Month: June 2016

Reggie Survives

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Hail to the first book I had published–“Reggie the Goat.”

That was in 1962 I believe by T.S. Dennison, now gone the way of all good publishers. Originally it was named Gilbert’s Goat but the editor and publisher L.M.Brings changed the name.  The good folks at Dennison returned the authors copy rights to me and I have recorded that with the Library of Congress, should I ever want to reissue Reggie again.  However, all those left over books are still up for sale on the Amazon website.

Reggie had a nice adventure, being rescued by Gilbert from a shelter, traveling in a taxi, not fitting in a dog house and finally winding up as an ambassador at the local zoo.  I noticed recently that the zoo now has many goats hanging around. They are easy to care for, eat down the grasses, and turn up in the Petting area for kids to feed. Goats are less expensive than larger animals and probably help pay for themselves by mowing the grass and weeds, and serving as a pleasant, nonviolent attraction.

See below is Reggie, chewing on a scrap of cardboard after he chewed his way out of a box that Gilbert placed over his head to hide his identity.  After all, what taxi driver would want to have a goat as a passenger. As Dennison was a supplier to libraries, Reggie was distributed quite widely.  However, I never gave up my day job as a  newspaper  writer.  But I did visit a lot of schools, and received nice fan letters from youngsters who enjoyed meeting Reggie.


When Did You Begin to Write

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I was just reading the blog of a friend who was discussing when she first began writing. As with many writers it was in grade school. One of my favorite topics was writing about dogs mushing through the snow in the Artic . I knew nothing about that topic but my imagination flowed. Then someone suggested writers should write about what they know.  Then when I was in the seventh grade I submitted one of my stories to a children’s page in the Country Gentlemen magazine and would you believe I received a letter saying I had earned a first prize certificate. I can’t even remember what I wrote about. But that inspired me to continue.  Through the years I have had a lot of fun writing for different publications such as Day Publications and Meat Processing,  Highlights for Children and others.  Many of those articles were based  on interviews, so I have many people in person or via phone that shared many interesting stories.  Now I’ve begun writing again just for myself.  What a joy!

Just as with reading, time passes very  fast.

Short Books

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Hurrah for author James Patterson for paving the way to shorter fiction books.  As some of you know, I too, write shorter books.  (Note “Spirit Dog” on Amazon)  .Patterson  has just introduced through Little Brown Publishers the BookShot books for younger as well as older readers. As described on “Good Sunday Morning” they are 150 pages long.  

As  do many writers, I have been working on a novel for adults for several years and querying, etc. like writers do.  But so many publishers request over 50,000 words and even 80,000. That’s a lot of reading and likewise writing.  Some people like that length.  (I wonder why newspaper stories have grown shorter?)

Anyway, one premise of these shorter books .is to appeal to younger readers who don’t like to read.  Once my son did not like to read.  In fact, the teacher said he was failing in reading.  So I encouraged him to start putting together those plastic models, thinking that he would have to read the instructions.  Guess what?  He didn’t read the instructions but pasted together a complete dinosaurs collection.  Eventually, he did become a pretty good reader by reading newspapers or at least the shorter items in them.

I grew up reading “Dick and Jane”  and at various times in my newspaper writing  jobs I  wrote about reading situations.  At one time I even bought the first two readers in the series. “My name is Jane,” etc. And, of course, we can’t leave out their dog “Spot.”  Recite this paragraph to the younger set today, and they will give you a  strange look.  That’s probably why I liked the  first “Tarzan” movies.  Come to think of it I just saw a new commercial  about a new Tarzan movie.

However, I still love the original Johnny Weismuller  (spelling?) with Mia’s mother (Margaret Sullivan, I think).  Once when living in Chicago I went to what was then the Intercontinental Hotel and just bought from Sheraton, and went down to the swimming pool.  It was an elaborate Neptune’s pool with giant shells all around it.  Beautiful!   That was one of the places, they said, where Johnny had trained for the Olympics.  In later years I lived in Arlington Hts., Ill. and the next town over was Elk Grove Village.  A story ran in the suburban paper that Johnny lived in retirement in one of the home developments there.  I drove by the area.  The homes resembled mine.  Of course, in his day, Johnny had not made a great deal of money, so he was then living on a modest income. I wonder if Neptune’s pool is still there?.  Michigan Avenue and that hotel has changed many times since then.   Oh well!





Retirement Rehearsal

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Today I was just reading an article in “Money” magazine about a topic I have learned a lot about–retirement and spending in retirement. This issue–July–contained the article “Picture a Perfect Retirement” by Rick Kahler. This magazine doesn’t often have articles about money matters after retirement but this was right on the point for me.

There is much advice given about thinking ahead to retirement, planning retirement and making a budget. And there are obvious things to budget such as various regular payments, vacations, utilities, etc.  Rick’s article suggested rehearsing one or two months of your retirement, and living on that budget. Good advice!  But he did not get into what I have found to be a deep water topic–discretionary spending.   This is a prime item for rehearsing or keeping track of for several months.

There are regular periodic items such as barber shop or beauty shop, golf, bowling, etc. that are obvious discretionary items to put in your budget.  And most people stop there. No, no, no.   Keep track of all the little extras you spend and you will have an awesome list. Here are some from mine:  postage stamps, flashlight batteries, treats for grandchildren, birthday cards/wrap, gum, tips, movie tickets, popcorn, lottery or raffle tickets, flowers, envelopes, ink cartridge, a magazine or Girl Scout cookies.

Don’t stop at a yard sale unless you have change to spend. Another tip is don’t buy a magazine–go borrow from the library instead. The same with a book.

After collecting your discretionary spending information for a few months, then take an average and you will have a sum that is close to correct to put in your budget. You will be surprised!








What’s a Career?

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Today I’m always reading about a person who had a “career” in business or was a lawyer, or whatever.  Have you ever wondered  when a career begins and ends. The person is still alive but nothing is said what he/she might be doing now. (He completed his career and is now sitting in his lawn chair reading.)

So  I Googled the word and here is one of several descriptions that I found. I’ve left the whole description in because you could go on finding other information.

The progress and actions taken by a person throughout a lifetime, especially those related to that person’s occupations. A career is often composed of the jobs held, titles earned and work accomplished over a long period of time, rather than just referring to one position.

Read more:

Anyway,  I thought back on my own career.  Only one segment of it has continued through several occupations.  I thought of it like peeling an onion.  I have done marketing, public relations, promotions, teaching– but each only periods of time. But writing I have continued long after the other segments have expired.  So now I can say I have a career as a writer and author because I’m still doing that.  My proof in recent years is going from  newspaper articles and corporate magazines to such fluff as “Spirit Dog” and “Mister Umbrella Man, Stories About Inventions” available on Amazon.

So what does it all mean?  Probably nothing.  I only hope that somewhere along the way someone, somewhere has enjoyed reading it.

P.S. Along the way I have received a fan letter or two. One of the most interesting was a letter from a lady about an article I wrote–probably in 1969 for a newspaper called “The Day.”.  It was about a  large stone house that was going to be redecorated by several interior designers as a “Decorator Show House,” for charity. Then it was going to be put up for sale by the owners. But as a reporter, I was invited to tour the house and do a before and after story.  At one time this lady had lived there.  She wanted to know if the “dumb waiter” was still installed in the house or whether it had been taken out. I did remember that it was there, because outside of a hotel, I had never seen one in a home.  The other thing I remembered and still do, was that in the “before” tour, the master of the house never cleaned up anything personal about his bedroom. There by the side of his bed was a scuffed  well-worn pair of shoes and a tie was thrown over the back of a chair. Laundry was in an open hamper.  I had always practiced folding up my bed and making my own bedroom sort of presentable, should any stranger–even a burglar– saunter through.

So that was how the wealthy lived, I decided.  I left that part out of the article.



New Words

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New words  are always being created. One that I really have been hearing is “on fleek” meaning looking good or on point.  Supposedly it was started by Kim Kardashian when talking about her eye brows. They were on fleek.

Time magazine’s May 23 issue had an interesting article on this subject. Editors who develop dictionaries have had  fun keeping up. Many of these new words don’t get the attention they maybe should. In other words, some words are like the Wikipedia–they are not accepted nor approved by dictionary compilers called lexicographers

A couple of the words given by Time were “senpal” meaning an older mentor and “baeless” meaning single without a mate.

Every now and then I have to refer to a dictionary. I have an American Heritage dictionary  with pictures and sketches down the margins.  I recently referred to it  and realized that once many years ago this dictionary was not accepted by the Webster people.  I received it as a gift. It weighs about four pounds. I used to love to go to an old library where a huge dictionary stood on a stand and appeared to contain millions of words.

Today there are several types of dictionaries that are not recognized by the “word powers.”  One is the Wordnik dictionary, BabelNet is another. Yet another is Green’s Dictionary of Slang –contains 130,000 words compiled by Jonathan Green (not a relative of mine). Do feel free to create your own word for this or that.