Tag Archives: humor

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?

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!

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

SORRY, I’VE GOT TO DASH!

For all of you serious writers out there, I offer you this link to a very informative lesson on lines of various length!

How to Use Hyphens, En Dashes, and Em Dashes

When you have completed reading that helpful blog post, please return here, and tell me (and my millions of followers) if you learned anything new about lines.

That’s the long and the short of it!

EDITING COUNTS

 

“Probably the fastest recovery in the history of lost dogs, but “Muffin’s” owner has been located and returned home!!! Thank you!!!!”

(The above update was an Actual Facebook post)

Lost dog ad

 

Thank God!

Muffin has been losing her mind with worry for over forty-five minutes. Her owner was last seen wearing a heavy parka, boots, gloves, and carrying a snow shovel.

Muffin tried giving the police a description of her owner, but all that came out of her mouth were barks and howls. The cops simply patted her little head and ignored the APB she offered.

At last, her owner heard her wailing over the sound of the snow plow going past. He came back inside Muffin’s home, only to be accosted by two men in blue. They ascertained this individual was truly Muffin’s owner and left the pair cuddling on the sofa, licking each other’s face. (ewww—gross!)

Another happy ending brought to you by “editing!”

LABOR OF LOVE

 

Baby elephanthttp://www.phuket101.net/2015/02/baby-elephant-playing-on-beach.html

 

Did you know elephants are pregnant for almost two years? Actually, the average is twenty-two months!  And then they deliver a baby weighing as much of two hundred and thirty pounds! Can you imagine?

Yes. I can. I’ve been pregnant with my book, “BOSSES AND BLACKJACKS: A Tale of the Bloody Fifth in Philadelphia” for three years! At least, that’s what it felt like. In reality, with time out for holiday seasons, it was actually more like two-and-one-half years—so I’ve still got Momma Pachyderm beat!

Morning sickness was the endless research. The girth increase was felt with each additional chapter written. Toward the end, attempting to bend over to pick something up from the floor or cutting my toenails, was represented by the painful process of editing.

Now—at last—I’m in labor!

By that, I mean I have sent the entire finished manuscript to be formatted and finalized for submission to the magical world of Amazon!

Here’s hoping the delivery will go smoothly! (I can guarantee my book baby will not weigh 230 pounds!)

Stay tuned for the “birth announcement!”

 

 

 

TURKEY TROT

Thanksgiving is next week. I can’t believe how calmly I said that.

We celebrate Thanksgiving each year at our house—and by “we” I mean twenty to forty immediate family members!

In the old days, when there were seven or eight of us sharing the holiday, the beautifully roasted turkey would take center-stage in the middle of the dining table waiting for the ceremonial (dramatic music playing in the background) carving. It was surrounded by the appropriate side dishes and condiments, with lovely serving forks and spoons of polished silver.  Each person had at least two glasses included in their place-setting that rested on a lovely table linen, and their napkins were actually held, just so, in rings of appropriate autumnal materials.

We all sat together,

said “Grace” together,

ate together,

and sang “We Gather Together” together!

We made Norman Rockwell proud!

Kiss those days good-bye!

Thanksgiving now begins the night before, with the female regulars coming over to peel and cut up every vegetable there is; eating pizza in-between mincing olives for the stuffed celery; arguing over using a food processor instead of knives for chopping onions for the stuffing and gravy; singing and dancing and telling stories of the “old days”; eating chocolates; and drinking wine. Drinking a lot of wine. When the wine is all gone, the evening ends.

The family has grown exponentially. And the next day, Thanksgiving:

It’s buffet-style from the kitchen counters:

Elbowing each other to get to the gravy.

Making “yuck” sounds, as one of the perhaps two people who actually like them, spoon creamed onions onto their plate.

Waiting in line to take your seat at one of the three to six tables in various rooms because the person seated at the end in the corner is still in the kitchen fixing their plate and nobody else can sit down until they do—unless everyone stands up and moves out of the way to let them through—which is not done with smiles on their faces because their food is getting cold!

Make sure you grab a napkin before somebody else takes it!

Invariably, someone says, raising their voice above the din, let’s say “Grace.”  Five people actually hear them, and so a syncopated “Amen” is heard.

As the hostess, I try to join at least one or two people as I eat my always over-filled plate of turkey and everything else, before most of the clan are back in the kitchen for seconds.

Finally, when the thirty-seven desserts (I might be exaggerating a bit here) have been transformed from their initial beautiful presentations to mounds of unidentifiable mush, it’s time to do the dishes. At this point, the male family members all forget what their thumbs are for and cannot hold a dishtowel.

Through the evening, laughter is the underpinning of the chaos!

Time is not on my side at Thanksgiving, which is why you will never see an artistic vegetable tray like that pictured above anywhere near my house!

But, in the end, I know I am blessed more than most to have such a large, boisterous, loving, family to be with at this beautiful time of year. So, yeah—

Thanks!

Happy (early) Thanksgiving everyone. Please let me know in the comment section if you have any suggestions for keeping the craziness at a minimum this year!

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for helpful writing advice.

Perhaps you’ve noticed—there’s a blizzard of it out there.  And like snowflakes, no two advisors are the same, in the way they drift their sage words against the fence corralling our own individual genius.

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for having your shovel handy at moments like this.

In editing my book, Bosses and Blackjacks, I’ve been struggling to decide if the beginning is too slow. But, today I happened upon a mound of advice that I did not have to dig through to understand.

I share it with you now, dear reader:

“Opening a novel with a lot of fast action is like putting your reader on a Japanese bullet train going 320 miles an hour. The landscape outside the window is all blurry.

There’s no reason to look at it because you can’t really make sense of it. You might as well take a nap.”

(By Sally Apokedak, @sally_apokedak
Sally is a literary agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency and is a popular speaker at writer’s conferences around the country.)

I agree with Sally.

No need to change my book’s beginning. Ease into it, so my readers have a sense of my protagonist and the world he lives in, before he goes crashing headlong into a drift of life-threatening hairpin turns.

Do you agree that we all latch onto any advice that fits exactly with what we were thinking in the first place—as I did here? We are vindicated We feel affirmed. We have packed our egos neatly and made it to the station on time.

All aboard! We are on the right track!