Thursday, June 28, 2012

Homage to Nora Ephron

I was shocked and saddened yesterday to hear of Nora Ephron's death. What an amazing writer, director, and all around talented woman she was.

I first "met" her in the summer of 1987. I was pregnant with my son Mark and came across the movie "Heartburn" on TV one Saturday afternoon. At first it was a sweet love story. The couple: Rachel and Mark (played by Meryl Streep & Jack Nicholson) gets married, laugh a lot, have dinner parties with their best friends and life seems wonderful. Then while waddling around with her second pregnancy, Rachel discovers Mark is having an affair. While watching her be hurt, angry, screaming, and sobbing on the small TV screen, I bawled my eyes out. Nothing is lower, to me, than a husband cheating on his pregnant wife! And since I was sitting there, largely pregnant myself, my hormones kicked into overdrive. The Ronald came into the family room a couple of times and looked at me as if he should call 911. I guess he'd never seen such a spectacle, such a complete breakdown by a woman before. I swore at him and said he better not EVER do that to me, or...or....I don't remember what I said after that, but you can be assured it wasn't something nice. 25 years later, I still love that movie. Why? I just love a really good tear jerker every now and then. 

Then of course she wrote Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle, to name a few. When her book "I Feel Bad about My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman," came out, I immediately bought it in hardcover. I loved it and have loaned it out many times (always using my "library borrow cards," so I can keep track of who has it!)

I even wrote to Ms. Ephron after I read her "Neck" book, telling her how much I enjoyed it, etc.etc.etc...and how I'm a writer, too. (Bet she never received letters saying THAT before. Ha!) She didn't write back, but that was okay. I surely didn't think she would. 

Thank you, Nora, for giving us Harry Burns and Sally Albright, Mark Forman and Rachel Samstat, Sam Baldwin and Annie Reed, and Karen Silkwood. We'll never forget you, or your wonderful characters.

What about you? Do you like Nora Ephron's books and/or movies? Which is your favorite?

"I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." -- Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

* Nostalgic Sunday * (With Pets)

It's Time for Another Nostalgic Sunday!

Lately I've been thinking about my age, (I just can't be that old!) and the wedding anniversary coming up for The Ronald and me in February. (Can it really be 30 years?!) And during all these years of marriage, we've had three dogs (not all at the same time!) who quickly became part of our family.

First, there was Rocky. (1983) We got him when he was just a pup, a mixed-breed. As I wrote in a story about him, I said he was "part Gordon Setter and part some kind of big dog."

Rocky, and my oldest son Scott, and a much younger, thinner me!

Rocky lived to be about 14 years old and I was so sad when we had to say good-bye to him. I didn't even want to think about getting another dog for at least six months,

but a month later we brought Tiger (Gal) home from the Humane Society. She was 6 months old and we fell in love with her, partly because she resembled Rocky so much.
(Tiger: January 2009)

Tiger was such a sweet companion. I worked from home most of those years and was even more attached to her than I had been to Rocky. When we had to say good-bye to her a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2010, I was devastated. I couldn't even think about getting another dog, yet I knew we would someday because our home was empty without a beloved pet. 

          On March 12, 2011 we brought home our newest family member: Vern!
Vern is a Lab Mix and is the sweetest, smartest dog. He has a real personality & we get such a kick out of him. (As you can see, I've always preferred larger mixed-breeds, bi-colors, and with long noses!) And we've always been so fortunate to have good, healthy, well behaved dogs, who lived long lives. We adopted Vern from the Humane Society when he was almost 10 years old, and we obviously hope he has many more good years ahead. 

“You can say any fool thing to a dog and the dog will just give you this look that says, 'My GOSH, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!” -- Dave Barry 

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” -- Dean Koontz, False Memory

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Naked, Drunk, and Writing

No, I'm not naked, drunk, and writing! That's the title of a book I bought recently, and I love it. It's written by Adair Lara, and also has the subtitle: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay. 

I found it while searching on Amazon for "writerly" books on craft, and especially for writing memoir. Somewhere during my scrolling, I came across this gem. After noticing the 63 rave reviews (4-1/2 stars), and taking a peek inside (love that option), I purchased it. Adair writes in terms we can all understand, and does so with my kind of humor.

In the first chapter, she says she called it Naked, Drunk, and Writing because she likes the title and somebody at a party once remarked to her that books with "naked" in the title always sell well. And then says:  "And also because writing about yourself is like stripping down to your Bali bra in a crowd so that others can see the stretch  marks on your belly (and be assured about their own)."

This book is now my favorite in my collection of "writerly" books on craft. Right after it, in no particular order are Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. In fact, Ms. Lamott wrote a blurb for the back of Adair's book: "Very savvy and smart and hugely entertaining."

I haven't read all of it yet, and it's not the kind of book someone reads through like fiction. I read a sentence or two, a paragraph or two. I underline things in pencil that I particularly love and want to remember. It has writing exercises, too. I can't say enough about this book. I'm so happy I stumbled across it.  

 *Welcome to my newest followers, Word Nerd and Kelly and Angellica Bollier I hope you'll stop by often and always enjoy what you read and see! Thank you! *

"Writing is a kind of word-drunkenness that makes you want to do that -- to take off your clothes and turn your experiences into art, despite who may be watching, despite your embarrassment, despite anything the world and your own self-doubts throw against you." -- Adair Lara

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blue Mountain Arts Contest & Calls for Submissions!

How would you like to see your brilliant, creative writing on a Blue Mountain Arts greeting card?! (Hopefully everyone is very familiar with these delightful cards!)

I just heard they are still in need of Christmas card submissions. The deadline is coming up soon: JULY 15th, but that still gives you time to submit your best work. Wouldn't it be incredible to be one of their writers?


Blue Mountain Arts is also having its Twentieth Biannual Poetry Card Contest. Be sure to read the contest guidelines before you submit. I'd also recommend reading some of the previous winners to get an idea of what they're looking for. Another fast approaching deadline: JUNE 30th


Prize money: 1st Place - $300      2nd Place - $150       3rd Place - $50

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any." - Orson Scott Card

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

* Bump Thud Bang Ding! *

I've decided I am now disciplined enough to keep writing and blog a little. I've really missed my blog friends and I'm happy to be back. I'll also try to read some blogs, and leave a comment when time allows. And if others don't have time to stop here, or leave comments, I certainly understand.
Blogs should be a joy, not an obligation!

From Pigtails to Chin Hairs: A Memoir & More is coming along really well. I am so thrilled and relieved that something finally clicked within this old brain of mine, and the writing began to flow. No, it's not easy every day, but it's fun and challenging and I'm a happy writer. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Now...the reason for my blog title. I've mentioned a few times what a klutz I am. Weird things happen to me...often. I began a chapter on my klutziness quite some time ago, and something happened last night that will definitely make it into the book. I can't give any other details yet, though.....except to say it really hurt...and.... Bump Thud Bang Ding!

And the reason for these two pictures??

Because I think they're hilarious!

That's me on the left, acting goofy like my usual, dignified self. I'm playing a video game with my then teenage son, Mark, at Chucky Cheese. This was at one of my grandsons' birthday parties quite a few years ago. Man, how I wish I was that young and thin now! 

I took the picture on the right, straight from our TV screen. This is a young guy doing a local pizza place commercial. I paused it, then snapped the photo. And why? Because he looks so goofy! He looks like he could be related to me, doesn't he?? But I guarantee he isn't! He was saying here, "Mom! More pizza!" 

Ron and I have always loved to make each other laugh. He has more of a dry wit, and I tend to act silly. I love “breaking into song”, usually when he least expects it, and doing crazy dances around the house. Just the other evening, after another one of our goofy dialogues, Ron turned to me and said, “Do you think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie act like this?”  We both responded with the exact same words: “I doubt it!” -- Becky Povich (from Chicken Soup for the Soul; Love Stories 2007 My entry: Through the Years)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Writerly Tidbits

I know..... I'm supposed to be on a Big Blog Break....which I'm really doing, but I wanted to share a couple of Writerly Tidbits.

Remember three weeks ago when I wrote about my dog story "Rocky Loses by a TKO," not making it into a Chicken Soup for the Soul book? Well, I submitted it to Not Your Mother’s Book…On Dogs by Publishing Syndicate. On Tuesday afternoon I received an e-mail and Permission Release Form announcing it "made it through the first consideration round." 

So, since I believe in my story and I enjoy a virtual roller-coaster ride every now and then, I'm very happy I resubmitted it. Time will tell whether it actually makes it into the book or not, but that's okay, too. I've learned to add patience to my list of qualities I'm trying like crazy to learn to be patient, which is so necessary for writers...and people in general!

If the series Not Your Mother's Book.... sounds familiar, it might be because you've read about it on other blogs recently. Dianna Graveman and Linda O'Connell are working with Publishing Syndicate on three of their many upcoming books. Be sure to visit the website and/or the two blogs.


My other Writerly Tidbit is that I won a book on Writer Unboxed! I first heard about this blog/website when I attended the Donald Maass Workshop last month in St. Louis. He is one of many contributors. 

My name was drawn by random in the post by Chuck Sambuchino, titled What Are the Best Writers' Conferences to Attend? I left a comment along with lots of others, and my name/number was drawn!

I had two choices of books: "2012 Guide to Literary Agents," or "Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd Ed." I chose the manuscript book and will be happy to share info here on my blog....when I can! 

If you're a writer and/or love to read, please check out all the links I've provided. There's a wealth of information there.

Thanks for stopping by. Now, I'm really not going to post for quite some time. I mean it! 

"A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked." -- Anais Nin

Sunday, June 3, 2012

* Nostalgic Sunday *

It's Time for Another Nostalgic Sunday!

Although I'm still on my blog break, I miss posting my Nostalgic Sunday memories, and some of you have said you miss reading them, too. 

A little over a month ago, on April 19th, I got together with three of my OLDEST friends! We've all known each other since I entered their school in the 4th grade. (I'm pretty sure they all met in 1st grade.) We were in Girl Scouts together, and went to high school together (STA). That is....until Barb's family moved away around 1969, as did mine around 1970. So, although we didn't actually graduate from the same high school, I've attended almost every STA reunion, because that is where my heart lies. 

Barb and I have stayed in touch really well. We live fairly close to each other and meet for lunch or dinner whenever our schedules allow. Cheri and Chris certainly don't live that far away, but trying to get four busy women together is almost impossible. 

Thanks to Cheri, our official party planner, we all met for dinner and drinks at Blueberry Hill, in University City, Missouri. It's in a very popular dining/shopping/entertainment area known as The Loop. The legendary Chuck Berry still performs there one night a month! (I've been saying for years that I'm going to attend one of his shows....but I forget, and/or they sell out too fast! I know. I know. None of us are getting any younger!)

Four Very Glamorous Gals!

From left to right: Cheri, Barb, me, and Chris. 

(next time, Chris and I need to have much better sunglasses. We just had our clip-ons.)
I love the caption Cheri posted with the photo(s)
"Four St. Philip Chics Loudly Reunite! 19 April 2012 Blueberry Hill - The Loop"

We had a BLAST! We struck up conversations as if we'd gotten together just the week before. We talked, laughed, snorted, giggled, howled, and roared. The young waiters looked at us like we were a bunch of crazy old ladies, but to each other, we still looked and sounded the same way we did all those years ago.
Amazing....the friendships of women.

Okay, that's the NOW PHOTO....wait until you see the THEN PHOTOS.....


Cheri (left) and Chris! June 1967, our Girl Scout troop took a bus trip
to Washington, DC. This was at a road-side park for lunch. They don't look
too happy, do they?! Maybe they'd already seen and/or smelled the food!


OMG! Here's the Piece de Resistance!
Barb (left) and me. No, she was not taller than me. We're standing
on the steps of the US Capitol Building, getting our picture taken 
with Illinois Congressman, Melvin Price and our entire troop. 
(It's pretty obvious why I wasn't with the "In Crowd," don't ya think?!)

We're all looking forward to another "Four St. Philip Chics Loudly Reunite!" It may be months from now, but we surely won't let it be years from now, as in the past.

 * Welcome to my two newest followers, Jennifer and Carrie LynneI hope you'll stop by often and always enjoy what you read and see! Thank you! *

"A friend will tell you she saw your old 

boyfriend - and he's a priest." 

-- Erma Bombeck