6 06, 2016

Recharging the Writer’s Brain Well

By |2016-06-04T12:22:52-05:00June 6th, 2016|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

learningIt’s been said, “When you stop learning, you stop growing.”

Or, as Albert Einstein put it “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Many professions recognize and require ongoing learning.

As a teacher, I needed 40 hours of professional growth per year.

As an antique dealer, I constantly read price guides, watched Antiques Roadshow, and friended Kovel’s on Facebook to keep up-to-date on antiques and pricing.

As a writer, I attend a writing conferences or workshop every year. Some are on-line or podcasts; others in person.

Those in person conferences are the ones I enjoy the most because I’m not only learning I’m meeting my people. We writers are a breed unto ourselves and networking with those who understand is a treat.

Over the winter, health issues made writing difficult. I sorta lost my momentum. My zeal to write. (In case you’ve wondered, that’s why you’ve been missing new blog posts here.)

I truly needed interaction with my kind and some brain filling.

In May I attended a mini-con presented by the RWA chapter, Colorado Romance Writers. This well-organized conference delivered. And, delivered superbly.

The fellow writers were warm, friendly, and oh so understanding. We spoke the same language.

The daylong lecture from Donald Maass, President of Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York, challenged and charged my muse, as I had expected.

I’ve been attending Maass workshops since 2006. After decades in the publishing business,The Donald truly knows his stuff. His well-used books on craft line my bookcase line my bookcase —Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009) , The Breakout Novelist (2011) and Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012).

If you’re a writer looking to push your craft to the next level, you should check out opportunities at Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services  and/or subscribe to the Writer Unboxed blog, where Mr. Maass is a monthly contributor.

That weekend conference  refilled my brain well and supercharged my muse. I’m back on course and busy pushing to have the final book in the Vietnam War Era trilogy released this year.

How do you refill your own brain well?

If you’re a writer, I highly recommend attending an in person writer’s conference or workshop.

27 10, 2014

Ghosts, Goblins, and Halloween Decorating

By |2014-10-27T06:00:35-05:00October 27th, 2014|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Decorating for Halloween has become as popular as Christmas decorating.

Connie'sGhosts greet us on early morning walks through our neighbor.

Jack-o-lanterns light our way in the late afternoon.

BeckerWhere we used to live we saw witches crashed into trees and giant spiders in spidery webs crawling in yards. There were spook houses and ghost tours, which could be truly frightening for younger children…and some adults (this one included).witch



In the 1900s, Halloween wasn’t so much about scary, scary things like zombies and gruesome headless monsters, tombstones and skeletons.

Back then, crepe paper pumpkins, plastic candy containers, painted tin noisemakers, and paper lanterns were the items of choice. Not many of these items are around today because people used them and then threw them away.

Last week, I dug out my vintage decorations. A few things from my childhood Halloween days that weren’t thrown out.

My halloween

Does anyone recognize the gauze mask or the paper-mache jack-o-lantern?

The black cats are old bulletin board posters like those that I remember from grade school. The pumpkins are constructed from honeycomb tissue.

To see other vintage Halloween collectibles, check out Kovels’ Pinterest page here.

Wonder what might be a future collectible? Kovels suggests these:

  1. Special holiday bottles and cans like Crush soda’s new Halloween flavors, Gruesome Grape, Spooky Strawberry, and Orange Ogre. Look for other limited edition plastic bottles with scary faces.
  2. Plastic candy containers either reproductions of 1950s and ’60s figures and jack-o-lanterns or contemporary plastic decorations with good design.
  3. Zombies and vampires. Look for plastic, rubber, or resin decorations like the zombie-hand candleholder.
  4. Jewelry. Charm bracelets with pumpkins, bats, and black cats; jointed skeleton earrings decorated with rhinestones and spider rings.
  5. Motion, or voice, activated figures that light up or emit scary sounds and music. Look for pumpkin men, witches, vampires, black cats, body parts like crawly hands.
  6. Paper or plastic masks, costumes, treat bags, and dolls.

Stores are packed with spooky décor options. Soon you’ll find Halloween items at reduced prices.

There are some good buys to had and, if you don’t throw the items away, you might have some vintage collectibles like mine in twenty-five years.

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