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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Recently read: Robert Maurer’s One Small Step Can Change Your Life

I have been out of touch with the business world’s latest buzzes since Stephen Covey’s first book came out (which I loved and still has an impact on my life). Because I’ve been out of touch, however, I missed hearing about the Japanese technique of Kaizen until I ran across a recommendation for this book in one of the blogs I read. This well-written small book doesn’t take long to read—which is the main point of Kaizen. Small steps, small triumphs, small glories: all help you tackle those big issues or projects that have been sitting in the dusty corners of your mind. I’ve been adding small things to my life as a result of reading this book, and am finding the principles are effective. If you like to read self-improvement books, like I do, I recommend this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Grants: eligible applicants

One major source for grants is the government web site . The site has information not only on available grants, but also valuable information on how to write a grant application that actually gets you money (as opposed to having your grant disappear into a stack of rejections).

When you are searching for a grant, one of the earliest factors you need to watch for are the restrictions and requirements on who can bid. Don’t waste your time reading a grant that you aren’t eligible to apply for.

For example, as the Executive Director of a community nonprofit agency, perhaps you want to find money for solar energy. In the main page of, you go to the left side of the screen and click on “Find Grant Opportunities,” then click on “Basic Search,” and then enter “solar energy” as your keyword. The day I tested it, I got 276 results. One of the first set sounded likely, so I clicked on the grant titled “Energy for Sustainability” from the National Science Foundation. I scanned the synopsis, and because it sounded as if it might work for our mythical Executive Director, I went to the full grant application. What I was looking for are indicators that a small nonprofit might be an eligible bidder. I checked on who had been awarded grants and learned by quickly scanning the list that all the recipients were post-secondary educational institutions. That would not be our mythical nonprofit—however, maybe I have a network connection at a nearby university. Could I convince the school to sponsor this grant? Highly likely, especially if the mythical nonprofit director writes the grant and includes the agency as the subgrantee. Or, if there is little likelihood of partnering with an institution, then I (in my role of nonprofit Executive Director) would move on to another possibility.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 29 is National Puzzle Day

Sudoku image from Wikipedia

Today is National Puzzle Day. In honor of the occasion, be sure to scroll down to the jigsaw puzzle in this blog. Other ways to celebrate include doing crossword puzzles (my father’s favorite), and Sudoku number puzzles (invented in 1979 by an American, but became popular in Japan in 1986, where it was given the name Sudoku). Puzzles are not only fun, but because there are various skills levels for each kind, people enjoy the challenge. Studies over the years have indicated that dedication to mental puzzles help maintain one’s mental acuity. And, of course, they are a good way to kill time—should you have too much.

Monday, January 28, 2008

To Read or not to Read: NEA’s report

Another WPA poster . . . see

In November, the National Endowment for the Arts released its report To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence. I think the results are alarming, but should not be a surprise to anyone who has watched with dismay the upsurge of video stores and the closing of bookstores and libraries. The report compares current findings to studies in previous years.

Two findings are that now Americans read less and are reading less well. Americans aged 15-24 spend about two hours a day watching TV and only seven minutes reading. Reading proficiency among adults has dropped by about 20 percent since 1992.

The report also points out a number of implications of these findings. One is the impact on the work force, where the majority of employers now specify that reading comprehension is very important. Another impact is that literate readers are more likely than non-readers to be active in positive community activities.

To see the full report, go to

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Writers’ conferences, retreats and other events

My collage titled "Days." It lists the types of activities I fit into my week to ensure I not only get the laundry done and write, but also that I remember to dedicate time to business development (like writers' events) and creativity (making collages). As is the case with all my illustrations for my posts, you can click on the image to enlarge it.

Spending time in the company of writers is a fantastic way to boost your own creativity and professionalism. I highly recommend attending these events—one or two a year would be optimal, but expensive especially if travel and hotel costs are involved. I’m aiming for one big event every other year or so, plus a few smaller (and less costly) sprinkled here and there. I’ve added a number of events scheduled in 2008 to a new section just before The Money Corner. A few hints: check the web sites now to get on the conference mailing lists, even if you’re not sure you will be able to go. Registration often closes before the date of the conference. Also, most of these events have critique services and contests that are only open to conference attendees. The due-dates for those are well ahead of the conference dates. In 2007, I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference and am still keyed up from it. I met agents, publishers, editors, and many well-known and not-well-known-yet (like me) writers. Scroll down to Writers’ Events by The Money Corner for the link to this year’s San Francisco conference as well as others in Wisconsin, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. I’ll be adding more regularly.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Recently read: Elizabeth George’s What Came Before He Shot Her

Elizabeth George is a master of well-written suspense books. With this book, she takes good writing to a whole new level. If you haven’t read George’s previous novel, With No One As Witness, you MUST read that book first. What Came Before He Shot Her provides the background to the earlier one. In it, George takes a very unappealing protagonist and through masterful writing, insight, and brilliant characterization, creates a person who you do not want to feel sorry for, and yet you do. You know how the book will end, yet you want to shout warnings, you want to somehow help, and you want to reach out and yank the person into a new world. Read both these books. NOW.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Grant searches: start with networking

This poster campaign for a community event in my hometown was funded by government a WPA grant. See
There are a lot of grant sources in both the private and public sectors, and at all levels from federal to local. Finding them is the trick. One good way to find them is through your networks. Check for grant opportunities in your community, where community development grants may be available, and at professional associations in your industry. If a state agency has oversight in your field, ask your contact person about sources for grants. Local, state and federal agencies all have grants for projects, including those in the arts and humanities. Get on the phone and start calling people who are in the same industry or have the same interests as you do. If you have an advisory group or a board of directors, ask them for assistance in locating (and writing) grants. If you have never had a grant, you may want to start out small ($200 from a local humanities council for an author to speak at your writers group) instead of large ($500,000 to buy a building to house your writers' group). You can also go for small grants from a lot of agencies that will ultimately buy the building or cover the cost of the large project.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Writing contests, fellowships and, in Japan, residencies

Image from

As January winds down, I am looking ahead to February deadlines. Scroll down to The Money Corner. Be sure to note the numerous contests, fellowships (Rhode Island and Oregon) and residencies in Japan (cool!) that are due on February 1. I'll still be adding more throughout this week, plus March deadlines are turning up. I plan to soon add the various Writers Institutes, Festivals, and Workshops to The Money Corner since that should help you keep track of them better.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

This photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King, and daughter Yolanda Denise King was taken in 1956 by Dan Weiner. The photo is part of the exhibition “Let your motto be resistance: African American Portraits” at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. No matter where you are now, today would be a perfect day to visit the exhibition. You can see it online at

Sunday, January 20, 2008


There has been so much hoopla regarding attitude and inspirational art, words, and sounds over the last couple of decades. Part of the reason is that changing your attitude does make a difference. We’ve been having subzero temperatures here in Wisconsin and it’s easy to get pouty when you’re housebound. Plus, I sprained my ankle badly when I was loading wood into our boiler. While I was catching up on reading my email newsletters with my ankle on an icepack, I came upon this four-minute movie. It reminded me that attitude is always important, even when you’re stuck at home: This is a nice compilation of quotes, sentiments, and photos that remind us of what it is important, even if we’ve heard it all before.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Recently read: Lyn Hamilton’s The Magyar Venus

This is a fun and informative read for anyone who enjoys a good art-theft whodunit. Toronto antique dealer Lara McClintoch runs into an old college friend, and, when they get together with the rest of their old crowd, the evening turns deadly. A museum, an old flame, an old (25,000 years) ivory statue, and a trip to Budapest all help keep the action flowing. It is fascinating to follow McClintoch as she traces the provenance of the statue through diaries, conversations, maps, and even old weather reports. The result is surprising, even to a veteran mystery reader like me. I intend to track down more of Hamilton’s books in this series. This is the eighth one, so there are a lot to read.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Marketing and promoting books

This poster for the Works Project Administration (WPA) in Chicago, dated March 25, 1941, was created by professionals as part of the government's educational campaign. You can see the collection, titled By the People, For the People: Posters for the WPA 1936- 1943 at
Sometimes using a professional is worth the money. The other day I saw a press release for a self-published book in a newspaper, but it didn’t include information on how to buy the book! Obviously not done by a professional. Even if you aren’t self-publishing, you still need to help out your agent and publishing company. I recently read an article by Diana Ennen, and followed the link to her web site at I have added her to my list of publicity and marketing professionals, and I encourage you to do the same. Then, if your book sales aren’t what you had hoped, you have a list of professionals to turn to for help.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Grants (announcing a series of posts on grant writing)

Finding the perfect grant can be as much work as writing it. The good news is that once you get that first grant, finding others is easier. I have so many people ask me about how to find out what grants are available in their field, whether it's health care or music, that I’ve decided to post a series that will help you navigate the lucrative and complex world of grants and other forms of government and private sector funding. The series will discuss various grant sources, how to find grants in your field, how to use your networking skills to find available grants, tips on writing successful grants, and anything else I think might be helpful or that I get questions on. I’ll provide information that will be applicable whether you are looking for a grant for a community theater project, a fellowship for a writer-in-residence, a project for a nonprofit organization, or selling your services as a trainer. Grants and proposals can cover a lot of turf!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Recently read: Lynne Perrella’s al-pha-bet-i-ca

This book is an excellent resource, as stated by its subtitle of “An A-Z Creativity Guide for Collage and Book Artists." Beautifully printed and loaded with illustrations and photographs, you can read it straight through, or dip into it as needed. Perrella provides ideas like how to reclaim discarded art, projects like altering an old lunch box, advice on design concepts such as grids to help with composition, and explanations of things like using gesso. Almost every page has a “Try this” note that gives suggestions for applying the current topic. A visual treat, even if you have no interest in collage art (and I bet you’ll want to try doing some after seeing this book). Her web site is also inspiring at

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Judy Meinen, QXCI, and the blessings of alternative health care

Seeing Judy for Angel Therapy is on my list for 2008.

I met Judy Meinen years ago through my various women’s networks. I instantly felt comfortable around her. She is an RN, a psychic, a certified angel healer, a reiki master, healing touch practitioner, and a certified hypnotherapist. Judy is also trained to provide biofeedback using the QXCI technology. The QXCI (I think of it as “The Q”) is totally mysterious to me, and involves a computer. I can’t explain it, but I’m convinced of its usefulness because when I follow The Q’s instructions (with Judy’s interpretation), I feel so much better. For example, years ago after my first encounter with The Q, I switched to soy milk, one of its emphatic recommendations. I have much more energy since then. Note that The Q is completely individualized, so if you’re thinking, “soy milk, ewwwww,” remember that The Q’s advice to you may be different. During the holidays, I had The Q check out some supplements I was thinking of trying for middle-aged woes. The Q approved two, and nixed one, which saved me money. And again, I feel so much better for following the recommendations.

I also feel better for seeing Judy for a treatment, or even just talking like the two friends that we are. Visit her web site at . You don’t have to live in the area to benefit from her healing. Some of her services, such as the QXCI, can even be done over the phone!

Monday, January 7, 2008

AuthorSmart: help for you to Get it D.O.N.E.

AuthorSmart’s founder, Gail Richards, has another program that sounds like just the thing to help you get your writing project going in 2008: the Get it D.O.N.E. program. The program gives you weekly accountability to meet your deadlines and goals in addition to resources and support for a full year. January would be a good time to start it. Visit the web site at

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fellowships, grants and contests for writers: January deadlines

I've just posted a number of new fellowships, grants and contests for all types of writers, including poets, fiction writers, creative non-fiction, translators, and essayists. Some are for writers who haven't published, and some are for works published in 2007. A sampling of ones I think sound really fun are the University of East Anglia fellowships for residencies in England, the Geothe-Institut for German translators to go to Berlin, and the University of New Orleans' study-abroad. Scoll down to The Money Corner to see further information and links. Note that the deadline for the Wisconsin Wrights play contest has been extended to January 14. And by the way, let me know if you win any of the prizes for contests, grants and fellowships that I've posted here. Good luck!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Recently read: William R. Drennan’s Death in a Prairie House

This scholarly book focuses on the 1914 brutal murders of Frank Lloyd Wright’s mistress, her two children, and four of the workers and architects living in the original Taliesin buildings in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I lived for years only a few blocks away from Wright’s Usonian Jacobs House in Madison, which I toured during its annual open house. Although I think Wright is one of the more brilliant minds of the 20th century, I knew little about his personal life. And I hadn’t a clue that the Taliesin that you can visit today is the third building to be constructed there—the first two were both burned. The earliest burning, and the deaths the fire was meant to conceal, are the subject of this book.

Drennan looks at the records, the newspaper reports, and when possible, interviews those who were present that day, and attempts to reconstruct the timetable and reasons for the tragedy. He also provides a good overview of Wright’s professional and personal life up to that point, not glossing over the bad (such as Wright’s megalomania) nor fluffing up the good (Wright’s mega-talent).

Wright built Taliesin for his lover, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. One August day while Wright was in Chicago frantically finishing his current project of the Midway Gardens on the city’s South Side, a man was unleashing his demons on those nearest and dearest to Wright. Back in Wisconsin, the workers—carpenters, draftsmen, landscapers and architects—were having lunch in one part of Taliesin, and Cheney and her son and daughter were having their lunch on the porch. Serving them was Julian Carlton, one of the two servants in the household. After he served the food, he butchered Cheney and her children with a hatchet, then locked the door where the workers were dining and poured gasoline under it. Drennen does a good job of presenting facts, questioning the conclusions drawn at the time, and building his case on why the murders happened. This is an excellent book, whatever your thoughts are regarding Wright the person and the architect.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What worked and what didn’t in 2007

My collage titled "Who I was in 2008." To see the details, click on the image to enlarge.

For those of you who have been reading since I started my blog in June, you’re familiar with my habit of reviewing what worked and what didn’t. (See June 8, 2007 for details if you’d like to try it yourself). Here is what worked for me in 2007:

What didn’t work:

  • No longer being able to have sedate lunches and rowdy dinners with my good friend Dianne, who retired and moved to Duluth this fall
  • Spending an hour each day driving between the Menomonie and River Falls campuses to teach a one-hour class at each location
  • Not giving attention to financial matters, such as making sure I kept up my tax records for the year
  • Gaining weight over this year