Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For locals

Jolly Green Gift Giving
By Tammi J Truax
     You have been hearing a lot lately about how shopping locally is good for the environment, and by that we mean both the fragile ecosystem that is our home and the fragile economic system that rules it. Spending your hard earned cash at local, independent shops, businesses that used to be called Mom and Pop operations, is the right thing to do. If you want to go a step further, as many of your local merchants have done already, you can do even more good by buying green goods. That means choosing products that have the smallest carbon footprint (the negative impact the item has made on the planet) before coming to you and maybe after purchasing, and in most cases that means you, or the recipient of the gift, benefit as well, by less exposure to impure parts or ingredients.
      Karen Marzloff of Seacoast Local further explains why shopping locally is important, “New Englanders are projected to spend $700 each this holiday season, and every dollar spent locally creates up to three times the economic activity in our communities. Around the country, economists forecast that U.S. consumers will spend approximately $445 billion during the 2010 holiday season. Every one of those dollars spent at local independents helps ensure that they will remain local economic engines for years to come and maximizes the growth of economic security, rather than sending away profits to corporations that own big box stores and out-of-town chains.”

     So remember that when you spend money at a chain store in your town, most of that money is leaving town, and is more likely to be reinvested in someplace like China than in Portsmouth. If you follow Seacoast Local on Face Book or Twitter they will post holiday specials being offered by local indies throughout the season. For your holiday gift selection consideration I asked just a small sampling of the many fine shop owners we have ready to serve us, what is their greenest gift offering this year, and here is what some of them said;

     The owner of Blue Moon Imports at 1 Washington St. Centre in Dover said, “The greenest gifts I have this year are beautiful fair trade purses and Christmas ornaments made out of recycled sari fabrics from India. Each piece is hand embroidered and truly unique. They are absolutely beautiful!”
      Liz Wright, co-owner of FaLaLo at 51 Ceres Street has a bounty of well-researched green goods but decided, “Our greenest gift is the recycled phone book bag. They come in three sizes, and have two different types of handles. They’re not only recycled, but also fair trade. They are made in the Philippines by women who work with the not-for-profit organization Handcrafting Justice.”
     Heather Lessard, partner and poet-in-residence at Tulips Handcrafts on Market Street says her greenest gift is “Herlihedrons” which are spectacular sculptural assemblages created by local artist Nina Herlihy who collects objects like driftwood and seashells and turns them into something else like mermaids, owls, even Santa’s! Tulips carries almost exclusively New England made arts and crafts.
     Owner of Puttin’ On The Glitz at 150 State Street, Assiah Russell, recommends her line of Stephanie Robb Designs of silver and gold jewelry with natural stones, and she recently went to Buffalo, New York to check out the company. You won’t get research like that done for you at a retail chain store. She says, “All pieces are hand-crafted by a small design team that employs four women who sit around a work table and collectively work on designing. All scraps are recycled so there is no waste. The quality and price-point are excellent. A fine example of a woman dedicated to producing an entire line, totally made in America and supporting her local women.”
     Image Arts at 738 Islington Street Plaza 800 can surround your art (hopefully created by a local artist) in custom frames made from sustainable wood. For this they use a company that offers a line of eco-care frames that are produced from managed forests with an active reforestation program. They use organic water based stains on the molding with no chemical solvents. 
     If you have expectant or new parents or a baby on your list Nest Maternity and Baby Clothing and Gifts at 601 Islington Street carries almost exclusively green items for the purity of the products. They carry every conceivable supply for diapering little green babies, and organic toys and clothing, and sweet burp cloths handmade by the owner’s Mom. I really like the Willie Nelson onesie.
     Also for the little ones, head mom and buyer, Jody Breneman, of the family-run shop G. Willikers!  at 13 Market Street said her greenest gift is the wonderful fire truck ($26.00) for ages 1 to 7 years. It is made by Green Toys which produces American made products from recycled milk jugs. She will soon have the entire line on hand which includes a tug boat that will tug at your heart. The fire truck has won two toy awards this year. G. Willikers! also features many children’s books by local authors which I really appreciate, and they offer shipping and free gift wrapping.
     You would be hard pressed to find a greener shop anywhere than the two operating out of the 76 Congress Street storefront. They are 1 World Trading Company which says they are “purveyors of goods that benefit the planet and the people that live on it.” They carry everything you need to green up your home and your lifestyle. When pushed to divulge what was the greenest gift of all proprietor Paul Keegan chose The Klean Kanteen, a food grade stainless steel travel container for hot or cold drinks combined with a colorful handmade Guatemalan pouch, citing the gifts ongoing contribution to the globe every time it is used instead of a plastic water bottle. Available in two sizes, from $24. to 26.  For an inexpensive gift, they carry a handcrafted, organic, and minimally packaged soap that is blended by bicycle power in Massachusetts. Available in several scents, I think the peppermint would make a festive Christmas gift. Paul also runs Re-Cycles which sells bicycles he has refurbished that were going to the landfill. You can’t get much greener that that.
     I did some of my Christmas shopping at 1 World where I bought an organic cotton tee made in India with 80% wind power, printed with Earth friendly ink in the USA, and designed by a Keene artist with the slogan New Hampshire - Live Green or Die for a friend that moved away (they say they will plant a tree for every tee sold and that if the recipient plants the tag wildflowers will bloom), a pretty handmade charm bracelet for a girl that collects them, bamboo ski socks for my black diamond daughter, and a bar of doggie soap from a local farm.
     And Santa if you’re reading this, while I was at Worldly Goods on Congress Street I saw the warmest women’s mittens made from recycled sweaters for $59. a one-of-a-kind pair!  A bonsai tree from Little Timbers Nature Store right up the street is a fairly green gift for happy growers (like me), and I believe vintage estate jewelry from Market Square Jewelers is a green idea vastly underrated. (Do we really need to mine any more diamonds and gold?)  And thank you Santa, for all of the green good you do too. More people should make their own toys and get around in a sleigh. Let our local merchants know if you need anything and they will be happy to help you fill up your pack.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Tinkering with many things ...

     Hard to decide which is more distasteful ~ having work rejected or having work I have completed killed. I am certain the hardest to swallow of all is having my work maimed upon being published. Frustrating is the kindest way I can describe how that feels, but I would prefer to pepper that with some profanity. Having been tied up with those scenarios over the last couple of weeks (though I remain thankful for the assignments), I haven't gotten many submissions out lately. With one noteworthy exception. I submitted to the New York Times for the first time! Something for the Modern Love column they run on Sundays. It is extremely competitive, a few of them have resulted in movie and book deals, but I had a little something I thought was a good fit so I sent it in.
     Have also started working with a new publisher about one of my children's books. It is all very exciting but still in the planning stages.
     Here is a link to the latest installment of my radio show, about my hometown's connection to the last selection for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Literature in fiction, followed by a few cartoons for writers.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wanted to share this announcement

Boston Public Library Special Exhibit

The Public Life of Poetry: Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow, and Their Contemporaries


Rare Books Lobby
Central Library
Boston Public Library
Copley Square
700 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116

The Public Life of Poetry: Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow, and Their Contemporaries
In his 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman boldly declared that “a bard is to be commensurate with a people” and that “[t]he proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.” With these pronouncements, Whitman expresses the sentiment of commonality and reciprocal appreciation that drove the work of many nineteenth-century American poets, poets who depended upon their readers’ “absorption” of their verse.

The Public Life of Poetry: Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow, and Their Contemporaries presents the work of poets who believed themselves to be speaking to and for a vast number of Americans. As critics have pointed out, the American literary milieu was dominated until the early nineteenth century by writers who were effectively dilettantes and could not hope for large readerships. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, with the example of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the professional poet was born. Longfellow’s books could be found on parlor tables across the country.
But, in fact, nineteenth-century Americans found poetry in print all around them—not only in their private homes, but also in the public sphere—and this exhibit also presents some of the “disposable” or “ephemeral” poetry that circulated during this period alongside the work of respected literary lions. Printed verse appeared in advertisements, in schoolbooks, at monument dedications, and on the covers of periodicals. Readers, in turn, produced and reproduced poetry in parodies, scrapbook collections, and even samplers. An overlooked segment of nineteenth-century American print culture, public poetry occupied an important sociocultural role, helping readers to make sense of war, death, love, separation, and other transformations of and challenges to emotional and spiritual life.
This exhibit of material from the Boston Public Library’s Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts features early editions and manuscripts from iconic American poets such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson; political broadsides and ephemera by John Greenleaf Whittier and Ralph Waldo Emerson; collections of dialect poetry by James Whitcomb Riley and Paul Laurence Dunbar, and more.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

From the local daily;

Adina Prietz Linden: ' ... to feel connected' |

You now have to register to access Seacoast Online which takes a few minutes the first time. Thanks for sticking with it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Recorded Voice Of Virginia Woolf Part 2

This is the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf's voice. It is part of a BBC radio broadcast from April 29th, 1937. The talk was called "Craftsmanship" and was part of a series entitled "Words Fail Me".

The audio is accompanied by a slideshow of photographs of Virginia Woolf.

The text was published as an essay in "The Death of the Moth and Other Essays" (1942)

I came upon this recording of Virginia Woolf speaking about writing just as I was about to start reading Mrs. Dalloway for the first time. It's a bit mesmerizing to hear her.

The Recorded Voice Of Virginia Woolf

Monday, November 29, 2010


     A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. – John Steinbeck

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

James Frey’s Fiction Factory

     I found this article painfully provocative. It touches on so many points that have changed for writers over the last few years. The discussion of product placement in one's work made me rather sick. Still when I look at Frey, look into his eyes in the many accompanying photos, or look into his actions, I see something somewhat familiar. I suspect we all might. I see, at least in some small way, myself. Certainly, his methods are different than any I have or ever will choose. He is rather routinely coarse and vulgar, which I avoid being, (but have often been). His concept of honesty may vary somewhat from mine, (or yours or Oprah's), but no one can be perfectly authentic all of the time, we can only strive to be. What he is ... is a writer, desperate to tell his story. We are storytellers. A position once revered within the tribe. The biggest difference I see between Frey and I right now is that he is supporting himself and his family as a writer. Steven Spielberg isn't calling me.

James Frey’s Fiction Factory

     We also owe Frey a bit of gratitude, I think, in raising the discussion of honesty in memoir writing to the level it has reached. As a memoirist I have given the subject quite a bit of thought, mostly since Frey inflated the balloon. I believe the bottom line is that we, each and every one of us, have our own truth. The book I'm writing is my truth. Nobody else mentioned in it, though they were there, would write the story the same way. Some are going to say it didn't happen quite like that. Some are going to say the worst ~ "that's not true". What they mean is that it is not their version of the truth, so they feel they can invalidate my version of my truth. But they can't. Not really. And real writers know that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not so divine secrets ...

     Dubya is on a book tour. Dumber than dirt Dubya! While I sit here fanning my overheated self with not particularly well written rejection letters.
     That little blow aside, I have been on a bit of a roll lately. Sent out two submissions this week, booked three readings, and most important of all, got more writing done than usual. I have also been pushing my finished children's books a little bit farther out of the nest.
     Now that it is the season of curling up fireside I find myself reading more than usual. I have been a big Anita Shreve fan for several years, so while in a book store the other day I impulsively grabbed what I think is her latest, A Change in Altitude. It didn't grab my attention in turn though. I abandoned it last night (I can be ruthless if the first few pages of a book don't seduce me). Which is exactly what the used book I caught sight of at my local grocery store did. I was supposed to be gathering dinner, but a bib of old books stood between me and food, and one title stood out. Last night I started The Divine secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I know it is an oldie, but I never read it and haven't seen the movie yet either. Ironically I note that it was published the year that my fourteen year old daughter was born, and it is my morphing relationship with her that caused my eye to drift to The Divine, which I understand to be a tale of a complicated mother/ daughter relationship. This is a sensitive spot for me now as I am currently being twisted into the wicked witch of the west although I am a mortal woman of the east. Anyway, I fell in love with this book from page one. Here is a mother/ daughter related passage from page 47. Tell me if you don't fall too.
     "My mother was a beautiful swimmer. Her stroke was the Australian crawl. Watching Mama swim was like watching a woman who knew how to waltz perfectly, only her partner was not a man, but creek water. Her kick was strong, her stroke fluid, and when she rolled her head side to side to breathe, you could barely see her mouth open. "There is no excuse for a messy swimmer, any more than there is for a messy eater," she told us. My mother judged people by how well they swam and whether they made her laugh or not."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In case you missed it

Halloween poem from The Writer's Almanac 10/31/2010

The Methodist and his Method
          by Chad Sweeney

Underground in the cemetery
my grandfather preaches to the other corpses.
They clap inside their boxes

nicely arranged in Sunday clothes
in long rows like pews.
His words stir hope

that conditions may change.
Each man has been given his row boat,
he says,

to lie back in and watch the sky
braiding and unbraiding its light.
No one is safer than we are.

-- from Parable of Hide and Seek. © Alice James Books, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boomers Embracing Facebook

This is an article I wrote for SMG which was published in the Seacoast Seniors supplement to todays Portsmouth Herald.

What Is Your Facebook Status?

By Tammi J Truax

It may be hard to believe that e-mail has become an inefficient and outdated form of communication, but that really is the truth of today. Other modes of social networking, specifically Facebook, are the preferred technique of the day. At first, and for quite awhile, the younger generation, I believe they are calling themselves Xer’s, tried to keep it for themselves. As one local teenager was quoted as saying a couple of years ago; “E-mail is for you old people, Facebook is ours.” Wrong again, kids. Facebook is not just for young people.

And that is just as it should be. The internet is a product of the hippie generation, and the hippie objectives of freedom and equality for all, are the great tenants of it. Facebook, like everything else on the web, has to be accessible to everyone in the world. To date that is going pretty well. More than five hundred million people are on Facebook. I repeat – 500 million. That is one in fourteen of us on this overpopulated planet! It is said that if Facebook were a country it would be the third most populated one on earth. But it is better than that, it’s a country without borders. And the fastest growing segment of that population is, you guessed it, Boomers.

Facebook, a privately held company, defines itself as a “social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them.” It was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2004 for college students to get to know each other and was at first limited to students. Now headquartered in Palo Alto, California, it has several locations around the globe and is still growing and hiring.

The growth has been unparalleled. In just six years going from zero to more than 500 million users, and is expected to have earnings in excess of one billion dollars this year. Currently the fastest growing group joining Facebook is seniors.

Explains local social media consultant John Herman,

John Herman

“Data from Facebook shows that in 2009 the 55+ audience grew an amazing 922.7%. That was much more than any other age group by far. Frankly the idea that Facebook is just for young people is a thing of the past. The service gives everyone a unique way to connect with friends and, increasingly, business partners.”

There seem to be several reasons for the spike in popularity for this age group. The first being that it coincides with seniors slow, but very steady, increased use of the internet. Once comfortable with the internet it is most likely that seniors will at least consider joining Facebook. Some cities offer classes to ease the transition, but a quick tutorial by a teenager will usually do the trick. Of web activities engaged in by Americans age 65+ in November 2009 Facebook was actually the third ranked online destination coming after Google Search and Windows Media Player, and barely beating YouTube. There is no question that in the last year Facebook has climbed in the rankings.

An independent research group, Pew Research Center, reports that social networking among seniors has nearly doubled from April 2009 to May 2010, from 22% of those using the internet to 42%.

“Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report ‘Older Adults and Social Media’ which was based on telephone interviews.

Seniors who are on Facebook report that there are primarily two reasons why they use it. The first is that it provides a unique way to bridge the generation gap, which in America is often an age and lifestyle separation as well as a geographic one. This really is one of the beautiful sides of it. With the growth of seniors on board there is often a three generation connection. Seniors can keep track of what their children and grandchildren are doing all over the world in almost real time, and the handy and easy photo sharing feature is very popular for this purpose. One post (a message for all of your friends) can go to all of the family members at the same time, so Junior’s grades and Julie’s lacrosse feats, can be shared with both pride and efficiency. Some feel that this type of communication lacks a personal touch that even a quick e-mail message would have provided. That may be, but in the case of seniors, especially those who spend most of their time alone, a social networking service like Facebook can provide an immensely helpful interaction with the outside world, and increase, not decrease, the amount of communication that their extended family members are able to provide. The fact of the matter is, if you want to know what your kids or grandkids are up to you have to get on board. Facebook users of all ages report being frustrated with family members who won’t join because it makes it hard to communicate with them. Event planning, for example, is now routinely done on Facebook. When someone is planning a party or gathering of any kind they send out the invitation via Facebook, and it requires extra effort to include non Facebook users in the festivities. There is a private messaging feature on Facebook, very much like e-mail, for when you want to send a message to just one person, as well as an IM feature for private chatting. These are always available but you don’t have to use them.

Says Terry Abbott of Stratham,

Terry Abbott

“I joined at the urging of my kids. Thought I’d try it out. Found that it was a great way to keep up with the activities of my kids without being intrusive.”

For those who are truly turned off by the idea of interacting with the rest of the world it is possible to set up a family only group page on Facebook, but just requires a bit more work. This type of page though, can be very helpful to elder care management, when a senior is choosing to remain living alone but needs to be checked on frequently by family members. Usually, that type of page is not the choice, because a majority of seniors on Facebook report that they enjoy the second most popular reason for joining Facebook; connecting with people from their past.

Terry continued,

Terry Abbott

“Then the best part was finding a long lost friend that I hadn’t heard from in about thirty five years! And more recently another old friend found me on Facebook.”

These types of connections are the other beautiful benefit of Facebook, if you want to be found you will be found. And your findability is largely in your control. When you set up a Facebook page you set your own privacy levels (but you must be sure to do so) and you choose whether or not to reveal information like previously used last names, schools attended and professional or other affiliations. You can keep your privacy settings as tight as you want to. (Do avoid revealing your complete date of birth and address). Still, there are those who find the loss of privacy on Facebook to be so threatening that they will not join. One gentleman I talked with told me that he considers it an unprecedented, and even dangerous, invasion of privacy, and though he believes his own elderly mother is on Facebook he will not join, and finds skypping with her to be the ideal method of communication. I’m sure all of her grandchildren would beg to differ.

My own family is probably a pretty typical example. I am middle aged, smack dab in the middle of the expected life span. I have two siblings. My big brother has not joined Facebook though he tweets daily. When asked if he’ll join soon he said, “I’m no closer to Facebook’n than you are to going all a’twitter.” My sister has a Facebook that she uses minimally. I use it several times every day. (As a writer I find it crucial for networking, and as the mother of teenagers I find it essential that I monitor their use of it, and honestly do learn quite a bit about their lives through it.) All six of the grandchildren in our family who range in age from 14 to 29 are on Facebook with varying degrees of activity. I can tell you that I really have gotten to know a couple of my nieces and nephews much better since we became Facebook friends. Our only surviving parent, my 76 year old father, is not on Facebook and will not consider getting on, telling me “It has no relevance to my life.” I know all of his grandchildren would beg to differ. His wife, who admits she has been receiving a lot of pressure both socially and professionally to join, also hasn’t, saying for her the issue is time. It can be time consuming, but this is another area where you have complete control. You can check your Facebook once a day for a few minutes, or obsessively update your status every hour from anywhere using your phone. The choice is yours.

Connecting with people you have never met is another possibility, and again, one that is optional. You do not have to accept strangers as friends if you don’t want to, and if you feel you need to, you can unfriend people you have accepted. Still some people find these types of connections rewarding.

A maturing friend of mine when asked why he uses Facebook said he is

Shayne Kevin

“Looking for the love … I would say it can be found about as often as in Market Square, …, but many more voices can be heard, and heads potentially turned, than in Market Square, and there are no buses idling here.”

My friend on and off Facebook, Pat Parnell of Stratham, is an enthusiastic new Facebooker. She told me she had to join in order to view photos the family had posted of a granddaughter’s MFA exhibit. She has since begun communicating daily with her sons and grandchildren, as well as neighbors and colleagues, and takes great joy in getting regular updates and photos of her great grand children who live far away. (That’s four generations!) She has experienced profound validation from a former student friending her who is now a teacher himself, and who reminds her of things she taught him forty years ago that are still important to him. She took great comfort in being able to post and share memorial information after losing her husband, and is tickled that she now corresponds with one of his cousins she never knew about who friended her from Ireland.

She told me,

Pat Parnell

“There are unexpected pleasures in your life from Facebook.”

A similar philosophy must have been felt by Ivy Bean, who was the oldest known Facebook user when she died at the age of 104 with 4949 friends and another 9000 waiting for her to accept their friendship requests. For the last three years of her life Ms. Bean used Facebook daily to connect with all sorts of people when she could no longer get out and about.

Seniors who use Facebook do not report that real networking, one of the primary uses of it for working people of all ages, is something that they care about, but there is some evidence that they are networking. Just two examples I easily found on Facebook of groups that seniors are befriending are; The American Senior Benefits Association which claims to be a non-profit that provides “Quality benefits, targeted advocacy and education for today’s 50+,” and Seniors for Pets, Inc. which says it is “a non-profit organization whose mission is to help needy senior citizens obtain veterinary care for their pets.” Of course, you can join any groups you want, and even form your own group if nothing on Facebook meets your needs. You can share or learn about any interest you have with other like minded folks from your own page. Liz Wilson of South Berwick has found it to be a reliable way to get great recipes. People often use Facebook to ask for advice when they are mulling over a decision, or to bounce ideas off others. And of course it is a place where you can speak your mind and share what is important to you.

There are undeniable health benefits to social networking for seniors as well. We have all read the research about the importance of not just ongoing social interaction with others but active engagement of the brain every day. Social media tools, just like the recommended music playing or Sudoku puzzles, fill this need. And while you don’t need to play the games available on Facebook, just participating in the great social experiment of it can be a lot of fun.

That is the bottom line with Facebook which is what the representatives at the company try to explain to critics. FaceBook is what you make of it. And your cyber self is going to be a reflection of your real self. It is you.

Tammi Truax

“ Personally, I see it as another way of creating community, and I love the way it makes this great big world of ours a little smaller, and quite a bit friendlier.”

Many people were afraid that the invention and popularity of the telephone meant an end to normal human contact, and you know how that turned out. Facebook, like it or not, is a part of our culture now, our global culture, and like the telephone, it is much more than a trend. It played a real role in the last presidential election that changed the face of politics forever. Last Saturday night two separate skits on Saturday Night Live were about using Facebook, and the movie about its founders is well on its way to being a box office blockbuster. The number of people with Facebooks continues to grow each day. New features will be added as the changing demographics of users make their needs known. And someone, somewhere, wants to be your friend.

Monday, October 18, 2010


     I attended a writing conference this weekend, and one of the most interesting subjects that I learned about was metonymy; the use of one word to represent something else. Some of these have become well known figures of speech such as one I have used in this blog before; The pen is mightier than the sword. So cliche at this point that everyone understands what the pen and what the sword really are.
     Here is the definition from Encyclopedia Britannica;
     metonymy, (from Greek met┼Źnymia, “change of name,” or “misnomer”), figure of speech in which the name of an object or concept is replaced with a word closely related to or suggested by the original, as “crown” to mean “king” (“The power of the crown was mortally weakened”) or an author for his works (“I’m studying Shakespeare”). A familiar Shakespearean example is Mark Antony’s speech in Julius Caesar in which he asks of his audience: “Lend me your ears.”
      Metonymy can also be an interesting writing device, especially useful to engage the reader in the story. A writer employs this device when indirectly describing something else and letting the reader figure out what she is really addressing.
      Here is an example I wrote in class from a visual prompt the instructor shared of the statue lined walls of a fancy restaurant. At least it is my attempt at an example. I'm not sure I nailed it. You be the judge.

     She sat, correcting her posture, lacquered acrylic nails rat-a-tat-tatting on her linen napkin.
      tick, tick, tick.
     The idea that she had selected egregiously expensive lingerie for this date caused a humiliated rise of red to color her face. She checked her cell phone again.
      tick, tick, tick.
     Looking up, marble hearted bullies lining the blood red walls lobbed taunts at her, "You really thought he was going to show up, didn't you?"
      tick, tick, tick.
     "You haven't the gifts he is seeking," telepathed another.
       tick, tick, tick.
      Each of them having been chiseled away from what they once were, to become one man's proud possession, until placed on a false pedestal to age quietly.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Philip Roth on writing

     This idea of Roth's is so intriguing! I've been pondering it for awhile. Even to list the historical events of just your childhood could result in some seriously interesting writing. I'd really like to give it a try, but I actually never need to brainstorm for new things to write about because I can't seem to finish writing about the ideas that come to me naturally. It kind of surprised me that anyone would have to work that hard to come up with subjects, but obviously it sure is working out well for him.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dead Poets

     I found this quite interesting. You might not... Ten states are celebrating Dead Poets Day, and New Hampshire and Maine have both planned special celebrations. I can't participate in any of the fun because my holiday weekend is already booked. But I did enjoy this slide show some of the Maine celebrants put together. Some one from New Hampshire should step up;

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


      I attended the monthly Writer's Night Out last night, which is a social gathering of writers who live in my region and are affiliated with the NH Writer's Project. It has been interesting to me that these meetings are always quite a bit different from one month to the next. There is always a different group of people present, and the topics we discuss are always somewhat different. Last night most of our discussion was about finding, or fighting for, the time to write. Today was a good case in point. I struggled all day to meet my minimum required writing time, and by that I do mean the bare minimum. But today I found myself much less frustrated than usual because I kept remembering our discussion, and how just accomplishing some writing every day really will add up over time. So I guess these meetings really are worthwhile for me. I knew they would be beneficial socially, as it is very helpful to someone who works from home in isolation most of the time to meet with others who do similar work of course, and I have met some people at WNO that I would never have met otherwise, but I am quite pleased that these meetings are also having a direct effect on my writing.
     And here is something that I wanted to share;

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Putting the elephant out

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books

     Did you know that this is Banned Books Week? Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read, and was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since that year, yes, here, in The United States of America, home of the free and the brave. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. It's interesting to note that almost all of the books being challenged these days are meant for teenagers to read, and these battle ready book banners believe they are protecting your children from the harm these books could do them. The harm seems to be mostly exposure to profanity (I probably took care of that one while still on the maternity ward) and reading of positive portrayals of homosexuals (my children's gay grandmother took care of that one for me). SO I don't know about all of you, but I don't want or need anyone else deciding what my kid can or should read. That's my job and I think I do it pretty well. But even if I did it badly I don't want anyone else deciding. Keep your hands off my books, but more than that, keep your hands off my kids. The banners go after books that explore contemporary issues and controversies to classic and beloved works of American literature so nothing is safe. It is often done insidiously and silently so you may be completely unaware of it happening in your community, to your children, in your tax supported institutions. The popular Twilight series of the last couple of years has been a big target, but Catcher in The Rye is still making the list. I will post a link to the #1 most challenged book of late below and I think I'm going to order my fourteen year old daughter a copy. It looks like something she would really like, and as a writer I admire the author's creativity. It is quite clever.

     And here is Good's interactive viewer of the most targeted books within for about each.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nautical Terms

     I have been studying sea shanties for the last few days. As with all folk lore there is much fascinating history to uncover. This subject is particularly appealing because of the connection I feel to the sea. Maybe everyone feels that? Have just about finished the piece I've been working on and really do like the way it is turning out. During my research I was very surprised to learn that quite a few phrases that I kick around regularly are nautical in origin. Take a look at this list and see if any surprise you too.

ALOOF - means to stand apart or be indifferent, but it came from the Old Dutch word loef which meant "windward" and was used to describe a ship within a fleet which sailed higher to the wind and was thus drawn apart from the rest of the fleet.
BLAZER - meaning a jacket, the term came from 1800s British slang "blaze" which meant "a brightly colored jacket" and referred to the red flannel jackets worn by Lady Margaret, St. John's Cambridge boating club.
BY AND LARGE - Today this means "in general" or "on the whole".  It's nautical origins come from the nautical terms "by" meaning to be able to sail into the wind, or close to, and "large" meaning to sail in the direction the wind was blowing, so a ship that could sail with the wind blowing from behind it or from nearly in front of it, could sail "by and large".  The first documented use was by Samuel Sturmy in The Mariner's Magazine , 1669.
CLOSE QUARTERS - Based on today's meaning of being in close contact with, it's easy to think that "close quarters" came about because of a ship's limited space.  However, the term first meant an area on a ship's decks where barriers were put to provide the crew a safe haven from which to fight an enemy.  "Close" meant "closed" and not in close proximity.
GET A WORD IN EDGEWISE - Originally "edgewise" was "edgeways" and the earliest use was "edging forward".  Today it is used in reference to joining into a conversation when one person speaks continuously and doesn't give others a chance to talk.  Nautically, edging forward was a term used to describe the small progress a ship would make when sailing against the wind by using small tacking (zig-zag) movements.
HAND OVER FIST - most often used financially to mean that someone is making lots of money quickly, this term actually may have come the action used by a sailor to pull a rope - hand over hand.  The phrase dates from the mid-18th century.
HARD AND FAST - meaning "rigidly adhered to" as in hard and fast rules, this phrase was well-known by the mid-19th century when it was defined in 1867 by William Henry Smyth in The Sailor's Word-Book : "Hard and fast. Said of a ship on shore." The term was used in reference to a ship which was firmly beached on land.
SHOW ONE'S TRUE COLORS - a phrase meaning to reveal yourself as you really are, actually came about because of the opposite phrase "false colors" - from the 17th century referring to a vessel which sailed under a flag not her own, a practice often used by pirates to gain easier access to a victim ship.
SLUSH FUND - Money put aside today, the phrase has a less than pleasant origin.  On a ship, slush was the leftover fat or grease gotten from boiled meat on board ship.  Cooks would sell this fat whenever they were in port, making some extra money - their slush fund.
TAKEN ABACK - meaning to be surprised or shocked by a sudden turn of events, the phrase originally was used when speaking of a ship.  When the wind shifted quickly so that a sailing vessel was suddenly facing the wind and its sails were pushed back flat against the mast and spars that held the sails up, it was said to be taken aback.
THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND - meaning very drunk, how many have wondered how this could possibly mean super drunk?  On a ship, a sheet is a rope.  Back in the time of sailing ships, if three sheets were very loose, the sails would flap all over the place and the ship would sail along in an awkward path much like a drunken sailor.  Thus the ship was "three sheets in the wind".
TIDE OVER -  At first glance, this would seem to be an obviously nautical term.  Today it means to make a small bit of something, usually money, last until a supply comes in, as in borrowing some money to tide you over till payday.  However, the meaning has changed over the years.  Once upon a time, ships could move under sail power, or in the absence of wind, float along with the tide, called a tide over.  One could say the floating would tide the ship over until wind came again to move it along.
TIDY - We all know what this means: in order, precise. Originally probably from the mid-13th century, tidy most likely was first used in reference to the seasons to mean something seasonal, timely, or excellent and came from "tide" in the sense of seasons or time.