Sunday, January 8, 2017

Where Have All the Ronis Gone?

Growing up as a kid, we used to enjoy a plethora of Ronis. There was Rice-A-Roni, Beefaroni, pepperoni... the list goes on and on. But where did they all go? It seems that everyone now is either a vegan, gluten-free, or just plain opposed to roni supplements added to their diets. The madness must stop.

Sure, you can search the grocery store aisles for these products, but damned if you'll find them. Perhaps, if you are lucky enough, or conniving enough, you can sneak behind the scenes. You may be able to find an old dented can, with Chef Boyardee's face on it, rolling around under a shelving unit. Maybe you can find an open box of Rice-A-Roni, that the mice have been picking at for years, back in the dark corners of a deserted warehouse.

I've invited some guests here today to speak out against this atrocity.

"Peppa, would you like to come up and say a few words?"
"My name is actually, Peppa Pig, not Peppa Roni."
"Well, your agent told me that you were looking for work. You're free to leave if you want, or you can come up here, read the cards that were given to you when you walked in the door, and collect your paycheck. Otherwise, you can leave right now and not get paid."
"Okay. Just let me get my reading glasses."
"Thank you."

"Yes, I see a hand in the back. Sir, do you have something to say?"
A gentleman in the back row stands up, "Ayyy."

"Oh, Mr. Fonzaroni, I didn't know you were going to be here."
"Whoa," he says as he sits back down.

Anyway, if you love roni, as much as I do, make a New Year's resolution that you can keep; seek out and consume roni!
And remember kids, Rice-A-Roni is the San Fransisco treat, but you don't have to be from California to enjoy it.

Please join us next week when we discuss You'll Never Find Another Pasta Like Mine; Prince Spaghetti Day VS. San Giorgio: the Great Spaghetti in a Great Spaghetti Town.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Take a Shot

The sidewalk in front of the post office was speckled with frozen bits of ice. The outside walls were still decorated with wreaths and snow blanketed the lawn. The journey up the steps never seemed so long. Not because it was cold out or that I had any trouble negotiating them, but because of the paper I held in my hand.
It was my last submission for this year.
I milled around the lobby looking for an appropriate envelope. Finally, after about 10 minutes, I asked the clerk. I held up an envelope and asked how much it would be to send it. $22, she replied. I just wanted an envelope and regular delivery, so she pointed me in the proper direction.
I wrote my address in the top left hand corner, then proceeded to address it to Boyds Mills Press in Honesdale, PA. Boyds Mills Press publishes children's books. The magazine, Highlights, is also part of their publishing family.
After I finished addressing the envelope, I walked up to the counter, handed it to the clerk, paid the postage, and then watched as she carefully placed it on a shelf to be swept away some time later. I could barely breathe as I thanked her, turned around, and walked outside.
The cold air hit my lungs and after a few deep breaths I was feeling a little more at ease. Obviously, the hope of any writer is to become published, but putting your work out there to be judged and critiqued can be trying.
I am glad I sent it out. The worst thing that could happen is that it gets rejected and I get a form letter stating that fact. If that happens, I can just put it in the pile with the other rejection letters. If my work passes the test and it is to be published, then of course it was worth it.
We miss 100% of the shots we don't take. So say goodbye to 2016, you can cherish your memories, but it is time to look forward. If you want to make a resolution for 2017, let it be this; take a shot.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Silently, I Sleep Not

And it seemed so different,
that night, though early,
in the morning

I'd never seen a bag,
move so swiftly,
as it did

With speed, and velocity
one sitting in the drive,
the other met up

In the street it sat,
still, as it waited, and I
looked upon them

They both sat there,
waiting, and then one
danced away, out of sight

I moved cautiously,
alone in the dark,
she had vanished

But then I caught a glimpse,
briefly, 'til I realized
I was the one, lurking

The shadows held my light,
but briefly, silently,
and I was not alone

The sound from the plastic roof,
rippled and ran, rapidly.
Never ending in this wind

And as I thought,
I wondered what their thoughts were,
of me

And I closed my eyes,
turned, and saw
more eyes, staring back at me

A light flickered,
and immersed,
and I wondered, why?

For I was not alone,
that night, with my thoughts,
the wind, some fear?

I sank back into the shadows
the bags seemingly met,
time we shall all depart

And as I extinguished
my cigarette, they moaned
and moved away

I not knowing, what they thought
gathered my own,
and moved back inside

WLM 3/30/15

To read the story behind the poem, click to read more. To delight in it, as it is, stopping reading now. :) 

Sunday, November 20, 2016


If you haven't heard of Grace VanderWaal yet, you will soon enough. She won America's Got Talent this past year and now she has an album scheduled to be released on Dec. 2nd.

So what's the big deal?
Maybe it is the fact that she plays the ukelele, not an instrument played by many modern musicians.
Maybe it is the fact that she writes her own music. In fact, during every round of AGT, Grace performed a new original song each time.
Maybe it is the simple fact that she has a unique voice, she is musically talented, and she is a gifted songwriter.
And oh yeah, she is only 12.

If you listen to her perform, you'd never guess she is so young. On the bright side, it looks like she is just beginning her new found career, and fans will get the privilege of enjoying her music for many years to come.

On a personal note, I was lucky enough to see Grace perform live. It was in July, during an open mic night, at a coffee shop, not far from her hometown of Suffern, NY. I went with my sister and two nieces, who are around Grace's age. After her performance, she was gracious enough to sign an autograph for each of them and take a picture with them.
To me, it seems like seeing The Beatles before they became famous enough to play at Wembley Stadium. She is very talented, humble, and appreciative of her new found success.

If you are already a fan of Grace's, you've seen her website and YouTube channel. If not, just follow these links.

YouTube: Oh Never mind it's just me/ Grace VanderWaal


If you go to Grace's website you can pre-order her new album, due out Dec. 2nd; Perfectly Imperfect. As a bonus, if you pre-order, you will instantly receive the song that made her famous; I Don't Know My Name.

Just like many of her fans, I am looking forward to her first album, and also seeing what the future holds in store. Good luck Grace!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ticket Master

If you used Ticket Master between 1999 and 2013 you may be entitled to receive compensation, from a class action lawsuit, due to Ticket Master charging excessive processing and delivery charges. The compensation is in the form of a credit on your Ticket Master account, $2.25 per transaction, up to 17 transactions. The credits can only be stacked twice when redeemed. There are other credits for delivery fees, and free tickets, but the free tickets will only be distributed on a first come, first served basis if less than 9% of the credits each year, over a 4 year period, are used.
Bottom line, Ticket Master may owe you a few dollars, but it is probably not something you will never collect on. The case alleged that TM was charging too much for the processing fees, which were essentially profit centers for the company. At the time fees were as low as $4 per transaction. My question is, if they were found guilty of charging too much then, how are they getting away with charging over $20 fee per ticket now?
Below are links to related articles:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

PAD 2016 - Part 3

Day 21 -
She scares me,
but I'm too little
to do anything
about it.

Why won't
just leave me alone?

Just let me play
with my toys,
she buried all
of hers.

It's not my fault.
Can't she be nice,
just for one day?

Day 22 - Home

The robin who builds his nest
in the tree outside my door.
The one tulip that bloomed,
I guess the deer ate the rest.

Kids playing baseball,
behind the fence between the yards.
The groundhog that scurries off,
at even the slightest sound I make.

A dozen feral cats, at least a dozen,
they come and go as they please.
I cut down all the brush,
picked up all the trash from winter.

I hope the woodpeckers are still hungry,
enough to visit as much,
even though the town cut down some
of the trees they used to feast upon.

In the front, a small patch of grass,
sidewalks and the main road through town.
It can get busy, especially in the summer,
Cars, bikes, people visiting the Catskills.

I like to watch people sit at the light
because they don't know where the sensor lies.
I should put up a sign, but like other things,
around the house, I just haven't gotten around to it.

The house needs some work, I want to spruce her up,
but I enjoy my surroundings immensely.
My old dependable van parked in the driveway,
I have everything I need right here.

Some new windows and siding,
will do the place good.
The trees, the animals, the quite serenity; 
my own little slice of heaven on earth.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

PAD 2016 part 2

Day 15
There used to be a
commercial; Doublemint gum.
Where are those twins now?

Day 16 – NYC
We saw Washington Square Park,
we saw the Statue hold her torch high.
We saw where the mighty once stood,
now a fountain where you can say goodbye.

We saw churches, and restaurants,
little shops along our way.
We saw the 2nd Ave. subway.
Will it be completed some day?

As we crossed through the city
one thing still remained,
the notion that a place so great,
can never stay the same.

Day 17
Our language is constantly changing,
some think for the worse,
Some say it's worser,
seems all they do today is curse.

People type in acronyms,
too busy to completely speak.
No use of punctuation,
the whole situation seems rather bleak.

As with everything else, it continues
on course to change and evolve.
Some would say they're all stupid,
a worthless bunch of Solves.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

National Poetry Month - April 2016

I hadn't realized, but I have not made a blog post since last year. So, what better way to start the year than with a month of poetry? Each day I will post a new poem, written from the prompts found on the NaPoWriMo website.

Day 1 – Lune

Live in New York State?
New York City:
a great place to vacation.

They may be worlds apart,
but they are
conveniently located to one another.

Day 2 – Family Portrait

We lost all of our pictures,
in the basement flood,
but we still have each other.

Day 3 – Fan Letter

No offense meant to
Meryl, she won't be here
forever, sadly.

She's entertained us
for decades, with memories
that we will cherish.

one will rise to fill her shoes;
Kathleen Littlefield.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Final Blog Post of 2015

2015 was a good year. I wrote more this year than I ever had in the past. I learned a lot along the way, received some rejections, but also acquired some positive feedback; all things to grow on. I plan to make a few final submissions today, and then continue on in the new year.
One thing I thought about this year was; now that I have so many notebooks full of ideas and stories, I should invest in a fire-proof safe. Why? Because what would happen if there was a fire? All of my stories and poems would be gone. Some of it would be saved, if it is online, but I would also put my external hard drive in the safe.
What would happen if I died? What if I died in a fire? Not only would my writing be gone, but I would be vanquished with it. As with most art, it would probably be worth more once I am gone, so I should probably keep it safe. Maybe someday, someone would find a lost story or poem and it would affect them. That's all I can hope for.
Personally, it has been a good year also. Some ups and downs, but the future looks bright. I am excited about the coming new year, new possibilities, and prospects.

WLM 12/31/15

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

13 Tips to Conquer NaNoWriMo 2015

Last year was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. I successfully completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. In fact, I came out ahead of schedule; 66,586 words in 24 days.
I have foolishly decided to put myself through this grueling process once again. Here are my own personal tips that helped me meet my goal last year, and will hopefully help me again this year.

  1. Goal: 1667 words per day - If you write more than that in one day, don't slack off and write less the next day. You need to hit at least 1667 each day.
  2. Set time aside - Remove any distractions and stick to a schedule. I would get up every morning, make coffee, and start writing. Stay away from checking email, playing games, and especially goofing off on social media.
  3. Don't edit - You can do that later. Right now, just keep writing!
  4. Make notes – When you are done writing for the day, makes notes for the next chapter. This will allow you to quickly read the notes, pick up your train of thought, and continue writing.
  5. Carry a notebook/ paper – If you are serious about being a writer, you should be doing this already. Always have a piece of paper or a notebook handy to write down any new thoughts or ideas. (I often come up with new ideas at the most inconvenient times; in the shower, mowing the lawn, while taking a walk.) Have your paper and pencil ready!
  6. Research – Do your research on your own time, not during your scheduled writing time. If you're doing research, when you should be writing, you may not have time to write that day.
  7. Don't get discouraged – Take small steps. Meet your daily goal. You can give yourself a pat on the back, from time to time, but don't start celebrating until you hit 50k. (Don't even do it then. Keep writing until the story is done – then you can celebrate.)
  8. Don't let anyone tell you it is okay not to finish – it's not okay. You made the commitment, now stick to it. There are no participation medals; you only win if you finish. This is something you have been dreaming about for a long time; realize your dream. Don't make up any excuses; we all have them and no one wants to hear them (especially another writer). You may not agree with this point, but you will thank me later.
  9. Write what you want to write - If you have decided not to write a novel, but would rather use the time to edit another project, or write a short story, or a collection of poems, or a children's picture book; then do that. There are no set rules. The important thing is to put aside time for your writing. Hopefully it develops into a habit and you continue to write all year long. Maybe this time next year you will be ready to write a novel.
  10. Coffee – Drink lots of coffee, rest well, and be ready to tackle your goal every day. FYI – you will rest easier if you meet your daily goal of 1667 words.
  11. Track your progress – NaNo has some great tools and charts to help you track your progress. Not only do I use their website to track my progress each day, but I also keep a list of dates and word counts in my notebook. If it helps, post a sheet on the wall, near your writing station, to see your daily goal and keep track of how often you've obliterated that goal!
  12. Writer's block – Don't sit and stare at a blank screen. Write something down. Write anything down. Last year, I hit my goal every day, most days I well exceeded it. If I was struggling that day, I just wrote. I didn't care what I was writing, I just wanted to meet my goal. I figured I could edit out the crap later. When I went back to edit, in December, I couldn't remember what part I thought was so awful that I was going to dump it in the first place. That's not to say that everything I wrote was brilliant, believe me it wasn't. But when I started editing, my initial thoughts didn't matter. I cut what needed to be cut and I left in the parts that I thought worked.
  13. Develop a habit of writing every day – I did. Maybe not all of it was great, but at least I was able to get from point A to point B, each day, and keep the story moving. I am a pantser, so this is crucial for me. When I was done, not only had I surpassed the 50k mark, but I had a decent story; one that I was proud of.
So what do you think? Do you have it in you to write the next great novel? You won't know until you try.

You can sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo on their website:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Highlights Foundation: A Crash Course in Children's Book Publishing

When you grow up, you sometimes forget that there is magic left in the world. Maybe it comes in different forms, but if you stop, once in a while, and take in the beauty that surrounds you, you can see that it is still there.

I was privileged to receive some much needed magic in my life, recently.

The Barn
High up in the Pocono Mountains, I attended a writers workshop for publishing children's books, a course given by the Highlights Foundation.

The material that was presented, and the instructors, themselves, were invaluable.  Each one of them taught us something different, new, and even fascinating.

The classes were a great source of information which I intend to follow, as I attempt to publish my first children's book. But even more than that, the facility and surroundings seemed to ease my mind and allow me to open up.

I had several new ideas and I started writing a few stories.  I even wrote a children's poem about an owl.

It was about 5:30 am on the second day, I was outside looking up at the stars.  I saw Orion, Taurus, and the Seven Sisters. I was also fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of three shooting stars, all of which I wished upon.  I also saw one star that slowly moved across the sky for about ten seconds, until it turned out its light and said goodbye.

As I stood there admiring the early morning sky, I heard a noise in the distance. It wasn't something I was familiar with. At first I thought it was a dog or a wolf.  As I listened closer, I heard a hoot-hoot-hoot, hoot-hoot-who.  I think that was the first time I ever heard an owl.

Not only has my trip been inspiring and beautiful, but it has been a gift; one I hope to share with the world. Who knows how many books I will write, or how many people they will reach, but if I can make just one child smile, that is all the fulfillment I'll ever need.

Listen to your heart, it may be trying to tell you exactly what you need.  Embrace the magic that surrounds you. Be open. Be honest. And love like no other.

Thank you, Bobbie Combs, Harold Underdown, Jo KnowlesLindsay Barrett GeorgeSneed B. Collard III, Allison Kane, and Patrick Greenish, Jr. for all of your inspiration, guidance, and teachings.
I'd also like to thank each of my classmates. It was great meeting all of you, you made the workshop fun and your spirits are motivating.
Finally, thank you, Jo Lloyd and Kent L. Brown, Jr., without whom my trip would not have been possible.

The Highlights Foundation puts on a wonderful workshop program. I would recommend it to anyone.

Last day: Bobbie Combs, Jo Knowles, Harold Underdown

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Mezzotint

Fancy a creepy tale?  Clink the link to enjoy M.R. James' The Mezzotint (1904).

The Mezzotint

YouTube: Audio

Thursday, May 7, 2015

11 Things a Fish Could do, if He had Thumbs

1. Grab things;
2. Use a TV remote;
3. Turn on a light switch;
4. Scratch his head, while he is thinking;
5. Open a can of soda;
6. Hold a piece of mail up to a light;
7. Turn a screwdriver;
8. Tape a poster to his bedroom wall;
9. LIKE something on Facebook;
10. Tip his cap;
11. Turn a page in a book.

Are there any you can think of?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Down By the Salley Gardens

Down By the Salley Gardens

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
The Garden of Eden 1900 by Hugh Goldwyn Riviere
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

The Salley Gardens

by Wayne L Murphy

That is one way to see it
but this a way, might be
As she left the garden, I
gazed standing 'neath a tree
A young woman, hair of gold
a smile that lit the sky
upon approach I wondered
I've never seen thee, why?

She gave me a wink, then she
flashed at me her sweet smile,
Sir, if you've a moment,
please come sit for a while
And right there where I'd lost love,
in the salley garden
I found it once again, my
heart would cease to harden

Poem-a-Day challenge; Day 24: Write a parody or satire based on a famous poem. Take a favorite poem of the past, and re-write it on humorous, mocking, or sharp-witted lines. Use your poem to make fun of the original (in the vein of a parody), or turn the form and manner of the original into a vehicle for making points about something else (more of a satire – though the dividing lines get rather confused and thin at times).

I chose to add to Yeats' poem, and give it a brighter ending.  They are meant to complement each other, and be read together.