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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

With Whom Would You Like to Travel?



As the holidays loom closer each day I'm sure some of you have planned vacations or if not you have trips you wish you could take. Will your family be your travel companions? Wouldn't it be wonderful if for just this once you could take a trip with one of your favorite fictional characters? Who would you choose? I know I would probably want someone who loves adventure but doesn't want to go off the deep end. :)

Recently a travel site, Tripbase, contacted me because they have listed their Top 10 Fictional Travellers. There aren't many lists that contain both Waldo and James Bond. Since they asked me very nicely, please go over and check out the list. Leave me a comment about which Traveller you would choose. I think I'd probably go for James Bond, but I'm drawn to Alice. She was my favorite character for many years.:)

Maybe this holiday you don't have plans to travel. Some of the best trips I have ever taken have been in the comfort of my own home. So curl up with one of these books and take the vacation of your life without moving an inch out of your door. Most of these have 5 star reviews, though some are here because I like them. I wanted to find ten, but I only found seven. Still I think this is a pretty good variety:

1. On the Road, Jack Kerouac - I think this is probably the quintessential fictional travel book!

2. Until I Find You, John Irving - Get ready for trips to Europe.

3. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift - Are you ready to encounter new civilizations?


5. Flame Tree: A Novel of Modern Burma, Keith Dahlberg - Immerse yourself in Burma and its culture.

6. Botticelli's Bed & Breakfast, Jan Pienkowski - A pop up book and a trip through the world of art.

7. Earth to Kat Vespucci, Ingrid Anders - A college girl travels abroad to find her roots.


This week on Thursday, December 23rd at 3PM Central, 4PM EST on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages my co-Host Cindie Miller and I are going to have a really great show. All of our guests are going to be reading an excerpt from either their own holiday story or their favorite holiday story. These are guests who have been on the show earlier this year or even last year. Afterward we will be having our usual discussion. So far my guests for the show will be:

Donald Hagelberg, Comedy Writer Mr. J, Jill Helene Fettner, Michelle McGriff, Penny Ehrenkranz,
Franny Armstrong, Janie Franz, and possibly Sally Drumm and the writers of Milspeak my guests for last year's Christmas show. Joining us for the discussion will be my friend and publisher of MuseItUp Publishing, Lea Schizas. There may be some more guests if we can fit them into the show.:)

Please join us for this unique and unusual show. Guests who listen in may call into the show and speak with our authors on the air. Or you may join the chat room if you are a member of Blog Talk Radio. Becoming a member is easy and allows you to become a radio host yourself.

Until the next time, thank you to all my new friends on Facebook and to any new readers. I haven't been concentrating because my husband is in the hospital once more for sarcoidosis. I've written about this on past blogs. If you are interested you can click on the link. He is better, but this is a slow process and I hope that he will be able to be out of the hospital for the holidays.

Happy Holidays to all of you!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"The King's Speech" A Movie Worth Waiting To See!!!





This weekend I wanted to go to the movies. As many of you know who have been reading this blog I love to see love stories and romantic comedies. I tolerate some historical movies and will watch adventure movies occasionally if the actors are cute.:) You have to have some eye candy when people are being blown to bits. The choices for movies didn't have these choices at all. In fact there were a few movies that fit this bill, but no one in my family wanted to see them. So we settled on a movie that wasn't any of these and it was wonderful!!!

The movie is "The King's Speech" and it stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce. I really didn't know much about the story, but the reviews and the buzz about it were what drew me to see it. My daughters and I tried to see it Saturday afternoon and because it was only playing in one theater, The Jacob Burns Film Center, it was sold out until 10:30PM. We bought tickets for Sunday afternoon and even though we arrived early there was a big crowd. The Jacob Burns has very comfortable chairs and it is probably the best place to see a movie I have ever seen. We have been there so many times we have a favorite place to sit and it was empty when we got into the theater.

"The King's Speech" is probably one of the quietest movies in theaters today. Colin Firth plays Albert, King George V's younger son who is in line to be king, but he has a big problem. We first encounter him as he is preparing to give a speech at Wimbleton and we see his frustration as he stumbles through stammering and stuttering. Public speaking is his enemy and he has seen every specialist and speech doctor possible with no results. He is about to give up hope when his wife, played by Helena Bonham Carter finds an unusual speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. There are a great many quiet moments in this film and the audience was extremely silent during these times. With little action, the only movement is in the actor's faces, specifically in their eyes. Albert or "Bertie", soon to become King George VI learns to overcome his stammer and become a public speaker with the help of this therapist, Lionel Logue and his unorthodox methods. While Albert prepares for the eventuality of speaking in public again, his brother, Edward, must make a grave decision - to stay as king and give up Wallace Simpson, the woman he loves or abdicate and live as a commoner for the rest of his life with his lover, who is unsuitable for marriage since she has been divorced twice. Since this is based on the true experiences between Logue and King George VI you probably know what happened. It starts in 1935 before the death of George V and continues until England declares war on Germany in 1939. But see the movie anyway to experience the beauty and the stillness as well as the regal performance of Colin Firth. Geoffrey Rush's portrayal of the speech therapist is Oscar worthy as is Colin Firth's performance as well. When it goes into wider distribution don't hesitate to see "The King's Speech". This movie will probably appeal to most speech pathologists. In fact, when we were waiting a speech therapist was there just to see the techniques that were used to treat him.

It has very high ratings with both critics and movie goers alike. Though it is only in a few theaters in the country it has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 94% and an audience rating of 89%. I would give this movie 5 stars myself. You will go out of the theater knowing you have finally seen a good movie.

As far as writing is going I am going over my edits and I got to Chapter 6. This isn't too bad and I'm hoping to get to Chapter 10 this week. Here is some other information for you.

My blog post, "The Day A Jewish Girl Discovered Christmas" is on the MuseItUp Publishing blog this afternoon. You will find it posted after noon. Please go over and leave a comment. You will also find a guest post from me on Roseanne Dowell's blog: "Barbara Ehrentreu's Favorite Christmas Memory"

My next guest blogger is set to be here soon so be on the lookout for her or him. Thank you to all my readers and welcome any new readers who might have wandered over here.:) I've been really busy with the tutoring too. But the kids are so cute and they try so hard. I missed teaching.

Until the next time hope all of you stay dry and warm. It's good weather to curl up with a book when you can. I'm reading The Passage by Justin Cronin. He is a good writer, but I'm finding it difficult to connect with any of the characters. Have a great week.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Hannukah! More About My Life and We Have a Winner!!!


Events as always have interfered with my blog writing, but at last I was able to do the drawing for the contest for a free copy of Stork, MIA by Sandro Isaack. Thank you to all of the people who left comments. Sandro wrote to me and told me he appreciated the interview and all of your comments, but he was busy. I understand busy. Since I have started tutoring my life has changed drastically. Before I started tutoring I had a kind of routine to my life which included a great deal of time to think and write. Now, that time has dwindled and though I am enjoying tutoring a lot, I would love to have the free time back.:)

I am tutoring five students who range from first grade through fourth grade in both reading and math. I work for an hour and a half a session and each student gets two sessions a week. So I have had to double up students every day. This means that if I leave my house to tutor for a four o' clock session I could come home at seven thirty. In a perfect world I would have had time during the day to do whatever I needed to do. But in two out of five days last week I had to be away from my house all day either helping one of my family or doing my own annoying errand. Just as is always the case in my life a simple experience has turned into a complicated and annoying one.

I needed to be fingerprinted for this job, even though they have my prints from other jobs both in the Federal government and in New York State. But of course, Connecticut requires its own fingerprints. Also there is this Adam Walsh's Act brought about by the sex abuser whose name is on this law. Anyone who works with children in any capacity has to have a background check by the FBI and the state. So I was fingerprinted along with everyone else who works for this company and my prints went into the FBI. But I was told even while the fingerprinting was happening that my prints might not be good enough to be accepted. The technician told me that they weren't sharp enough and that happens when you get older or if you use harsh chemicals. Sure enough they came back and even though I had paid over a hundred dollars for the first time and I was told I could have them done a second time by this same company for free, the company now told me that I had to have them done by the Department of Public Safety. But the fingerprinting company was unavailable on Monday when I decided to try to get in to get them done. I couldn't get this company on the phone either. On Wednesday when I met with someone from the tutoring company she suggested I go to the Department of Public Safety. So on Thursday I made the trip up there, which was four exits closer than the fingerprinting company. I had been told that it would only be fifteen dollars, but that didn't include the state and the FBI check which were over sixty-nine dollars extra. Also getting into the building I had to empty my pockets and the thing kept beeping. Finally we figured out it could be on my shoes. No they didn't make me take them off.:) Then we had to wear a Visitor Pass around our necks - my daughter came in with me to give me moral support.

I'm not sure that they will be accepted, but I was told that if they weren't the FBI would do a background check anyway. What gets me is that my fingerprints are on file in the government, but because of this craziness now associated with getting a job anywhere, I had to have them retaken. And this insanity cost me two full days and lots of gas driving so far. But I was employed for years as a teacher. It just gets to me how stupid some of this is. Aren't we going a little too far for security in everything? Do you have a story like this or a comment about the rising amount of security in our lives?

And now for the winner of the contest for the free book. The winner is:


Mayra Calvani

She has been notified so I can send her the book.:) If Mayra doesn't contact me in 24 hours I will have to do another drawing.

That's all for now. I want to let everyone know that I was a guest on Roseanne Dowell's blog,

Barbara Ehrentreu's Favorite Christmas Memory . It's all about the first Christmas my husband and I spent together. Roseanne is a fellow MuseItUp Publishing author and she will be my guest here next week. Thank you to my new followers and thank you to all of the people who continue to read my meanderings.:) Until the next time Happy Hannukah to all who celebrate it!!!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Everyone loves a Bargain!

Popping in here today to let you know about a place where you can find your holiday gifts for less. Thinking about getting e-books for everyone? It's fast and easy and many people have or will be getting Kindles and Nooks and other e-readers for gifts this holiday season. MuseItUp Publishing is having a discount sale for a limited time only. Since you are here you get the chance to get over there and check it out. To get the discount you need to have the special code. Here is your invitation to browse through these quality e-books for the whole family:


Holiday Special:


Get 25% off any purchase from today until December 10th.

Use code: HC2010D at checkout in the discount code box before going to Paypal.
From all of us at the Muse,

we want to wish you Happy Holidays!



To get there all you need to do is click on the banner for MuseItUp Publishing on the side bar or go to MuseItUp Publishing.

I'll be back later to give you the name of the lucky person who won the free book, but I wanted to get on here and give you this, because this deal is only going to be for 10 days. From now until December 10th you will be getting this discount.

Until then, have a great day and thank you to my new readers. So much has been happening and I will be back here to talk about it.:)


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Special Post for Blog Jog Day - Hello!





First of all, if you haven't commented on the last post about Sandro Isaack's beautiful picture book, Stork,MIA you still have a chance. I will close the contest on Friday of this coming week. So go over and leave a comment here.

The second thing is to say Hello to all the people who have jogged over here to see my blog on Blog Jog Day! Please make sure to browse a little through some of my older posts. Maybe one of your favorite authors might have been interviewed by me.:) I love meeting new people, so please leave a comment for me.

Blog Jog Day is also World Hello Day! You need to greet ten new people. So hello and welcome to my blog. You will see it isn't like anyone else's anywhere.:) I will be giving away a free gift in honor of World Hello Day to anyone who comments. When you are finished here go and check out the next person in the list: http://jmanni32.blogspot.com.

Since last time I started tutoring and it's fun to get back to teaching and also the most fun is actually making money again!!! What I like about it is that I'm helping kids who somehow got lost in the flow of school. I think all they need is more attention to the things they don't know. Some of them have questions that never get asked during the lesson and then they never tell the teacher they don't know something. The teacher assumes that the material was learned by everyone who didn't ask a question and so goes on to the next thing. Of course, since the question was never asked the student has nothing on which to scaffold the learning and so it slides away and the student falls farther and farther backward. I've seen it so many times! Sometimes all a student needs is one skill to move ahead. Many times it's vocabulary or getting mixed up between two letters and learning the difference. I had a student who had a problem between reading b and d. This caused a problem for him every time he saw words with these letters. But this is the kind of information that is not readily seen by teachers. Reading teachers deal with this all the time. I like helping to get kids back to their grade level.:)

I'm going to have a lot of new guest authors popping up here from MuseItUp Publishing and wanted to let you know. I have met such a wonderful group of people who are also authors and they have hosted me on their blogs. So I am going to have them each on here to tell you about their books. Also, tune in on Tuesday, November 23rd, which is a different time for my radio show, but due to Thanksgiving we can't have the 4th Thursday this month. On my show, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages, which airs at 3PM Central time, I am hosting two excellent authors. One is an old friend and critique group buddy, Greg Fishbone, and the other is a poet, Donald Hagelberg. Greg Fishbone has a book called, The Penguins of Doom and is about to publish Galaxy Games in 2011. Donald Hagelberg has helped edit and has many publications.

Until the next time hope you enjoy Blog Jog Day. Hello to all new people and to my faithful readers. I hope you will get involved in this harmless but wild trip through the internet. Thank you to my friends and if you are a Facebook friend, thank you for getting me to over 1,000 friends.:)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Great News and Guest Author Sandro Isaack


























Okay, most of you already know this, but for anyone who hasn't read about it on Facebook or any of the groups that I belong to, I have great news. Last week I talked about pitching my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor at the Muse Online Writers Conference. Well, I found out last week that it was accepted for publication!!!!Yes!!!!!! My book is being published by MuseItUp Publishing and it will be out in September, 2011 as an e-book.:)

I'm very excited and so happy to be part of MuseItUp Publishing. My imprint will be MuseItYoung, since my novel is for ages 10-14. Being with this publisher is like joining a large family and I feel so welcome!!! In fact, one of the authors has interviewed me on her blog Sameena's Sphere's Blog

Being with MuseItUp is like opening a door onto a scene where this family is sitting around a table and everyone is talking at once!! But you are so frustrated because everyone has so much to say!!! I am hoping to learn more about each author by the time my book is published.:) It's a whole new world and I am loving it.:)

So now that I'm going to be published my husband decided it was finally time to read my book. Now anyone who knows me knows that nothing I do is ever easy. Printing the entire manuscript wasn't easy either. At first we tried to print it at home, but our printer couldn't take it and had a paper jam after about thirty pages. So I went to the computer room they have here in my apartment building and wouldn't you know it, they didn't have the printer there anymore! It was out for repair. So my daughters and I decided to go to Kinko's to get it printed there from the computer. I had put it in a website for safekeeping and we tried to print it from there. But it didn't work. It wouldn't print. So we tried again and again and it wouldn't print. So then we were told we could email it to Kinko's from their computer and we did that. But when it was printed it had a weird gray column taking up about half of the paper and the font was too small. Thank goodness one of the Kinko's employees knew how to fix that and we were able to print all 217 pages.:) Phew!!! Now at least the whole manuscript is in print form and also saved on the Apple site.

Guest Author Sandro Isaack

1. In your bio it says you are a native of Brazil. Where in Brazil did you live?

I grew up in Rio de Janeiro. I lived there most of my life, but from the ages of 18 to 20, I lived between Rio and Sao Paulo.

2. What made you decide to leave Brazil and come to the United States?

I was awarded a scholarship to get my BFA in Texas. After that I was accepted at the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard, where I got my MFA before moving to NYC to act.

3. Your bio says you moved to New York and became an actor. What kinds of jobs did you get while you were an actor?

I did mostly theater, and voice overs. I got a couple of small parts on TV and film, and in theater I got meatier parts doing Shakespeare, and a few new plays.

4. Please describe why you decided to quit acting.

I didn't decide to quit. In 2008 I was suddenly mute for nearly 11 months due to my vocal cords being paralyzed. After my silent period was gone and I could finally talk, I then had to do vocal therapy for a few months. I'm all healthy now, and believe me, I can talk - a lot.

5. Why did you decide to start writing?

As I couldn't speak, I started writing and drawing to tell stories to my goddaughter, nieces and nephew. That's when I realized that being a story teller was what I'd always wanted to be. Especially telling stories to kids - there was something about telling stories to the ones who don't set limits for their imaginations. If they don't like the story, the honest criticism is loud and immediate. However, if they like it, it's a never ending joy.

6. Would you please tell our listeners your writing process?

I'm very new at this, and still discovering my process, but I'd have to say that, if I do have a little bit of a process, it's based on images. I draw these characters, and then they tell me their stories. The stories happen as a sequence of scenes that I need to be able to see, and together they need to tell a story. It's hard though, when I see a scene that I really like, but it disrupts the flow of the story. Well, I keep them in a box with all the other scenes and characters I couldn't use anyway.

7. What made you decide to write Stork, M.I.A.?

I had just seen a Pixar movie called "Partly Cloudy", which tells the story of where the storks get the babies from. I love Pixar, and with this movie it was no different....but I got a little frustrated, and couldn't understand why it was so hard for so many adults, to honestly tell kids, where babies come from. That's when it occurred to me that I could use that character with a different purpose, to make peace with the stork.

It doesn't matter where you're from, who your parents are or aren't, if you have parents or not, what color you are... whatever the case, we all have a stork, and that makes us equal. I think it's necessary to provide kids with as much as we can to help them feel that they belong.

8. Your book is an unusual PB for ages 3-6. Would you please give a brief synopsis of your story?

STORK M.I.A. is the first volume of a planned self-published children's book series (Dad Dad Mom Mom). The book follows the story of Dad and Dad, who were tired of waiting for the Stork, and decided to find her and ask for a baby. They search for the Stork around the world, with the help of Mom and Mom, turning this story into an adventure, rather than a didactic book for children of same gender couples.

There's a large number of children reading mostly books from "borrowed" universes. Dad Dad Mom Mom intends to create a universe for these children - their own universe in which the main characters happen to be same gender couples and their kids.

Dad Dad Mom Mom has no political agenda. It was created for the children and to ease communication between same-gender couples and their children. Also a good tool to help heterosexual parents educate their children about a current matter.

Although I say the book is for 3-6 year olds, it is a book for everybody. I've seen people of all ages giggle while reading it.


9. Would you please describe the path to publication for Stork M.I.A.?

When my voice came back, and my health got better, I realized that I had a book that was ready and needed to be seen by many families. But I knew how I wanted the book to be, and due to the subject matter I was afraid that, if I went to a publishing house, I'd have to edit the story or illustrations for commercial purposes. I don't mind editing if it is to tell a better story, but not to make it more commercial - at least not with this book. I did some research on self-publishing, and then started to do it through lulu.com.

10. While I was reading your book I noticed you used Dad and Dad and Mom and Mom to describe the couples. What made you decide to leave out heterosexual couples?

I didn't really leave the heterosexual couples out. They appear a couple of times, but they are not main characters. I didn't decide to do it that way, but I started telling the story from the point of view of the "outsiders", and as this was the first book, I wanted to introduce the main characters of the series.

11. What have you decided to do to market this book? Do you have any book signings planned?

My marketing experience was one of discovery. I had never done anything like this before, and thought that the hard work would be the creation and production phases, but I was wrong. Being a first time self-published author/illustrator, also means no previous public history (credibility). Therefore, making media coverage tougher, and more expensive. As I didn't have much funding, I had to rely on free media, and on being creative. There were a lot of things I wish I knew before the book release, but the most important would have been to start promoting at least six months prior to release date. It was surprising how long it can take to have your e-mails answered, and how quickly news become old.

I did, however, send some hundreds of e-mails to the basic magazines and newspapers that talk about books and children, to schools, but I also did some research on how to reach the LGBT community, specially same gender couples with kids.

I looked for events and conventions to show the book and talk to people, and I always walk with postcards of the book, and a couple of copies in my bag. I think it's important to be creative, and never be afraid to promote a product you believe in. I talk to everybody about the book.

Luckily these days we have Facebook, Twitter, and the opportunity of having websites and blogs.

I'm reading and signing at the Family Matters Workshop, in Philly on October 16th. The info is at http://phillyfamilypride.org/
(Sorry Philly residents that you didn't know about this in time.)


12. Do you have any WIPs on which you are working? Are there any other books that are scheduled for publication?

I'm currently working on the second book of the series, and on other two series - one about a little vegetarian vampire girl, called: Lugosi Elementary School for Not So Scary Monsters, and another about a Brazilian mango who travels the world in search of new adventures and the perfect dessert, called The Worldly Adventures of Emilia Manga.

13. Please give our listeners the links where they can find your book and more information about you.

www.DadDadMomMom.com, and they can also join the Dad Dad Mom Mom on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Thank you for being a guest author, Sandro, and I am looking forward to your being my guest on our November show, which will be moved to Tuesday this month due to it being Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. I will be hosting Sandro Isaack and Donald Hagelberg, who is a multi-published poet, on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. I will give the exact date when it is certain. Be sure to tune in on Blog Talk Radio to hear the show. You can also hear it in the archives if you miss it live.:)

Also I am giving away a free copy of Stork,MIA to the lucky winner of the drawing. All you need to do is leave a comment or question here and you will be in it. The book is bright and colorful and fun for ages 3-6.

Until the next time, thank you to my new follower and thank you to all the people who continue to read my meanderings.:) Check out the new links to Blogs I Follow. They are my fellow Muse authors.:) Also, I am going to post my latest poems probably tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Muse Online Writers Conference and We Have a Winner for the free copy of Nature Girl by Jane Kelley


Lea Schizas, who founded the conference and is the publisher of MuseItUp Publishing


As promised I kept the blog post up for two weeks so everyone could comment or ask a question. I want to thank all of you who have commented and I wish I had ten copies for everyone. But I only have one so I did the drawing and the winner is:

Susanne Drazic

So it is up to you, Susanne to send me your address so I can ship your copy of Nature Girl by Jane Kelley to you!!! I will also announce this on Facebook if you don't get over here to the blog to see this. You will have only three days to contact me. If you don't contact me by then I will do another drawing and pick another winner.

What changed in my life are my eyes. I had my second cataract operation and it went very smoothly, though not so much psychedelic stuff. The eye is almost completely healed and my vision without glasses is now 20/20 to 20/15. I have to take off my glasses to watch TV and movies, and drive. I still need reading glasses for reading and computer. I don't wear glasses when I'm walking around or driving now, and that hasn't happened since I was 21. But really I started wearing glasses in seventh grade. Then I used them only for TV, movies, reading, and close work. They're trifocals, but now all I need is the bottom for reading. Everything is blurry if I look through my glasses.:)

How many of you attended The Muse Online Writers Conference last week? I wanted to do the whole thing, but I was only able to attend a few chats and participate in a few of the workshops. For anyone who has never been to this wonderful and informative conference, you must go next year. The founder, Lea Schizas, decided five years ago that not everyone can attend in person conferences and it wasn't fair to keep these people from attending a conference. So she and a few others began The Muse Online Writers Conference. You can come as you are, it is free, and though the chats are usually in the daytime and early evening hours, the workshops run around the clock. She invited publishers, agents, and editors to attend and each year writers can interact with publishers, agents, and editors in both the chat rooms and the forums.

Last year Lea added Pitch sessions for the publishers and agents who were there. Many people were able to pitch their work and received contracts. I wanted to pitch last year, but I wasn't ready. However, I received great suggestions from Margot Finke, who helped me to change my first page just enough to get the attention of the founder, Lea Schizas. So this year I decided to pitch my YA novel that you have heard about umpteen times, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, to MuseItUp Publishers and I was so excited that they wanted to see the full manuscript!!!

I can't tell you how much time I spent on this manuscript, but in five years of sending it out I have received seven rejections. After the last rejection about a year ago, I decided to leave it alone for awhile. But I had written a pitch for it and used that to get my pitch scheduled. However, I didn't think it really said what I wanted to say. So my older daughter sat with me and helped me to rewrite it so it had more pizazz!!! I felt great about using it and did I mention how excited I was when they liked it too???

Maybe you have heard this too many times, but I have to say it.:) You never know what is going to happen and who is going to make it happen for you. Last year I met Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing and that resulted in my asking her onto my radio show and that was how I got to know her even better. She is a phenomenal publisher and I am so honored to be part of 4RV as an apprentice editor. Networking is very important for a writer and being at The Muse Online Writers Conference allows a writer to meet a lot of people you would not normally meet. But what is really wonderful is that every writer or publisher I met there was someone who was ready to help and support you depending on what you needed. Also what is wonderful about the conference is the decorum and the rules for chats. Sometimes you're in a chat room with lots of people and the moderators keep it going making sure everyone gets a chance to speak.

Before the pitch sessions you are in a chat room where the moderators act more like crisis intervention counselors than moderators. Here are all these writers waiting for the time to go into the pitch session, which is only seven minutes.:) I'm reminded of that kids' game we played at boy/girl parties, "Seven minutes in heaven" where you had to go into a closet and kiss a boy for seven minutes. When we played it at my birthday party before going into seventh grade, I had no closet in the living room. So we turned off all the lights and instead of spinning a bottle we just kissed for seven minutes. Hard lips against mine were not my idea of heaven, but I figured there had to be something good about kissing a boy so I didn't judge kissing by that or I would never have kissed anyone again!!

Anyway, back to the pitch session, when it was our turn we had to leave the chat room and go into the pitch chat room. While we were waiting, people chatted with each other and the moderators, and it was comforting to know that everyone was really nervous. We were hyperventilating (like my heroine, Carolyn) and the moderators kept telling us to blow out and not hold our breath. Everyone wished everyone good luck and congratulated anyone who got a bid to send their work. I know that I wish I had had someone to do that for me the other times when I had to send out my work to a publisher at the post office or from my computer. The nerves creep up on you and before you know it you're so nervous your hands can't type anything on the keyboard! That would have been difficult, because pitching online meant cutting and pasting your pitch into the chat room with the publisher and whoever else was there with them. Unlike querying a publisher, you learn your fate almost immediately. Then you go back to the holding chat room where people congratulate or commiserate with you depending on your outcome. But Carolyn is out there now and I hope they treat her with the love and affection I have felt for her.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. As I mentioned to another writer friend today we all need the Good Luck Fairy in our lives. After this half year I really need her or him to raise a wand over my life and make everything all better.:) Good luck to all of you who have your work out there with publishers and editors. For the others who have worries about trying to publish your work, send it out!!! If you don't send it out you don't have a chance of publication ever. But if you do send it out there is always that possibility it will be published.

Okay, so I'm sure everyone is wondering who will be my guests for October's radio show. One of my guests is Michelle McGriff who has written over 25 novels and has 3 other books as well. She is a lot of fun and I think you will really enjoy her. Also, my other guest is Jason Mayo, of Out-Numbered blog. I'll bet a lot of you have laughed at the hysterical prose Jason writes on his blog about his life with his wife and family and how he feels outnumbered. Now he has written a book that is perfect for Halloween, Do Wishes Make Fishes. The book is about a little boy whose mother cooks healthy dishes, but he wishes she weren't there and a witch replaces her. What is wonderful about this book besides the story is that all the proceeds from the sale of the books go to The Garden of Dreams, a charity that is based in Madison Square Garden. Jason's friend has cancer and there is a very heartfelt story you must read before you read any part of it. Click on the link. Sadly, Jason Mayo has decided to stop writing his blog due to his life speeding up. Tune into the show on Thursday, October 28th at 3PM Central Time to find out why he has decided to give up blogging for now.

Until the next time thank you to my new readers and as always a big thank you to all my followers for continuing to read my meanderings. There are quite a few writers who will be on this blog as guest authors. One of them is Sandro Isaack, who wrote a picture book called Stork,MIA He will be here next week. I will be posting my poems tomorrow.







Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome Guest Author Jane Kelley

Jane Kelley in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY


Since we are writing about cycles on Poetic Asides with Robert Brewster, I'll say we've come full cycle with our guest author Jane Kelley. Jane's novel, Nature Girl was reviewed here. I've done an Examiner.com article about her, and she was my guest this Thursday on Blog Talk Radio on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. I am delighted that she accepted my invitation to be my guest author here. If you caught the show you might have heard some of this, but I always enjoy reading things for myself. Jane was a fascinating guest and I'm sure you will all enjoy her here.

Questions for Guest Author Jane Kelley

Barbara: In one of your bios it says you wrote educational books. What kinds of books did you write? What are the titles and are they still in print? Are you still doing this?

Jane: Yes I am. I've written many short science and social studies books for elementary school. A few of titles are: Life On The Prairie, Beaks and Feathers, Ancient Egypt, Meteor Showers. Most are still in print.

Barbara: Since you wrote for educational purposes, why did you decide to start writing fiction?

Jane: I love doing both kinds of writing. I love learning about topics as I research them. Explaining is kind of like teaching. But I also really enjoy telling a story and bringing characters to life.

Barbara: It also says in your bio that you were inspired by your grandmother to write, since she was also a novelist. Did she publish any books?

Jane: Yes my grandmother Katharine Carson published several novels in the 1940s. Her most acclaimed book is called Mrs. Pennington, which is loosely based on her grandmother's life in Kansas. It's out of print.

Barbara: You grew up in Wisconsin but now you live in Brooklyn, NY. What was the reason you left Wisconsin? What made you decide to move to Brooklyn?

Jane: I like to say that there are two reasons to move to New York City. One is if you are hugely successful. The other -- which was the case for me -- is if you haven't found what you want to do with your life yet. I was drawn to New York City because it's a place of great possibility and excitement.

Barbara: Recently I wrote an article about how you were inspired to write Nature Girl. Would you please tell our listeners what this was? How did it involve a large park in Brooklyn and your backyard in Vermont?

Jane: I live in Brooklyn with my husband and daughter close to Prospect Park. It is a beautiful place -- but it is a city park. I grew up in Wisconsin so I could just go out the back door into the woods behind my house. I loved that freedom. I think it is something that many modern children miss. We decided to rent a house in Vermont for one summer to recreate that experience for our daughter. While we were there, I began to write the story of the city girl in the country -- and how she came to love being there by hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Anyone who has grown up in New York City knows the only place to be in the summer is the country. How wonderful you were able to share it with your daughter. My parents used to send me away and visit me at summer camp. I would much rather have spent the summers with them instead of mean girls at camp:) But these are different times.

Barbara: Would you please share your writing process with our listeners?

Jane: It starts with a character. I write the first draft in a notebook because that feels less intimidating and more intimate. Then when I switch to the computer, I outline the shape of the novel. There will be many drafts before I'm done.

Barbara: Was it difficult to get Nature Girl, your debut novel, published? Please take our listeners through the publication process.

Jane: It was difficult to get it written! I had tried to write in other genres for years before finally honing in on a middle grade novel. Once that girl's voice clicked for me, I was pretty confident that eventually Nature Girl would be published. I showed it to an agent. She submitted it to several editors before it was bought by Random House.

Barbara: How close is the main character, Megan, to anyone you know?

Jane: I have a daughter, but Megan is closer to me than to her. I am much more of a grumbler than she is.

Barbara: Would you describe your own experience of hiking The Appalachian Trail? Did you have any of the experiences that Megan encountered?

Jane: I have only hiked small stretches of the trail -- never anything as extensive as what I made my character do. Although I do plan to do that sometime. I have been on many hikes in many other places. I haven't met a bear, but I have certainly climbed mountains and swum in rivers and picked wild raspberries.

Barbara: Would you tell us what kind of research you did for this book?

Jane: I made a conscious choice NOT to hike the stretch I describe because I didn't want to be too tied to reality. Certain things happen because they need to for Megan's inner journey. They might not have been able to if I stuck to the physical reality. I did make sure that everything was plausible.

Barbara: As I was reading the book I realized that it would really be a book that teachers could use in the classroom. Do you have a Teacher’s Guide?

Jane: Thanks for reminding me that I need to do that! I think it is an excellent way to bring reluctant kids to nature as well as boost self esteem and learn an appreciation for the natural world.

Oh, you're welcome! The teacher in me comes out every now and then.:) I can think of so many themes that could be used in the classroom. If you need any help let me know.:)

Barbara: In keeping with the last question, have you planned to do any school presentations?

Jane: I have done school presentations. I will be doing a nature writing workshop for Writopia Lab in NYC on Oct. 17. Writopia is a terrific writing workshop for kids. I highly recommend it. If you'd like more information about them -- or my workshop, go to their website. http://www.writopialab.org/

Barbara: What are you doing to market your book? Please tell us what has been done by your publisher to help you.

Jane: Random House sent out lots of advanced review copies. Because of that, Nature Girl received many nice blurbs and reviews. Random House also continues to arrange author appearances for me.

Barbara: Do you have any plans to publish any other books?

Jane: Yes Random House will publish my new middle grade novel next fall. It's called The Girl Behind The Glass. It's the story of what happens when twins move to a creepy old house. Anna adjusts to their new school -- but Hannah becomes dangerously obsessed with the strange things that happen in the house.

Barbara: Do you have any projects on which you are working?

Jane: Yes -- my next book is a medical thriller. A young girl tries to find out about the virus that has made her mother who is a scientist seriously ill.

Barbara: Please give all of the places where our listeners can find your books and information about you. Also, tell us where we can find out more about The Appalachian Trail. (At this time I will also give the link to my Examiner.com article and refer people to the blog interview and my review of your book.)

Jane: My website is http://www.janekelleybooks.com/. I am a goodreads author http://www.goodreads.com/ I also have an author page on Amazon. This is my Random House page:
http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375856341/
You can learn about the Appalachian Trail at http://www.appalachiantrail.org/
But you don't have to hike two thousand miles. There are so many wonderful trails to explore.

Thank you, Jane Kelley for being here and telling us more about you and your book, Nature Girl. If you want to hear Jane Kelley you can go Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages and listen to the show from the archives. We are holding a drawing for a free book. All you need to do is leave a comment or question for the author to be entered into it. This is a hard cover, new book in excellent condition. So join in the contest. You could win a book. By the way, I did that on a chat and won a book! You never know.

**************************
Sometimes I wish there were a way to show an author applause when you really enjoy what someone wrote. That is how I felt when I read Maureen Johnson's blog post last week: Sell the Girls. Did you ever read a piece where you are constantly nodding your head yes, alternating with applause? You might be considered a little crazy if you did this in public, but I was thankfully in a car and reading what my daughter had emailed to me. Maureen Johnson's piece delves into the whole question of why aren't more women writers represented in book lists for curriculum study. Why are these lists predominately male? Why is there this push to have more stories for boys? Did I feel a little guilty thinking that maybe there didn't need to be more stories for boys, since most of the books they read have male main characters? Perhaps I should get on this bandwagon and push it myself, but no, not after reading this post. What do you think about the need for more stories for boys? Think about your answer and then read the post. Did your opinion change? I know that mine did. Please let me know how you felt both before and after. You can leave your comment here or contact me on Facebook if we are friends. I have the link on my wall too.

Until the next time, thank you to all of my readers. I will post my poetry next post. In fact, with so many poems that will probably be an all poetry post.:)

Friday, September 17, 2010

What Happens When the President Visits Your City!

President Obama leaving Stamford. See the sanitation truck.
from: Stamford Advocate -President Barack Obama is greeted with cheers as he is whisked down Tresser Boulevard in the presidential motorcade after attending a fundraiser for Democratic Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal at the Stamford Marriott Thursday, September 16, 2010. Photo: Keelin Daly / Greenwich Time

Last night we wanted to get some take out food and go home and eat it. That isn't such an unreasonable idea, right? You would think you could go to your own favorite restaurant, get your food and get home if the place is only five minutes away. But last night that five minutes turned into an hour.

We should have realized something was going to go horribly wrong when the street where we usually turned to go pick up my daughter was blocked by a garbage truck. At first I thought this was a horrible misjudgement by the sanitation crew driver, but no. Once we picked up my daughter the heavens opened up and it started to pour. So I had to go to the department store (I won't say which, because then I'd have to balance it.) The street with the department store was blocked and we could only turn right. That was where we had to go, so it was all right. After I got out of the store we drove to the restaurant without any trouble. It didn't seem like anything could go wrong. We actually bought two different kinds of food: sushi and hot burger-type. With the two bags separated we were sure we could get home in plenty of time to keep the food both cold and hot. We figured we'd get home in the usual five to ten minutes.

But President Obama was in town speaking at the local Marriott and the police had closed the area from traffic. What that meant was when we tried to take the road to go home it was blocked. The sad thing is that the policeman who was doing this had no idea why or how to direct us to another route to go home. I felt like we were mice in a maze as we kept finding dead ends due to the roads being blocked. The policeman had told us to head north, which was away from where we needed to go and we kept going, not knowing another way to get home. Even though we have lived here since February we don't know the little side streets and how they connect with each other.

So I took out my trusty traffic app and tried to figure out a new route. I found one, but my daughter, who was driving, didn't want to know any of my alternative routes. My other daughter in the back of the car kept worrying about the sushi. It was already a half hour since we had picked up the food and home was nowhere in sight. We stopped and got out an insulated bag (Yes, we are those people who keep insulated bags and Whole Foods fabric bags in our trunk) and then got back on the road searching for a street that would take us home. At this point with the hot food and the sushi in the back my daughter suggested we stop and eat there. But we were bringing the food home for my husband. So we continued, but the daughter who was driving started screaming at me in reality show volume that she didn't want to hear any new routes as we continued to find roads blocked. Finally we were on the outskirts of the city and there on a stretch of empty road we saw a line of cars with a police escort and figured that must be the motorcade. We breathed a sigh of relief, but it took us almost another half hour to get home. The roads opened up and it was smooth sailing back home. I was sad that we didn't actually get to see Obama, because we are still big supporters of him and his policies. But really, the amount of security around the president is getting ridiculous! We basically drove around in circles for the hour. There needs to be more concern for the people in a city where the president goes in the future.:)

Now think of this scenario: There was a huge storm. Obama was in town. We had hot and cold food in the car.:) It was the perfect storm! LOL. By the way, the sushi was fine and we gobbled up the hot food, which was still remarkably hot!:)

*********************

An author friend of mine Kari-Lynn Winters sent me this and I thought I would help her publicize it. Anything that helps children read is for me!! I know this is a good cause and I will be happy to help her.

All children should have the opportunity to learn to read!

Please help us spread the word pass and give impoverished families access to books by posting this press release on your blog.


ACCESS BOOKS AND “AIR LIFT TO L.A.” DELIVER BOOKS TO COMPTON SCHOOL ON OCTOBER 2


Los Angeles – As part of their ongoing commitment to strengthen inner-city school libraries throughout Los Angeles and beyond, Access Books has joined forces with a team of Canadian authors to help Ralph Bunche Elementary (16223 Haskins Lane, Carson, CA 90746-1092) on October 2, 2010 at 9 a.m. One of 25 elementary schools in the Compton Unified School District (CUSD), Bunche is in desperate need of books for its 450 students.

Access Books, “Air Lift to L.A.” and a team of volunteers from Bunche will spend October 2nd revitalizing the library by painting murals and cataloging brand new books. In addition to the books, Access Books will provide a reading rug, rocking chair and sofa to create a warm and inviting environment for students. Five authors from Canada will be on hand for the event and to give fun and exciting presentations to the students.

The participating authors are:

Rob Weston, author of Silver Birch award winner Zorgamazoo

Kari-Lynn Winters, author Jeffrey and the Sloth, On My Walk, and other award-winning books.

Jill Murray, YA author of Rhythm and Blues and Break on Through

Wendy Kitts, Freelance Writer, Book Reviewer, and author of a soon-to-be published picture book from Nimbus Press

Helaine Becker, author of more than 40 books for children including Silver Birch award winners Boredom Blasters and Secret Agent Y.O.U.


Sadly, only 48 percent of Bunche’s students are scoring “proficient” or “advanced” in English & Language Arts on the California Standards Test. Research has shown that the best predictor of how well a child will learn to read is the number of books to which he or she has access, but 61 percent of economically disadvantaged children don’t have age-appropriate books at home. The students of Bunche Elementary fit this profile: 90 percent live at or below the poverty line. According to a 2009 report from the Jumpstart Foundation, communities ranking high in achievement tests share a common denominator: an abundance of books in their libraries.

California's Department of Education recommends 28 library books per student, according to the February 2010 draft of its School Library Standards. Bunche, however, has a mere three books per student. Therefore, Access Books has set a goal: Collect at least 5,000 books for Bunche’s library and classrooms. Many of these will be brand new, popular fiction titles – books that have been carefully selected to get students excited about reading.

Access Books’ partner for this endeavor, “Air Lift to L.A.,” grew wings after Canadian children’s author Helaine Becker visited a Long Beach elementary school and saw the empty shelves. Shocked and saddened, she rallied her Canadian colleagues and started a book drive. “The conditions [in Los Angeles] are on par with the worst of the Third World countries,” she writes on the “Air Lift to L.A.” Facebook page. “Actually, they are worse, because in much of the Third World, people are doing their best to raise their standards, while in Los Angeles, conditions have deteriorated abysmally in the last ten years.”

Bunche has just moved its campus library into a new, larger space to afford room for growth, but unfortunately, many of the shelves are bare. The library assistant nicknamed the library “The Dream Shop,” but with so few books, its dreams have yet to be realized.

California ranks last in the nation in funding for school libraries, spending less than one dollar per child. Although the 2011 federal budget proposal includes a $400 billion investment in education, there’s no mention of federal funds specifically geared toward school libraries. According to Sandra Barnett, head of the American School Library Association, “the budget is proposing to take away the last access to literacy for these kids in high-poverty areas.” The American School Library research data clearly shows that students with access to school libraries and good books score higher in state reading scores and are more interested in reading.

“I think the big issue is that we really need to make reading part of school and make reading fun and interesting,” said Rebecca Constantino, P.h.D., the founder and executive director of Access Books. “And that starts with having a good library.”


About ACCESS BOOKS: Access Books provides quality, high-interest books to Southern California's most impoverished school libraries. Since 1999, they have donated more than a million books to school and community libraries in the greater Los Angeles area. Access Books has been featured in USA Today, the L.A. Times, the New York Times and School Library Journal among many other media outlets. Access Books’ founder, Rebecca Constantino, is a recipient of Oprah’s “Use Your Life” award. She has published over 100 articles and a book in the areas of literacy development, equity in education, urban school and cultural perspectives of language acquisition.



Give a Child a Book, She’ll be Happy

Give a Child a Library, She’ll be Literate

P.O. Box 64951, Los Angeles, CA 90064

310-284-3452

www.accessbooks.net

As always, thank you to my new readers. And thank you to the people who continue to read my crazy meanderings. Has what happened to us with the president in our city happened to you? I know that the security is necessary, but what do you think of closing streets that aren't even near the president? Please leave me a comment here.

Coming in the next blog is my interview with Jane Kelley. Jane Kelley, author of Nature Girl reviewed on my last blog post and Sandro Isaack, author of Stork, MIA will be my guests on Thursday, September 23rd on my radio show, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. Also, please check out my article in Examiner.com on the book festival in Jersey City, New Jersey this weekend, September 18th, A Tale of Our City.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jane Kelley's Nature Girl Reviewed


At Last, A Coming of Age Story for Girls - A Review of Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

What would you do if you were an eleven-year old girl from New York City stuck on a farm in Vermont with your family for the whole summer? This is what happened to Megan whose parents were artists and believed it was necessary to have the whole morning devoted to ART. Megan’s best friend, Lucy was supposed to be there with her, but she had to stay with her mother, who had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and her grandmother, Mrs. T, in Massachusetts. The worst of it was Lucy wasn’t answering her phone calls. Megan had given up on seeing her friend that summer. But as luck would have it her parents had to go away for a couple of days and left her sister Ginia in charge of her. Her mom thought it would be good if Megan went hiking with Ginia. But Ginia had other plans with her boyfriend Sam and ignored Megan, who had become accustomed to that during this summer. So Megan, who had never gone hiking before in her life, is suddenly lost between Vermont and Massachusetts on The Appalachian Trail.

As Megan hikes with her tiny dog, Arp, her travels along The Appalachian Trail change her from the girl she was to someone different, “a nature girl”. Along the way she must face hardships, but she continues in spite of them. She doesn’t give in to that “yucky you can’t–do-it voice.” Jane Kelley has written a story with which many girls will identify. It is a story of hope and triumph as Megan hikes along never knowing if she will get to her friend Lucy. It moves at a fast clip and you are with Megan every step of the way. Once you start reading it will be difficult to put this down. Written in Megan’s POV, this is an outstanding middle grade novel that delivers a strong story with a likeable heroine and lots of doodles. This is Jane Kelley’s first published novel and I am hoping it will be followed by a sequel.

If you are interested in learning more about Jane Kelley after this review, listen to my show on Thursday, September 23rd at 3PM Central Time, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. She will be talking about her book, Nature Girl and you might find out if she is going to write a sequel to it. :) On the same show will be Sandro Isaack, author of Stork,MIA, a picture book about a dad and dad who search for the stork. This should be a great show!! Scheduled for October so far is Michelle McGriff, who has a new urban fantasy novel being published in November.

Again, thank you to my readers. I meant to post this earlier, but as usual, life got in the way.:) I am happy to say that Jane Kelley will be my guest author next week.

In the interest of disclosure I received this book from the publisher, Random House, as a gift from the author. However, this did not sway my opinion of it at all. It was arrived at objectively. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements in Advertising.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all!!!

I couldn't choose so I posted all the pictures I liked. These are my New Year cards to you!!!!!







Apples and honey with challah are traditional so you will have a sweet year!!!



I won't say this summer has been fun, because it hasn't. But at least my husband is better.:) We are all trying to get back to normal, but things keep getting in the way. I had to have a cataract operation in August and I'm still taking care of that eye. But guess what? I have to have the other eye done now in October. It's funny having 20/20 vision in only one eye, but soon it will the same for both and I'll be back to before 7th grade. That's when they decided I needed to wear glasses to see far. Only now all I'll need is reading glasses. Not wearing glasses all the time is going to be different for me.:) People will have to get used to seeing me without them too!

So Rosh Hashanah came very early this year. It crept up on me and suddenly it's the New Year! It's another chance to start anew. It's a chance to atone for my sins, but seriously, I've been trying to think of anything that I've done that I might atone for and with this last year I can't. I know that some of my family won't think that. I'm sure they have things they hold against me, but this year I have gone out of my way to make sure people were happy. Yet they never are! So next week when Yom Kippur happens I'll once again fast and hope that it will all be okay.:)

For everyone who celebrates, a Happy Rosh Hashanah -- Shana Tova!!

I was going to put my review of a new children's MG here, but since I haven't posted in awhile I'm going to do another post right after this with the review. Instead, I'm going to post the poems I have done since the last time I posted:

Poems Posted on Poetic Asides with Robert Brewer

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Prompt: Use "as I was saying"

DECIDING ON DINNER

“What do you want for dinner?” I ask.
“I’m busy you choose,” one of them answers
I don’t want to choose.I’d rather be writing
my fingers tapping on the keys
My mind occupied with thoughts
no one there will want to hear
Instead I ask again to the air
“Should we have chicken?”
Then I think, too much to do
Raw chicken to marinate or
roast or fry and hours away from
my writing, and I decide no never mind

It doesn’t matter since it has sat on the
air like a giant empty balloon deflating
as I speak. No one is listening and I’d
rather be writing to this week’s prompt
So sad I am away from my computer and
in the middle of these uncaring people
with whom I must share my life

“What does anyone want for dinner?”
The silence spreads like a fungus
They are busy discussing the latest
political news and ignoring me
Until one of them glances over and says
“What did you say?”

I seethe invisibly and try once more
“As I was saying…”
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu



HAIKU
As I was saying
You don’t know the me inside
Only the outside
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Strolling down PA Street

My heart is breaking as I stroll through the offerings
Hearts on sale today
along with love here and not here
Party bores and walks through stores
Conversations on dead ears

As I was saying, PA street abounds with joy
Infused by the heady words of each poet
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Wednesday, August 20, 2010
Prompt: Write a poem about service of any kind


Ambulatory surgery ballet

This is not their first rodeo
I can tell by the casual way they all stroll around
Green suited they meander in
chit chatting with the nurses
who at intervals disappear to ministerto the supine bodies in wait for the doctors’
services – not all for eyes

My nurse, Tracey shows me to my cubicle
And unable to read or watch TV I listen and
wonder at the casual talking outside my curtain
as they drip drops and gel into my eye
and the ballet continues with each new bed
moving toward the opening doors
The prologue proceeds until my eye
filled with pupil-opening drops and numb
finally opens to the doctor who places more gel
inside and then it is curtain time

I’m on stage and my door is open
They lay me on a soft sculptured bed
and place me under a sheet leaving
only my eye exposed
I am a Cyclops bound to the table
Floating in an oxygen haze as I concentrate on
the light and behold a kaleidoscopeof color
bouncing in the air above my eye
Until finally the curtain lowers and the finale
As they walk me back to my cubicle they
are lining up more who must follow the
steps to the eye scraping ballet.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Poem #2

In Service to Us

The exodus began in secret
As if we could slink away
in the dark of dawn and
somehow heal the wounds
caused by our service

For citizens we said we came
To change their lives
Mold them into more
manageable shapes
more like us
Make them push away
their heritages and embrace
Americanism

We believed it would work
Through the the bloody
attack-filled years when
men and women sent
In the name of service to
liberty ate sand and sweltered
under a mid-eastern sun
Some came home damaged
Too many in flag draped caskets
returned to tear-filled eyes they
would never see. to half-grown kids,
to wives holding babies never to be
held by them

They had gone in service to their
country - bright eyed boys and girls
filled with patriotic zeal
Some against the war yet bound
by honor to serve to find the enemy
no matter the enemy kept changing
like a giant shell game

Now they returned sliding through
Kuwait's border. We saw the last
convoy still armed, roll to safety
and begin the long journey back
to where roads didn't hold IED's
in wait to destroy their friends
and cause them to shudder at each noise
Back to malls and the warm arms of
family
Back to the ease of Monday night football
and Saturday afternoon baseball
Back to barbecues and days around the pool
Back to the freedom they thought they were saving
fueled by the false fear of a political agenda
that pushed our best into the hot sands of Iraq.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu



August 27, 2010
Prompt: Use Whatever in the title and write poem about that


Whatever Happens will Happen

When I send it out there will be no fanfare
For it is an everyday thing to send an email
No matter the email has my life attached to it.
Whatever happens will happen
The story attached to the email has been
pulled from my mind in creative turmoil
Smoothed into existence and fine tuned
like a girl on her first date

But this girl’s been around
and knows the score
If you reject her she won’t lay down
like a defeated dog
Instead she will rise up and shine
after polishing and revision
rid her of the snags they found
But maybe they will hold hands
with her and savor the joy
oozed into each word as it
poured from my mind

Whatever happens will happen.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Whatever…

A man rants false prophecies
while Lincoln’s statue looms over him
A reminder of real freedom
and the bravery of a one who walked
into danger and laid the path for others
And a man who walked upon it and found
himself on the steps next to Lincoln
The rightful place for MLK
a real prophet with a real dream

And fifty years later a bloated blowhard spouts lies
as his followers follow him like he were the
Messiah and listen as if his words were honey
But he spouts ribbons of hate
that leap into the crowd and bind
them, for in their minds they are patriots
They are fighting for their freedom
Knowing they had lived the dream all their
lives and now refused to accept MLK’s
dream had come to fruition.

And across town at the site consecrated by
the deeds of MLK were the ones who
had stood as guides as so many walked
the path to the dream
Celebrating the joy, the life, the awe of the
journey and the goodness of the man
as their speeches spread through the crowd
reminding all that hope was still alive

When freedom is attacked we must fight back
With truth and justice against the ribbons of hate
that wish only to twist the truth for their own ends
Spewed by false dreamers who wish to move the
country back to where some were separate but equal
and the color of skin mattered
As they twist the ribbons in their mind they vow to do
whatever it takes to get back that supremacy
While the ones who march for MLK’s dream
take a breath and say, “Whatever it takes”
And MLK wishes he were there standing next
to Lincoln and spreading the joy of hope.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


WHATEVER WILL BE WILL BE (for my husband on our anniversary)

We have traveled a long road together
since we pledged our love all those
years ago when we saw the future as
a green grass meadow we would skip
across to find our own version of Oz
Events haven’t gone our way
though your strong arms have been
there to soften those blows
When life imploded
your arms encircled me as if they
were breathing life into the husk of
my empty shell

I, the lion and you the bull, an unlikely pair
Tied together by a simple gold band
circling our fingers – the symbol of the
journey begun so many years ago when
you dropped to one knee on the horsepath
in Central Park and asked me to be with you
forever

Through too many moves and the joy of our daughters
Through times when I held your hand and prayed
so hard I thought the heavens would shake from
the effort. and I missed your arms around me
when I cried into my pillow still praying that you
would be spared as you lay there your heart healing,
incommunicado.

Resilient as a rubber band you have bounced back
time and again when life gave you sinkers
you hit them away like a baseball
All Star. And you were here tonight to celebrate our
life together though months before we thought
you had aged twenty years. Now you are back to
me though not the same I will still love you
For you were the boy who crept into my life when I
least expected and stole my heart and I gave it to you
as our future stretched ahead not knowing but
believing whatever will be will be.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu

September 1, 2010

Prompt: Write: I’m going to set the world on fire


I’m shedding my good girl exterior
and donning my new virtual leather bustier
and studded collar to kick the ass of anyone
who keeps me from my dream

There’s no stopping me as I climb to the top
and light the match of joy
for all who wish to come with me
and follow the dream I seek
We will get on our virtual cycles
and tear up the internet with our
brand of truth and poetic justice
the flagbearers of freedom
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


Come with Us (For Marie)

Come with us, Marie
Let your hair fly
as you ride your own
virtual cycle in your own path
Dream your own dreams
And fly over your own words
For we are together
a company of poets
whose lives create
images we must inscribe
From fireflies to lover’s passion
they flow liquid onto the screen
There for anyone to see
Our hearts and minds bared
nude to the world and at times
scraped bare as if the words have
seared off our flesh and exposed
the innermost layer of mottled skin

You are us and we are you
We write in free verse and haiku
We praise birds and trees, old lovers
and speak of events around us
They are our meat and we chew on
the muscle and gristle only to spit
it out in our own ways

We are poets
Flaming through each piece
with our own versions of passion and glee
Hoping to bring forth the words that
constantly swirl in our brains as we
watch this world and marvel at the joys
as we suffer from the sorrows.

We place our virtual arms around each other
For we are all the same
Our voices find the music so many ignore
in the darkness and the light
in the beauty and the trash
We live with a fire only we can understand
We are poets and that is enough
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


DON’T REMIND ME OF FIRE

One night fire found me
Its constant companions smoke and chaos
surrounded me while it flamed
out of control poking out of windows
pushing into corners
Always moving
Climbing stairs and rolling over
bodies entwined in love

Fire doesn’t think
It places itself wherever there’s fuel
Licking the edges of elegant mansions
Or the sad cardboard lodging of the homeless
It’s the great measure of equality

And though I hid my eyes to stop the
scene in my mind the fire raged on
Blackening the outside as it destroyed
the inside in its mad mindless quest
Leaving in its wake the charred, burnt smelling wreck

Extinguished by the power of the hoses
it can be pushed into submission
But like a recalcitrant child its deeds survive
Though you may punish it and spray it out of existence
its pushy presence remains for days
Reminding one of the horror of its destructiveness.

Don’t remind me of fire.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


One thing I wanted to say was that one of these poems here fueled a political debate on the website. Some people decided that there was no reason to talk about war when the war is basically over. They thought that the poems were too political and decided to leave the poetry board on which I post. To this board's credit the discussion was very balanced and eventually we got back to writing poetry. Since this prompt on Fire caused some of my old feelings to stir it was very difficult for me. However, I don't think that praising soldiers is political. Also the poem that caused the furor, the one about MLK was only my take on a series of events on one day. My feeling is poets write their own feelings and that is why you can't judge poetry except on its own merit. If it makes you feel anything then it's good.:) So when people started arguing over my work I had mixed feelings. My first thought is always to make people happy. That's what I did. Therefore you see the poem about writing poetry. The other one is a poem in answerto the person who didn't like the idea of political poetry. So now you can go back and reread them and see them in a new way.:)
Look for my review of Nature Girl by Jane Kelley on the next blog. Jane is going to be my guest along with Sandro Isaack, the author of Stork MIA on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Thursday, September 24th at 3PM Central Time. She will also be a guest author on this blog soon. (Just click on the Blog Talk Radio icon on the sidebar and you will get there.)

Until the next time thank you to the new people who have visited and decided to follow this blog. Of course, thank you to my loyal readers.:) Sorry I haven't posted as much, but health issues related to my eyes have kept me very busy.:) I have a question for all of you.
What would cause you to feel that someone went beyond the limit in poetry? Would you be able to read a political poem that is not your point of view? How many of you are offended by any of the poems I posted here? Please leave a comment for me. I am really interested in knowing what you think for the future.:)

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