For some reason I can add sidebars, but not new posts. Please check back later. I have been working on a variety of things including switching my blog soon from this one, which was set up with my now-defunct West Wisconsin Telcom account. I hope to have my new blog through Gmail up soon. I will provide a link and announcement when I've got everything straight. 7/2/11

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today is . . .

Today is . . . lavender in scent and color, frothy ferns moving gently in a breeze that hovers between cool and warm, contemplation, wilting, resting, light percussion and solemn notes, protected and watched over.
See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Recently read: Tony Cape’s The Cambridge Theorem

This is an author who is new to me. A quote on the cover notes it’s a combination of P.D. James and John le Carre, both favorite writers of mine. The book did not disappoint. Engrossing, with a series of surprises, the story takes place during 1982 when the Cold War was still being bitterly waged. Cambridge students, professors, police and espionage all mix together, with a few glimpses of an old spy in Moscow. This book is worth reading. I do have to comment on the publisher, Felony and Mayhem Press. I’ve never seen such a strange printing. I can’t imagine how this happened, but throughout the book, new paragraphs are started arbitrarily right in the middle of sentences. Very disconcerting! If the book itself wasn’t so good, I would avoid anything else by this publisher.

Friday, December 26, 2008

New series: Writers write.

Some common exchanges we writers often have (not necessarily willingly) are:

“And what do you do?” asks the new acquaintance.
“I’m a writer,” answers The Writer.
“Oh, how fun! I always wanted to be a writer!” the new acquaintance enthuses. “I’ve got the perfect idea for a novel and as soon as I have time, I’ll write it.”

Yeah right.

If you are a writer, you MAKE time. Writers write—we don’t make excuses for not writing (as much as some days we’d like to). Over the winter, I’ll be featuring writers that I know—people who write no matter what—in my new series “Writers write.” Some of the writers have other jobs, which are often fulltime. Some actually write for a living.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gone from my sight

Glenn Hanson April 10, 1921 to December 19, 2008

Henry Van Dyke, the American poet, educator and clergyman, wrote these words that to me, say it all:

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recently read: Michael Dibdin’s Cabal

A man falls to his death during mass at St. Peter’s in the Vatican. The Vatican asks for and receives the help of Aurelio Zen of the Criminalpol of Rome, who has to tread carefully between Church, State, and the relations between both. I always like these books. Dibdin does an excellent job creating the intricacies of life in contemporary Italy, including not only the investigation of crime, but the perils of being in love. Zen has to maintain his focus even while he believes his affair with Tania is unraveling. Another body turns up, family relationships become murky, and the Knights of Malta appear to be involved. Well worth reading this winter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today is . . .

Bitter ice and whirling like dry leaves blown across crusted snow, air smelling like a Northern winter that burns cold, winds that whip like angry angels, green warmth and comfort is a memory only.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Artella’s AlphaBetter Workshop

The frontispiece of my Book of Muses I'm creating through this workshop.

I’m in the middle (actually, at letter K) of a wonderful workshop created by Marney Makridakis, founder of Artella and inspirer of many. In this, the AlphaBetter Muse Workshop, participants receive a new lesson every four days. We’re working our way through the alphabet with thoughts, ideas for art and writing, journal prompts, and suggestions for new ways of looking at life, at creativity, and at ourselves. Each of the three days between Muses, we receive a “Muselet” with an inspiring quote and prompt. To conclude each lesson, I’ve been following her suggestion to create my own Muse for the letter of the alphabet. This is fun and inspiring!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recently read: Brad Meltzer’s The Book of Fate

I’m a sucker for the genre of thriller that weaves arcane mysteries into modern day suspense. In this novel, the first one I’ve read by Meltzer, the Freemasons are the subject. Their secrets laid hundreds of years ago in coded messages embodied by the buildings of Washington, D.C. possibly hold the key to a mysterious death of a presidential aide. Everyone is suspect, including the Secret Service, the FBI, even the ex-President himself. The protagonist is a young man whose face was terribly disfigured during gunfire surrounding the aide. He is helped by a fat and feisty journalist who never takes her eyes off the story—well, almost never. I enjoyed this. It is a good, light read for the winter months.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Emerging writer’s network

This is a place to check regularly for updates on writing news, reviews, and reading other writers’ work. I haven’t signed up yet, but it’s on my increasingly long list of writer communities that are worth keeping in mind. See

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today is . . .

Image from

Pale green edged with ivory veins, twined with deep forest green, stars scattered in winter skies along Orion’s Belt, tinged with light in the west where the cities grow. Scented with cold, tasting of church bells, enveloped in nightshades of blue and silver, whispering of sleeping creatures and childhood dreams.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wisconsin Wrights

UW-Madison campus and Lake Mendota (photo from the UW web site)

UW-Madison Continuing Studies in Theatre, the University Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre, and the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre are again sponsoring the Wisconsin Wrights New Play Development Project. Three finalists will receive a one week residency at Edenfred (see my December 3, 2008 posting). They will also participate in workshops and readings of their work as part of the University Theatre Summer 2009 season. One finalist will be featured as part of the 2009 Madison Repertory Theatre Madison New Play Festival and one finalist will be selected by the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre for a staged reading in 2010.

They are already accepting entries. You must be a current Wisconsin resident. The deadline for submitting your play is Monday, February 2, 2009. There is a $20 entry fee. For more details and specific submission requirements, see

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Edenfred: dedicated to the arts and culture

The veranda at Edenfred in Madison, Wisconsin

Edenfred, which means “peace” in Norwegian, is a 1916 mansion dedicated to providing creative artists a peaceful setting in which to work. Located in Madison, Wisconsin, it was established by the Terry Family Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization. Edenfred has three programs: Resident Fellows Program (open application); Day Fellows Program (local/regional) and Cooperative Residency Program (partnerships with local and regional arts groups). For more information, see

Monday, December 1, 2008

Recently read: Charles Todd’s A False Mirror

This series of historic British police procedurals is good. A favorite genre of mine, I hadn’t run across Todd until fairly recently. Set shortly after the end of World War I, the books combine the details of how police solved crime before DNA testing and photocopy machines with historical fiction. Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge heads to a tiny town on the southern coast of England, where a man he knew from their military service in the War is the main suspect in a nasty beating that ended in death. A well-done look at history, England after the War to End All Wars, and a good mystery to boot, I plan on reading more of Todd’s books.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Frantic about eating too many holiday foods? Never fear—Janice Taylor is here!

Holidays are always a time to fuss about weight gain. At my house we do, anyway. Janice Taylor will help you out this time of year with her Christmas Diet plan. Read details here:

And don’t forget to sign up for free at Our Lady of Weightloss for your Kick in the Tuss Club emails to help you stay svelte this winter. I love Janice Taylor, Our Lady’s Spokesperson On Earth. She’s a hilarious writer and artist, as well as an inspiring weightloss coach—what more could you ask for? Visit her at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday

Once again, Americans gather around the table to give thanks in what has its roots in the ancient Harvest Festival tradition. Family, friends, and food—about as good as life gets.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Writer’s Retreat with Jennifer Louden

Jennifer Louden

Louden is another writer and coach that has inspired me over the past several years. And she’s holding her Luscious, Nurturing Get Your Writing Done While Laughing Your Butt Off and Maybe Crying a Little Too Writer’s Retreat in 2009. Sign up and pay in full by November 30, 2008 on her 46th birthday and you’ll get a FREE hour of coaching. The retreat is in Taos, New Mexico Sunday, July 26 through Saturday August 1, 2009. I am REALLY tempted by this! I have a number of her books and she has had a huge impact on how I live my life as well as keeping me writing. Besides, how can anyone resist a workshop with that title! See her web site for more information at

Monday, November 24, 2008

Recently read: Randy Wayne White’s The Man Who Invented Florida

I enjoy this series with marine biologist Doc Ford, which takes place in the watery Gulf Coast area of southern Florida. In this one, Ford’s eccentric old uncle takes center stage along with his Indian buddy and some other geriatric pals. Three men are missing, large amounts of money and land are at stake, and the press is beating a trail to the dying coastal village where Uncle Tucker has big plans. Oh, and did I mention there is a love interest? Fun and light reading, but I don’t agree with other reviewers that White is comparable to Carl Hiaasen—White’s eccentric characters seem much more forced, and I have never laughed out loud like I have with Hiaasen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today is . . .

Crimson streaks with golden bursts of pride and the ring of chimes, not to be sipped but to be gulped with gusto like a Falstaffian reveler. Tasting of mulled cider and vanilla, with the counterpoint of marching feet, bedecked with bittersweet and birch logs, crackling with the season of ice shards striking bare wood, ringed with cardinals and white pine.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Literature fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts

NEA Literature Fellowships: 40 Years of Supporting American Writers. You can order through the NEA web site (see link below).

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a government agency designed to support arts of all kinds. It funds the arts in all 50 states and in all venues, from rural areas to inner cities to military bases. Most of its grants require the applicant to be an organization (like a school or nonprofit agency). However, it does have individual literature fellowships for published creative writers and translators. Creative Writing Fellowships are up to $25,000 to help recipients write, research, travel and other activities. Translation Project Fellowships are $12,000 or $25,000 and help recipients with translations of work into English. Visit the NEA’s Writers’ Corner for more information at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Another site for book lovers includes not only rare books and current books, but also keeps an up-to-date NY Times best seller list available, and offers suggestions for every taste and interest with categories like large print and “featured today.” See In the Rare Book Room, you can not only see prices on recent sales (George Bernard Shaw’s typewriter sold for $7,979 and Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea sold for $6,000), but you can learn how to care for old books, join their reading communities and forums, and do some of your own book selling.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Recently read: Victoria Moran’s Lit from Within

Moran is one of my favorite authors whose books always inspire. Lit from Within, like her other books, is an easy-to-read collection of brief essays designed to encourage the reader. The subtitle for this book is Tending Your Soul for Lifelong Beauty, but don’t assume it is a fluff piece about applying blush for a “youthful flush.” Instead, Moran provides ideas about raising your spirits, rituals that soothe you after a trying day, and living your life the way you’d like it to be.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Writer’s Eye

Check out The Writer’s Eye Magazine. This is an excellent site for artists and writers to get information, inspiration, and ideas: You can network, read, research, and learn—all essentials in the creativity business (and all OTHER kinds of business, too).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nonfiction and the Writers’ Digest workshop

The auditorium of the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater

I have finished my 14-week online workshop titled “Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal.” See for all the workshops they offer.

My instructor was Gloria Kempton. She was a wonderful editor, instructor and provided moral support as well. In addition to her own writing career and serving as an instructor for Writers’ Digest, Kempton is an independent writing coach. Visit her web site at

This was an extremely productive experience and WELL worth the reasonable cost. I now have a list of potential publishers, a query letter, and my first four chapters of my book, Ready for Act Three: the Restoration of the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater. In addition, I have completed the book proposal consisting of an overview with hook, markets for my book, subsidiary rights, spin-offs, my platform, promotion plan, and complementary/competing books identified. I also have a brief outline and a complete outline with photos identified. I have an estimate for the number of pages my completed book will be, including the back matter. And I’ve got someone (Dr. James Miller) to write my foreward. How great is all that?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recently read: John Lescroart’s The Suspect

I’ve been reading Lescroart’s legal thrillers steadily for years. He’s fortunately a prolific writer and he never disappoints. Most of the books are focused on San Francisco lawyer Dismas Hardy. In this one, Hardy only pops up in what is barely even a cameo role, but the book is still an excellent read. Attorney Gina Roake decides to get back to the courtroom when a high-profile case triggers her to offer her services. A dead wife by the hot tub, an eye witness, and a disturbed daughter are all trouble for popular outdoor writer Stuart Gorman. Roake’s first order of business is to get him to keep his mouth shut when the police are around. Well worth reading, even though the coincidental fishing scenes are a bit of a stretch in Chapter 1.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Creative hero: Marney Makridakis

The masthead of The Artella Daily Muse at

I have mentioned many times in this blog how much I enjoy the Artella web site at and the Artella Daily Muse (now free to everyone) at . I first stumbled on the site back in the spring of 2007 and have been addicted ever since. The entire world of Artella, which combines art and words (telling) is the first born “child” (Kai is her first-born son) of Marney Makridakis. Like many people, I’ve been lucky to have many heroes throughout my life, from my inspiring parents and family, from my many friends and mentors, teachers, writers, and on and on. In just the last 18 months, I have been accruing dozens and dozens of new heroes—all in the realm of creativity. Marney is one of the best. I just read an interview with her where she was asked what her studio looked like. She replied that it looked like it was colored outside the lines. Is that a wonderful image or what? And I think it is also a perfect description of how I see Marney—someone who paints life with broad brushstrokes, unafraid and generous. I want to live my life outside the lines!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pausing for creative moments

I have been exploring creativity in daily life over the past few months. As a result, I’ve been alert to instances of how others, especially those with busy lives, find inspiration and the time to act on it. I always listen to Michael Barone’s program Pipedreams on Minnesota Public Radio (he’s carried nationally through American Public Media). On Sunday, October 26, his program featured the young organists studying at the Curtis Institute of Music. Their teacher, Alan Morrison, is not only a professor at the Institute, but also a composer and a performer who has two daughters—one is three and the other is one year old. During the interview part of the program, Morrison commented how much of his evenings are spent putting his daughters to bed, and that one night, as the littlest one successfully fell asleep, he sat watching her face. During those peaceful moments at the end of a busy day, Morrison mused on what his daughter’s dreams were like. That inspired him to compose his latest piece. I thought, if someone so caught up in an international career as a concert organist, an instructor, and a father can still notice those moments of inspiration and act on them to create, then why am I waiting for the perfectly peaceful stretch of time? Inspiration and creativity can happen regardless of a crowded agenda or daily tribulations. To hear the program and the interview with Morrison, listen at

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama: Yes we can!

Photo from Obama/Biden web site

We’re celebrating at our house as President-Elect Obama ushers in a new era of hope and wisdom. His election returns America to our true spirit of respect, unity and pride in our country.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recently read: Holly Harrison’s Mixed-Media Collage

This is yet another of the beautifully illustrated art books that I’ve become addicted to since starting to collage. The subtitle of this one by Harrison is An Exploration of Contemporary Artists, Methods, and Materials. Like the other art books I’ve reviewed, this is a visual feast. The book starts with profiles of five contemporary mixed-media artists: Bedingfield, Di Pirro, Grasdal, MCartney and Moore. A question & answer format is blended with in-depth studies of their techniques. The second part of the book takes a look at a broader range of artists and techniques, and includes a chapter on artists and the Internet—handy in this day and age!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Today is . . .

Photo by Al Clare

Today is . . . light brown and crisp around the edges, crow calls and locusts, warm wood and water, light of feet and heavy of heart. Time is drifting heavily on slow water, hanging in the still air like mist, promise is in the far distance glowing faintly like fireflies in a summer night.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cartoon captions: ongoing monthly contests

I was raised in a family that subscribed to The New Yorker. I’d gotten out of the habit of reading it until a friend mentioned it in reference to the current cartoon caption contest. Here’s the link to the magazine It will take you a while to scroll down to the link for the cartoon contest because, of course, you’ll have to read all the cartoons and articles on the way!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recently read: Arnaldo Correa’s Cold Havana Ground

I’ve been on a kick lately of reading Cuban writers. They offer a glimpse into a world that seems to me to be frozen in time, yet the people have still worked and laughed and written and dreamed. This novel depicts through a masterful plot and in-depth characters the complex melding of religions and ethnic groups in Cuba. Correa describes the Cuban-Chinese community and their secret societies, as well as the mysteries and rites of the Regla de Osha also known as Santeria, which is an old religion rooted in Western Africa. We are able to participate in a meeting of the Abakua Secret Society, be inside the Palero (priest), and wander the decaying grounds of old mansions whose owners prospered under Batista. I’m going to track down more of Correa’s books to read more about this fascinating world that exists in our midst.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Great October Tradition

Images from

All the intricacies of the season are explained at this site devoted to pumpkin carving: A great way to satisfy your artistic urges, plus then you can roast the seeds and satisfy your hunger!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Today is . . .

Photo of pumpkin patch in Western Wisconsin by Alan Clare.

Today is . . . muted magenta with dew beaded on velvet surfaces, the scent of earth and wood, green tea and peppers, chill breezes and fading leaves, movement in vines and the sound of light saxophones mourning the early dusk.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Recently read: Henning Mankell’s Before the Frost

I love Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series. In this, Wallander’s daughter, Linda, has just completed police training and is waiting for her new job with the Skane police force to begin. In the meantime, she’s back living with her father until her new apartment is ready, and she just can’t keep away from police business. Especially when her friends are involved. Linda has flitted in and out of earlier books and adds a nice dimension to this one, as we get to see Wallander through her eyes. As usual, this Swedish police procedural is well-written, griping, complex and carries the reader along through the mud and stones of the south coast of Sweden. We dip into Copenhagen as we follow a series of attacks on animals, and then murdered women start joining the ranks of dead birds and pets. To find the people responsible takes us into the past and around the world and back again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Michael Perry--our favorite local writer

In Western Wisconsin, Michael Perry is our literary hero. If you haven't ever heard him speak, you're in for a treat. On Wednesday, October 29, he'll be reading from one of his earlier books, Population: 485, at the Memorial Student Center on the campus of UW-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the Terrace on the upper level of the Center. If you can't make it, then you can get some good laughs on his web site and his public television "Clodhopper Reports" at

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seeing the world through other eyes

Sail somewhere new today--on the Internet, in your imagination, via a book, or in actuality.

I enjoy learning what other people think, how they see the world, and what they do. I think being open to other people, other cultures, and other ideas is especially important in today's world no matter where you live. Writers by nature are curious, so I love to visit other writers’ blogs and sites and read their poems, stories, articles, postings, and thoughts. Here are some places I’ve been traveling to lately:

Naval Langa lives in India and has a wide variety of blogs ranging from fiction to news commentaries to Bollywood. See for short stories and book reviews.

John Guzlowski lives in Virginia and writes about a host of things. He has chronicled in verse his parents as they journeyed from a Nazi labor camp to Chicago. Their story is in his book Lightening and Ashes. See

Bathsheba Monk lives in Pennsylvania and is a teacher and a writer, and of course a blogger. See

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Write a novel in a month

Once again, the National Novel Writing Month is creeping upon us with the speed of a writer’s block. You can sign up now to spend November working on your masterpiece, and end with 50,000 words that you wouldn’t have written by December 1. Visit I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity last year, but I’m glad to see it’s still going strong. Check out Procrastination Station and, for those of you who are still young, visit the Young Writers Program.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recently read: Beverley Nichols’ A Thatched Roof

This is another delightful gem from a writer who deserves to be read as avidly in the 21st century as he was in the 20th. As the next book in his Allways collection, this one takes us inside the 16th century cottage surrounded by the gardens we watched grow in the first book, Down the Garden Path. In this one, we can stand in awestruck wonder as the secret niche and its contents—lost for centuries—are revealed. We wait as patiently as Nichols does for the inspiration on what the Garden Room wanted for color and flooring and wall covering—we don’t want him to make the room “arty” any more than he wanted to do so. We meet Whoops, a prince among dogs (second only to my own prince, Sharpie). Along with half the village, we get to follow the water diviner. And are glad Nichols triumphs in the matter of Mrs. M. and the tinned celery. We are there when Undine requests to “sense the atmosphere” upstairs. We are as confused as Nichols as he “wondered if this was a Tudor way of saying she would like to wash her hands.” But up we go, sensing the atmosphere and to our surprise, there IS something in a forgotten old cupboard. And finally, we learn all about thatching in the authentic manner and watch with Nichols as his new roof is lovingly created. I hate to see each book end.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A new class means it’s time for a new student blog

I had such a good time using blogs last year in my classes. This fall the only class I was teaching was Speech, and although I thought and thought, I just couldn’t see where blogging would be a component of a speech class. With the start of a new quarter and a new class, I have another opportunity. I’ve set up a blog for my Interpersonal Relations class—check it out at

The same week I created my current class blog, I also received a wonderful email from a teacher who had contacted me this summer. She had asked for my input about blogging in the classroom and we emailed back and forth. Here is her email: “I just wanted to check in and thank you for your helpful tips on students' blogging. I did try it this semester and the results have been phenomenal. I use it mostly to have the students react to the assigned readings and they feel very comfortable doing it like this....bottom line, they actually do it. In prior years when I asked students to keep a journal, nothing actually happened! So hooray.”

I love it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today is . . .

Today is . . . green, balanced on a fine edge, waiting to transition and grow to the next level, wandering like ivy, creeping into unexpected places, silent and verdant, creating life and leaves and the scent of growing things.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recently read: Nevada Barr’s Liberty Falling

A friend told me about Barr’s thrillers about U.S. Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon. The books are well-written, place Pigeon in a variety of locations (all federal parks), and keep your attention. Pigeon is staying at the rangers’ residence on Liberty Island to be close to her hospitalized sister. Strange happenings and death are plaguing the site, and Anna finds herself splitting her time between her sister’s bedside and the crumbling ruins of the unrestored area of Ellis Island. One of the great things about Barr’s books is the information provided. . In this one, we get to explore the public and back areas of Ellis Island and Liberty Island: the history, the buildings, the monuments, and their part in the American Dream.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Writing and publishing children’s books

Image from Dover at

The UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education program is offering a one-day introductory workshop on writing stories for children. It will be on Saturday, November 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A lot of people ask me about children’s books, and several of my Writers’ Guild members are working on them, but this is one field of writing that I personally know little about. If you are in this part of the country, this workshop is an excellent opportunity if you have been thinking about writing for children. For more information, call (715) 836-3636, toll free 1-866-893-2423, or visit the website at:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Julie Cameron and the Ta Dah! List

Earlier this summer as I began Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I also started reading her book, The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size. This is a wonderful book no matter what your weight. Cameron leads you on a journey of self-exploration, with many suggestions not only for fitness, but for other life challenges. One I particularly liked was her suggestion to toss your To Do Lists and instead do Ta Dah! Lists. I immediately followed her advice, adding a Ta Dah! List to my daily Field Report (another one of her suggestions from this book). Now, I don’t worry about what I have to do when I get up in the morning. Instead, I celebrate each accomplishment as I complete it. And guess what, I’m getting much more done now. I’m even actually finding myself tackling things that have been on yellowing old To Do Lists for years—I just seem to find the perfect time to handle things now. The other great thing about the book is the cover design. Is that creative design or what?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October is Book Festival time in Wisconsin

Click on the image to enlarge the information on the Book Festival
The Wisconsin Humanities Council sponsors the annual Book Festival each October. This year the Festival runs from October 15 through 19 in Madison, and in the Chippewa Valley, from 16 through 19. For information, see

Friday, October 3, 2008

Recently read: Bill James’ The Girl with the Long Back

This British police procedural has its dark side. Harpur & Iles not only have to battle criminals, but also their very strange Chief of Police, and the bizarre drug lords that control the area (I particularly get a kick out of Panicking Ralph). I like James’ books and have read as many as I could find. He isn’t as popular as some of the other contemporary British detective writers and I’m not sure why. In this one, maverick Harpur has sent a new woman constable to infiltrate a drug gang. She is undercover, and that means only Harpur knows who she is and what she’s doing. Iles gets involved, Chief Lane gets even more irritable, Ralph panics, and the reader is breathless from the suspense as the drug scene goes into full battle mode.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

“Get Organized” week

October 5 through 11 is National Get Organized Week. The National Association of Professional Organizers has declared it to be the time to finally get things tidied up and sorted out. Visit to take the Get Organized Quiz or read the 12 tips to organize your small business by Jane Applegate. I particularly like her suggestion to schedule “in days” and “out days.” I am not a member of this association—they would not want me! However, I do intend, someday, to be a well-organized, clutter-free person in my professional and personal lives. Someday has just not yet come . . .

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More about teachers and writers

A great site for both teachers AND writers is at I think her real name is Suzanne Pitner. She writes articles under that name, plus she writes fiction and paranormal romance as Suzanne Lilly, and she writes for children and young adults as SariAnne Miller. She has a web site for her classes at On the site, she has tips for writing, teaching, and even contests for both are listed. Also included is a link to Query Tracker—a great site that helps in the Quest for the Perfect Agent. This is one busy teacher and writer!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Recently read: Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza’s A Window in Copacabana

This book, the fourth of his Inspector Espinosa novels and the second one I’ve read, is set in Garcia-Roza’s home town, Rio de Janeiro. I like this one as much as the first one I read, and am keeping an eagle eye open for the other books. I love the evocative descriptions of the city, the criminals, the elite, and the good guys and bad guys. In this one, an assassin seems to be targeting policemen and their mistresses. A government official’s wife witnessed one of the murders. Espinosa quietly and carefully considers all the possibilities of a very complicated series of crimes. Well written, well plotted, and a decent translation (although a few slang words struck me as a bit off), this is worth reading.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Insults from Shakespeare

I tend to (usually) keep my insults confined to my head, but if one does want to actually say (or write) a terse summary of some example of baffling stupidity, no one says it better than the Bard. How’s this for that neighbor whose car backfires at 6 a.m.—“thou appearth nothing to be but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours,” (Hamlet). Or when the guy at the next table in the restaurant is a jerk, how’s this—“away, you bottle-ale rascal, you filthy bung, away!” (Henry IV). You can find these gems and many others at this nifty blog for literate blather: