoy the actual writing process, or does it feel more like work to you?
Needless to say, I've worked harder at this than I did at work. All the time spent blogging and promoting the books takes up more than the 8 hours a day I used to work.
For you, what is the difference between communicating with your readers through a blog, and reaching them through a book?
When I'm writing a book I'm aiming if possible to entertain and distract themselves happily for a while. With the blog I'm holding conversations with them. Sharing my life and often sharing theirs too. The responses to a blog can be instant and ongoing whereas with the books people are often ind enough to review them, speak to others about them but rarely converse with me.
What has been the most difficult or challenging aspect of being a writer?
I've had to unlearn being such a private person from within my little hideaway. I rarely go out and find meeting people stressful but I've had to communicate. I've also had to learn more about computers than I ever wanted to know and more about social sites than I thought existed. It's also been very challenging getting to grips with promotion through the social sites, the press and of course the blogs and interviews.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Quiet, reserved Welshman.
What three words would you use to describe the process of getting a book out to the public?
Damned hard work.
If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?
World Peace
A cure for all Cancers
A best seller that put a smile on the World's Face.
Please share an excerpt from the book .
Oscar gives a gift.
My prowl through the grass was successful at early light time. I caught a small running thing. I just knew that I wanted to play with it but that I had promised a gift for 'The Her.' I jumped up onto the ledge of the clearway and though my mouth was full I still managed to call out my success. 'The Her' would not wake and so it was only fair that this gift when through to the him, after all I had asked four times in the dark for my head to be scratched and stroked and he had done it. Not for long enough but he had understood my orders. Especially the last one to open the small clearway and allow me out.
Anyway, I walked into his sleeping space calling loudly to him to prepare for the gift I brought. As I jumped up on his platform he woke and slowly opened his eyes. Wider and wider they went. Such strange faces these long legs can pull. I told him of the gift then realising it would be easier without a full mouth I dropped the gift in his lap and explained it was because of his good service. 'The Him' shouted something which I guess was their way of saying thank you and at that moment the stunned gift woke up and ran.


These Longlegs can move quickly when they want to. 'The Him' shot off his sleeping place and followed the gift out of the door. Naturally I was close behind. When the gift ran in to the big room with sitting places for the long legs I readied myself to follow and show my prowess again but 'The Him' went in and closed the clearway so I could not follow. I sat where I was left and called out that he had forgotten me. He seemed not to hear and I called louder which made 'The Her' come to see me. She ruffled my ears and opened the clearway but I heard 'The Him' call out to her. Too late I was in.
'The Him' was looking for the gift behind the long seat which was silly as I could smell it behind the thing that gets hot and has fire. I went to get it and it ran again right over 'The Her's' foot. She made a loud noise.
'The Him' picked me up and placed me in the food place and closed the clearway. I was not happy. Why do they let the gift run away like this and then they pretend to look for it when I could take them straight to it. I heard a squeak and was pleased that 'The Him' had learned some of my skills and caught the small running thing. After a few minutes, when I heard a clearway being opened and closed, my clearway was opened. I checked the place where the smell had last been but it was gone. 'The Him and The Her' must have eaten the gift. I was pleased that it had been so well received but why do they not thank me with a few strokes and some food? They seem to be ignoring me apart from some strange looks they send my way. I think this is ingratitude and might not show off my skills again for them. No more gifts until they learn.


The Postman’s Foot.
 I'm not greedy. I'm sure you're far too clever to be taken in by silly rumours that sometimes I wolf my food down too fast. It's just that I get hungry.
After my period of hunting in the dark-time, I came back through the clearway and found that my 'The Her and The Him' had filled my dishes with fresh chicken. I was hungry, very hungry, as the hunt had not gone well. I tell you this so that you Longlegs will understand that when I started feeling sick, it was the food's fault and not mine for eating it at speed in case it got away.
My stomach started rebelling against me and I made the sound of wanting to give the food back. 'The Her' grabbed me round the stomach and ran with me. This did not help at all. The Him opened the large clearway and I was ejected unceremoniously. Unfortunately my flight came to an abrupt end as I hit The Him who comes daily and puts things through the little hole in the clearway. We were both startled but he more so as my stomach had decided now was a good time to eject it's contents, all over the removable paws of The Daily Him.
I scrambled to gain my footing and shot off to admire the flowers in the garden from inside a large bush, but from where I could hear loud words from the clearway as The Daily Him and 'The Her' talked. I saw 'The Him' come with white stuff and start wiping down the Daily Him's paws.
Things quieted down a little and The Daily Him left, I could hear him talking quiet words all down the path. 'The Her' threw water all over the place where the infected food had left me and turned to go inside. I shot in before the clearway was closed against me.
I did not think the long legs would understand about my illness but I was wrong. As I launched myself onto 'The Her's' sleeping place she came in and offered strokes as I heard her saying "Poor Oscar" and other things I don't understand. I lay back and accepted my due.
Now all I have to do is hope that Ginger and the others don't hear of my flight or I'll never hear the end of it.

Sock it to me one more time. 
I like to sleep on the long legs sleeping places. Sometimes with them and often without. I also have a sleeping place they gave me which hangs from a warm place and a secret, quiet place of my own. Or it was secret until today.
My 'The Her' was scratching her claws with something that made a lovely sound and I liked the movement. Back and forth, back and forth. I liked it so much that I jumped onto her legs and rubbed my head against her paws so she could stroke me. As she did so I grasped the scratch thing in my mouth and ran. She called after me but not very loudly and I heard that funny hiccuping sound again that they make when happy. I could hear her telling 'The Him' something to make him hiccup too.
I took the 'borrowed' object to my secret bed but it did not move back and forth for me. It just lay there even though I played with it a lot.
After a while I rested.
Later on as I walked through my home I saw something interesting in the small place with a seat. The clearway was open and near the fountain where I sometimes get a drink was something long and hard with a wonderful smell. The hole where the smell came from was too small to get anything but the very tip of my tongue. It was annoying but I knocked it to the ground to play some more. As I jumped down I landed on it and a long worm ran out of the small hole. I pounced but my claws went straight through it and my paws were covered in the white sticky with a nice smell. I soon tired as it did not play with me and decided to walk away. As I did so it was funny because my paws were left behind wherever I walked and yet they stayed on my feet. I could see them, and I walked in a circle and so did they.
'The Him' came towards me but he did not hiccup this time. I heard my name in a roar and ran. 'The Him' followed and caught me up with his long legs just as I reached my secret sleeping place. He roared again as he saw where I was, and my bed.
"Socks" he shouted, "My socks" he shouted even louder, and started pulling my bed to pieces, lots of pieces, lots and lots of pieces as I had found that his removable fur for his back paws was very very soft and nice to sleep on so I had 'borrowed' some.
'The Her' approached to see what was wrong and there were the hiccups I liked again. They were so loud that even 'The Him' had to join in and at last he rubbed my head as I deserved.
As it is now a good hunting time I will not be telling my stories every day. I hope you will forgive me for this but I must find lots of gifts for my Longlegs.
Facebook             David Michael Prosser....  https://www.facebook.com/david.m.prosser?ref=tn_tnmn



Coming Soon...

When I first started this blog, I said that my first novel had been accepted for  publication. That was months ago, and my book is finally going to be "officially" released on August 30. Cover of my novel!

In honor of the official release, I will be sharing the entire first chapter tomorrow.

Here's a video trailer to whet your appetite.


That's all for now.

Writing, waiting and shameless self-promotion.

Being a writer is sometimes described as lonely or isolating. In some ways, I suppose it can be both lonely and isolating, but that has never really been my experience as a writer. Perhaps, that is because I share almost everything I write, almost as soon as I write it. For me, writing is all about communicating and sharing with others. I feel the same way about reading. When I read something written by another person, I have a strong desire to talk to that person, especially if the writing touched me deeply. I used to write a newspaper column and that was the perfect forum for me because I knew people would see my column within the next 24 hours. Whether I knew who was reading it or not, I knew someone was reading it. Expressing my thoughts, feelings, reactions, or even my version of events with at least one other person was very satisfying to me.

Of course, I could have done the same by talking to a friend, or writing a letter, but knowing that I was writing for public consumption made me much more reflective. When I wrote a column I was always looking for the meaning of the experience, or the irony in it, or even just the funny ending. When I poured my heart out to a friend it was more random - a stream-of consciousness  sharing of thoughts, feelings and experiences. If it had more emotion than a column, it probably also had less organization.

Recently, I wrote my first novel.    0426131153

Writing a novel was definitely more isolating than writing a column simply because a novel is so much longer and requires more sustained concentration. Still, I had the desire and the need to share it with others way before I even began looking for a publisher. I know that most novelists have early readers whose insights are invaluable to them. This was true for me too, but what was most valuable was knowing that there was someone out there who would read this way before it would be seen by the general public. 

I guess as a writer I have a need for immediate gratification (just like I do as a dieter, a gardener, and anything else that takes more than 24 hours.). I am not good at waiting for feedback. I know this is a weakness and shows either a lack of discipline or a lack of maturity on my part, or maybe even both. Probably both.

So now I find my inpatient, immature, undisciplined self being challenged by the inevitability of the LONG WAIT. My publisher told me the book would be released at the end of August, but Amazon.com does its own thing. I was shocked and delighted to find it listed on Amazon as available for pre-order. (I may have to write a whole blog on the strange term "pre-order.") I allowed myself to believe the wait was already over.

    The first 48 hours of pre-order status was amazingly fun! I told friends via Facebook and emails. Orders started rolling in, and for 48 hours the book was in the top 10 bestsellers in the Angel category on Amazon. It went up to number 3 for a few hours.228551_501449289910877_1652512640_n

                  At number 5

It even had the status of Number 1 Hot New Release in the Angel category. It confused me a little because the book is not actually about angels, but it does have a character that could be an angel and it certainly could make a reader think about angels.

    Now, 4 days later, the book has dropped to 63 in the Angel category. I knew that would happen after the initial flurry of orders from friends, but here's the hard part. People will not receive their copies until August. Books stores won't get copies until August.  I won't get copies until August. So what can I do other than wait?

My son and his wife solved this problem for me. I don't have to sit around and wait. I can promote my book by driving! They had large car magnets made from images of the front and back cover of the book. I can now shamelessly promote my book every time I drive!

0520131632c     The shameless-self-promotion-mobile!

      Just yesterday, I drove all away across Massachusetts, and when stuck in a long un-moving line of traffic on the Mass Pike I was secretly thinking what a great chance it was for people to see my car magnets.  When I got off the Pike in Lee, I was again stopped in traffic. There was no one beside me, so I wasn't really thinking about who could see my car. But I should have been thinking about it, because the woman in the car behind me apparently could not see my car at all. She rear-ended me and lifted the back of my car off the ground. Apparently horrified to see what she had done, she backed up and my car slammed onto the ground. It all happened quickly and I was pretty shook up.

     But when we exchanged information, she DID notice the magnets and I casually mentioned that she could pre-order the book on Amazon. After all, she had just rear-ended me. It seemed like the least she could do.   Especially, since I have to take off my beautiful magnets now. When she rammed underneath my car, she broke the muffler and now I attract attention just by driving....negative attention. So, for the time being, the self-promotion-mobile will simply be the please-don't look-at-me-like-that-I-can't-stop-this noise-until-my-insurance-company-sends-out-an-adjuster-mobile.

I Knew the Boston Marathon

The standard advice to writers is to write about what you know. I know the Boston Marathon.

Maybe I should say I knew it. Although, my memories from 46 years of the Marathon remain the same, the emotional impact of these memories is forever changed.

The marathon has been something amazing and special to me since the first time I saw it in 1967. I was a freshman at Boston College, up from my home state of Maryland. I had never even heard of it. But I loved watching it and I loved its history, going all the way back to 1897.

For so many New Englanders, the Boston Marathon was more than sport. It was a rite of spring; a cherished family day; a chance to stand with people you did not know and cheer on other people you did not know; to offer paper cups of water and sliced oranges as the runners passed by. It was a feel-good day.

Rain or shine, too cold or too hot, the runners came and so did the spectators. Every year I watched with tears as front runners sprinted by and those at the back of the pack struggled by. The crowds always cheered for both - awe in their voices for those in the lead and sincere words of encouragement for those in the back.

I always felt like the Boston Marathon was an example of people at their best. Their real best - not just their peak of physical performance - their best because it was, in many ways, about collaboration as much as competition; about striving as much as succeeding; about cheering on with appreciation as much as being cheered for; about celebrating the last as well as the first.

It was about the spectators as much as the runners.  Running Boston just wouldn't be the same without the crowds and traditions. It was truly the most interactive of sporting events and many families built traditions around this special iconic Boston event.

It was about people coming together from all over the world to participate, and in a funny way, it was about people from the suburbs coming together with Bostonians to celebrate our "Bostonness."

Bostonians, for the most part, love Boston - its history, its crazy traffic patterns, its accent, its sports teams and its marathon.  To us, "the Marathon."  When we heard someone talk about "running Boston" it held a special meaning for us.

So how has it changed? What does it mean now?

It means even more than it did before.  Until 2:51 on Monday afternoon, it represented a happy celebration of spring and sport, a chance for people to be at their best. Now it will always represent people at their worst, as well.

But here is what we can't forget. Whether there was one bomber or a dozen or even a hundred, there were more heroes than bombers. People rushed in to help. Others showed up at area hospitals to donate blood. Others opened their homes to those who couldn't get back into their hotels. People across the country are collecting money to help victims in whatever way possible.

None of this diminishes the horror of what happened. None of it makes up for the senseless loss of lives and limbs. None of it can restore the innocence so many children lost on this day.

No, the harm -and it is immense - can not be extinguished.

But the spirit of the Boston Marathon can not be extinguished either.

If the bombers thought that fear would prevail,  they were wrong.

If they thought that hatred will overtake us, they were wrong.

If they thought that we will be convinced that the evil in the world is stronger than the good, they were wrong.

We can show them that they are wrong, and we must.

So from now on, be a little more loving to everyone, a little less fearful about everything, and embrace all that is good in the world. Hold tight to the good.  Never let it go.

Finally, come to Boston for next year's Marathon.                                                                   Run it.                                                                                                                                                Walk it.                                                                                                                                               Watch it.                                                                                                                                         Just come.

We need you here.



Monster Control - past and present....

From the mid-80s to the mid-90s,  I had a weekly newspaper column entitled HOMEFRONT. It was mostly about family life with five sons and a little about being a high school teacher. Once in a while I tackled the big issues of the day. Recently, a friend and former reader asked me to find a particular column that she had saved all these years and recently lost. The hunt for this column led me down a nostalgic path. As I skimmed through my enormous pile of columns, I remembered so many of the feelings that I had when I was raising my sons  who are now ages 29 to 37.

Now I am a grandmother of four boys - ages 1 to 5 and one girl who is 6 months. My heart is filled with love for them, just as it was (and always will be!) for my sons. I find that my desire to protect my grandchildren is almost exactly the same as it was for my children. So I am going to share a column that I wrote in 1986:

The other night my youngest son told me he couldn't go to sleep because, "when I close my eyes they have monsters in them." I told him he was just imagining the monsters, but he would not be convinced. As I sat on his bed, keeping him company so that the monsters "will go away" I thought of all the things my children have taught me about monsters. A lot of is sounds vaguely familiar, like something I knew about a long time ago, but have since forgotten.

  • Monsters are hard to see with open eyes; appearing only as shadowy figures and bulges behind curtains, but they can be seen in great horrific detail with closed eyes.
  • Monsters are afraid of light and they sneak up on you at night, unless you sleep with a light on.
  • Monsters don't care if you believe in them or not.
  • Monsters are crafty and hide behind furniture, in closets, and most often, under beds. They have long arms and ugly hands and can reach out and grab an unsuspecting victim from the other side of a room.
  • Monsters also like to hide in basements, lurking under the steps while eagerly waiting for anyone to be dumb enough to go downstairs alone.
  • Monsters DO make noises. Kids hear them frequently, but the monsters slyly stop making the noises when a grown-up enters the room.
  • The best protection against monsters is having another person in bed with you. If that isn't possible, stuffed animals are a good defense. Even blankets and pillows can be arranged as protection.
  • Monsters like to hang around after you watch a scary movie or even talk about scary things.
  • Monsters are not afraid of children - no matter how tough the children act. But they are afraid of grown-ups.
  • You can't fool monsters. They know when you are asleep and they wait until then to get to you.(No one has been able to tell me what happens when they get you)
  • Monsters can go through closed windows and doors, but they can not follow you into your parents room.
  • You can trick monsters into thinking your brother is the only one in the bed. This is why it is important not to sleep alone.
  • Monsters hide in bathrooms, especially behind shower curtains.
  • Monsters have been known to do terrible things to poor little children whose parents didn't believe them when they said there were monsters in their room at night.
  • The only way to be 100 percent safe from monsters is to sleep in your parents' bed, snuggled in, safe and sound, between them.
  • All of the things grown-ups tell you about monsters being make-believe and just-pretend don't do any good when you are alone in the dark with one.

As I pick up the little boy with monsters in his eyes and carry him to our room, I feel a little sad, knowing that in a few years I won't be able to save him from his monsters anymore.

That was written more than 25 years ago. I knew then that eventually my boys would grow up and I would not be able to protect them from the real "monsters" they would encounter - the various really difficult and heart-breaking things that we all encounter as we go through life. I know this is true for my grandchildren too. There will come a time when the loving arms of their parents won't be able to take away their problems. This is the way life is meant  to unfold. When we are young, our parents fortify us and we gather strength for the hard times that may come as we get older. All people experience struggles and challenges, and most of us manage to survive them and live fulfilling lives. This is as it should be.

But, now, 25 years later, I am forced to admit that there are very real monsters in my grandchildren's future. Monsters that they will not be able to protect themselves from unless we, their parents and grandparents, do something now.

Mother Earth is in serious trouble. She needs us to take care of her. The ecosystems that have sustained us are in jeopardy. Our oceans and waterways are seriously threatened from pollution. Air quality is getting worse and worse. Much of the planet is already experiencing a severe water crisis in the form of  scarcity of usable water. Farmlands are less and less fertile. I could go on and on. The problems are many and complex.

But, here's the thing. There are solutions. Here's the other thing. Nothing is going to get better if we don't decide to do something. Now.

Most of the western world lives with such a high degree of ease and comfort that we don't even bother to learn about what is happening all around us. We don't understand the impact of our reliance on fossil fuels or the dominance of agribusiness. We don't think about the enormous islands of plastic - including one that is bigger than the state of Texas - floating in our oceans. We have all but forgotten about the hole in the ozone layer and we continue to argue about the reality of the greenhouse effect.

As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. But do we really want our bliss to be responsible for a life of extreme hardship for our grandchildren and future generations? I realize that when you understand the enormity of the environmental crisis there is a tendency to ignore it because it seems to big and complicated. But if each of us learned about one aspect and educated others about it, well, that could help.

If each one of us chose one or two ways to lessen our own personal negative impact on the environment, well, hey, that could help to.

If each one of us decided to become informed and then to inform decision-makers at the local, state and federal level, well, heck yeah, that could make a difference too.

If nothing else, start with a simple search of the internet. You will be amazed at what you find. I have included a few links for you. Not because they are the best, or the ones I trust the most, but because they were so easy to find. Check them out.

I know once you start you won't stop looking, because this earth is your home, your only home and when you really think about it, it matters more to you than almost anything.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” ― Dr. SeussThe Lorax




 and if you are looking for some solutions, check out the books at Chelsea Green Publishing.

When in doubt eat a cookie - or How I learned to format for Publication

I am so excited to see my first novel cover, but when I was formatting the manuscript for my publisher I had so much trouble I thought I might give up altogether. It seemed so crazy to me that formatting it to be accepted by the publisher's software program was harder than writing it in the first place. I truly came close to tearing my hair out.  I discovered that no matter what I did to prevent it, WORD kept doing what it wanted, and what it wanted was NOT what my publisher wanted.  This is a brief description of my process. Maybe it will sound familiar to you!

Read all instructions from publisher carefully. Underline and highlight important things that must be done. Underline and highlight important things that must not be done.

Open manuscript and realize that I have already done most of the things that must not be done.  I indented at the beginning of each paragraph. I shouldn't have. I put an extra space after each period. I shouldn't have.  I did not use en rules and em rules for dashes. I should have. Tell myself it is okay because I can undo all of these things easily.

Then, remember instructions. Don't use auto correct. Don't use auto format. Don't use macros. (Use them? I don't even know what they are.) Find out what macros are. Heck, now I want to use them. They would make this whole process a lot easier!

Now I realize that I have to go through the entire 90,000 word document and get rid of all indents at the beginning of paragraphs. I have to find the end of each sentence and get rid of the extra space. I have to figure out how to use en rules and em rules, or get rid of all my dashes. This will be hard - whenever I am not sure about how to punctuate something, I just use a dash.

But no worries. I can do this. I disable auto format and I disable auto correct. I begin formatting. Three chapters done. Phew! Not so bad. Oh wait, why are my margins changing? I didn't change them. Hmmm.  Go back and fix margins.  Okay, minor setback. Here we go.

Three more chapters. I am getting bored. Looking for all these periods is very tedious. Maybe coffee will help. Make coffee. Rummage around pantry looking for a cookie. Tell myself I don't "need" a cookie. Coffee is ready. No cookie.

Back to manuscript. Repeat this process every 3 to 5 chapters. Realize the entire day has gone by and it is now time for dinner. Find it hard to believe that I have been sitting here all day and yet, I am not even half way done. Vow to start earlier and work faster tomorrow.

Next day. Open manuscript. Notice that margins have changed again. Curse. Re-set margins.  Go back to beginning of document. Make sure everything I did yesterday has not been undone. Notice that the font changes on page 82. Why?? Rub my eyes. Highlight area -all 12 pages - that have font change. Fix and save.  Stretch. Look at time. Curse.

Continue making required changes. Check toolbar to make sure document is still in NORMAL.  It's not. Why not? Who cares? Just fix it. Go back to beginning of document and scroll down each page. What the hell is going on? It jumps in and out of NORMAL.  Curse. Make coffee. Look for cookie. Find cookie. Tell myself I don't "need" a cookie. Argue with self. Eat cookie. Eat another cookie. Check email. Do some laundry.

Go back to manuscript and begin process again. Keep telling self that it does not matter than I am no further along than I was yesterday. Maybe I didn't save often enough. Save half way through each page.

Get to middle of book. Font changes again. Go online to find out why this keeps happening. Find something about how to fix WORD's autoformat problems. Read it. Try the fix. It doesn't work. Curse, cry, make coffee, eat more cookies. Decide I don't want to be a writer. Take a shower and vow to beat WORD.

Change to correct font. Save. Continue making needed changes. Starting to feel good again. Moving along with no problems. Look at clock. Almost dinner time again. I am afraid to close the document for fear everything will revert. What to do? Leave it open.

Next day. Effin' font changes again. Now I am so mad I don't know what to do. I want to make sure WORD will not substitute this font again. I figure out what I must do. I go into the list of fonts and delete the font that keeps showing up. Victorious! Go back. Scroll through whole document. Another font shows up. I immediately delete it. I am a crazy person now. I will delete any font that crops up. I will save after every sentence, and I will finish this today no matter what. Maybe I should keep the package of cookies next to me. Cookies help. I don't know why. I don't care.

It's almost dinner time. I have corrected and checked the whole manuscript. It is perfect. Well, not really perfect. For some reason my quotation marks are inconsistent. Some are curvy, some are straight. What the heck? I will pretend that I don't notice it. The publisher's instructions did not say anything about quotation marks. They can fix it, right? I need to submit it immediately. I am afraid to close it. I am afraid not to. I have turned into an anxious wreck. I have to get rid of this manuscript before anything else changes. Save. Close. Send. Sigh of relief.

Guilt. I really should have done something about those quotation marks. I will email my publisher's copy editor. I do. The next day I get a reply. Not to worry. They can take care of the quotation marks. I want to celebrate with a cookie. Odd -there are no cookies left.

Truly, this was the hardest part of the whole process for me. But, it was worth it. I have received the editor's proofs and the book should be out for summer reading. Plus, I love my cover!

John Hunt Publishing Soul Rocks imprint.

Cover of my novel!
Cover of my novel!

Betty's Brain

Hi all, I recently wrote a short, short story and I decided to share it with my blog readers. Please let me know what you think of it, especially if you have a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Betty's Brain

In the last moment before she lost consciousness, Betty wondered who she would be when she awoke. She and her husband Mark had discussed this many times before agreeing to the experimental procedure that, if all went well, would save her from the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease. They had carefully assessed their options, examining each projection of their future life together in minute detail, as if they could take their love, their desires, their children’s reactions and examine each under the lens of a microscope -    reducing the incredible complexity of human life to a collection of cells pulsing and vibrating against each other. They had convinced themselves because they felt, in the end, they had no other choice.  They believed they could bring order and predictability to the rest of their life together, if only they could save Betty’s brain from the rapid and inevitable deterioration of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Betty agreed to be the first person to have neural stem cells of another human transplanted into her own brain only after her daughter and son-in-law agreed to donate stem cells from their newborn son. Knowing that she would be transplanted with cells that would bear some of her own genetic material was comforting to her. Knowing that the cells were from a newborn was encouraging to her. But not knowing if these cells would change her from who she had been to some new version of herself was frightening. Yet, in the final analysis, both Betty and Mark had concluded that it was not as frightening as the new version of herself that Alzheimer’s promised.

As the surgical nurse inserted Betty’s IV line, Mark gently kissed her forehead. He said, “I love you, Betty … I will always love you … no matter what,” and he meant what he said. But they both knew she would be easier to love if she was still Betty, the Betty he had lived with and loved for 26 years. This had been the deciding factor for them - betting on the fact that Alzheimer’s would take away more of the Betty he loved than having another person’s stem cells in her brain would. It was a risk and they both knew it. The night before, while making love, Mark had vowed to stick by her no matter what the outcome.

Three months earlier, sitting in the researcher’s office, Betty and Mark and their daughter, Karen, listened to two scientists and one surgeon explain the procedure. Betty sat in a straight-backed armless chair. She clutched the worn leather strap of her pocket book and unconsciously tapped her right foot against the leg of the chair while the surgeon gently touched her head, outlining the incision he would make. He pointed to an area behind her ear, calling it “the point of entry” as he detailed the process of inserting healthy newborn stem cells into her ravaged brain.

Karen sat on a small faded blue couch looking nervous and instinctively rubbing her large belly as if to protect the growing life inside her. She looked from her parents to the doctor to the door. When the surgeon asked if she had any concerns, all she could say was, “If you can promise me it won’t hurt my baby, I will do anything to save my mother.”

Mark, sitting beside Karen, also asked for reassurance that his unborn grandchild would not be hurt in any way. Both researchers and the surgeon assured him that there was no risk to the baby. Feeling only slightly relieved, he asked the question that had been plaguing him. He wanted to know if infant stem cells had personality traits. Was there a chance that implanting neural stem cells from another person would drastically change his wife’s personality? The question scared him so much that he had refrained from asking it until now.

Karen looked at Betty to see her reaction, but Betty’s face was passive. She was, as her family described it, “in a state.” Although she had been fully engaged in the conversation just a few moments before, Betty’s mind had now drifted to a place known only to herself. She stared blankly ahead, slack-jawed and unaware of her surroundings. Her hands, no longer tightly gripping her handbag, rested on her knees. She didn’t look worried, nor happy, nor sad. She appeared emotionless. Karen averted her gaze. It broke her heart to see her mother this way.

At the hospital on the day of her surgery, Betty didn’t remember this visit to the doctor. She didn’t really remember the many long conversations during which she and Mark agonized over whether or not to volunteer for this experimental cure. But she remembered Mark and Karen and her two sons. She still loved each of them fiercely even though sometimes when they were all together she felt bewildered by the talking and laughing, and the crying too.

Betty’s loss of memory had been getting worse each day. As her neurologist had predicted, early-onset Alzheimer’s progressed rapidly. Yet there were days when her mind seemed clear and sharp - days when her sense of humor was quick and her comments witty. These good days made the bad days harder for her family. They wanted to understand what was really happening inside her brain. Why could she think clearly one day and forget how to put her shoes on the next day?

Mark had once heard Alzheimer’s described as a “long goodbye.” It seemed so terribly accurate to him as he witnessed his wife losing pieces of herself, bit by bit, day by day. He was shocked to realize that with every bit of her that disappeared, she took a little piece of him too. The shared memories, the knowing looks that once conveyed meaning without the need of words, the simple understanding of who he was because of who they were together - he was losing all of this, just as Betty was losing herself. Because of this the choice was easier. They would take this chance because they had each already lost so much of themselves to the war in Betty’s brain.

Mark pictured Betty’s brain as a battlefield where healthy neurons were waging a valiant battle against the foot soldiers of Alzheimer’s - amyloid plaque and tangles of tau protein gone cruelly awry. He saw healthy neurons stretching and straining to connect with each other, fighting their way through the jungle of tangles and plaques that prevented their synapses from making contact.

He imagined the healthy neurons loaded down with heavy knapsacks carrying the precious information needed to survive. In his mind, the healthy neurons looked like starving children he saw on TV commercials - emaciated, hands outstretched in supplication, begging for information that would nourish them. He wanted these healthy neurons to win more than he had ever wanted anyone to win anything. He believed his survival depended on it.

Those neurons made it possible for the rest of Betty’s brain to love him. He hoped that their grandson’s stem cells could save those neurons; that they could supply ammunition needed to win the war that was being waged against Betty’s will inside her brain. A war that had started without provocation; without a declaration of war, with just the slightest hint that something was amiss when Betty couldn’t remember how to bid her hand in bridge. They had both laughed it off - calling it a senior moment, even though Betty was only 49.

Betty lay on the operating table, surrounded by nurses, neurosurgeons, and anesthesiologists. An audience watched from the viewing chamber above the operating room. Although they could see inside her brain, none of them could see her mind. What was it experiencing as thousands of healthy stem cells were implanted in her brain? Would Betty ever be able to recount it to them? When she came to, would it be obvious that the experiment had worked? Would lost memories be restored? Could she begin to accumulate new ones?


Betty felt as if she was emerging from a warm liquid. She longed to be held. She wanted to suckle at her mother’s breast. She wanted to be enveloped in loving arms. But first she had to keep going into this scary place. She crawled slowly through a thorny path, struggling to get through the tangle of briars and clumps of rust-colored mud. The further she went, the easier it got. She felt stronger as she made her way to a distant clearing. She felt alive in a way she could not describe. There was something waiting in the sunlight. As she got closer, she recognized it. It was her past. She embraced it lovingly and then continued on to the glowing, pulsing path waiting just beyond. When she reached the path, she stood up and took her first step. She knew just where she was going. The path led to the rest of her life and she couldn’t wait to get there.

Exploring the Capacity of the Human Heart

Welcome to the first edition of my blog. I will be exploring with all of you the incredible capacity of the human heart to hold within it love and hate, hope and fear, pain and joy, forgiveness and revenge....and much more. I hope that I will hear from all of you with your insights about what the heart can hold.

This blog will feature a variety of posts, including poetry, video, art and a readers' forum.

To get us started, here is a poem I wrote:

What I Would Have Said 

What would I have said to my children when they were born if I knew then what I know now?

When my first son was born, I sat awake in my hospital bed and wrote a long letter about all my hopes and dreams for him. 

 I wrote about how much we anticipated his arrival, about how much we loved him before he was even born.

And how we would always love him, no matter what. 

I wrote essentially the same letter to each of my new born sons. 

Many years have come and gone. 

My sons are men now and I have grandchildren.

My life is full. My heart is full. The words of love I wrote are still completely true. 

But if I knew then, what I know now, the letter would be different. 

Not knowing then, that my marriage would end in divorce, I neglected to tell them that all love is good...no matter what....having loved someone matters.

No matter how it ends, or changes, love is never wasted. 

Never fear a broken heart because the only way you can get one is by having loved deeply, and deep love enriches the soul.

Never think that once your heart is broken, you can’t ever love again.

Each time we love, we increase our capacity to love.  

The human heart is designed to love and it has the capacity to grow and expand until it is so big that it loves the whole world. 

Most of us run out of time before our hearts get big enough to hold love for the whole entire world, but many of us come pretty close.

Yes, there was a lot I did not know when I wrote those love letters to my children.

Not just about love, but about the incredible mystery of life. 

So many things I didn’t tell them, because I didn’t know then what I know now.

I would tell them that they are the stuff of stars....

That the very atoms that pulse and vibrate inside us come from the stars! 

We are in the universe and the universe is in us; in all of us, no matter when or where we lived.

I would tell them that they are connected to every being who has ever lived or ever will live.

That long after they have died, the atoms that were part of them will be somewhere in the universe, part of some other life...recycled in the air, the soil, a beautiful flower, a tree, or even another person. 

And because of this, we will never be separate from the rest of the world; from the earth that we live on, from the people we call enemies and those we call friends. 

I would tell them, because I do know it now... 

that everything they do really does make a difference.



Our actions have an impact far beyond our ability to know.

The choices we make about what we eat and how we live affect people everywhere....not just metaphorically or spiritually, but really. 

We share the earth with billions of people and there will be billions more after we die. 

What we use and what we conserve affect them all.

Wars we wage and wars we avert affect them all.

Discoveries we make and how we use them affect them all. 

They are us and we are them, only luckier.

I would tell them that we were chosen to be that accumulation of atoms that won the birth lottery; that we were born to a life of relative plenty.

That we have responsibility because of this.

And I would tell them this too.

None of us will ever make the whole difference; none of us can truly change the world,

Because each and every one of us is needed.

I would tell them “the power of one” really means the power of EACH one combined with the power of many other ones. 

And, although, they share the atoms from the same stars as the rest of us,

Each of us is a totally unique, unduplicatable individual person.

Within each unique individual lies the future of the world.

We are all chosen to use what is in us-

 that stuff that makes me, me and you, you -

 No one else has that to offer to the world.

 So, shine like the stars that are within you! 

Love so much that your heart expands until it can hold the whole world in its care. 

And know that as my heart grows, my love for you grows, every day.

Looking forward to our exploration of the varieties of human experience and how the heart grows to hold and honor all that we experience. I plan to write once a week, but in the beginning, I may write a little more often. So please check in now and then!

In the meantime, what do you think about the heart's ability to grow big enough to hold love for the whole world? Do you have any examples to share? Please leave a comment if you do!