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Tigress by Ellen Tsagaris
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Ellen Tsagaris' The Bathory Chronicles; Vol. I Defiled is My Name

Ellen Tsagaris' The Bathory Chronicles; Vol. I Defiled is My Name
This is the first of a trilogy retelling the true story of the infamous countess as a youn adult novel. History is not always what it seems.

Wild Horse Runs Free

Wild Horse Runs Free
A Historical Novel by Ellen Tsagaris

With Love From Tin Lizzie

With Love From Tin Lizzie
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Partial Gift Guide from our New Friends

Categories: All Around Green | Body and Personal Care | Children and Baby Products | Clothing and Accessories | Food and Drink | For the Home | Gifts, Art and Accessories

All Around Green
GreenDeals
Save 30-60% from Green Businesses at GreenDeals.org Organic Bug
Contemporary organic and fair trade products for living a Healthy Lifestyle. Follow the Organic Bug trail to savings with a 15% discount site wide! Code HOLIDAYSAVINGS expires 12.15.11
Kate's Caring Gifts
20% Discount - Earth Friendly Gifts for All, Treats Sustainable Harvest International
Charitable holiday gifts that support people & the planet. We send a beautiful, personalized card with every Gift of Hope.
Green America
Green America gift memberships: Buy one, get one free! Equal Exchange
Great Fair Trade Gifts for the Holidays. $5 off an order of $25 or more. Use code GAHOLIDAY during checkout.
Inner Traditions
Books for Conscious Living. 20% off any book with coupon code GREEN20, plus free shipping for orders over $18 Bag-E-Wash
Creative solutions to bag dilemmas. Wash baggies in your dishwasher! Plus reusable produce bags and bag dryers. Great Holiday Specials.
New Moon Girls
Ad-free New Moon Girls is the global community & magazine for creative self-expression of ages 8+. Award-winning. Get a special gift when you order with code: GREEN11. Eco Art Productions
25% off Art Bags. Organic Cotton, Screened Handbags. Original Art from our Gallery of American Artists. Beautifully detailed, lavender lined. Coupon code GA25. Free Priority Domestic Shipping.
Mountain Rose Herbs
Certified organic and fairly traded herbal supplies, gourmet ingredients, and gifts for health. Blue Lotus
Get your Green on with Blue Lotus 100% Organic Cotton Reusable Produce Bags
Body and Personal Care
Purple Prairie Botanicals
20% off with coupon code PEACE20. Artisan Body Care that renews Divine Harmony for Skin & Soul. Cruelty Free. A Wild Soap Bar, LLC
Eat, wash, and be merry! 15% OFF organic soaps & body balms, online only through 1-15-12. Promo Code: HOL11
Zosimos Botanicals
Healthy Mineral Makeup & Natural Skincare. Cruelty free. SHOPGREEN ships free until 1/5.

Green America

From my school and Sunday school friend; www.greenamerica.org. Green Holiday tips.

Now is the time to recycle paper, but I can't emphasize the joy of cooking at home, of making ornaments and gifts. country Living's Merry & Bright, Hearst Books, was only $6.00 at Barnes and Noble, and it was full of ideas and recipes for things that didin't take a lot of exotic materials. Most were things that could be found at home or reused; my kind of crafts.

It is cold and clear, and sunny. We have no hint of snow, and as pretty and White Christmasy as it can be, I am grateful. My house has many little led lights outside, and tinsel, andof course, my natural holly.

Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy 2012!

Dr. E's Doll Museums and Blogs

Friday, December 23, 2011

For thos who Quilt; Las minute inspiration!

From my Quilter's Newsletter:




I recently attended Fall Quilt Market in Houston and saw previews of new and exciting products in the world of sewing and quilting notions. There are a few items coming out soon that will be of interest to you, and some current products that are so great, they deserve a second look. I have found that a great product is sometimes overlooked for a few markets before it is "discovered." Here are a few products I feel are worth checking out ...




In the Quilting World
Notions for Quilting

Quilt Market can be overwhelming. I usually have to walk the whole floor first, before I can actually see what's there. I am first and foremost, looking at the color trends of textiles so that I can bring you, our reader, the newest in quilting fabrics and design. I look for great designers I feel will be of interest to you, and I try to be ahead of the pack. My mission is to keep you inspired and to keep you quilting. Read more »




Tips & Tricks
Letters From Our Readers

It seems that our Tips & Tricks section has become the most popular part of our newsletter. If you have something you would like to share with your fellow quilters, please do. We will try to publish as many as we can. Read more »




Free Pattern
True Lover's Knot

True Lover's Knot is the perfect traditional pattern to explore a two-fabric quilt design. Working with two fabrics can be a lot of fun if you have the right contrast. Contrast is what makes the design "pop." Light and dark can be a striking combination. Read more »




Let's Bind It!
I hope you find the information from our readers helpful, and I hope you give some thought to some of the notions and sewing products we have mentioned in this newsletter. Some of the products may make your quilting much more enjoyable ... Read more »








Table of Contents
In the Quilting World
• Notions for Quilting
Tips & Tricks
Free Pattern
Let's Bind It!





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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Things we Like for Christmas and the Holidays





1. Lights and displays of all types
2. Buying bell bird feeders for the birds
3. Christmas cards, sending and getting
4. Homemade gifts
5. Cookie Walk
6. Delivering presents
7. Department store windows, past and present, and books about them
8. Yes, fruitcake and plum pudding
9. Xmas mysteries and books
10. Decorating trees
11. Rotating ornaments and hanging new ones
12. Shopping all year, especially ornamnents
13. Christmas dinners
14. Baking mom's recipes
15. Decorating the doll houses
16. Remembering my mom and her traditions
17. Carols and Xmas music on the radio
18. Xmas at school for hte kids
19. January Xmas with our friends
20. Scented candles and pine
22. Church memories singing with the choir and making choir books
23. Candy canes, and later, candy canes in hot cocoa
24. Walking dogs on Xmas morning and greeting everyone else on the street with Merry Christmas!
25. Wrapping last minute presents
26. Opening presents, though for me, that was years past. I don't get any now.
27. New toys and dolls on display
28. Xmas historical open houses
29. Xmas walks and hot chocolate
30. Memories of Xmas past at Macys, Dobbs, Famous Barr, Marshall Field and Yule Log
31. Full stockings on Xmas Morning
32. Hiding and hanging small presents to be found through the 12 days of Xmas
33. Mateus at dinner
34. Lobster and shrimp for dinner
35. Trips to see Xmas lights
36. Dropping money in Salvation Army Kettles
37. Making Donations to the Salvation army and Goodwill over the Holidays
38. Hannukah Lights
39. After Xmas ornament sales
40. Kwanzaa ornaments
41. New Years night with our Friends
42. Going out on Christmas Eve for lunch to catch the last minute shoppers
43. Candy Cane pie
44. Holiday Lattes

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where are you Christmas??

Scroll all the way down to read this blog; I have lots of pictures to fit each season and blog. I just posted the WSJ's annual Xmas Editorial, something that is a tradition, or was, in my home, too. My Dad first brought a copy of the paper home for me on Xmas Eve with this essay in it. I still have the paper put away. Holidays for me are about tradition; I tell my class, who wanted to do the holiday this year, there are two kinds of people in this world, those who celebrate life events, holidays, lives, landmarks, and occasions, and those who don't.

They were of the second group.

But, I don't feel Xmas as I used to, and I feel bad about that. I wait all year, and it is gone. Then it is January, when so much that is bad has happened. The Church tends to extend the holiday into Feb., and I like that. It should be celebrated at least through Epiphany, that word that also means moment of truth, coming to light, realization, or through the Old Xmas Eve and Xmas, January 6th and 7th. I'm all for the twelve days of Christmas, if only for the brightness in the darkness of the lights, and the warmth and hope of eternity the Xmas Tree, that gift from the old Celts, give us.

In my Celtic doll house, patterned after great mead halls and druid hiding places, I always placed tiny trees made of real evergreens to honor the old Celts and their customs. All the doll houses had and have their own trees, some elaborate, some not, and when I can, I put trees in every room, down to the little perfume bottles and soap angels in the bathroom.

I did theme trees, outside trees, big, small, cornhusk trees, my little dog Killer's "goochie" tree. But, the last few years, It has all eluded me. I mean to keep my ornaments; Dr. E's Doll Museum is as proud of its holiday collections as of any of its others, but that feeling, that mystical, warm feeling that glowed and sparkled with holiday glitter and Xmas light bulbs, has been gone.

I feel the stress, and instead of Goodwill towards men, I have shopping misadventures, though I admit the lines are not that bad this year. The last Xmas I felt it was on Xmas Even 2007, the last my mom was alive. We had a good holiday that year, and a good birthday for her, the 15th of Jan., two weeks before she died.

Each year, I want to forget it, and it would be easy. I work till the last minute, my husband's family has a strange take on the holiday, and who can blame them? They buried his 35 year old brother on Xmas Even almost 20 years ago. My family is far away and scattered, or long dead. My dad has never liked Xmas, and now, the good memories are overshadowed by bad ones. He allows no decorations or lights anymore, though we have boxes of them; my mom and I were our own Festival of Trees. There are no more trips to Marshall Fields, or Macy's. No West Coast Xmas Dinners from Race St. Fish and Poultry. There are few presents; we are overladen with bills at this point, and most are presents I've picked up over the course of the year, or at the day after sales. This is a tradition my aunt and mom started. We loved to do it, to extend the holiday this way, to get a bargain, and to keep the giddy secrets of what we had found. We loved baking sugar cookies, reindeer with raisin eyes and almond noses, baklava, honey cookies, oyster dressing and turkey, smoked chicken and pheasant some years, duck, and then shrimp and lobster on New Year's Eve.

My aunt taught me to save paper, to carefully fold it and remove tape, and wind ribbons and box bows to reuse. Her collection of Dennison stickers is legendary. I learned to love nativity sets from my mom's family, and to love roses at Xmas from those we spent out west.

I learned to love holly and evergreen, and my holly bushes are still a source of comfort and pride. I still put little trees in corners of my house only I will see, and even as I find more ornaments, I mourn those that must stay in their box yet another year for one reason or another. Silly, but there are lifetimes of memories, trips we took, souvenirs of Europe, heirlooms, handmade ornaments from my simple Kindergarten creations to the felt applique and crochet examples we made. My oldest date from the 18th century wax dolls and Santos, my next oldest from the 1850s, glass balls too delicate to hang, and many Victorian to 1920, and my favorites, the mid-century ornaments of my grandparents, and of my childhood.

I remember the special presents given me, and that I gave over the years, my mother's confession that one year, she was left at home and unwrapped and rewrapped everyone's presents out of curiosity. I remember Xmas 1972, the last my 30 year old Uncle was alive, and I still see him walking away from us at the airport, fringed vest and boots on, holding his cigarette in his hand, as he began his walk towards an untimely eternity,

So much to mourn, my mother and how she loved hiding presents, some for New Year, and wrapping everything, and the most amazing stockings she knitted, the cottonball santas we made one year, the little sled I still have that they pulled me on in 1961. I was a little tiny thing, but I remember.

Auntie Rose, and the magnificent china head doll she made, and the sled and reindeer on the table in front of me, and the holiday tables and parties she had ready for me after school, the red velvet dress with the lace top and cameo, so much to remember.


The living nativity at the Baptist Church, the puppet movies and Xmas Bible Stories in the paneled basement of our old church, now long gone. On Xmas morning, I opened a box of hand knitted doll sweaters, all sizes that Mom had made. I still have them, too, and marvel at how she found time. Her last gift to me was an unfinished doll sweater, and she used to take one of my dolls and redress it for me for Xmas.



We have our albums and slides now, and memories. My mom loved Christmas, because she spent so many sad ones in Europe during the war. She talked of three made of lashed cyprus branches, and of her last childhood Xmas at home in the states, when my grandpa took a box to the five and dime, a huge box, and told her and her sister and brothers to fill it with whatever they wanted. Then came the War, and an illfated trip to Europe, and famine and fear, until they could come home, and Christmas in what is till my grandpa's house, and my parents, was resplendent again. You could hardly walk for the presents. Till now, when there is nothing.




Sustain yourselves by doing kindness for others, but making natural ornaments, bu reusing those you haven't in several years, or asking your kids to make them for you. Take out the school projects and construction paper, bake cookies and make the candy. I try to make my mom's recipes, and to look at the cold, clear night with its stars, and to give to charity. Drop a dime or two into the Salvation Army red kettle. Wish the bell ringers a Merry Christmas. Listen to the Carols, and don't throw it all out Dec. 26th. Light a candle, honor Sta. Lucia, and find a tradition to bring you all together. God Bless us Everyone.

Wall Street Journal Christmas Editorial

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter's star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.



And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.



This editorial was written in 1949 by the late Vermont Royster and has been published annually since.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal

A Barbara Pym Book Game/List

The Books at Miss Pym's Novels
I am beginnig a dialog, I hope. I am beginning the list; please add to it via comments! Here are some of the books and author that appear in Pym's works. I talk about many more in my book, The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym, and in various papers about her, but I would like to see what my readers think:

Crome Yellow

Jane Eyre

John Donne and The Metaphysical Poets

All of Jane Austen

The Wings of the Dove and Henry James himself is "Channeled!"

Naked Lunch

Cookbooks [Name the Specifics!]

Merry

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

$20,000 and under per Year

I watched the story on The Today Show today of an artists and his wife and toddler son who live on the above amount and less, yet have a beautiful home within walking distance of the beach. He worked with driftwood he salvaged for free, and made beautiful sculpture and furniture from it. She scavenged the local dump, which was set up like a good will. The rest of the furniture and a lot of other household items came from there.

The only caveat was that they had public health insurance/aid to survive. Also, they didn't own the gorgeous house, they rented.

Still, it is a challenge and inspiration to see how little we can live on. It is an intresting story for this time of year, a wonderful giving time, but also one of excess. I still don't shop like everyone else, and yet, I seem to spend a lot without meaning to.



Christmas is still a time to give of the heart; my childhood friend and I made Gingerbread/cookie houses for her family for a traditional German Christmas. We had a lot of fun making little nativities with gum drops and graham cracker roofs, little beds with Marzipan children, chalets. We drank "gluwein" from Aldi, and didn't spend much on the ingredients. We had a wonderful time remembering our families, and things we did when we were in grade school. Last week, I sent to her Church's Xmas progbram, where a local woman told stories from The Little House books in costume, complete with dolls and artifacts. She even had a replica china shepardess. She, emphasized the simplicity of their holiday, as well as their warmth.

In fact, to teach the lessons of Laura and LLOP, it might be fun to recreate some of those gifts, as I used to for the classes I taught on Laura, and on Susan Glaspell called Trifles on the Prairie. Carrie's button string is fairly easy to make, any old buttons and good, strong yarn will do.




For Susan the Corncob doll, I cut squares of Calico from my Grandma's stash, vintage in itself, and wrapped the sqauare around dried seed pods, indian corn, or papier mache ears of corn from the dollar stores and tied them with yarn like baby buntings. A friend of mine likes to put moveable dolls eyes on them, or yarn hair.

The tin cups are miniature buckets or tiny enamel toys I found at yard sales or dollar stores. Use your imagination. I saved candy hearts from Valentine's Day, and a penny as well. I took clementines and wrapped velvet ribbons around them, then stuck them with cloves to make the pomanders. I also used graphics and scrpas to make old Valentines, since I usually taught the class in February. I put as many of the small items as I could in white cotton athletic socks to imitate the old stockings Laura and her sisters had. You could use any vintage Xmas stockings, or even old wool stockings if you can find them. A stocking full of these items and old fashioned Xmas candy with a copy of one of Laura's books is a lovely present to offset all of the gadgets and electronics everyone loves these days. It doesn't have to cost a lot to make someone happy, and to inspire.



This is timne full of ghosts, of bitersweet, surreal memories. It does not seem as if my mother is gone this time of year, yet she is. It is bitter sweet; her birthday was in January, and she died January 29th. I see her and remember her everywhere, and at times I'm transported to our old down town, with its old stores and window displays. It is like a waking dream.



Even having Xmas so soon again is a waking dream. We got the tree up after a series of mishaps,and there are modest lights and decorations outside. There are kitty ornamnets in memory of our little boys, Daxie and Opie, and in honor of our new little girl kitty, Emma.

My husband and I do not want extravagant gifts; we want time, and to pay off some bills, and to be together. More than ever, the music means more to me than anything, and I have to stay in my car to listen to the Harry Simeone Chorale's rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy," Yesterday was ST. Lucia's day, and I still remember singing the song in Swedish when I was seven. I have several dolls of her now in my collection, but they were very hard to find. When I was young, my mom took me to Swanson's Swedish gifts to buy wooden trolls, and advent calendars, Dala horses, ornaments,and special napkins and cards. They only had these things at Christmas, running a paint store the rest of the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, Happy Hannukah, and Happy New Year, and peace in 2012.

I am adding some photos of angels and Christmas dolls and creche figures for all of you to enjoy.

A gift recommendation, the fantastic book Animals by Smithsonian. I've never seen anything like it, with every family and phylum covered. There are animals I've never heard of, from the air, land, and sea, from the most microscopic, to the most gargantuan.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Barbara Pym Conference Alert

Greetings from the Barbara Pym Society!

I am very happy to announce that registration for the Society's 14th annual North American Conference, focusing on Jane and Prudence, is now open. We will return to Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, on 16-18 March 2012. The complete program and other details are available on our web site. Scheduled talks include
• Yvonne Cocking, BPS Archivist: Jane and Prudence: A Novel of Contrasts
• Charlotte Silver: Barbara Pym and the Comedy of Manners
• Linda McDougall: Jane and Prudence and Barbara and Hazel: The Women Friends of Barbara Pym and How They Influenced Her Work
• Perri Klass: “You Never Know When You May Need Whiskey”: Barbara Pym on Drinks and Drinking
• Isabel Stanley: Not Quite a Trollope Wife: Jane Cleveland’s Literary Expectations of Herself as a Clergy Wife
Yvonne promises to tell us what Barbara's journals in the Bodleian reveal about "The M&S Affair", Linda will show video clips from her recent interviews with Barbara's close friend, biographer, and literary executor Hazel Holt, and Perri's talk on Saturday afternoon will be followed by a drinks party where you can sample some of the beverages mentioned in the novels.
There are only a few changes since last year. We will return to the Church of the Advent in Boston for a lavish buffet dinner and hymn sing on Friday night, the conference will be held at Harvard's Barker Center, and we will conclude with lunch at Grafton Street Pub as before, but we have a new venue for our Saturday evening meal. John Harvard's Brew House in Harvard Square offers pub grub and a wide array of beers and ales (none of which taste like washing-up water), and we will have our own dining room. We have set the member's registration fee -- which includes lunch on Saturday and a light breakfast both days -- at $60, $5 more than last year but the same as in 2101, but the cost of the Saturday night meal has dropped by $10. We work hard to keep costs as low as possible while still providing a top-quality event with comfortable venues and great food.
The conference room holds a maximum of 95 people, and the dining room on Saturday night a maximum of 50, so early registration is recommended to avoid possible disappointment. Registration closes on Sunday March 11.
Now that the conference details are all sorted, I hope to make Pym ceramics available for purchase online in the next few days. I'll send another e-mail as soon as that happens -- there should be time to get your Pym mugs and teabag holders in time for Christmas.
Finally, you will notice some changes on the web site. The exciting new graphic on the entry page is the work of BPS member Lloyd Miller, a professional illustrator and graphic designer whose clients include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Esquire, Fortune --and now the Barbara Pym Society. We are very grateful for his generous contribution, and there will be more to come as we approach the Pym centenary in 2013.

Best wishes,

Tom Sopko, North American Organizer
The Barbara Pym Society

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I'm still battling the arthritis in my right hand, and the infection caused by a knife-weilding physicians assistant. My Christmas present to myself was paying doctors bills. At least I can still use my hands.

The more I love the holidays, the more I realize how stressful and sad they can be. I don't have a remedy; I'm assaulted by memories myself, good ones, but sad and poignnant. My best friend who loves to collect Christmas ornaments, too, feels the same. We are coping with getting older, and with elderly parents who have their own issues, most not dealing with dementia or the usual cliches we may associate with the very old. Mostly, it is not having people we love with us, and learning everyday that someone else we love is ill or facing difficulties. A good book for these feeling is The Christmas Cookie Club by Perleman, where 12 women in a cookie club share more than just recipes.

This year, I am late with everything. I haven't even baked my mother's recipes. That is the one thing that has given some solace since I lost her. It is hard to take each year, and each holiday that takes me further from her, but I have my own family. My Dad just doesn't believe in Christmas, or its accourtrements any more. My husband's family buried my brother in law one Christmas Eve twenty years ago. I've lost many friends this year, a beloved pet, Opie, and yet, the spirit of Christmas will not die within me.

If nothing else, the ghosts of Christms Past come alive again. I am with my grandparents, and opening my first Chatty Cathy. It's December 9th, and my friend Lynn and I are playing the guitar and singing "Eres Tu" for the Pan American Roundtable Dinner. I'm 15, and it's the 14th of December and I'm at my first gymnastics meet. My best friends, Robin and Mike, the "bums," are watching. I stay one the beam and take first for our side, compete in three events, and all is right with the world. I'm 8 or 9, and Miss Bolin and Miss Meurling are coordinating our Christmas Program at school. I'm ten, and excited, about to board a plane for my first Christmas in San Jose. I'm 12, and I see my Uncle George at 30, walking away from us as we board the plane home, wearing his leather boots, his fringed vest, cigarette in hand. It would be the last time I would see him alive. So many memories.

The best involve presents we made for each other. Or, the Chgristmases my Uncle Tom was with us, p;icking me up to go to our A&P for the delicacies we loved and no one else did. One Christmas, my Aunt Rose made me a china headed doll; my mom made her a wardrobe. That Valentines Day, her twin arrived from Disneyland. One year, my surprise was a small collection of antique dolls bought from and some given by, our dear friend Violet. I still arrange the dolls shemade around my tree.

The best gift exchanges for me invovle small gifts, handmade or ornaments. I have done oranges with cloves, special collages or paintings, felt applique, needlepoint, small weavings. I love to look for the dollar presents that are worth much more, or the small collectible no one expects. I wrote coupons for doing dishes, and looked for the handmade ornaments Mom made and hung on the tree. Through New Years, we looked for them, and opened them to find tiny presents, coins, the occasional dollar bill. The whole house was lovely, and transformed.

This Christmas, I'm noticing and looking for books on how to live green as a family. There are many this year and an Amazon search proves quite fruitful. I would urge everyone to use a potted tree that can be replanted, or to recycle your cut trees. We used to do this using the ravine/woods behind our house. The birds nested in our old trees, and some became natural mulch. I like artificial trees; less of a fire hazard, and a live one is not cut down. I have natural holly bushes, and they are my pride this time of year. It is fun to make one's own wrapping paper, or to use unusal boxes, papers, and ribbons. We used to save real satin ribbon and sometimes combined them with newspapers.

It doesn't have to bankrupt ups; it really is the thought. I give ten cent used paperbacks and book catalogs to my students, and little ornaments and gifts. We study winter holidays all over the world and exchange cut out toys and paper dolls that are free web printables. Some of my friends love book marks, others a plate of cookies.

It doesn't take much to make someone happy. There are dried flowers and natural evergreens everwhere, and seedpods, macaroni, yarn, and even ice cream cones and construction paper make great ornaments. I'd love to hear some ideas from people out there. Merry Christmas, and Seasons Greetings. May we have peace in 2012.

Rubber Ducky, You're the One! Moby Duck and Review

See, below. This is a wonderful memoir of an English teachers' journey, and is also a book for those who love to live green, collect, care about working conditions, etc. I have started it on Kindle and am fascinated. Sometimes, writing a memoir of a trip or personal journal is far better than writing an entire biography. I loved his chronicle of how people found the types of ducks and beach toys and saved them all over the world. It is the Hunting/Gathering instinct Marilyn Gelfman Karp describes in In Flagrante Collecto coming to live. I give it five stars.

Book Description


Publication Date: March 3, 2011
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year
A revelatory tale of science, adventure

Friday, December 2, 2011

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Issue 11:23 12,825 subscribers December 1, 2011
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IN THIS ISSUE:
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THE EDITOR'S DESK: Deck the Halls... and Clear the Decks,
by Moira Allen
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Using another Writer's Ideas, by Dawn Copeman
NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING
FEATURE: Mining the Rejection File for Gold, by Ann Brandt
COLUMN: Free Stuff for Writers: Spreading the Cheer,
by Aline Lechaye
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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---> http://wwx.Writing.Com/ <--- Become a fan on Facebook: http://facebook.com/WritingCom Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WritingCom **************************************************************** WRITERSCOLLEGE.COM has 57 online courses. Prices are low. If you can reach our web site, you can take our courses. http://www.WritersCollege.com ***************************************************************** BECOME A FICTION WRITER.Get published. Get paid. Create manuscripts that are ready to submit to editors and publishers. Learn the techniques from an experienced professional writer - online or by mail. Free Writing Test offered. http://www.breakintoprint.com/W1729 ***************************************************************** THOUSANDS OF WRITERS USE FANSTORY.COM FOR: * Feedback. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write. * Contests. Over 40 contests are always open and free to enter. * Rankings. Statistics will show you how your writing is doing. http://www.fanstory.com/index1.jsp?at=38 ***************************************************************** ***************************************************************** DON'T GET SCAMMED! Choose the right Self Publishing Company for your book. What you need to know before choosing a self publishing company and the questions you should ask. http://dogearpublishing.net/self-publishing-companies.aspx ***************************************************************** FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK ================================================================= Deck the Halls... and Clear the Decks! -------------------------------------- It was rather disconcerting to munch on Thanksgiving turkey and realize that, within the next four or five days, I needed to write my "Christmas" editorial! Somehow, even though I've now wrapped up my fall decorations and dragged FAR too many boxes of "Christmas stuff" out of the closet, I'm finding it hard to get into the "Christmas spirit." Possibly it's because, as everyone seems to comment, this year seems to have flown by. I used to believe that this was simply a symptom of "aging" -- the older one gets, the faster the years seem to pass. Forget about how "time flies when you're having fun." Time flies when you're getting old. But this year, I've heard the same complaint from people of all ages. (Well, adults of all ages; I haven't conducted interviews of anyone under age 10.) I suspect that it's not a matter of getting older, but of getting busier -- and we are ALL getting busier, no matter how old (or young) we are. It seems that the more "time-saving" gadgets we acquire -- handheld devices that enable us to simultaneously talk to three different people, surf the web, set up tonight's TV shows to record and, quite probably, wash the dishes and walk the dog -- the less time we have. If we can now do five things in the same amount of time that was once required for one, we now feel we MUST do five things instead of one. And so, following that logic, we're now doing twenty-five things where once we did five, or fifty where we once did ten, and so on. Time flies when you haven't any! Which perhaps explains the spirit that I do find myself "in," which may or may not be precisely a "holiday" spirit. While I absolutely love Christmas, I always find myself just a little bit impatient to get it out of the way so that I can move forward, into the year to come. This is a time of year when I start to feel like "closing out" the old year so that I can start fresh. This year, I find this mood expressing itself in a desire to "clear things out." On the home front, I'm cleaning clutter from closets and cupboards. (Wow, did THAT turn out to be an alliterative phrase...) Books I no longer want are going into the "sell on Amazon" pile; books that have sat far too long in that pile are going into the Goodwill box. Tasks that have gathered dust for months -- file this, scan that, sort the other -- are being cleared away. I can actually SEE the surface of my computer desk! I'm also clearing out my project lists. I found not just one but THREE "to-do" lists on my computer, and spent an afternoon sorting through them, striking off the things that either had been done or never WOULD be done. I now have one, admittedly rather long, list -- but instead of looking back at all the things that HAVEN'T been done yet, this new list looks forward, at the things I genuinely WANT to accomplish in 2012. And this, I think, would be a good way for any writer to address this turning-point of the year. Take a day, or two, or however many you need, and take a look around. Look at the piles of clutter that have gathered around your workspace. If there are things that seriously need doing, get them done so that they no longer continue to "loom" into the new year. If there are things that are more in the "I should probably do this, but I'm not sure when" category, consider tossing them straight into the recycle bin. Do you have a stack of books that you feel you "should" read, because, surely, they'll make you a better writer or a better person? Think about how much good they might do someone else -- and how relieved and refreshed you'll feel when their presence is no longer a guilty reminder of something you think you "ought" to do. Do you have an inbox full of e-mails that haven't been answered in months? Anyone who hasn't heard from you in that long has undoubtedly figured that they won't -- so start deleting. Take a look at your project list, and take note of those that have been on the list for months, if not years. If you haven't gotten to them by now, chances are that you never will -- but as long as they stay on your list, you're going to feel guilty about them. So take them OFF the list. If you have projects that just need a tiny bit of effort to finish up and tidy away, see if you can get them off your plate altogether. In short, grab a broom. Make this holiday season a time to do the proverbial "clean sweep." Sweep out the odds and ends, the shoulds, the maybes, the sooner-or-laters, the one-days. Trim the to-do list as well as the tree. Deck the halls and clear the decks. And maybe, just maybe, next year won't seem quite so cluttered. Happy Holidays from Moira and Dawn at Writing-World.com! ***************************************************************** Gifts, Offers and Administrivium ***************************************************************** What's a holiday newsletter without a gift? (Well, shorter, for one thing...) OFFER #1: in the spirit of clearing out my cupboards, I've decided to give away ten copies of my book, "The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals." All I'm asking for is the cost of shipping ($3). To make this simple, the FIRST ten folks who respond to this offer (AND fork over the $3) get the books. If you live outside the U.S., let me know in your e-mail where you live, and I'll let you know what shipping will cost. To get your book, send an e-mail to "editors@writing-world.com" with "FREE BOOK" in the subject line. OFFER #2: I am in the midst of updating "Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests" for 2012. Writing contests are a wonderful way to get your work noticed -- and this book is the most complete compilation of contests anywhere. It lists at least 1000 competitions in the U.S. and around the world, for poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, books (published and unpublished), children's literature, screenplays, and translations. I expect to have the new edition finished by the end of the month, but I doubt it will be available until mid-January, so... anyone wanting to get in on the action before then can pre-order the book for a discount price of $10.95. (I plan to make the book available in Kindle format as well, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to set up a pre-order for that.) To order your copy, go to http://www.writing-world.com/admin1/contests.shtml. And as a bonus, I'll make sure that anyone who pre-orders gets the January listings electronically, so that you won't miss out on any competitions. AND NOW A CORRECTION: In the last issue we incorrectly indicated that our feature article, "Preparing a Fiction Grant Application," was written by Kathleen Ewing. It was actually written by Elizabeth Creith. Kathleen's article will appear in a couple of months. Sorry, Kathleen! However, this is a reminder to ALL writers out there to PUT YOUR BYLINES ON YOUR ARTICLES! Finally, remember that, in the spirit of "clearing the decks" for the holidays, we only publish one newsletter in December... and this is it! ***************************************************************** YOU WILL NETWORK WITH 30+ EDITORS Over 400 editors contribute their unique news and views each year. That's news and views to improve your chances to get published.Monthly newsletter. Get 2 issues FREE. http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/AK213 ***************************************************************** The Inquiring Writer: Using Another Writer's Ideas ================================================================= By Dawn Copeman Last month we had an interesting question from Amanda H. Geard. She wrote: "I read a story by a writer a while ago -- one of the stories I critiqued on a site called Critters.org -- and the writer of this particular story had a cool idea I'd like to use in an upcoming story I still want to write, although I won't write it the same way he used it in his story. Is that an acceptable thing to do, use another writer's idea, but changing it in your own story? Or will it be better if I ask the writer for permission to use his idea in my story before I write it? What's the right thing to do here? "Please advise, as I'm in two minds about it, and don't want to start the story before I know what to do." "To provide an answer to Amanda's dilemma," writes Janis Hutchinson, "She needs to be more specific about what 'kind' of idea it is. If it's something you find happening in life already, then it would probably be okay. If she spelled it out a little more, it would help other writers facing the same problem." Other writers also feel that they would like to know a little bit more about Amanda's dilemma before being able to give a complete answer. Katherine Swarts emailed to say it is "Hard to answer this without knowing the nature of the 'idea.' Reuse of items that could be described by that word range from such basic plot points as 'boy meets girl--boy wins girl' (definitely not copyrightable) to the duplication of multiple characters down to their names (an infringement suit waiting to happen). "I'm going to guess that the point under consideration here falls somewhere between, such as an ingenious solution to a mystery; if I were in that spot--or if I had any doubt at all--I would definitely check with the original writer first, and add a note that I will consider lack of response a 'yes.' All you can ever lose by that approach is a few days. Kate Ashby is of the opinion that Amanda should not use the idea at all, but if she does, she should definitely get permission. She wrote: "I assume if the writer had it on the site Critters.org for critique it hasn't been published yet. Please ask any writer if you can use his/her idea. It's their idea and not morally right for you to take it even after a considerable length of time. I would want you to ask me if I was that writer. It is frustrating and not fair, to find out later, that someone who saw your work on a site for critique stole the idea. "Of course if that writer has already had the idea/story published and it's out there then it's still stealing but less of a crime. They have pride in being first. You and others will know that you had it second." Christine Venzon advises Amanda to proceed with caution. She wrote: "Regarding Amanda's question about using another writer's idea for her own story, I would say it depends on how much she values her online relationship with this writer (they can get pretty personal) and also how similar her idea is to his. But also consider that he may have borrowed his concept from another source, and was doubtlessly influenced by something he read, saw, overheard, etc. in forming it. Ideas, after all, can't be copyrighted. No one can claim an idea as truly and wholly his own." That's a very good point, Christine. I know that in the world of nonfiction we all seem to come up with similar ideas at the same time and it's often a case of who can get their query to the editor first as to who gets the commission. If there are only seven, 37 or 101 basic plots (the numbers vary according to different sources) then having a truly original idea is very, very rare. Tunji Ajibade wonders whether Amanda wants to borrow the idea or the voice of the writer. In which case there is no problem at all as that is how many writers start out and then move on to develop their style. But Leona Wisoker thinks that Amanda does want to borrow the idea and has some excellent advice concerning this for all writers of fiction. She wrote: "This hits a common misunderstanding among beginning writers. Many people are afraid to submit to writing groups, online or off, precisely because they're afraid of their ideas being stolen. The reality is: in most instances, ideas aren't protected. As long as your method of expressing that idea is substantially different, your language, characters, plots, etc, then it's no problem. "For example: 'horses can talk.' There's an idea that's been done a zillion times over and never raised a protest. A character whose mother is a psychopathic nurse and father is a pot-smoking carpenter, and they move from America to New Zealand to Alaska, and have certain life-changing adventures along the way--that isn't an idea, it's a plotline. That's not steal-able, even if you rearrange it into New Zealand to Spain to Russia (unless that difference significantly changes the actual events of the story). Any one segment of that plotline is an idea: a character whose mother is a psychopathic nurse, for example, is not a protected item. As long as the actual character is different (for example, if the original nurse appears cold and snooty and the 'stolen' one appears warm and bubbly, which changes significant aspects of the plot line in and of itself) -- you're safe. Also, it largely depends on how generic or specific the idea you're considering 'stealing' is; there are surprisingly few really, truly original ideas. If you dig a bit, you'll probably find other published examples of that idea being used in fiction (or even nonfiction!), at which point you're totally safe swiping it -- again, as long as you make sure you're not just copy and pasting his work into yours (which is plagiarism)... and as for asking permission, I see that as having two possible results: he's flattered and says yes, or he gets paranoid and starts watching your work like a hawk, ready to haul you into court on the least suspicion. The risk from the latter, given that you won't be doing anything wrong, outweighs the benefit of the former. It is worthwhile, though, to contact the author, compliment him on his ingenuity, and ask *where* he got that idea from, to see if he pulled it from real-world research or personal events or such. Just be sure to phrase the question with care to avoid sounding like you want to steal his idea... and of course, I'm not speaking as one familiar with legal matters, just as a fellow writer. So I make no claim to infallibility." Thank you to all who answered in response to Amanda's query. I hope that helped. Now onto this month's question, which comes from me. It's the end of the year and if you had a time-machine and could travel back and change one thing about this past year, one writing-related thing, what would it be? Would you go back and tell yourself to submit that query? Would you sit yourself down and make yourself stick to a word limit on your novel every day? Would you have backed up all your work and thus not lost it all when your computer crashed? I want you to think about the one thing you wish you could change about last year, or the things you are going to do differently in 2012. What would or will your change be? Email me at editorial@writing-world.com. Until next time, Dawn Copyright 2011 Dawn Copeman ***************************************************************** WIN UP TO $500 FOR WRITING A POEM OR SHORT STORY! Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest. Write a poem, 30 lines or fewer on any subject and/or write a short story, 5 pages max. on any theme, single or double line spacing, neatly hand printed or typed for a chance to win cash prizes. Deadline: 12-31-2011 Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com for details and enter! ***************************************************************** NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING ================================================================= Book Sales Rise in UK but are mixed in US in run-up to Christmas ---------------------------------------------------------------- Black Friday weekend saw sales of books in Britain increase by £5.5m last week as British shoppers finally started to buy Christmas presents. In the US some stores saw sale rises of up to 40%, whilst others had flat sales or even a dip in sales. For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/d3zl5rp and http://tinyurl.com/bwrdtp7 Self-Published Authors Not Impressed with Penguin Imprint --------------------------------------------------------- For many it might seem glamorous, getting your book self-published by Penguin, but many self-published authors are not at all happy with Penguin's new self-publishing imprint. They say that Book Country is expensive and takes too much in royalty fees. For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/c4saqbl British Library Gives Digital Access to 18th Century News --------------------------------------------------------- If you are planning a historical novel, need to do some research for a nonfiction piece of are just plain nosy, then the British Library's digitization of part of its collection of 18th and 19th Century newspapers will be of interest to you. The Library has digitized 4 million pages of news coverage from all sorts of newspapers. Searching the archive is free but there is a charge to view the content. For more information visit: http://tinyurl.com/c66csnp ***************************************************************** EVERYHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SETTING FREELANCE FEES! Find out how to negotiate agreements, choose pricing strategies, define tasks, deal with difficult customers, and much more in the award- winning "What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants" (2nd Edition) by Laurie Lewis. In print and Kindle from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/setyourfees ***************************************************************** Writing Jobs and Opportunities ================================================================= Calliope Open to History Articles --------------------------------- Calliope is a magazine aimed at children aged 9 - 14 and covers world history. They have a regularly updated editorial calendar on their site and are on the lookout for a variety of articles, stories and activities. Pay is up to 25cents a word. http://www.cobblestonepub.com/guides_CAL.html Science-Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy And Mystery Stories Wanted -------------------------------------------------------------- Earthbound publishers are open to submissions of short stories up to 500 words max, for which they pay 5c a word, and also stories of up to 3000 words for their anthologies. See site for full guidelines: http://www.earthboundfiction.com/submissions#!__submissions The New Writer Magazine ----------------------- Welcomes "forward-looking articles on all aspects of the written word that demonstrate the writer's grasp of contemporary writing and current editorial/publishing policies. This may include interviews and personality profiles but we are not looking for introspective pieces on 'Why I Write...' or how to come to terms with writer's block and the rejection slip, biographies or opinion pieces. Articles should be 500-1,000 words although features up to 2,000 words and mini-series would be considered if the idea is submitted initially by letter giving a brief outline." £20 per 1000 words. http://www.thenewwriter.com/guidelines.htm **************************************************************** WRITING CONTESTS. The ten best entries from each will be published in 2012 Fish Anthology. *Short Memoir* ($2500): Judge David Shields; Ends 30 Jan. *Flash Fiction* ($1300): Judge Michael Collins. Ends 20 March. *Poetry* ($1300): Judge Billy Collins. Ends 30 March. http://www.fishpublishing.com/ ***************************************************************** FEATURE: Mining the Rejection File for Gold =============================================================== By Ann Brandt Saving your rejected manuscripts can provide a chance to look at your work from a greater distance in time, allowing opportunity for revision or rework. Sometimes these documents offer topic ideas, other times new angles on a topic. Often you will see how you could have written the piece better or with more care. Occasionally you might find a manuscript that has been rejected and is almost good to go. This process of mining the rejection file can be stimulating and lucrative -- worth the time spent -- but you need to accomplish this task in steps. Step 1. Sorting and Evaluating: ------------------------------- When looking at a manuscript in your rejection file, consider where the piece has been sent, how many times it has been rejected, and what you were trying to convey to readers. Think about the topic addressed in this piece. Then ask yourself these questions: What were you trying to give to the readers? Is there any part of this piece that you could use now? Has your writing style and mastery of grammar improved since you last viewed this piece? If you were to use this article today, what would you do to it? Years ago I got quite a bit of mileage out of an inspirational piece. Eager to sell more in that genre, I accumulated a sizeable collection of rejected manuscripts. During the last mining operation I clipped them together and slipped them into the back of the file with a note to pursue that endeavor some time in the future. The time it would take to revitalize content and contacts is not worth it to me at this moment, so the whole batch of papers remains relegated to a file I call "Some Day." In my rejection file is one story I have written in many different ways -- long, short, three or four different angles. Finally I chopped it mercilessly and sent the shortened version to a particular Christian publication, saving all the articles with the copious amount of paper that had been used to come to that point. I couldn't quite bring myself to discard all those thwarted efforts, so another batch went into the Some Day file. When considering future use of a particular rejection, ask yourself if the topic still holds your interest enough to keep writing about it. Is the topic outdated or no longer relevant in today's market? One example is a dog magazine that had published a couple of my essays. Not only did the magazine cease publication just after I sent in a third essay, but I noticed other publications for pet owners had begun offering stories requiring extensive research and interviews. In my last rejection file mining operation, I set aside all my dog essays for future use in my blog. Conversely, is this topic hot on the market now? After trying sporadically to peddle an article on acupuncture, I recently had success. Everything I have read lately about markets indicates that readers want more information on health. With extra and updated research on a couple of health related topics that were rejected years ago, I plan to mine that section of my file vigorously. Have you gained additional knowledge or expertise that would help you refine and market the piece? Most of us progress both in writing style and in creating topics, gaining a better idea of which editor expects what kind of subject and how he or she would like it handled. Going through the rejection file can be an exercise in sorting ideas for querying or submitting to editors; their needs sometimes change with time. This sorting process is beneficial both for creating ideas and for gauging your progress as a writer. For example, things that you wrote years before might not be considered in your publishing plan now. However, all the items in your rejection file offer something to build on as you read and sort. Step 2. Selecting topics. ------------------------- Is a topic in greater demand than when you first sent it out? Perhaps its day had not yet arrived. Set aside manuscripts with this topic to examine and consider further. If the material in a rejected piece contains information that you may need for something in progress at the moment, mark or highlight and set it aside. A note of caution: If you had researched a topic expressed in a rejected manuscript, check the sources to be sure the piece is still relevant and accurate before you mark it for future use. Are you still interested in this topic? Do you have more to say on this topic? Have you gained further information? Do you feel more confident in handling this topic now? Does this topic tie in with anything you are presently doing or thinking of doing? Have you thought of different angles to handle this topic? Have you found a market appropriate for this topic, one that you would query or submit material? Step 3. Discovering reasons for rejection. ------------------------------------------ This part is tricky and involves a bit of guesswork. Sometimes the reason for rejection has nothing to do with your writing. Timing plays a big part in whether your writing is accepted or rejected. Perhaps your material has been covered at length in the target publication. If you are fortunate, the editor has commented on the returned piece and offered that information. (Hopefully, you submitted something else to that editor ASAP.) In any event, during this mining process, make a special note of that editor and how he or she delivers rejections. Another possible reason for rejection was that your approach to the topic missed the mark on what the editor wanted. Again, you might have been fortunate to receive a sentence or two regarding this problem. Bear in mind, however, that workloads in most publishing houses are increasing while staff is decreasing. If you have filed your rejection without submitting further, now is the time to reconsider and take a fresh look at your writing. Many editors respect perseverance in their writers, and you can establish a good working relationship by exhibiting willingness to produce what editors need. If a manuscript has landed in your rejection file under these circumstances, by all means pull it out, redo it according to what is needed, and resend it. If a lot of time has elapsed since you have corresponded with this editor, include a brief note. Sometimes, though hopefully not often, you have misread or failed to read the publication's guidelines. In some cases this can be fixed by reformatting or tweaking of verbiage. In a highly competitive freelance market, you need to follow directions closely. Check the current guidelines for any changes. Put yourself in the editor's place: If two excellent pieces are under consideration and one has not been submitted according to guidelines, the correctly submitted piece will be accepted. Step 4. Gathering material. --------------------------- After you have chosen what is immediately useable, what you want to put aside for future use, and what you need to discard, get started on the topic that interests you the most. Think of your rejected piece as a rough draft. Now we come to the gold in your files. Pick out two or three of the most promising pieces, chosen according to what you want to write about next. You might find yourself using content from more than one rejected piece to create a new submission. You might want to submit something to an editor who has published some of your material since rejecting a story and with whom you have established a rapport. Rejected manuscripts contain a wealth of content waiting to be reshaped and resent. They can inspire, inform, and -- best of all --earn money in their new incarnations. >>--------------------------------------------------<< Ann Brandt has learned to use her rejection file as a writing tool. She is the author of two books, both based on her experiences with rare diseases. "A Caregiver's Story: Coping with a Loved One's Life-Threatening Illness" was inspired by caring for her husband as they battled and survived brain cancer. Visit Ann at http://www.annkbrandt.com/. Copyright 2011 Ann Brandt For more advice on taking positives from rejection visit: http://www.writing-world.com/life/rejection.shtml **************************************************************** HIRE AN AWARD WINNING DESIGNER/AUTHOR TO DEVELOP YOUR WEBSITES. Celebrating a decade of designing websites for authors that reflect their unique style and personality. Other design services include book designs, marketing materials, and email campaigns. Contact Shaila Abdullah for your design needs at http://myhouseofdesign.com/ ***************************************************************** THE WRITE SITES ================================================================= Simile Stack ------------ Looking for the perfect comparison? This site lets you search for similes based on keywords (or submit your own); in the results, you can then click on tags that will lead you to more ideas. Might be a good story-starter page! http://www.SimileStack.com The 12 Days of Christmas for Writers ------------------------------------ I couldn't resist this one! This is a mini-blog on Seeing Creative, a very useful site for writers and photographers. Check it out over your 12 days for some useful writing tips. http://tinyurl.com/bl5lnt2 QueryTrackerblogspot -------------------- This is a blog that is just full of useful hints and tips on all sorts of writing. Well worth a visit but be prepared to spend a while there! http://querytracker.blogspot.com/ **************************************************************** WIN PRIZES AND GET PUBLISHED! Find out how to submit your stories, poetry, articles and books to hundreds of writing contests in the US and internationally. Now being updated for 2012, WRITING TO WIN by Moira Allen is THE one-stop resource you need to find contests around the world. SPECIAL UPDATE: During the month of December only, you can pre-order the 2012 edition for $6 off the regular price - go to http://www.writing-world.com/admin1/contests.shtml to order your copy. Offer expires December 31. ***************************************************************** Free Stuff for Writers: Spreading the Cheer ================================================================= By Aline Lechaye NaNoWriMo is officially over. You wrote, you wrote, and then you wrote some more. Good for you! Now all you have to do is deal with the writing hangover, and look forward to Christmas. (Or you could get started on your next novel... or not.) 'Tis the season to be happy: spread the joy to friends and family using free e-cards! Use 123greetings.com's Facebook application to send free cards or Christmas/New Year party invitations to your Facebook friends. Go to http://apps.facebook.com/greeting_cards/ to enable the app, select a card, pick the friends you want to send the card to, add a message (up to 140 characters), and then click send. Yes, you could simply call, or text, but where's the fun in that? Capture important moments with your camera this Christmas and turn them into amazing collages using the following websites. (If you want, you can also upload some photos that inspire you and make those into a collage. Print it out and keep it somewhere near your writing space, then watch your creativity soar!) Photovisi (http://www.photovisi.com/) is one of those wonderful things that make you speechless with awe. It's a web-based application (read: nothing to download and install). Go to the site and click on the "click here to start!" button. You'll be taken to a page where you can choose from dozens of cool templates for your collage. Once you've chosen your template, you can upload photos from your computer or webcam to the site. You can also add text or crop the photos as needed. Finally, click on "Finish" and you can either save your finished collage to your own computer, or share it with your loved ones. Shape Collage (http://www.shapecollage.com/) is another easy to use collage creator. The online version can be found at http://www.shapecollage.com/online. You start by entering the URLs of your photos (it seems that they don't have an option for uploading photos directly from your computer as yet). If you're feeling bored, or just want to see what a finished collage looks like, click on one of their sample links to the right of the page. Next, choose the shape you want your photos to form (heart, star, butterfly, or simple text), and click "Create". You can then save the collage or share it through social networking sites or email. The (also free) software version supports Mac, Windows, and Linux, and can be downloaded at http://www.shapecollage.com/download. Picture2Life (http://www.picture2life.com/) has some of the best photo-editing tools out there. Upload photos from your computer or online photo sharing sites and bring them to life: make them into collages, animations, or go to http://www.picture2life.com/Apps/ and make a statement using the "Mask Your Photos" app. Finished works of art can be downloaded or shared through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and email. Sign up is free, but registration is not required to use the site, so feel free to look around before you take the plunge. Lest we lose ourselves and forget that we're writers, here's a free online creative writing course, set up by Fiona Veitch Smith. Topics covered include "How to write a short story", "Writing dialogue", "Poetry: how to write poems", and much more. Drop by http://creative-writing-course.thecraftywriter.com/ to get started. Merry Christmas, and happy writing! >>--------------------------------------------------<< Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye@gmail.com. Copyright 2011 Aline Lechaye ***************************************************************** EBOOK SELF-PUBLISHING EXPLAINED An epublishing revolution is sweeping the industry. 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Monday, November 28, 2011

Ten Lost Novels Rediscovered

From the Huffingtong Post:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/28/10-lost-novels_n_1116934.html?ref=books&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008#s501869&title=The_Cocktail_Waitress

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Red Carpet Dreams, Green Toys, Thanksgiving

How quickly time trickles away. The red Japanese maple in my yard has finally shed its leaves. It glowed like a ruby in the filtered, cloudy autumn light, and then the leaves danced their way to the ground, and formed a red carpet over the front step and the adjacent flower beds. I pressed a couple of them, as well as other leaves I would like to paint on.

This blog has some trivia and memories, mental mementoes, of holidays gone by. It has been a busy couple of months with MMLA and the drastic illnesses/situations of October, ironically my favorite month. My hand still does not work right, and I've learned more than I want to about arthritis and all the related maladies. My answer is "keep moving."

This Thanksgiving, my dad finally agreed to let me do something, so I brought family favorites, cliche, but comforting, and will make oyster dressing. Maybe next year, we might be allowed to take out a few decorations, though I sneak miniature ones onto the dresser of my old room.

I've always lvoed Thanksgiving; it was a time we were together, and made Turkey, with treats for our dogs, and called family. In California, we had our own family Thanksgiving on Friday, and then hit the stores. At home, we drove to one of the big malls, to grand stores now long-gone, and did Christmas shopping, though minor, and bought yule log cakes, and hung out at Laura Ashley.

This year, I've noticed Parents and other magazines promoting green toys, and there are more green household products and storage options even at the big box stores. Some, like the green kitchen sponges are pricey, others are not. Look at your local Radish or health food store, coop, etc., for green bargains. More than ever, now when Ceres gives up Persephone to Hades, I'm aware of the planet. I'm working on a research project involving water and the environment, and I find it fascinating.
Our new little cat continues to amaze us; she knows her name, where the fridge is, and how to flirt and "sweet talk" my husband. Animals are in our hearts more than ever this time of year, and I watched a PBS special on Crows, that was amazing. They have their own customs and language, and are very, very bright. I've always loved their lore, and the lore of ravens and corgies, but who knew? I have a mechanical raven with a recorder I programmed to say "Nevermore!" and several little statues and even crow dolls. One wax sculpture stays out all year on a pile of books. He is very realistic and reminds me of Poe.

Here is a poem I wrote in honor of my mother and Poe's 200th birthday. My mom was a graduate student when she and a friend went searching for his house one dark night, and it was, indeed, " dark and stormy night," and found it on skid row. To Mom and Edgar, from my collection, Sappho, I should have Listened:

On Poe’s Bicentennial; For my Mother, who walked through bad streets and dark alleys to find the home of Edgar Allan Poe one night when she was a graduate student.

A solitary raven flew

Over my lonely door.

It was looking for my mother,

But would see her nevermore.

For the girl who walked out late

At night to find the poet’s grave

With only an intrepid friend

To guide her lonely way,

Had grown, and moved, and gone to school.

Long after Edgar died.

She walked and walked that lonely

Night,

Young, vibrant, and alive.

No black cats crossed her happy

Path,

No pits and pendulums hung.

Ligia rested in her tomb,

And Ushers’ house was one.

These many years that passed

Were often happy, but now they’re gone.

And with them, now my mother’s dust

Has mingled with poets’ all.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Near 6000!

We are nearing 6000 views! Thanks to everyone! This holiday season, consider handmade gifts and decorations. Now is a good time to start stocking up. Here is a list I like to use:

1. Newpapers, colorful magazine pages, brown paper, plain newsprint, for making very cool giftwrap. Old posters also make wonderful wrapers, too.

2. Boxes of all shapes, fancy gift boxes, packing tubes.

3. Outside, "shop" your yard for seedpods, twigs, berries dried on a bough, dried, leaves [I still collect them and flatten them in books]; flowers to dry, flower petals to dry, rocks, abandoned birds' nexts, egg shells from wild birds, acorn hats, buck eyes, small, dried animal bones, pine cones, cornhusks, dried vines. These can be used for ornaments, in vases or containers as decorations, as motifs to use to print leaf shapes, or as inspiration for jewelry and ornaments. You can also spraypaint almost anything, from the fresh fruit MS likes, to plastic yard sale and dollar store finds. Think Jeff Koons, and pick up some plastic toys to spraypaint gold. You could have an elegant and fun toy tree.

4. Look around for containers, like pitchers, colorful cans or bottles [old Coke, Arizona Tea, Celestial Seasonings], spice bottles, tins,etc. They can be used as gift wrap, to paint, to contain mixes of dried fall or winter bouquet. Vintage shoes, even bowling balls can be used for vases or winter garden ornaments. Save buttons, beads, shiny bits of paper, old cards. Ice tea makers, plastic bowls, colorful shot glasses all make nice holiday vases or gift containers.

5. Use Fresh evergreens and holly from your yards; be careful for your pets.

6. Use charcoal brickets in squares of tied with ribbon for "bad children" coal ornaments.

7. Start going over those recipes.

8. Think of compiling your blogs into books for family and friends.

9. Use old family pictures and put together an album for someone.

10. If you like to collect and have gift recipients who like to as well, start a funny collection for them, something inexpensive. Some ideas; holiday napkins or plates, pencils, pens, playing cards, buttons of one material, of one color, beads of just one color, Internet paper dolls, Internet knitting patterns, patterns for crocheted animals, vintage saucers, vintage bits of lace, the "do not remove" tags from pillows, displayed in a nice album on scrapbook paper, scrap care packages of your leftover materials, stamps cut from envelopes, penneys or state quarters, fancy gift tags, unusual cards or swatches of paper placed in a nice album. Used lotto tickets with nice graphics,carryout menus, recipes from cooking mysteries like Joanna Flukes, Laura Childs or Diane Mott Davidson's, a collection of internet articles put in a nice album about a favorite author, movie star, historical figure, sports figure, designer, etc.

11. Donate to a charity in someone's name and let them know in a beautiful card.

12. Handcopy and illustrate, or hand make, the lyrics of someone's favorite holiday song and frame it, or present as a fancy scroll.

13. Encourage under 5.00 white elephant and secret santa parties.

14. Bake lots of cookies; check out free recipes in stores and on The Net, or buy several of your favorites, mix with candies, mix an assortment of cookies and candies, and put in a pretty tin or bag as a gift.

15. Buy box of vintage or new Shiny Brite ornaments, or nonbreakable assorted oraments, and try a ribbon through their hanger.

16. Go through your books; invest in a nice silk or velvet ribbon or scarf, and tie around a stack of well-read favorites to share with a bibliophile. Ditto for magazines or unused puzzle books, or CDs, or records, or DVDs.

17. Be nice to each other, and just say Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or even Season's Greetings with a smile to complete strangers. They will respond.

More later, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Apple Pumpkin Soup and Autumn Leaves

Fnally, I'm sort of back, with a diagnosis of arthritis, and a "there's not much you can do about it" prescription. It is in my fingertips, of my right hand, of course. So, as always, sorry for typos.

A few bits of green trivia; I learned yesterday Pope Benedict is being called "The Green Pope" for his efforts on behalf of the environment and for following the footsteps of John Paul II.

Marriot Hotels has a new "green policy," which is posted in every room. They are trying hard, and attempting to conserve water and paper, among other things.

We continue to recycle at work, and I'm happy to see many university cafeterias and cafes and restaurants using recycling containers in place of general garbage bins.

Recipe: I made great soup last night, on the quick, based on a wonderful soup I ahd at a Marriot restaurant. It is Pumpkin Apple soup:

1 12 oz can pumpkin
About 8 oz apple sauce, I used cinnamon flavor from a jar
Make a rue; about 4 TBSP. flour, about 3 TBSP butter, and enough skim milk to fill half a quart pan. Melt the butter and flour together first, and then add the milk slowly, stirring all the while.

Add the pumpkin and apple over low heat, keep stirring, bring to boil, and return to low, keep stirring.

Add a dash of cinnamon, about 1.5 tsp. curry, a good dash of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low about 40 minutes. Serve hot; garnish with nuts, pumpkin or other seeds, bits of apple, sour cream, if desired.

Till next time, think green and homemade for the holidays. I'm interested in hearing of other peoples' holiday traditions. Be sure to view my other blogs as well.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Have a safe Trick or Treat Day!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nearly Halloween

My favorite day approches; thought I should blog while I can still move my right hand and fingers. What did you do Halloween? I'd love to hear. I always have to stop and think of Boadicea and the old Celts; I wonder if the air was crisp and clear for her, and if she watched squirrels gather nuts while she prepared for her campaigns. Were there similar flora and fauna in her world? I would have to look it up. I will look it up--when I have time. Did she take comfort from her bonfires, and did she wear a mask on Samhain to hide from the embittered spirit of Prasutagus?

The apples seem tarter and crisper this time of year, and the memories are elegiac. It was a ritual to put up simple Halloween cutouts, some storebought, and some homemade. I had a construction paper Anne Boleyn in profile that I made, black dress with a B, carrying her head. I was about nine. Precocious, yet morbid. :) I still have her, and the round faced orange witch with the pointed hat and yellow construction paper hair. There is a battered articulated skeleton named Prunella who is nearly 40 years old, and she wears a tattred red polka dot doll dress with peter pan collar that came from my first compo doll, Arranbees life-sized Littlest Angel. The dots are gold metalic. There are the little wax Gurley candles of witches and owls, some purchased for a nickel at our old Novelty Shack gift shop. I have Herbie, the realistic rubber bat my mom embellished with sequins and rhinestonres. I wore him on my shoulder with a black turtleneck and black skirt and tights. I carried a McD's pumpkin as a purse, and sent to a party with white make up and lipstick scars all over my face and hands. Spooky eye make up, too.

Last year,I was the Black Dahlia; I was in one piece, but the dressed duplicate doll I wore as a set of brooches was not, and of course, there was a black silk dahlia in my long dark hair.

This year, I am going as the Countess Bathory. I have a lock Maleficient type cape, and a printed gothic vamp blouse, and long velvet skirt,Betsey Johnson spider necklaces and jewels, and a series of other accesories.

Other costumes; age 4, Lampchop [I still love her]; Age 5, a Greek Gypsy, made by my mom and grandma, Age 6 Raggedy Ann with an Awsome mask, but homemade costume made by my mom. I carried my doll; Age 7, an angel, I bought that one, Age 8; appiqued witch by mom; age 9, authentic Spanish Gypsy, outfit from Spain that sumemr; age 10; Little House on the Praire; mom made it, and even did the bonnet; age 11; A vampire with another killer mask and a red silk Greel shawl over my witch dress. Age 12; Anne Boleyn, with a fantastic portrait mask we made from a brown paper bag. I would have one first in the Sunday School Halloween party, but was disqualified for using sequins and chiffon cloth on her French hood. The gown was my mom's old formal. Age 13, another vampire,t his time with teeth and make up, no mask.

After that, I stayed home, and dressed in organge and black, later Halloween sweaters, and gave out candy, or went to the movies.

Antoher uear, in law school, I dressed as my favorite professor, which wasn't hard. I looked alot like her and loved earing red and black like she did.

In grad school, I meant to be Sylvia Plath, but was sickon Oct. 29th three years in a row; didn't get to go many places.

So, there it is. I love Halloween and always have a pumpkin or gourd out, no matter the time of year. I lovet he costumes, and the simple window decorations and pumpkins of my childhod. We sued to go out int he country for caramel apples, antique stores, and big pumpkins. I was devasted one hear when the kids across the street decided to smash mine; I was able to recycle part of it.

That black dress my mom did was recycled into many costumes, including Morgan Le Fey and an Anglo Saxon woman at our old Medieval 12th Night Banquets. I wore the Littel House dress at school affairs, and in college with a heavy seater over it and boots, and the red polka dot gypsy dress was my outfit on the college spanish club homecoming float.

I miss those days, and my mother. NOw, I decorate her grave with Halloween colors, and the little knick knacks we both loved. My son is getting too old to Trick or Treat, though we do simple backyard haunted houses, and he does want a Domo costume.

Simple is best, and I have favortie house that are decorated with just a few pumpkins and scarecrows, and others that are brilliant with lights and animatrons. I love them all.

Happy, Save All Hallows Eve!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All Hallow's Eve

I'm back, after two weeks of not being able to type due to a hand injury that a physician's assistant made much worse. It is my favorite week and time of year, and it is cool, a little gloomy, and drenched in fall colors outside. There are a canopies of red and gold everywhere, and my tittle terrariums are ready for fall. We went to the pumpkin patch, and I'm even painting a few, where hand allows me. Most of all, I love Halloween for the family memories, my dad taking us out to trick or treat, my mom making fantastic costumes, for me and my dolls. My grandma sending boxes of goodies, and my babysitter taking lots of pictures andhaving mini parties ready for me after school.

Of course I knew the spooks weren't real, but who wouldn't want to be on The Jack the Ripper Tour, at Countess Bathory's castle, or at Disney's Haunted Mansion on Halloween night [all on my bucket list]? There is a rich cultural tradition for this holiday gone back to the Celts, even earlier, and there were spiritual people, rich in tradition and family virtue, courage, many good things. My here Boudicca was one of them, and really, so was St. Patrick, Arthur and his nights, Braveheart!

Below is a freely shared essay that I happen to like. Enjoy; forgive typos, more later when I'm completetly healed:

I have a confession to make. And it’s a bad one ….



When I was a kid … I used to get dressed up for Halloween! And it was not always something innocent either, like an astronaut or a cowboy. Once I was even a ghost! Worse yet, I would go door-to-door with my brothers and say “Trick or treat!” Idolatrous! Occultic! Satanic! Over time, of course this demon-glorifying activity caught up with me. Look at me now. I dress in black almost every day …



Of course you see the problem here. If not, you will very soon start reading about it in the paper again. Many people of churchy persuasions object strenuously to the observance of Halloween. Every year we read letters to the editor that run as follows:



“Halloween is the worship of the devil! Halloween comes from heathen roots! Trick or Treat comes from an ancient pagan custom: the Druids would go from house to house seeking a virgin to sacrifice! If you complied and handed over your family’s virgin, outside your door they left a jack-o-lantern with a candle inside … fueled by human fat! If you did not comply, a terrible trick would be played on you! The Catholic Church perpetuated the pagan legends with its Feast of All Saints! If you let your kids celebrate Halloween, you expose them to the possibility of demonic possession!”



Well, good Orthodox Christian, what should our Church make of this controversy? Is Halloween something we Christians should shun like the Black Mass? Don’t the facts about Halloween’s origins prove that it is an abomination?



No. First of all, none of these “facts” are true. It’s all fiction. We know almost nothing about the culture and practices of the ancient Druids, except what little the Romans had to say. (Mind you, these are the same Romans who also used to say that Christians hold secret orgies where they sacrifice babies and eat them—so let’s be careful about how much credence we give them.) The Romans invaded Britain in 43 B.C. There they found a number of Celtic tribes, which the Roman legions subjugated with relative ease.



Now, you need to know that the Romans were not what you would call “culturally curious.” They had little interest in the ways of the conquered Britons. Generally, when there is interaction between conqueror and subject, the conqueror picks up and uses the local names for rivers, hills, and the like. For instance, my home state is full of names from the native languages of the Indians: Michigan, Mackinac, Saginaw, Escanaba, Kalamazoo, Washtenaw. However, we find almost no use of the Celtic place names by the Romans. The Romans did not come to Britain for kaffee-klatsches, but for plundering and pillaging. Under the Roman sword the Celtic place-names perished with the Celts, as did any certain knowledge of Celtic or Druidic customs (like what kind of fat they used in their candles).



But what if it the stories about pagan Halloween were true? Does that prevent us from making a fun day out of the Thirty-First of October? Or do pagan origins damn a thing forever?



I would hope that as Orthodox Christians we would know better than to say that. We borrowed an awful lot of useful things from ancient pagan cultures. Our musical system of eight tones? From the pagan Greeks. (Next time you hear a dismissal hymn in the Third Tone, picture a phalanx of Lacedaemonian warriors marching into an attack: they liked Third Tone for their battle hymns.)



And our iconography is an obvious adaptation of Egyptian funerary art: the portraits painted on Egyptian coffins look very much like the faces in our icons. Christmas, we all know, is a retooling of the Roman celebration of the winter solstice, the Feast of Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun-god). And many, many Christian churches were built atop pagan shrines and holy places, the most famous example being the conversion of the Parthenon (a temple built in honor of Athena the Virgin Warrior) to a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.



Even Protestants with their Puritan impulses and their “just the Bible” mentality have to contend with borrowings from pagan sources in the Scriptures. For example, chapters 22-24 of the Book of Proverbs are almost certainly a translation of the older Egyptian advice guide The Instruction of Amen-em-Opet. And elsewhere in the Bible different titles given to God such as El Elyon “God Most High” and “the one who rides on the clouds like a chariot” (Psalm 104:3) are originally epithets for the pagan storm-god Baal.



What’s my point? You can’t judge a custom by its origins. What counts is one’s intention in the here and now. And let’s be honest: modern Halloween for you and me—and even the Wiccans down the street—has nothing to do with virgin sacrifice or black magic. It’s about having fun in a costume and eating things your dentist wouldn’t approve of.



“Well!” the anti-Halloween crowd would reply, “Halloween teaches kids that they can get something for nothing!!” But is that so bad? To my ears that sounds awfully close to the Christian idea of grace!



“Yes, yes, but we shouldn’t teach our kids that it’s OK to threaten someone with vandalism if they don’t fork over something you want!” Well, let’s look at this from another perspective. Maybe Halloween holds a nice little life lesson: you give a little to get a little. The Book of Proverbs speaks often of the power of gifts. If we all practiced the spirit of Halloween—being prepared always to give small kindnesses to those around us—what a wonderful world we would have.



Again, let’s be honest: no one was ever possessed by the devil because he or she dressed up for Halloween or passed out licorice or read a Harry Potter book. Our modern lives have way too many other avenues for temptation to enter, and these things are the real cause of our spiritual problems: pride, gluttony, hatred, materialism, and ignorance.



This may be the only pro-Halloween article by a clergyman you read this year. Actually, this piece isn’t so much pro-Halloween as it is anti-superstition, anti-paranoia, and anti-gullibility. American Christianity is too much titillated by thoughts of demons, based on a mythology of evil that has more to do with pagan folklore than the sober statements of Scripture. Such superstition gives all Christians a bad name.



That’s why I’m not afraid of Halloween, and I see no problem with Orthodox Christians having fun at costume parties. After all, why would anyone want to learn more about Jesus Christ and his message, if being a Christian means forever being a spoilsport and a killjoy? If you believe in one God, if you trust Him, then accept his protection (1 John 4:4) and don’t live in fear of demonic bogeymen. The real battle with the devil is fought in the heart, not in front of the Harry Potter bookstore.



Some people drink too much on New Year’s Eve. Should that stop you and me from enjoying a glass of champagne? Some people eat too much at Thanksgiving. Should that stop us from having our turkey with all the trimmings? Some people spend too much at Christmas. Should that stop us from exchanging gifts?



Some people go overboard on the spooky side of Halloween. It’s not too hard to avoid that for your family. Skip the horror movies. Don’t revel in gore. Don’t profane death. Don’t indulge in occult practices … But don’t be gullible, paranoid, or superstitious either!



And have a Happy Halloween!






By Fr. Mark Sietsema

Revised 8/17/11