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

Friday, February 27, 2009

What worked; what didn’t work

Image from
For almost 20 years, I have kept myself on track for my goals by using a simple review technique I call “what worked, what didn’t.” Give it a try this week. The rules are simple:

  • Start out by looking at what worked

  • Give yourself credit even for small things

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself about what didn’t work, but be honest and look at how you could make the same situation work next time

  • Try to look at all categories of your life and goals, such as mental, spiritual, physical, and social

What worked for me this week:

  1. Making time for the creative workshop I’m taking: Marney Makridakis’ AlphaBetter Muse Workshop

  2. Finally contacting some of the financial institutions as my father’s executor

  3. Having my editor call with two new article assignments

  4. Completing the SoftSkills online instructor training for Globe University

  5. Having my students give terrific presentations

    What didn’t work this week:

  6. Not doing my yoga

  7. Continuing to postpone tax preparation

  8. Having class prep and grading still incomplete

  9. Always feeling bloated and pudgy

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Writers’ Festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Scenes of Milwaukee from Wikipedia

March brings the seventh Spring Writers’ Festival to Milwaukee next weekend, from 3/6 through 3/8. The conference includes workshops, panel discussions, reviews of your manuscript and all the inspiration that comes from being surrounded by writers! Featured speakers include Milwaukee native Lori Tharp, poet Maurice Kilwein Guevara, and novelist Keith Donohue. Visit the web site at for more information and to register.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

As writers, we also need to be marketing experts

This is an old advertising image marketing a product called a “money maker.” How handy! How do I contact them to order one?

Elizabeth Fischer is a writer and marketing consultant in my part of the world. I subscribe to her free weekly newsletter, Profitable Marketing Insight. Her advice is simple, effective, and usually you can implement the week’s tip without any cost outlay. This week’s tip is to be sure to have a way that visitors to your web site can email you. In my web journeys, I often find nifty web sites to add to my favorites list. I’m always surprised when I can’t find a way to send a comment or question to the person or business. Check out Liz’s advice on email at her web site , sign up for the free newsletter, and, of course, send her an email!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Writers write: Clare Langley-Hawthorne

I met Clare at the San Francisco Writers Conference, right at the time her first book was published. Since then, that book, Consequences of Sin, debuted at #9 on the SF Chronicle’s bestseller list, and was nominated for the Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery Macavity award. Now her second book, The Serpent and the Scorpion came out in October, 2008. Visit her blog, , where she looks at the Edwardian period of her heroine, Ursula Marlow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

UW-Madison is hosting its 20th Annual Writers’ Institute

View of the UW-Madison campus and Lake Mendota

This year’s Institute features authors Les Edgerton, Linda Seger, and a host of others, all with talents ranging from nonfiction to humor, mysteries to juvenile fiction. It will be in Madison, Wisconsin, from March 27 through March 29. As is the case with most Madison events on the University of Wisconsin campus, it will be on Lake Mendota, which—for those of you not familiar with Madison is only ONE of Madison’s big, beautiful lakes. For information, visit or call 608-262-3447.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Writers write: Jay Gilbertson

The first book in the series: Moon over Madeline Island

Jay lives in rural Wisconsin, where he and his partner have a pumpkin farm and produce Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil (delicious!). The author of the popular Madeline Island books about Eve and Ruby who keep busy sewing and selling aprons, Jay has just finished his third book. Check out his web site at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Recently read: Robert Wilson’s The Vanished Hands

Another book by one of my favorite authors, and as usual, Wilson does not disappoint. In this one, we’re back in Seville with Inspector Jefe Javier Falcon. A dead husband and wife appear to be a murder/suicide. Then the next-door neighbor commits suicide in a particularly gruesome way, while another neighbor turns out to have been involved with an earlier case of Falcon’s. Pressure is put on Falcon to mark the current case closed, but more oddities turn up. A policeman jumps from his window, strange cars keep following Falcon, old crimes cast long shadows, and the Russian Mafia seems to have moved to Seville. This is another masterly novel that keeps you engrossed in the steamy heat of summer in Spain.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today is . . .

Today is a minuet in candlelight, paced by the plucking of stringed instruments, rose pink and gold and ivory white with shadows of the past and reflections of the future, the smell of powder and dust mingled with the breath of fresh flowers and pine boughs and clove. Time takes the same measured steps through old halls with uneven stone floors echoing and firelight flickering and arched ceilings counted off in twos.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Library Thing

This is another online book club, where you can read reviews, write reviews, and decide what to read next. This web site and blog have some good information, even without joining (which costs $10 for a year or $25 for life). Check it out when you have a few minutes to spare at

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Recently read: Robert B. Parker’s Now & Then

Parker’s Spenser books are always good, reliable reads, and this one is no exception. A cheating wife and a suspicious husband get caught up in events beyond their control; then they wind up dead. Hawk helps, but soon things get so dangerous, especially for Susan, that Spenser calls in some of his wrong-side-of-the-law buddies, who make things even more complex in this masterly tale of anarchy, greed and lust. And the pernicious professors don’t help matters, either. A good book to have on hand for reading while waiting for spring to come.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stephen Sartarelli on translating Camilleri

Of all the many types of writers there are, one type has always filled me with awe—that of translator. They have to know both languages so well that they can capture the essence of one and pour it into the other—the images, the dialogue, the slang, and the emotions. I am fond of Andrea Camilleri and have reviewed several of his wonderful novels of Inspector Montalbano as he deals with crime in contemporary Sicily. Whenever I start a book, I study the credits and copyrights and title pages, which is where you find the translators when the books are not originally written in English. Poet, writer, and translator, Stephen Sartarelli does an excellent job of finding the English words that bring to life Camilleri’s world.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the Picador blog team, who introduced me to this fascinating site: The posting titled, “Notes from the Purer Linguistic Sphere of Translation,” by Stephen Sartarelli, gives an intriguing glimpse into what it takes to translate good literature into more good literature. And reinforces my feeling of awe toward translators.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A useful tip for those who have ever hit “send” too soon

This wasn't an issue in the pre-email days of letter writing.

For the blog assignment for my writing class this week, I had my students read this article with seven tips for sending professional emails. Almost all of us (myself included) agreed that the last tip, “wait to fill in the TO email address” is one of the most valuable pieces of advice we’d gotten in the last few years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve meant to click “paste” to insert my carefully written, perfectly spelled text and accidently hit “send.” Or have forgotten to attach the document that was the whole point of the email. The next step has then been to send the ritual “oops” email. By waiting until you are completely finished—including the attachment—to add the recipient’s address, you’ll eliminate any embarrassing “oops” emails in the future. Dang good advice!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Today is . . .

Today is . . . golden, healing indigo and intentional, shot with silver linings and nasturtium colors, scented with flowers and woodsy oils, brimming with energy and light, fragrant with bread baking and fruits from sun-baked orchards in siesta countries vivid with dark trees and bright sun.

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

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Writers write: Iseult Murphy

Iseult is a writer, actor and artist living on the east coast of Ireland. She writes fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories as well as novels. Her works have appeared in print as well as online, in such publications as Necrotic Tissue, 52 Stitches, Invisible Ink and the Drabbler. Her fantasy novella, Afflicted, is available through Lulu, Amazon and other booksellers. A speech instructor and drama teacher, she’s appeared in numerous stage productions as well as television, film and commercials. She launched the inaugural International Day of Books. Visit her web site at In the blog world, Iseult is known as “Inkpot,”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Recently read: Jane Langton’s Steeplechase

I like Langton’s books and her detective Homer Kelly. I don’t often think of buying them unless I see a good deal on the discount shelves of my local bookstore or, in this case, at one of my favorite book sites, Daedalus Books ( ). This is a sequel to one of hers that escaped my notice, The Deserter: Murder at Gettysburg. In Steeplechase, we bounce back and forth to the years following the Civil War and today as Homer and his wife Mary research the old churches of New England. Nicely done and, as are most of Langton’s books, charmingly illustrated.