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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Appreciative Inquiry Process

My collage titled "Celebrating Lives Well Lived."

This week in the Literary Living Program we are engaging in the Appreciative Inquiry Process, which I hadn’t heard of before, but it is exactly in line with my own world view. Instead of focusing on problems, the process focuses on what is working. It can be applied to an individual, a system, or an organization. To learn more, visit:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recently read: Donald Westlake’s Don’t Ask

I enjoyed Westlake’s novels years ago and for some reason lost track of him. To my delight, I rediscovered a number of more recent books about Dortmunder and the gang. This one was originally published in 1993 and has been reissued, thank goodness. Westlake’s characters are each unique gems, his plots are solid and fast-paced, and his writing is hilarious. In this one, Tiny Bulcher’s cousin from the old country needs a small favor, and who else to tackle it but Dortmunder, Andy, Stan and the other specialists in burglary? The demise of the Soviet Union has, among other things, resulted in a feud between the tiny country where the Bulchers are from and another tiny country. One of the things at stake is membership in the United Nations. The decision of which one gets the membership is up to an old archbishop, who says it will go to whichever country has the medieval relic of the femur of Saint Ferghana. So Dortmunder and his gang embark on a multinational caper. Love it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Literary Living and the writing self

One thing that surprised me—my writing personality likes a tidy, organized office, and I guess mine COULD be messier!

I am very much enjoying the Literary Living Program, and the community of writers who are participating. This week, we took an online personality test based on Jung and Myers types (most of us have taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test in school). The only change I’ve ever had is that, up until now, I was slightly more introverted, and now—after teaching for a number of years and participating in a variety of public speaking programs such as Dale Carnegie and Landmark, I have crossed the line and am slightly more extroverted. I am, if you are curious, an ENFJ (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, judging), which is the Teacher personality. To take the online test, go to

One of the things that interested me about Literary Living is that the creator, Joan Dempsey, asked Dawna Kemper to write a book that takes each of the personality types and identify what the types mean when applied to writers. For more information on the program, see

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Batalugu: helping you create children’s books

The program manager at the online publisher, Batalugu, contacted me about their product, which I think sounds really fun. Batalugu is a tool for creating children’s books, and can be used to write and illustrate personalized or general books by writers, parents, and even kids themselves. Check it out at

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recently read: Alexander McCall Smith’s Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

I love this series, and is that the greatest title or what? The gentle adventures of Precious Ramotswe, her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni (never do they call each other by their first names), and their friends, family, clients and employees all have their problems. And as we expect in this well-ordered world, all find the solutions, from the strange losing streak of Mr. Molofololo’s football club, to banishing Mma Makutsi’s dreaded rival, to saving Mma Ramotswe’s treasured tiny white van.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Read a winning short story from Creative Competitor

One of the things I always recommend writers do is to read as many winners of the various essay, poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction contests as possible. The purpose is not to think you have to duplicate the styles or the content, but because it will give you a sense of what the judges--who are writers and editors and publishers and teachers--feel is good writing. I have mentioned Creative Competitor in previous blogs, as well as listed the contests in the Money Corner. Here is a link to the winning short story for one of the recent contests: Take a few minutes to read it (it's very short) and analyze why you think the judge believed this was first-prize work. And while you are on the site, sign up for the newsletter for more insights into what makes one piece of writing a winner.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recently read: James W. Hall’s Blackwater Sound

The more I read of this author, the more I admire him. This book, like so many of his others, contains both poetic descriptions of the sea and the Florida Keys, in-depth characters, and some brutal action. In this, Thorn and his girlfriend of the moment are having fishing in Blackwater Sound when a passenger plane on its way to Rio plummets into the water with no sound until the splash. As Thorn tries to rescue as many of the survivors as he can, he notices a boat with three people watching. His intuition tells him something is wrong and he starts sniffing around over the next few days and discovers two of the three people are the only two siblings remaining of the powerful Braswell family, who deny being near the wreck. The horrific death of their older brother ten years before still casts a strong shadow over the present. Hard to put this book down.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vote for your hero dog

My own hero dog: Sharpie

You've read about Ricochet the surfer service dog who works with disabled children in earlier posts. For more information, see her web site at I received the following email from Ricochet's trainer:

"We just found out that Ricochet was nominated for USA Today's Most Heroic Dog of 2010. We're not sure who nominated her, so thank you whoever you are!
These contests give us another platform to raise awareness of her causes, so we really appreciate you help in getting the word out about them, and voting."
I had no sooner posted about this, when I got another email. Ricochet and Sparky the Fire Safety Dog, one of the other hero dog nominations, were asking all their fans to vote instead for Target, the dog who saved so many soldiers only to end up euthanized at the dog pound. Vote for Target to help Target's cause, called Target's Bunker, a no-kill shelter. Learn more, and donate, at Click and vote here:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Literary Living Program

I’ve spent the first week of 2011 pondering what I want to do this year, figuring out what my next project will be, and lolling around pretending I was thinking about these momentous topics. A week or so ago I signed up at Literary Living for the free e-books and information on the 12-week program that helps you design your writing life. I have just now enrolled in the program and am so excited about it. To get your e-books, get more information, or enroll, see The program starts January 15, with enrollment closing on January 12.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A great year ahead

My collage titled "Enthusiasm Muse."

After a year of exciting changes as we packed up in Wisconsin and settled into Colorado, I'm looking forward to exploring more, writing daily, creating art, and listening to my muses. And doing it all with enthusiasm. Happy New Year everyone!