Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019, okay, wow


2019, okay, wow

As much as I felt like I was standing still, I kept going. I got a first draft done and a pretty good revision of another. I’ve been sending stuff out. Getting rejected and getting acceptances.

I got prospects for next year, and the critique group is getting back together.

Even though I felt washed up, I had 12 pieces accepted and wrote 4 new stories. This year I posted 130 blogs. I made new friends and lost a few.

A couple friends died this year—I miss them.

I started this year the same weight I ended it. Boot camp is working, nevertheless, I can keep up. On a good day.
This year I read a lot of books! There’s still a pile beside my bed, but let’s not talk about those.

I wrote a poem that a friend said was brilliant. This made me glow inside. I plan to submit it in 2020.

My daughter got married—and it was beautiful. Friends and relatives came from far and wide to celebrate. We made merry.

I rode my bike to Kingdom Come, actually to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont—where moose outnumber humans. It was remote and hot and VERY hilly. You could see the sky reflected in the ponds and the water was refreshing. And, as we know, what goes up comes down, where I coasted back to New York state (with a side trip to Brooklyn).

I came back refreshed and better able to see how a writing project might work if I reframed it. A week before Christmas I took an old idea that hadn’t gotten traction and suddenly was able to see it through. I surprised myself.

Good bye to 2019, hello 2020 . . .

Image result for 2020

Saturday, December 28, 2019

YEAR-END Sale, Dec 25 – Jan. 1





Have you ever wanted an Ebook copy of Freeze Frame or Flash Memoir? End of Year Sale Runs December 25 through January 1= 50% off, follow the link, https://www.smashwords.com and type in name of book to search (Freeze Frame is only $1.50) PLEASE feel free to share!



Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christ in the Desert, Christmas Eve



Nearly 40 years ago I went to visit my sister who was spending her Christmas break at Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian conference center outside of Taos, New Mexico. She had spent time working there as part of the college staff the summer before. Soon after arriving we grabbed snowshoes off some pegs and trudged back into Box Canyon where our voices echoed off the icy walls. During the long twilight, we slowly made our way back to the house following a trail of twinkling lights, like sparkling crystals in the haloed atmosphere. After a quick cup of hot chocolate we bounded into the back of a pickup truck and set out over gravel and blacktop roads.

I had no idea where. It was Christmas Eve.

We arrived in pitch darkness at a monastery lit by candlelight. The small chapel was packed. I can still recall the smell of wet wool coats and candlewax. The monks began to chant Noël in Latin. A drowsiness descended upon me.

Suddenly I was awakened when the mass was over and both Benedictines and congregants moved toward a vestry for homemade wheat bread, butter, and honey. There might have been jams.

It was after midnight when we left. I remember looking up at the starry sky, piercing points of light, guiding our pickup back to the Ranch. I was warm beneath the blankets; my heart bursting.

Image result for christ in the desert new mexico in the snow

Image result for christ in the desert new mexico in the snow


Monday, December 23, 2019

O Holy Night

O Holy Night is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians). I remember it as the finale to the Christmas Eve program at the Presbyterian church we attended in Kettering.

It can be a long night until the next morning to hold off on opening presents. At least the car ride and time at church filled those tense, anxious hours.

O Holy Night seems to be the perfect vehicle for a soloist, and, indeed, the woman who sang it annually was a trained professional, the daughter of one of the congregants, who came down from New York City. I remember one snowy Christmas in particular when there was speculation whether she would make it in time. Yet, always, in the end she rose up from the robed choir to take her place at the podium. The lights in the church were dimmed, lit mainly by the Advent candles, all of them now burning. The coughing and fidgeting ceased—in expectation. Or perhaps, we were all tired from busy days of wrapping and baking, and last-minutes shopping. Preparations for the “big” day receding as she began.

It is a song meant for a hushed sanctuary. It starts slow and low, painting a picture of the weary world, waiting. Yonder, over the horizon will come a glorious morn. Of, course this is the morrow, the day of presents. But, maybe more. There seems to be something even grander out there as the words come crashing down. Fall on your knees, the song and soloist demand.

The room fills with her voice and shakes—or is it the flicker of the candles, sleepy eyes blinking away fatigue. Hear the angel voices, o night divine. My heart wakes up as her voice rises.

Here is something to think about: the slave is our brother. Nowhere else do we hear this. In the 70s there were calls for social justice and ecology in the form of Earth Day, but here is an absolute truth: all those people who look different from us, who eat different foods, and worship other Gods, they are a part of us; we are one family. And, on a night such as this, I firmly believe it.

Christ is the Lord! It builds to a crescendo and by now I am fully alive to the message. Presents and the temporal have fallen into the background as she sings a series of pitched ohhhhhhs. Ending on a finale note. Divine.

We sit stunned. We do not know whether to clap, move toward the vestry, reach for coats. Hard to believe it is over for another whole year. I long for those angel voices, for that pure feeling that the slave is my brother, for that moment when even the candles burn brighter, higher, and the universe aligns.

The afterwards is an afterglow. Driving through neighborhoods decorated, lit up. Bleary blinking colored lights lulling me asleep.

And, I wonder, could anything ever be better than this. This now.



Image result for o holy night

Friday, December 20, 2019

Moments frozen in time


Via Facebook—I know the thing we love to hate and is stealing our elections—at the Uptown Historical Group, I discovered the wonderful little photo postcards of CR Childs. These have been featured at the site several times and this weekend decided to check them out.

Places to click were plentiful through Pinterest and eBay—aka examples of his work available to purchase. The subject matter seeming to be the Midwest circa 1900 – 1910. Outside of that I was having difficulty finding a bio. It seems as though Lake County and the Chicago Historical Societies have CR Childs’ postcards in their archives. Childs started his own printing company that produced these penny postcards. Regional photographer Charles R. Childs (1875 – 1960) was born in Elmwood, Illinois and worked for the Joliet Daily News before moving to Chicago to start his own commercial photography business about 1900. By 1906, Childs was specializing in real-photo postcard views of Chicago's neighborhoods and suburbs, including Lake County, Illinois. Childs set up shop as a commercial photographer after he moved to Chicago around 1900. He started making postcards and taking other printing jobs, as well, a few years later. Needing more space, he moved his business from the Loop to a three-story building at 5707-15 W. Lake St. in the Austin neighborhood. His business remained open on Lake Street into the 1950s. He lived nearby until his death of heart failure on Jan. 14, 1960. He never married.

The rise of the penny postcard

Following the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition introduced the American souvenir postcard, Childs was on trend, recognizing the collecting phenomenon of postcards. His postcards were an instant hit with his ability to capture small ubiquitous moments. Children playing in haystacks. Passengers waiting for the daily train. Lakeside photos.

After 1907, postal laws changed and allowed postcard messages to be written on the address side of the card, the industry spurted again. Before that, the message had to be tucked under the picture, making brevity the rule of the day. Several Chicago printers such as the Curt Teich Co., the Barnes-Crosby Co., the V.O. Hammon Postcard Co. and the United Card and Novelty Co., cashed in on the climate of postcard mania by printing and distributing millions of cards each day.

"People would send a postcard if they got as far as the Chain O' Lakes for a holiday," noted Ralph Teich, a son of Curt Teich who joined the family business in the 1940s.

About CR Childs’ perspective

The majority of his postcards capture romantic scenes such as a pastoral Naperville, row boats floating through lotus beds in Fox Lake or a dirt road heading into the shaded countryside from Evanston.

His legacy

The Chicago Historical Society bought the Childs archive of postcards and negatives from a now-deceased Chicago area collector and the estate of another deceased collector holds another voluminous archive. The Lake County Discovery Museum has over 600 Childs' postcards. It is estimated that Childs, along with the photographers he employed, produced 40,000 to 60,000 different photo postcard views of the Midwest. Focusing his lens on postcard images from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Mr. Childs sent photographers out on the interurban trains from Chicago to various towns in the Midwest to capture views.

Today his early penny postcards sell for the premium price of from $15 to $30 at postcard shows and online.

Wilson Avenue Beach

A CR Childs' RPPC is now up for sale on eBay. It appears to be Buena and Kenmore Avenue in Buena Park. $14.99

Early 1900s RPPC showing Wilson Avenue east from Evanston Avenue, now known as Broadway. Available for purchase on eBay. $16

His genius seems to have been in capturing the mundane city-scapes that we now use to reference the past, to make it come alive, and center us where we are today.

New Work Out

Little Old Lady (comedy) or Laugh out Loud or LOL
just put out a 50-word flash of mine titled Her Time

about reinventing yourself--it's time--your time!


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Cloud of Witnesses in the News Cycle!


Children’s Book Title Suddenly Relevant
 
There has been an uptick of interest in southeast Ohio because of Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow’s viral speech. In his acceptance speech he mentioned his hometown and the poverty affecting that part of Ohio, where, as he mentioned, students often go to bed hungry.

Cloud of Witnesses recently released by Golden Alley Press is a middle-grade novel about an Athens, Ohio eighth grader struggling to find his place in school, his family, and the world outside his small-town. Author Jane Hertenstein has given talks and compiled a bibliography of books written about children growing up in rural areas of America. “There are very few resources that reflect these children and their particular struggles.” She gave a seminar at the Illinois Reading Council for teachers and librarians. She cited Dave Eggers’ new novel The Lifters as a book using a rural setting.

Appalachia and what is termed “fly-over country” has suddenly captured our nation’s imagination.

Cloud of Witnesses is set in a small town in southeastern Ohio in 1979. Tested as gifted, Roland Tanner is bused to the town school, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly. Self-conscious to a fault, Roland is ashamed of living in a trailer. He hopes someday to be able to go somewhere, maybe college, and forever leave behind his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length.

Lists of Appalachian literature are scant, but have been widely received and honored. Missing May, Cynthia Rylant, Newbery Medal, Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo, Newbery Honor, Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Newbery Medal, and Casing Redbird, by Sharon Creech to name a few.

Published by Golden Alley Press, Cloud of Witnesses https://goldenalleypress.com/jane-hertenstein/media-kit-for-cloud-of-witnesses/
Download press kit and reading guide for teachers, as well as other resources.
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CONTACT: Nancy Sayre at Gold Alley Press
610-966-4440 for more information






Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Bright Invisible


Bright Invisible


From Kyle White of Kyle White Ink a fellow flasher and November 5 birther brother:

Hi Jane, I read this in one-sitting in the Northwoods today. I enjoyed the Chicago start, the history, your vivid poetry, and your tributes in-the-style-of. Felt like I was on the island. Resonated with your "imposter" moments, too! Thanks for sharing it! It's lovely.

Bright Invisible: Word Sketches from Great Spruce Head Island

a PDF chapbook, This chapbook will appeal to readers of the New York School—particularly fans of James Schuyler and John Ashbery. Great Spruce Head Island has been a source of inspiration for generations of artists and writers. I was invited to GSHI to spend a week walking where Frank O’Hara, Ashbery, and Schuyler walked. Through essays, journal entries, persona letters where I channel James Schuyler, I attempt to experience the island through their eyes. CLICK on image to request *FREE PDF

The “imposter moments” refer to persona letters—where I borrow James Schuyler for a bit and channel him.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Affirm yourself




365 Affirmations for the Writer

We all need affirmation. Remember that line in the film/book, The Wife by Meg Wolitzer—“everyone needs approval”
That film could actually be titled The Writer. Anyways, here is a year’s worth of encouragement, approval, affirmations to keep the writer going. Plus there’s bonus material of warm-up exercises and ideas to get the writer motor purring. Download or order a copy today—from Amazon or wherever you get books these days.

Writing is a journey. Every time we sit down to begin a piece or write the first chapter or the first line we are venturing into uncharted territory. 365 Affirmations for the Writer is about listening to those who have gone before us and letting them guide us with their insight, their own trials. By reading what others have said, we can survey the path before us, count the cost, and plunge ahead.

From an Amazon review: If you are a writer in need of a little inspiration, this book is for you. The quotes are great, but I especially liked the bonus material which provided concrete exercises to spark my creativity.


Friday, December 13, 2019

365 Affirmations for the Writer


We all need affirmation. Remember that line in the film/book, The Wife by Meg Wolitzer—“everyone needs approval”
That film could actually be titled The Writer. Anyways, here is a year’s worth of encouragement, approval, affirmations to keep the writer going. Plus there’s bonus material of warm-up exercises and ideas to get the writer motor purring. Download or order a copy today—from Amazon or wherever you get books these days.

Writing is a journey. Every time we sit down to begin a piece or write the first chapter or the first line we are venturing into uncharted territory. 365 Affirmations for the Writer is about listening to those who have gone before us and letting them guide us with their insight, their own trials. By reading what others have said, we can survey the path before us, count the cost, and plunge ahead.

From an Amazon review: If you are a writer in need of a little inspiration, this book is for you. The quotes are great, but I especially liked the bonus material which provided concrete exercises to spark my creativity.



Thursday, December 12, 2019

Also accepted

TWO 50-word flashes to a online journal named
Little Old Lady comedy

she has a section called Brainfarts--sounds like my kind of place

so far I'm on a roll--just when last week I was feeling washed up. Time for some Affirmation.
Image result for little old lady comedy

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Obsolete


I wrote a short piece last week. 529 words—from a brain challenge/philosophical exercise about the nature of things that become obsolete. Lately it seems that everyday objects are becoming hard to find. We all know that mass manufacturing is the most efficient way to produce/grow something. It’s why chickens were bred to have heavy breasts that weigh them down and forced to live in chicken concentration camps. It’s way easier.

But what about those items that defy mass production, that regardless of how cost effective they are to produce just don’t sell that fast. Like birthday candles. How many times in your life have you been forced to buy birthday candles—at the most once a year? As opposed to buying milk or some other commodity. Nor does one want to buy birthday candles in bulk—and so on I put forth in the piece.

Anyway, it was nice to take an idea from start to finish in one sitting—as opposed to the huge project I’d just taken on and been living with for over 3 months. Long story short: I thought it, wrote it, submitted it, and had it accepted in one day.

I’m going to try to remember this when I’m feeling like a loser—which happens every time I hve to face the blank page.

Links to published piece forthcoming.
Image result for boom box
obsolete, boom box from Radio Shack, also obsolete

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Autobiographical Songs=Mike Posner, Living in the Now


Mike Posner seems like a real good kid (age 31). Like everyone he’s had his ups and downs. An up might be his song I Took a Pill in Ibiza, downloaded over a billion times, a down might be:
Father dying of brain cancer
Friends and musical acquaintances dying
Broken relationships

In his video “Moving On” he confesses that he’s been feeling a little off. So, Mike Posner did a brave thing: in the middle of a promising music career filled with concert dates and album deadlines, he stepped away.

And, not only that, he decided to walk across America.

I am old enough to remember the articles in National Geographic by Peter Jenkins walking across America in the 1970s. Peter had graduated college and found himself at a crossroads. His marriage was on the rocks, the world seemed like it was on fire, the Vietnam war and hippie movement were winding down, and he needed a cause, something to go for. Jenkins documented his journey with text and photos. A camera was supplied by National Geographic when he stopped at their offices in Washington DC as he was passing through—the sponsorship paid off as Jenkins articles generated tons of interest from readers.

Anyway, it seems that there are junctures in life where folks decide to get off the fast-track, treadmill and hop into a slow zone or reboot. For some this is called bucket list—which can have selfish connotations attached to it. Either way, it is about finding one’s self, or truer self. Or just trying to get real.

MY MISSION
1) My mission is enjoy my life and help others enjoy theirs.
2) Be as authentic to other people as possible.
3) Help others to experience transcendence.

You might think this kind of decision would put his musical career on hold. Instead it reinvigorated it and in fact supplied material for 2 new albums. Many of the songs could be categorized as autobiographical.

Posner drew from his walk to write songs about moving on, feeling good, talk about his father's death, or simply as a springboard to focus on other things. He was doing life different and seeing things from a new perspective.

He walked through weather, rain or shine, hot and cold. Road traffic and even worse, road boredom. He was forced to look inward and re-evaluate.

MY GOALS
1.      Leave each town we go through a little bit better than when we arrived.
2.      Practice deep listening: I will be spending periods of my walk compassionately listening to people with as much of my full attention as possible. This means listening to others, not to the voice in my head.
3.      Love everybody.
4.      Sing for people.
5.      Enjoy where I am in the journey. Don’t waste time obsessing about getting to the end.

Along the way he was bitten by a rattlesnake. Now, I thought there was like an anti-venom magic serum that reversed the effects, but apparently this is still a very real thing, as in=Mike had to be airlifted and go through re-hab in order to walk again and finish the journey. He returned to the place where he left off to continue walking.

A Real Good Kid might be described as a concept project as he asks in his introduction that people listen to it all the way through in one sitting. The songs are highly personal and reflective. There aren’t a lot of hooks or throw-away lines. Some of them are difficult to listen to, but they are nitty-gritty authentic. Same for “Move On.”

The song “Live Before I Die” (see here on YouTube, https://youtu.be/uXeZNXdu-gs) is a good example of an autobiographical song—it tells the story of his walk, in 4 minutes. Also, he wasn’t exactly unplugged from music on the actual walk—“While I walk, I will be playing free surprise concerts for people.”

So in my opinion Mike exemplifies my own philosophy about how to live for yourself and at the same time living for others.
Image result for mike posner walk across america
Related image
Image result for mike posner walk across america


Friday, December 6, 2019

Flash and the prose poem


I remember the first time I read/heard a prose poem and was suddenly enveloped with a sense of oh, okay, this is a thing.

At Calvin College’s Festival of Faith & Writing I sat in an auditorium and heard Stephen Dunn in discussion with Scott Cairns about “At The Smithville Methodist Church.” I imagined this poem as a piece of prose. I saw how easily it told the story of a moment.

Immediately I thought two things: 1) why can’t I do this? And 2) would this be okay?

The answer to both is of course. We are “allowed” to try anything.

I was also at this point deep into Robert Bly and the form called ghazal—and how it meanders and leads us back, round and round to a certain place. I imagined a prose poem much like a ghazal—that unwittingly tricks us into a small epiphany, by mostly juxtapositioning 2 seemingly unrelated ideas, the contrast showing them up more clearly and recasting them in a different light, possibly a third way.

I love these moments. That crack us wide open to new possibilities.

From the Poetry Foundation website: A prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.


At The Smithville Methodist Church by Stephen Dunn
It was supposed to be Arts & Crafts for a week,
but when she came home
with the "Jesus Saves" button, we knew what art
was up, what ancient craft.

She liked her little friends. She liked the songs
they sang when they weren't
twisting and folding paper into dolls.
What could be so bad?

Jesus had been a good man, and putting faith
in good men was what
we had to do to stay this side of cynicism,
that other sadness.

OK, we said, One week. But when she came home
singing "Jesus loves me,
the Bible tells me so," it was time to talk.
Could we say Jesus

doesn't love you? Could I tell her the Bible
is a great book certain people use
to make you feel bad? We sent her back
without a word.

It had been so long since we believed, so long
since we needed Jesus
as our nemesis and friend, that we thought he was
sufficiently dead,

that our children would think of him like Lincoln
or Thomas Jefferson.
Soon it became clear to us: you can't teach disbelief
to a child,

only wonderful stories, and we hadn't a story
nearly as good.
On parents' night there were the Arts & Crafts
all spread out

like appetizers. Then we took our seats
in the church
and the children sang a song about the Ark,
and Hallelujah

and one in which they had to jump up and down
for Jesus.
I can't remember ever feeling so uncertain
about what's comic, what's serious.

Evolution is magical but devoid of heroes.
You can't say to your child
"Evolution loves you." The story stinks
of extinction and nothing

exciting happens for centuries. I didn't have
a wonderful story for my child
and she was beaming. All the way home in the car
she sang the songs,

occasionally standing up for Jesus.
There was nothing to do
but drive, ride it out, sing along
in silence.

Image result for stephen dunn, prose poem, at smithville
Stephen Dunn

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A Struggling Artist


Whew reader(s) it has been a hectic last few months, and this blog has suffered. I’m used to posting at least 2 – 3 times a week and lately it’s been sometimes once a week, 4 times a month. I’ve been hard at work on a new manuscript that will likely go nowhere. This is how it goes for unsigned, unfamous writers. A struggling artist.

Yet, I feel a bit of satisfaction. To have finished.

It is about bicycling.

Many reader(s) and friends have “suggested” I write about cycling since it is a passion of mine. But, there is a lot of distance between an idea and the actualization of it. I needed a jumping off place, a framing device. On my Adirondacks/Vermont Green Mountain Loop I was able to visualize what it was I wanted to do.

--Of course, there is a lot of distance still between that moment and getting words on paper/digital file. I hadn’t yet realized the scope. Every line or paragraph I found myself gping deeper, filling in backstory and giving historical content to what I first thought to summarize quickly before going on to the “point.” The small project began to fill out. At one point I had 40 tabs open.

Now, I’m back. I’m not done—by a long shot—but at least I’m feeling not so distracted. This is the first writing project where I needed 2 or 3 monitors to keep all the threads in front of me. I’d like to think I did all right, but I have a feeling there is going to be a few tabs and more work to be done.

So if you know a publisher of agent that needs a pile of s---- about solo woman bicycling at age 60, please contact me here!






Monday, December 2, 2019

Shameless self-promotion

my new ebook chapbook is FREE
this is a hybrid incorporating persona letters, poetry, memoir
travelogue, musings


Bright Invisible: Word Sketches from Great Spruce Head Island

a PDF chapbook, This chapbook will appeal to readers of the New York School—particularly fans of James Schuyler and John Ashbery. Great Spruce Head Island has been a source of inspiration for generations of artists and writers. I was invited to GSHI to spend a week walking where Frank O’Hara, Ashbery, and Schuyler walked. Through essays, journal entries, persona letters where I channel James Schuyler, I attempt to experience the island through their eyes. CLICK on image to request *FREE PDF=see side bar at upper right to CLICK