A Retreat for Creative Minds and a National Historic Landmark

A Retreat for Creative Minds and a National Historic Landmark

by C.K. Thomas

Yaddo, an artists’ colony and retreat for serious artists in Saratoga Springs, New York,Kate Trask is the creation of author/poet Kate (Katrina) Nichols Trask (1853-1922).

The name Yaddo was coined by Christina, one of the Trasks’ four children, through her childish mispronunciation of the word shadow. Tragically all of the Trask children died either in infancy or childhood.

Kate believed the 400-acre estate resonated with a mystic energy for creative inspiration. From the age of 46 until her death in 1922, planning for the center became her main focus, along with her continued writing and publishing of sonnets, lyrics, plays and poetry. Her antiwar play The Vanguard, published in 1914, was performed widely at churches and for women’s organizations.

by Katrina Trask

Oh power of Love, Oh wondrous mystery!
How is my dark illumined by thy light,
That maketh morning of my gloomy night,
Setting my soul from Sorrow’s bondage free
With swift-sent revelation; yea, I see
Beyond the limitation of my sight
And senses, comprehending now, aright,
Today’s proportion to Eternity.
Through thee, my faith in God is made more sure,
My searching eyes have pierced the misty veil;
The pain and anguish which stern Sorrow brings,
Through thee become more easy to endure.
Love-strong I mount, and Heaven’s high summit scale;
Through thee, my soul has spread her folded wings.

Yaddo officially opened in 1926. Unfortunately, neither Kate nor her husband, Spencer, who died in a 1909 railroad accident, lived to see their dream to completion. Kate had several heart attacks and lived as an invalid on the estate for many of the years she spent planning Yaddo.


Over the decades, more than 6,000 artists have frequented Yaddo, including Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Ruth Heller, Patricia Highsmith, Flannery O’Conner, Sylvia Plath, Katherine Anne Porter, and Mario Puzo. Patricia Highsmith, who wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley, among other novels, bequeathed her entire $3 million estate to Yaddo during the center’s Centennial Gift Campaign.

Tourists are welcome to visit the extensive gardens at Yaddo, but there is no access to the mansion or the artists’ residences, with the exception of special events.


See inside Yaddo

The Gardens at Yaddo


Liberty’s Women, Wikipedia, and Alloveralbany.com

C.K. ThomasC.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.

Please Share

Posted in C.K. Thomas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Protect your assets – cover your butt

Protect your assets – cover your butt

by Elizabeth Blake

About a month ago, my computer crashed at lightning speed and with great flourish. Apparently it decided I’m an impostor and have been for the past three years, so it shoveled every bit of my work and records into a temporary file and obliterated it.

laptop crash

Two tech teams later, they’re still convinced my files never existed.

After the first wave of heart-stopping terror passed, I convinced myself to breathe. No problem: I backup my files. Occasionally. Then there’s the cloud thing I use. Sometimes. And some memory sticks floating inside my briefcase and desk. I got this.

I was able to piecemeal recover about ninety-percent of my work. Except for my most recent rough draft, which I had written all the way up until the last scene. Sixty-thousand words MIA.

I gnashed my teeth for about three days and started to rewrite. From scratch. An entire book. And I was almost on deadline!

After signing up for two new cloud services and getting a new computer, I’m on my way to recovery. I urge everyone to routinely save their files in multiple ways. If all your eggs are currently in one basket, you should panic and immediately establish a backup. Utilize the military mantra: Two is one, one is none.

Files aren’t what I wanted to talk about, but the rant leads into the real topic.

Authors have to safeguard their processes. No one will ever understand or respect our writing as much as we should. We need to create a safe place so the words can come. If we don’t preserve the things words need to grow – routine, time, energy, and dedication – the words will wither and die. And the book will remain unwritten.

Life will pull at us from every direction: television, infotainment, friends, family, that other job that pays the bills. If we let the noise suck us in, our words will suffer. We don’t like to tell our friends we can’t come play because we’re writing, but we have to. No one else will come over and fill the harrowing empty pages. No one else is going to write the denouement for us. No one else will fix the character conflict on page 83. It’s up to us to save the time, do the work, and enrich our legacy.

I have something written on the whiteboard near my desk:

Hand With Marker

And so I’ve cultured a question to remind myself:

Is this thing [show, visit, task, etc.] worth sacrificing my writing time for?

If the answer is “no” and my writing isn’t done, I have to be brave enough to turn down the fun diversions and plop my bum in the writing chair.

I’m not saying we can never have fun, never watch television. Unless the idea of being an ascetic writing monk works for you, it’s not necessary to cast aside everything in exchange for your writing. Simply remember what your priorities are.

I urge everyone to protect your files, because losing them sucks something awful – but mostly, be a champion for your writing and nurture it with attention.

elizabeth-blakeElizabeth Blake is a complex woman. She’ll tell you that she’s not that complicated, that her demands are simple: Coffee, good books, freedom, world domination… Elizabeth Blake is a sorceress of stories, a lover of letters. If you want to get to know her, visit The Mind & Heart of Elizabeth Blake, pick up her books, follow her on social media, buy her a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Please Share

Posted in Elizabeth Blake | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Self-Publishing Force-Field Analysis

The Self-Publishing Force-Field Analysis

by Mary Ellen Stepanich


Some of us writers have an affinity for bookkeeping, and when we tally all the self-publishing costs against the income from our book sales, we discover a dismal truth: We make very little – if any – profit from self-publishing our books.

However, some people are successful, and the incomes from their book sales ultimately exceed the expenses. What are the secrets of being successful at self-publishing? Some people, like our group meet-up leader, Laura Orsini, know most of those secrets and the steps that lead to success. One tool that might help us new writers discover the effectiveness of those steps for our own projects is an exercise I once used in teaching effective decision-making: the Force Field Analysis.

ROI - sample

Sample Force Field Analysis


ROI - blank

Blank Force Field Analysis

Here’s how it works: First, identify the precise goal you are attempting to accomplish. Let’s say a self-published writer wants to make enough royalty on book sales to equal the cost of publishing plus ten percent. That’s a fairly substantial Return on Investment, especially for first-time self-published authors.

Next, write the goal at the top of a blank piece of paper or flip chart. Underscore the goal, and then draw a straight line down from the center of the horizontal line. Label the left side “Positive Forces” and the right side “Negative Forces.”

On the left side of the chart, write down the factors that contribute to the goal and will exert a positive force toward the desired end result. Then, draw an arrow from the factor toward the centerline. The longer the arrow, the more importance that factor has in achieving the goal. Conversely, write down the forces on the right side of the chart that will hinder achievement of the goal, with the strength of the negative force reflected by the length of the arrow.

When all factors have been identified, the next step is to determine actions that will eliminate the negative forces. As the old song says, “Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.” Once negative or hindering forces are reduced or eliminated, the positive and enabling forces will help us move toward our goal. In other words, focus on reducing the negatives, which will allow the positives to do their magic.

Each writer must identify the forces in his or her particular market. Some Positive Forces might be: good writing/story, target market awareness, knowledge of technology/graphic arts, 100,000 Twitter followers (….well, that one may be a bit overinflated). Negative Forces might include: insufficient time for marketing, lack of editing skills, and limited target market.

So, get out the flip chart or open a Word document and start brainstorming. You may discover that your self-publishing success is closer than you think.

Mary Ellen StepanichDr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior who always told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior is a bit wonky.” She has published articles in academic journals (boring), show scripts for barbershop choruses and quartets (funny), and an award-winning radio play, “Voices from the Front,” for Sun Sounds of Arizona (heartrending). Mary Ellen lives in Peoria, Arizona, with her cat, Cookie, and blogs on her website, MaryEllenStepanich.com.

Please Share

Posted in Mary Ellen Stepanich | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Spring and the Beat Goes On!

It’s Spring and the Beat Goes On!

by Joe Carroccio

beatles in america

Marti and I did our second book signing of 2017, in support of 16 in ’64: The Beatles and the Baby Boomers, on Saturday, March 11th, at the Zia Records located at 2510 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. As always, it was fun, entertaining, and PR productive.

We still want to do book signings at Zia’s two Tucson locations, and it looks like those may be upcoming in June or July.

I called, left voicemail, and emailed my contact at the M.I.M. (Musical Instrument Museum) with regard to possibly working with them on the Global Beatles Day celebration in June as well as John Lennon’s birthday celebration in September. I’ve had no response as of yet but will continue to work on it. Persistence is one of the keys to any success.

As we mentioned in several previous posts, Marti will be attending The Fest for Beatle Fans in fest for beatles fansChicago in August and will most likely speak at the event. We are waiting to hear from the festival management for details.

As always, I continue to make additions and revisions to our website, 16in64.com. Please check the site regularly for new book reviews and other interesting information.

Finally, we are still seeking a movie producer! So far my Facebook outreach has been unproductive, but this is my #1 priority so I will be working on it over the next 6 months.

Thanks, and blessings to all who have and continue to support us.

_________________Joe Carroccio

Joe Carroccio is the coauthor of 16 in ’64: The Beatles and the Baby Boomers. Learn more at: 16in64.com.

Please Share

Posted in Joe Carroccio, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Grammar Accord: Be Sure Your Nouns and Pronouns Agree

Grammar Accord: Be Sure Your Nouns and Pronouns Agree

by Kathleen Watson


If you remember early grammar lessons, you’ll recall that a noun is a person, place or thing:

man | village | car

The man drove to a nearby village to test-drive the car.

A proper noun takes the place of a noun; it is a specific person, place or thing:

John | Mayville | Chevrolet

John drove to Mayville to test-drive the Chevrolet.

A pronoun takes the place of or refers to a noun; it generally is less specific than a noun or proper noun:

he, you, they, it, ours, who, which, anyone, that, this, those

He drove there to test-drive it.

Although we all recognize that grammar is interpreted more casually than ever before, careful writers still pay attention to long-accepted conventions. Pronouns can get us into grammatical trouble when they don’t “agree” with the noun they represent.

Here are samples of mismatched nouns and pronouns, along with potential rewrites:

mismatch: Whoever breaks the rules is going to find they will be penalized.
problem: Whoever is singular and they  is plural
better: Whoever breaks the rules will find out there are penalties.

mismatch: A patient (singular) should feel comfortable with their (plural) physician.
problem: patient is singular and their is plural
better: Patients should feel comfortable with their physicians.

mismatch: Most experts say that as a baby (singular) grows and matures, they (plural) start sleeping longer at night.
problem: a baby is singular and they is plural
better: Most experts say that as babies grow and mature, they start sleeping longer at night.

These “one” pronouns often create problems with subject/verb agreement:

everyone | anyone | someone

mismatch: Everyone may use their computers during class.
problem: Everyone means every single person and their means multiple persons
better: All students may use their computers during class.

mismatch: Anyone who rides a bicycle should wear their helmet.
problem: Anyone means any one person and their means multiple persons
better: Anyone who rides a bicycle should wear a helmet.

mismatch: If you see someone using the back door, please direct them to the front.
problem: someone means one person and them means multiple persons
better: If you see people using the back door, please direct them to the front.

And remember that everybody, anybody, anyone, each, neither, nobody and someone are considered singular and should be paired with singular pronouns. Some writers believe they/them is becoming an acceptable pairing. I’m not yet among them. How about you?

Kathleen Watson has nearly three decades of experience as an independent business writer, serving clients in both corporate and academic settings. Her weekly blog, Killer Tips from The Ruthless Editor, offers practical word and punctuation tips, as does her recently published book Grammar For People Who Hate Rules: Killer Tips From The Ruthless Editor. Contact her at: Kathy@RuthlessEditor.com.

Please Share

Posted in Kathleen Watson, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

From dreams to reality… literally

From dreams to reality… literally

by Ross Caligiuri

It’s late at night and you are drifting in and out of the warm world that exists between awake and asleep. Suddenly, the ever-changing geometric patterns pulsing quickly through an array of alternating colors, defying the spectrum of your vision, form into a familiar shape. The face of a woman appears, and without warning you know everything about her – from lifelong desires to single moments of pain.

What happens next?

If you are anything like me, ideas for your project (art, storyline, song) probably visit you in your sleep, or at least in the moments before you begin dreaming. As a child, I was taught not to place a considerable amount of meaning on my late night visions, but as a creative adult I am gradually being made aware of the large number of individuals who pull inspiration from this unknown realm.

Still, none of us talk openly about this seemingly less-than-random occurrence. I wanted to use this blog post to officially state: I am a dreamer and I know others like me are out there! It’s time to remove the veil and begin this discussion in order to ultimately discover what we are unconsciously tapping into.

We all know that inspiration can strike at any given moment, but that’s not the purpose of this post. As I began to dive deeper into my research on this subject, I realized that many of my colleagues not only draw material, melodies, and characters from this world, but they also have visions of their own lives. Futures that can’t yet be explained, that is, until those moments come into fruition.

What the heck is this guy ranting about? Premonitions, or as some cultures refer to it, deja vu. Subconscious imprints left in our waking minds, only to be revealed to us yet again days, weeks, or years later.

My most recent experience with this phenomena happened while driving down the road in Middle of Nowhere, Montana. The man next to me – a tall, slender, musician type along for the cross-country tour. We had been passing the unwavering travel time discussing many subjects, from alien life and the subconscious mind to the quirks of human nature.

I breathed out a small laugh and turned to him, shaking my head slightly, my eyes leaving the road for a split second. “You won’t believe it, but I’m having deja vu at this very moment.”

Excitedly, he sat up straighter in his seat, shifting his weight onto his left leg. “What happens next?” he asked me.

“Well,” I started, attempting to collect my thoughts before continuing. “I remember all of this from a dream I had recently. That blue sedan cruising up ahead, this single lane road, even you sitting here next to me. It’s all familiar. Although at the time, since we hadn’t officially met in real life, I didn’t recognize it as you until just now.”

Before speaking again, I dug deeper into the fleeting moment that had now visited me twice, once in my dreams and now here in my present reality. “For some reason, I remember feeling panicked suddenly. Something happened to increase my anxiety – I think that’s why the memory of this dream stayed with me.”

“Do you remember what caused the sudden change of emotion in your dream?” he asked simply.

My eyes widened as my brain finally connected the world in front of me with the realm buried deep within my mind. “Yes! I do remember! A police car came up behind us with its lights flashing. I was frightened that we were going to be pulled over and given a ticket for some reason, but as I slowed the vehicle, the cruiser sped past us and disappeared into the distance.”

Excitedly we both craned our necks, looking out the windows of the van in all directions. After 20 seconds or so, our shoulders hunched back down and we began to laugh. Nothing but empty cornfields and a single blue sedan further up the road filled our line of sight.

Silence encapsulated the car as we contemplated our inability to capture a glimpse into the unknown. As the mundane task of sitting patiently in the van for another few hours settled into our thoughts, I glanced up into the rearview mirror.

The words “No way…” managed to escape my lips as my lungs tightened; on hearing me, my travel companion turned in his seat to look behind us. He drew in a heavy breath as we both silently watched the local police cruiser closing the distance between us, my body naturally slowing our vehicle and beginning to slide towards the edge of the road. As if orchestrated by a higher power, the pursuing law enforcement sped around us and continued far off into the distance.

Is it possible that I somehow connected with my subconscious mind in order to extract information that already existed in a future state? If so, could this mean that time exists as a whole, happening all at once and not in the linear point A to point B fashion we have always thought to be true? Has science fiction led us to believe that time travel is only possible through technological advancement and not simply by traversing time in a forward motion the same way our minds are able to drift back into a memory of the past?

What, if any, experiences have you had similar to this? A present moment you knew you had already experienced? An idea so perfect for your story that you had to get out of bed and write it down? A melody haunting your mind, begging you to sing it out?

Comment below – I’d love to hear all about it. 🙂

Did this post pique your interest or curiosity? Connect with Ross Caligiuri through his website,  DreamingInTheShadows.com, where you will find copies of his new novel Dreaming in the Shadows available for purchase. Written on this subject and based around a dream he experienced, the series follows a main character with the ability to manipulate people’s memories, both past and future, using the powers locked inside of her own subconscious mind.

Please Share

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Verbal Assassin

Verbal Assassin

by Brad Graber

Have you ever wondered what it might take to completely destroy your self-confidence? An unkind word? A nasty look? A physical interaction? Or just a stray comment made lightly – without much thought – by a stranger?


It could be a parent, a teacher, or even a friend. At least those people know you – and even if they say something mean-spirited, you might make allowances. Perhaps you stopped listening to them long ago. After years of therapy, you’ve learned to tune them out.

But a stranger is different. They have nothing vested in you. They don’t even know who you are. And yet, sometimes we give them the power to crush our dreams. Oh, did I say “our dreams”? Okay – I meant my dreams.


What did you say?

These are the people I refer to as “verbal assassins.” People who are eager to step on a writer’s dreams. People who say things like:

“You’ll never make any money.”

“What’s the point? You’re too old.”

“That sounds like an interesting hobby.”

And though they might be speaking a truth for themselves, for you, it’s as if someone just shot an arrow directly into your heart. After all, what’s the point of continuing? You’re just wasting your time.

What’s the point indeed!

It’s important that we don’t step on each others’ dreams! And even if it might be the longest shot in hell – as long as you’re alive, and willing to keep pushing along – who’s to say that you won’t be a rousing success?

No one but you has the power to limit who you should be. So the next time that verbal assassin innocently spouts off – remember, they are reflecting the story of their life, not yours. The last thing you should do is take it as a comment on your opportunity or future success.


Brad Graber was born and raised in New York City. He obtained a B.A. in Biology from theBrad Graber State University of New York at Buffalo, and an M.H.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, Miss. Brad is formerly a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a Certified Medical Executive through Medical Group Management Association. He no longer works in healthcare, though he does actively volunteer with local nonprofits. The Intersect is Brad’s first novel and will be released on Amazon in August 2016. You can reach Brad at Jefbra@sbcglobal.net or bradgraber.com.

Please Share

Posted in Brad Graber | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment