Category Archives: Uncategorized

WHY I HATE UNICORNS!

When the kids were young, they depended on me for everything. Food, clothing, shelter, changing the channel on the TV…you know—all the important stuff. I even bathed them when they were dirty! I was a good mom.

Through the years, I taught them how to sing, read, do all kinds of crafty things on rainy days. The crafty lessons were mainly to help me keep my sanity while they were stuck indoors.

They would fall down. Get scrapes and bruises. Push each other down. Get more scrapes and bruises. The crying and screaming sometimes became as irritating as nails skimming a blackboard. But, they were mine and I loved them, so I’d hug them, kiss them, patch them up, and tell them not to hit, bite, or kick the perpetrator in retaliation. Some times that worked.

During those early days, home desk-top computers came into fashion and affordability. Naturally, only the adults were allowed to touch the keyboard. After all, kids didn’t understand “if then/goto” and all the very complicated jargon of that early behemoth that required its own special room in the house. God forbid anything spilled within ten feet of that fifty-ton monster.

As the mom, I was permitted to play “games” on the computer. At the time, my game of choice (my only choice) was a text-based game called, “Zork.”

The only clear memory I have of suffering through that adventure game was the phrase, “The Unicorn is a mythical beast!”

That phrase glared at me in annoying white letters on that beast of a black screen more times than I could count. I recall it was in response to my trying to remove the key hanging around the Unicorn’s neck so I could open the next door…or some such thing.

In my frustration, the word choices that exploded from my brain to my mouth could only be spoken out loud after the little darlings were fast asleep!

Special Note: For those today who believe Facebook is a time-suck machine—you obviously never played “Zork!”

After hours and hours of hunching over the keyboard, tapping various instructions to the gremlins everyone knew lived inside the monster (and who obviously took great pleasure in making me crazy), I would trudge up the stairs to bed, bleary-eyed and grumbling to myself about how I would kill that Unicorn some day!

The next morning, my adorable, loving children would stare at me, frightened,  as they sat down to eat their breakfast of scrambled eggs and jelly beans.

Ah, technology!

 

PLEASE SHARE YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF HOW MODERN TECHNOLOGY AFFECTED YOUR LIFE . . . INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW!

NO RETREAT … NO SURRENDER!

I WON A “MAJOR AWARD!”  (Think: A Christmas Story – leg lamp) — back in December, 2015.

It turned out to be a legitimate random drawing for three nights and four days at “When Words Count Retreat” in Rochester, Vermont, for myself and a guest. My husband  and I checked in last Thursday!

We had no idea what to expect.

We became a bit concerned after traveling the last mile of our journey from southern New Jersey on a gravel-covered, narrow, backwoods road, and joked about “The Blair Witch Project”—(thanking God it was daytime).

Blair Witch image

 BUT, WE WERE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED (and relieved)  WHEN 

…we pulled into the drive of a lovely white farmhouse sporting a welcoming red door.IMG_2395

Behind that door was a total writer’s paradise. In between the fabulous gourmet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner—and the cocktails, of course!) there was uninterrupted writing time! A concept completely foreign to me, until last week.

In the evenings, guests read portions of their current work, and the rest (including our host, Steve Eisner) critiqued what was read, in a professional, caring, and encouraging way.

With the food, the new friends we made, the spectacular mountain views, and crystal clear air,  we felt completely pampered.

If you ever get the chance to go—do it!

SURRENDER to this, or some other RETREAT!

Your “Work in Progress” (and your soul) will be glad you did!

Have you ever attended a “writer’s retreat?” If you have, please share your experience (good or bad) in the “Comments.”

I’d love to hear your stories!

 

LET’S BE HONEST, FOLKS!

I have a question for you.

Why do writers (in this day and age) use pictures of old typewriters, pencils, pens, close-ups of typewriter keys, copybooks, lined tablets, et al as their website’s header image?

We all know that none of their blogs are produced using those arcane tools.

I mean, sure, some may begin by writing out their thoughts on paper with a wooden stick or ink-filled implement. But, c’mon—none of us would be able to access and read any of their brilliant posts, if that is where their efforts ended.

For instance—that is not me at the top of this page, and I did not use a typewriter from 1918 to accomplish this post. So, why do you suppose people think the only way to let their readers know that they are writers, is by reaching back into history for their photos?

I think I know the answer.

There is no romance, or mystery, or nostalgia in viewing a computer screen.  Perhaps in one hundred years, there may be. But not now. Not yet.

To prove my point, dear readers, I leave you with this antique version of the “backspace key”—reminisce with me for a moment:

pencil-eraser

See what I mean?

ALL ABOARD!

So—A young Jewish girl from Philly walks into a bar…(You haven’t heard this one, have you?)

 

Actually, it is the year 1888, and the bar is the Gem Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota.

I’m about 4,500 words into writing my next book (an adult historical novel loosely based on true events) and I hope you will come along for the ride!

 

At the moment, our seventeen-year-old protagonist is on a train, headed for Chicago. An attractive thirty-something stranger has insinuated himself into her adventure by taking the seat next to her. Away from home and family for the first time in her life, Mae is both wary and excited!

 

I hope you will find the time, dear readers, to follow along for periodic updates on: “MAE heads WEST” — (my working title).

 

(NOTE: If any of my readers are, or know experts in early modes of transportation in the U.S., I would love to hear from you in the COMMENTS. I have several questions that my internet research has not provided answers to, and would appreciate your valuable assistance going forward.)


WHO AM I? . . . WHY AM I HERE? . . . AND HOW DID I GET HERE?

Einstein quote about explaining

In writing, we are always told to SHOW not TELL—but sometimes, we do need to do a bit of explaining so we don’t leave our readers floundering.

Reader to himself: “I had no idea Frances was Genevieve’s second cousin, once removed, and lived at the top of the hill just behind the shuttered mansion! That information would have come in handy when she was stabbed with the knife bearing the family crest!”

No one likes to be kept in the dark indefinitely, and so I thought it helpful to provide you, dear reader, with the following insight:

What Causes Under-Explaining?

Under-explaining can happen for one of two reasons:

1. The author doesn’t know his story well enough.

If you’re writing about a character, setting, or activity that you really don’t know that well, you may fail to fill in important blanks simply because you lack the info yourself.

2. The author knows his story too well.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the problem of our own rampant imaginations running away with us. We see our characters, settings, and situations so clearly in our own minds that we forget readers aren’t sharing that vision. You may know your hero is blond, 6’1”, and about twenty pounds overweight, but that doesn’t mean that information will be automatically brain-waved to your readers.

K.M. Weiland , November 3, 2013

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

*******TRUST YOUR GUT!*******

Excerpt from PhillyVoice

Lightbulb Bridge
Light bulb acts as bridge across metaphorical cliffs.
March 12, 2016
Drexel study: Insight yields better solutions than analytical approach

DOES THIS CONFIRM THE ADAGE FROM THE 60’s—”IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT?”

When researchers from Drexel University, Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and Italy’s Milano Bicocca University conducted a series of puzzle experiments that tested the effectiveness of eureka thinking compared to methodical analysis, they found that responses derived from insight overwhelmingly led to more correct answers than those that came from more involved thought processes.

“Conscious, analytic thinking can sometimes be rushed or sloppy, leading to mistakes while solving a problem,” said John Kounios, director of Drexel’s Ph.D. program in Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences. “However, INSIGHT IS UNCONSCIOUS AND AUTOMATIC — it can’t be rushed.

When the process runs to completion in its own time and all the dots are connected unconsciously, the solution pops into awareness as an Aha! moment.

Ah ha moment

This means that when a really creative, breakthrough idea is needed, it’s often best to wait for the insight rather than settling for an idea that resulted from analytical thinking.”

WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME…AND YOUR FATHER’S NAME…AND YOUR GRANDFATHER’S NAME…AND…

The following is a quote from my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia”— Chapter Ten, 1907: Follies

          “Damn, Davey. Haven’t heard anything that funny in a long time!” Johnny took another swig of beer and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Smith’s got some sense of humor for such a big shot.”
          “Yeah, he does. Thanks for meeting me here at McGillin’s. I tell ya, after the day I’ve had, I needed a drink. Want another beer?
          “Nah. I’m finished. Think I’ll head home before the sky opens up.”
Dave patted Johnny’s back. “Yeah, you’re right, guess I should get going too. Next time, we’ll meet closer to home.”
          As they emerged from the cool darkness of the saloon, Dave blinked a few times to clear his vision, then looked up at the sky and announced, “Those storm clouds are lookin’ mighty serious. Take care, old friend.”

% % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % %

(The following information is excerpted from McGillin’s own website:)

McGillin’s Olde Ale House threw open its doors the year Lincoln was elected president. That’s shortly after the Liberty Bell cracked and long before ground was broken for Philadelphia City Hall. The beer taps have been flowing since 1860 — making it the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest taverns in the country.

1860
Catherine & William McGillin opened the Bell in Hand Tavern.The Irish immigrants, who raised their 13 children upstairs, soon become known as “Ma” and “Pa” and the laborers who frequented the bar called it “McGillin’s.” The nicknames eventually stuck. The tavern grew to include the oyster house next door, the back alley/washroom and the house upstairs.

McGillinFamily1

Abe Lincoln elected president. Although Lincoln visits Philadelphia, we have no proof that he visits McGillin’s. Of course, we have no proof that he doesn’t either.

Abe-Lincoln-President

1880
McGillin’s customer, W.C. Fields, born. “Philadelphia is a wonderful place; I spent a week there one night.”

quote-once-during-prohibition-i-was-forced-to-live-for-days-on-nothing-but-food-and-water-w-c-fields-61767

1901
Pa McGillin dies & Ma McGillin takes over bar. No pushover, Ma has a list of troublemakers who weren’t allowed in. The list reads like the social registry, including some of Philadelphia’s most prominent citizens.

1910
McGillin’s celebrates 50th anniversary with a new façade. Name officially changes to McGillin’s Olde Ale House.

1920
Prohibition enacted. During Prohibition, Ma McGillin hires a chef. Serves food and ice cream and perhaps, a few tea cups were tipped on the second floor.

1930
Philadelphia cheesesteak invented. A top-seller at McGillin’s.

1933
Prohibition ends! Ma McGillin takes the key from her breast pocket and reopens the pub’s front door.

prohibition-ends

McGillin’s Olde Ale House
215-735-5562
1310 DRURY STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19107
Open daily 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.(Kitchen open until 1 a.m.)

IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN THERE, LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

NAME THAT TUNE!

 

My book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia” takes place at the beginning of the last century, and includes references to and the whistling of, tunes from that era.

FC
http://tinyurl.com/gmbg3hx

Would you like to spend a little time in the misty nostalgia of the early nineteen hundreds?—No problem! I’ve created a playlist for you of the following songs mentioned in the book:

1. Meet Me In St. Louis — 1904, Singer: Billy Murray

2. School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids) — 1907, Singer: Bryan G. Harlan (Recorded in Philadelphia.)

3. I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside — 1909, Singer, Mark Sheridan

4. Give My Regards to Broadway — 1905, Singer, George M. Cohan

5. Rigoletto — 1908, Singer: Enrico Caruso

6. Hark The Herald Angels Sing — Sung by Children’s Choir

7. Let Me Call You Sweetheart — 1910-1911, Sung by: The Peerless Quartet

8. I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now — 1909, Singer: Manuel Romain

9. It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary — 1914, Singer: John McCormick

10. Danny Boy — 1913, Singer, 1917 Ernestine Schumann-Heink

11. For Me and My Gal — 1917, Singer: M.J. O’Connell

12. The Star-Spangled Banner — 1814, Written by Francis Scott Key (GVES News Broadcast)

13. Jingle Bells —1857, Singer: Tom Roush

14. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles —1919, Sung by: Irving Barr and Albert Campbell

15. Over There — 1917, First recorded by: Nora Bayes, Pictured on the sheet music.

16. K-K-K-Katy —1917, Singer: Billy Murray in 1918

17. Hail! Hail! The Gang’s All Here — 1917, Sung by Shannon Quartet
Feel free to sing or whistle along! And then, return here and tell us in COMMENTS —Which tune is your favorite?

Here’s the link:

 

TESTING…TESTING 1,2,3…TESTING…

The following “WRITER’S TEST” is brought to you by: Katie Yeakle at AWAI (American Writers & Artists, Inc.)

Let’s find out if you’re “cut out” to be a successful writer.
Right now, ask yourself these questions:

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TOLD YOU WERE A GOOD WRITER?

Let’s face it … writers have to know how to get their thoughts and ideas across in writing. Do you need to be able to do it like a Hemingway or Danielle Steel? No! You’ll develop your own style as you write more and hone your craft. But if anyone at any time has read any form of writing from you and said, “Hey, did anyone ever tell you you’re a pretty good writer?” then chances are very good you’ve got that spark of talent you need.

CAN YOU STICK TO A SCHEDULE?

At first, this won’t be an issue. You can take as long as you want to write that first book. But once there’s interest in your work … and once you have success and publishers want more books from you … you’re going to have deadlines for edits, new drafts, new outlines, and so on.

DO YOU ENJOY WORKING INDEPENDENTLY?

This is the part about “being a writer” that most writers love: The idea of writing at any time, for as long as you want, from anywhere in the world, with nobody looking over your shoulder. But some need a more “regimented” life, with rules and structure and a more “defined” workday to be productive. If you need more “regiment,” getting motivated each day could be a struggle. But if you love working on your own, the writer’s life is perfect for you.

ARE YOU OKAY WITH FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS?

Any successful writer will tell you — a good editor is usually the “secret weapon” behind their success. And as a new writer, an editor will play an even more crucial role. The best writers recognize that editors — or anyone who reads your work, really — can offer a much-needed fresh perspective … which is why the most successful writers are always open to new suggestions and ideas.

DO YOU LOVE TO READ OR WATCH MOVIES?

This one’s pretty obvious: Writers love to be captivated by a good story — whether on the page, on the screen, or on the stage. If you’ve ever finished a great book or play, or watched a terrific movie, and found yourself inspired to write, chances are great you’re cut out to be a writer.

ARE YOU A “DAYDREAMER” … DO YOU LOVE TO LET YOUR MIND WANDER?

Daydreamers have a bad rep! In school, it got you detention. In your day job, it can get you hauled into the boss’s office. But for a writer — daydreaming is not only okay … it’s mandatory! So if you’ve ever found yourself totally immersed in creative thought when you should be doing something else — chances are, you’re cut out to be a writer.
There you have it …
Six of the top traits many of the world’s most successful writers share.
—Katie Yeakle

 

If you took the time to complete this test—in my book, you passed! Congratulations! Star stickers will be handed out at the end of class today. Now, please turn to page 32 in your workbooks…

(Stern Words)

 

MY FIVE SECONDS OF FAME!

STOP THE PRESSES! I’VE BEEN INTERVIEWED!

No, not on CNN…on the interwebs!

And, naturally, I had to share it with you, Dear Readers.

Now’s your chance to get all the inside dirt! You can finally put your mind to rest from all those questions that have been keeping you awake at night…you will be IN THE KNOW!

L.C. Bennett Stern bares all! (Completely untrue.) 

Remember—you heard it here first!  Now, go forth and spread the word “to infinity and beyond!” Oh wait, that was Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Sorry. Anyway, tell people—okay? Please?

 

http://gilbertcuriosities.blogspot.com/2016/02/gilbert-interviews-author-l-c-bennett.html