Category Archives: Writers

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME!

Baseball season is upon us!

To celebrate this “National Pastime” I’ve decided to share an excerpt from my book—

“Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia.” http://tinyurl.com/j4qbpsz

(From Chapter Twenty – 1916)

Out in the crisp air of the sixteenth of April, after leaving the station early that afternoon, Dave forgot the morning’s row and felt a bit like his old self. He began to whistle “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” as he waited for Howard and Johnny on the corner outside of Baker Bowl, the ballpark on Huntingdon Avenue.

“How’re ya doin’ Davey,” Johnny greeted him with his usual enthusiasm. “Damn, look at this crowd. They’re even up on the roofs! Lucky for us you got them tickets. Where’s Howard? Not here yet?”

“No, but I hope he gets here soon. The owners are going to give presents to the players for winning the pennant last year, and I don’t want to miss it,” Dave said.

He spotted Howard trying his best to rush through the crowd.

“Here he comes, Johnny. Over here, Howard!”

Howard spotted Dave, and waved back with both arms.

“Shit…I forgot how bad that limp of his is,” Johnny said. “Come to think of it, I don’t remember the last time I saw him.”

Howard’s broad face shone with anticipation and perspiration when he met up with them.

“Hello, Johnny! How’re you doing, Dave?”

They joined the large throng entering the ball field.

As they took their seats, the announcer on the field started naming the players as they entered, each one to louder and louder cheers. Grover Cleveland Alexander, the Phillies’ star pitcher, appeared last. Dave and his two friends joined the other rooters as they stood to give the pitcher his well-deserved ovation.

Everyone sat down again, anticipating the start of the formal ceremony. The owners presented each of the Pennant-winning players of 1915 with a monogrammed gold watch. At the end, the crowd stood again and cheered.

To start the opening game of the season, Mayor Thomas B. Smith threw out the first ball, which got picked up by the catcher who tossed it to Alexander. The Phillies’ twenty-nine-year-old right-handed pitcher’s uniform hung like a potato sack on his slim six-foot-one-inch frame and his cap looked like it belonged to a child, but he didn’t take notice. He curled into his windup and let fly.

“Can’t they afford to get their players uniforms that fit?” asked Howard. “He looks like hell!”

Grover_Cleveland_Alexander

Grover Cleveland Alexander, Phillies star pitcher, 1916 “Old Low and Away”

“Who gives a shit how he looks as long as he beats the Giants?” Johnny replied.

About that time, a beer hawker came through the bleachers to where the friends were seated.

“Over here—three!” Dave called.

As he passed the beers to the other two, he said, “Beating these bums’ll be no problem—they were dead last, last season.”

In the first inning, however, the “bums” made a game of it thanks to a wild throw by the normally steady shortstop, Dave “Beauty” Bancroft, which allowed two Giants to score.

“Son of a bitch! What the hell are ya doin’?” Johnny yelled.

“Take it easy. Here, have some peanuts.”

“I’d like some more.” Howard reached into the sack Dave held, and grabbed a handful. He brushed peanut shell fibers from the front of his shirt. “Wish this damn wind would settle down. I think it’s throwing their game off.”

“It ain’t the wind—they just stink,” Johnny replied.

The Phillies answered with one run in the first, and two in the second. Johnny calmed down.

The Giants managed another run in the third inning. Johnny and Howard both cursed.

In the fifth inning, Dave worried Johnny would have a heart attack. Alexander tossed a rare hanging curve to Fred “Bonehead” Merkle, who smashed it 272 feet over the right field wall.

Johnny’s face turned purple. Howard held his head between his hands and moaned. Dave ordered three more beers and some more peanuts from the hawkers.

The sixth inning saw both teams score, bringing them to a tie at four each.

By the ninth inning, the tension became so great the three friends were not talking. They were leaning forward on their elbows with their beers gripped tight.

Then it happened. Ninth inning, Phillies up, with two outs. Stock, the third sacker, grabbed a free pass, stole second, and scored after a passed ball and a wild pitch. Final score: Phillies—5–4.

It all happened in a flash. Johnny and Howard and Dave stood in place in shock, along with about 21,000 other rooters. Then, as if on cue, they all began to cheer and laugh and hug and spill beer over each other.

“Damn, Davey…that was the best baseball game I ever seen!” Johnny said. “Thanks a lot for bringin’ me along.”

“Yeah, Dave. That was great!”

“Nothing like a ballgame with your buddies,” Dave said. “Let’s get the hell outta here. I’m starved.”

 

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.”

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)