Sunday, September 29, 2013

Copper & Lavender: Autumn Sunset

 Rachael Ikins

Why could we not just be together?
Two houses connected by a secret tunnel. 
You would not clip my wings
and I 'd not suck you dry. Comfortable 
as a pile of shed feathers or a sloughed 
skin coiled on a still- warm rock.

Even though autumn knocks on
summer's door and the sun paints
longer shadows with black ink.

I could feed all the cats your late nights. 
You could water my tomatoes my weekends away. 
All the other times, I'd read you poetry aloud, you'd write 
articles and our toes might tap together beneath
afternoon' s afghan in purple & orange socks.

"Ask the Girl Arts....because girls can do anything!"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Prosperity, connecting with living green

by Sylvia Hoehns Wright

Across the Nation, flood water recedes exposing ravaged landscape. Embers smolder in the wake of waves of forest fire flame; and, our Nation’s flag flies at half mass to honor those who once again are victims of senseless mass murder. Under such conditions is it feasible to think we could and/or would enable prosperity?
On the other hand, perhaps it is such events that require us to have a sense of prosperity. For, prosperity is not defined in terms of money. It is a spiritual matter, an ongoing faith – not cash – which creates a sense of abundance.
Through using Julia Cameron’s 12 week program which is designed to identify an abundant life, the Prosperous Heart, let’s examine the concept of prosperity. Cameron’s research recommends five basic workshop tools: making stream of consciousness lists, counting in terms of debt, defining abstinence as ‘waste not want not’ attitude, taking thoughtful walks; and, perhaps more importantly giving oneself permission to have ‘time outs’ – sit quietly for self-appraisal. So, as a first step make a stream of consciousness list by finishing this phrase: I feel prosperous when - ---.
Applied to myself, I identified that I feel prosperous when I experience the change of season, the colors of spring and fall. I have a sense of faith when I harvest fruit and vegetables or sit on my deck and listen to the sounds of nature or see bountiful blooms result from landscape garden activities. I also feel prosperous when the smell of baking bread or scent of hardwood burning triggers memories of an agri-childhood. And, in fact, cherished moments occur when I snuggle with a grandchild while sharing stories of life experiences. These experiences – not money - enable my sense of prosperity.
While Cameron does not define prosperity in terms of money, most people do believe money is their source of prosperity. So, take a piece of paper and finish these sentences – money is, money means, money equals, my father thought money was, my mother thought money would. Is this what you actually believe? Similar to others, having a complicated relationship with money is not an unusual experience. So, explore alternatives.
Assuming you made a ‘stream of consciousness list’ compare it to present-day activities. Is there a relationship? If yes, do you feel prosperous? If not, why? I’ve translated my sense of prosperity - connecting to the ‘living green’ that surrounds me – into present-day life-style activities. For example, in my books Seven Steps to Grow Green Market Share or From Eco-weak to Eco-chic: landscape green step by step strategies are shared which encourages others to become people who CARE – acquire a perspective of conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency. To review other examples, link to web site .
In terms of your sense of prosperity, would you be seen as a person who walks their talk, a person who enables putting ‘green’ into present-day lifestyles? To further explore the impact of Cameron’s 12 week program, I’d appreciate your input. Contact or post comment below to share experiences; and together, let’s inspire others to acquire a prosperous heart.

Recognized by Landscape Architect magazine as an Industry ‘mover and shaker’, The Wright Scoop – Sylvia Hoehns Wright challenges all to ‘get real’, move America’s landscape from eco-weak to eco-chic.     For additional tips and strategies, link to web site or contact or follow her activities through facebook group The Wright Scoop or twitter ID WrightScoop.
She is also a member of

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pay it forward

Deena Tunstall      
A wise heart never opens for an insincere suitor. Intuition never falters for a fool. The mind can wander through a hundred scenarios, heart sinking and desperately cruel. Love as you wish to be loved, think of as you would like to be thought of. Feel as you would like to be felt, lust the way you wish to be sought of. See the way you wish to be seen, listen the way you want to be heard. Find wonder in all the blessings most would find absurd. Shrug off the trivialities that anger you, your energy can be utilised anywhere. Fail to care what others think as their minds are always busy elsewhere. Encourage happiness, like attracts like. Don't waste time dwelling, over hindsight.
Deena Turnstall's blog is 
Find her on Facebook as well as Twitter @deenascribbles.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Tuck of Me

Especially written for WGT (This is a first!)
By Christy Birmingham

You tuck me into a file you mark The Maker
And I wonder if you mean to call it The Marker
Because you put spots all over the visions that
I have of everyone else. They don’t compare to you.

You tuck me into your pocket square and you
Tell me to hold tight until you have enough
Money for the ring. You don’t realize how tightly
I hold you in my heart already.

I dance within the folds of the file,
While you choose the daily pocket square, and
We take some time for the circle that appears
As we wrap our arms around one another.

The ring is a far second to your lips on mine.

Christy Birmingham is an author, poet and freelance writer who resides in British Columbia, Canada. To read more of Christy Birmingham's poetry, check out her book "Pathways to Illumination," available exclusively at Redmund Productions. Also, connect with her at her blog Poetic Parfait and on Twitter

Monday, September 23, 2013

Conflict is Key

Mary Gottschalk
Every good fiction writer knows that conflict is key. The main characters in a novel must have clearly defined desire lines … something they want badly enough to persevere in the face of every obstacle. 
It’s a challenge even when your character’s desire line is concrete: getting rich, becoming president of the United States or finding the murderer (or avoiding being caught). You still need characters whose internal conflicts give the story depth and intrigue.
The challenge is exponentially harder when the key characters have desire lines based on abstract goals: making a contribution to people’s lives, bringing peace to the world, or being seen as loyal and dependable. As with all good fiction, the story arc is based on conflicting desire lines. But in my upcoming novel, A Fitting Place, the characters have, in some way, actually contributed to creating the very problem they are trying to solve, and are often the source of the obstacles that get in the way of a solution.  
Just like in real life.  This is the dilemma most of us live until we learn to break out of our comfort zone. 
In fiction, as in life, The Enneagram, which classifies personality types based on unconscious motivation, can be helpful. As I’ve noted in previous blogs, each of the nine personality types can be evaluated in terms of the effectiveness with which they go about converting these abstract goals into real world accomplishments.
Take for example, the conflicting desire lines of my two key characters in A Fitting Place. As a “thinker,” my protagonist (Lindsey) takes prides in being knowledgeable, capable and self-reliant.  On her good days, she is thoughtful, perceptive, and a very good listener. On her bad days, she can be self-absorbed, secretive, and remarkably unaware of the emotional mood of her environment.
In contrast, my antagonist (Joan) is a “missionary” who wants to be helpful and nurturing.  On her goods days, she is compassionate, sympathetic and highly attuned to what other people need or want.  On her bad days, she is possessive and manipulative and can be masterful at inducing a sense of guilt into those reject her overtures.
Because both my characters are flawed—they operate at different points on the effectiveness spectrum on different days—the opportunities for mayhem and misunderstanding abound, as do the possibilities for significant personal growth and development. 
A Fitting Place is a story in which the challenges, mis-steps and successes of characters in conflict should be familiar to readers who (like most of us) have both good days and bad.  Good days, when we are happy with who we are and how we respond to the people around us.  Bad days, when we are our own worst enemy.
Do you ever have days on which you are your own worst enemy?
Mary has made a career out of changing careers.  After finishing her MBA, she spent nearly thirty years in the financial markets, working as an economist, a banker and a financial consultant to major corporations.  She has worked in New York, New Zealand, Australia, Central America, Europe, and amazingly, Des Moines, Iowa. 
Along the way, she dropped out several times.  In the mid-1980’s, Mary and her husband Tom embarked on the multi-year sailing voyage that is the subject of her memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam.  Twice, she left finance to provide financial and strategic planning services to the nonprofit community, first in New York and later in Des Moines.
In her latest incarnation, she defines herself as a writer.  She is working on her first novel (A Fitting Place), freelances, and lectures on the subject of personal risk-taking.
 Links to books and social media sites

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Presidential Panache

Jan Atchley Bevan

In this first Panache of my new term, I thought it might be fun to pick some authors from the male gender. After all, I am not a separatist by any means. These authors come from different genres in all different periods of literature. Hopefully, you might meet someone you were not so familiar with or perhaps never heard of before.
Our first author, Andy Stack, was born in Michigan on October 22, 1935. Andy Stack's father was a physical education coach in public school and his mother was a special education teacher for developmentally delayed children. His grandfather and uncle were sheriffs in Michigan, he had another uncle that was a medical examiner and there was a cousin who was a prosecutor. After spending the summers with his grandparents, Andy earned extra money by working in his grandfather’s local jail. At the University of Washington, Andy Stack majored in creative writing. It is no surprise that he minored in criminology, penology and psychology.
All of this would lead to a career in writing crime novels. At the height of his career, twenty-six out of twenty-eight of Stack's novels made the New York Times Best Seller List. I dare say, for Andy Stack "crime (at least in the literary sense) did pay."
My last author, Holme Lee, lived across the pond. He was born in York, England and lived during the Vict0rican era. Charles Dickens truly enjoyed one of Lee's early books and purchased three stories from Lee for Dickens’ own Christmas edition of his weekly magazine. Lee, in his lifetime, was a favorite author of the founder of Victorian London's most successful "Lending Libraries," Charles Edward Mudy. The Lending Library was a constant source of promoting Holme Lee's novels. With that in mind, Lee's books always went to a second printing in London. Some were even published in America.
Thus, Lee's books are ever so popular in England; they are still being read and studied at Oxford University.

Finally, there is an interesting twist to these unique and varied male writers. None of them were male at all.
Holme Lee was indeed Harriet Parr, 1828 to 1900. . She went on to write several volumes of fairy tales for children. Although Parr never married, she found great satisfaction in her writing and body of work.
Harriet Parr lived on the Isle of Wight, where she died in 1900.
'My name is Alice, but —'
'It's a stupid name enough!' Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. 'What does it mean?'
'Must a name mean something?' Alice asked doubtfully.
'Of course it must,' Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: 'my name means the shape I am — and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.'

Louis Carroll

Jan Atchley Bevan is our President of the Jacksonville branch of American Pen Women (

This is an excerpt from Jan’s contribution to our September newsletter. She calls them Presidential Pananche.
The full text can be read on our website