Posted by: Glenda Bailey-Mershon | September 19, 2018

2018 Jane’s Stories Retreat Now Open for Registration!

We’re excited to share with you the latest on our 2018 Retreat for Women Writers! You can even sign up right here. And, best of all, you can join us from wherever you are via Zoom!

Here’s the schedule for October 20:


8:30 – 9:00 a.m.                      

Janes will be onsite at Curt’s Café to greet you as you select your breakfast                         items and/or coffee or tea. Walk or ride together down to Mitchell Museum, 3001 Central. 


2922 CENTRAL STREET | EVANSTON | (847) 868-8385


9:00-9:30 a.m.           

Gathering Waves Circle by Glenda Bailey-Mershon

Waterfalls: Immersing Yourself in the Vocabulary of Your Writing Project

Find keywords that open up character, plot, and theme for your fiction and poetry


10:00 a.m.           

Video presentation by Tricia Booker: Get Naked! 

Tricia Booker (journalist, memoirist, and University of North Florida writing professor, The Place of Peace and Crickets) discusses her rules for penning memoir, and why writers shouldn’t be afraid to put family lore into words. 

We all have stories to tell, and we all worry about hurting the ones we love by telling those tales. But the truth is that most of those stories are about ourselves rather than other people, and once we write them down, we begin to see a path toward creating a strong narrative. Booker, a writing teacher for over 20 years, will talk about the importance of chronicling our histories, both for our own sakes and for the benefit of those who come after us. In addition, she’ll dispel the notion that all work needs to be published in book form. She considers her blog, which is read by thousands of people each month, to be wildly successful, even though it’s never earned her a penny. 

The workshop is designed to:

– help you swallow the fear of writing about family

– motivate you to put the words to paper

– stimulate your memory to show that you remember more than you think 


tricia booker

blogger/writer/journalist at
Author of The Place of Peace and Crickets: how adoption, heartache, and love built a family

Discussion and exercise led by Samantha Ro

11:00 a.m.           

Video Presentation by Z. P. Dala: Loving the Jekyl and Hyde of Character

In crafting a novel the role of character is one of the key elements that takes a piece of work from one dimensional story to believable deep human experience. Sometimes a character can be written as negative but subtle nuances in character development can make an antagonist a likable vehicle to strengthen the protagonist’s plot line. ZP Dala (Iowa Writing Workshop Instructor, novelist, The Architecture of Loss) will help you find the novel in you. 



Discussion and exercise led by Judy Goodman

12 noon            

“Let Me Entertain You” : You can promote yourself on social media

Social Media Opportunities for Writers by Samantha Ro


Lunch together at Curt’s or nearby

2:00 p.m.           

Clara Johnson Reading Delivered by Award Winner Terese Mailhot, Heart Berries



Followed by book signing and

3:00-5:00            Reception

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Come spend the day with us! Register right here. 



Posted by: chobhi | September 21, 2015

Women: cooking and writing with innovation

I spend quite a bit of time in my kitchen even if I do not need to. This time it’s all the apples I harvested from our apple tree. Sometimes it is my husband who acts like a woman who is pregnant and has cravings. Other times, I want to save money and eat nutritious foods. Whatever the reason, I do find it ultimately relaxing. Having had a background in chemistry (a subject with a special place in my nerdy brain) I find the mixing,blending, adding and cutting process innovative and downright exciting.

My mother was a remarkable cook and did it with ease. Whereas I go from totally burnt and stone-like bread to  some gourmet vegetarian stews, dosas and quiches, my mother consistently dished out superb creations. She hated anyone giving her directions and I played the sous chef around her picking up little nuggets of information watching her. If people turned up at odd hours, she had a quick meal prepared with whatever was available. When I had jaundice and went back to school, she would cook two different sets of dishes  to accommodate my diet as well. Just like her mother, my grandmother, she would learn new dishes from other parts of India from her neighbors. Innovation was key to her cooking.

An aunt on my husband’s side was  quite amazing too. She would turn up at my place and try to recreate dishes from India. We managed to make ‘ kai murukku’; a very specialized snack, made with rice flour, butter and salt dough where you use your fingers deftly to create the twisted dough in a circular shape.(My mother was a queen of kai murukkus!)

IMG_2268 Once, when I visited this aunt in India, a relative turned up unexpectedly (this used to be the norm for my mother’s generation, sudden guests for lunch or dinner or in between), she combined leftovers quickly to serve him an elaborate Indian lunch! I was very impressed by the quickness with which she managed it.

Now along with the innovation which is challenging and a little different, these women also cooked routinely. Every single day, my grandmother,my mother, those aunts and other women that I watched prepared their breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. They bargained with the vegetable sellers, bought the lentils and other groceries to create their magic in the kitchen;part of the pre cooking process.

As a writer, I have to use some of these skills from the kitchen.Like my mother, I need some solitude (not even a sous chef around) to carry out the writing. Sometimes, I have an epiphany and I rush to write it down to capture it but mostly it is the discipline of just getting down to it. The daily boring process of looking at my work, changing it , or working on a new creation is the reality for any writer. Unlike in the kitchen, where I get my product soon and can taste it, here this is a longer process. Yes, I do ‘taste’ it by re-reading. And my favorite part is the pre-writing when I read good and bad writers to understand what to avoid and what to admire.

I heard about this young woman who used to write consistently when her children as toddlers were taking naps. I do not have that drive. I hear about women who write every single day. I do not have that discipline.

But rather than lament the fact that I am not doing some of these things, I will go ahead and keep creating having the wisdom to discard the ‘burnt pieces’ and hold on to the tasty tit bits of writing to create one day a  fairly worthwhile piece of writing that others can sink their teeth into!

Posted by: Judy M. Goodman | May 29, 2014

Jane’s Stories 2014 Harvest Retreat for Women Writers

October 4, 2014
9am – 5pm
Hackney’s on Lake
1514 E. Lake
Glenview, IL

Christine SwanbergGBMButterflyHackney's on Lake

Christine Swanberg and Glenda Bailey-Mershon presenters

Workshops: “Poetry Presentation” & “Rescuing Abandoned Fiction”

Logon to the JSPF Website to Learn More

The retreat schedule is now on the website!

Posted by: Judy M. Goodman | November 22, 2013






Recently, I saw two fairly new movies that I’d missed when they were in first run.  I don’t get to the theater very often, mostly because of the economy. However, on occasion, I will splurge. Something with Judi Dench promises good character-based stories[3]. For example, the last Harry Potter broke open my moth infested purse. Yes, of course, I saw all of the others first run. However, when the first couple were released, I was still able to practice the worst of my financial habits: multiple viewings in the first week!

The economy is only a small part of self-imposed banishment from soda-sticky floors Dobbyand popcorn underfoot like sand on the beach. My taste in movies has become rather rigid and, at some point, I lost the confidence I once had in the production of the American cinematic story — comedies particularly. For awhile, despite “knowing what I liked,” I was convinced that all the truly great films had been released before I was born.





Though I continue to eschew some of the choices filmmakers have made based on the assumption that the primary audience for film today is males 18-25 years of age, I will admit films are growing up again. Okay, so my memory of the “old days” is a bit convenient. Though I won’t waste any time with them, thanks to Turner Classic Movies, I’ve seen some dang silly movies made during Hollywood’s “Golden Era,” though primarily, that was a time when character-driven plots ruled. Even the studio logos had personality! What I most remember is that my high school years were pockmarked by the likes of “Beach” and “Carry On” movies. The “Carry On” films were part of Britain’s adolescence: driven by slapstick, sexual humor. Beach movies were driven by music and an assumption of sex — neither of which filled my bill at that time.

Wings of Desire


The two films began to change my mind each gave me a rather rude shock. Since the ’80s, American romantic comedies had been aimed at a much younger crowd. We were facing a new crop of actors and a new social sensibility. Though some of them were enjoyable, few were my idea of a great film, “Wings of Desire” (Road Movies Filmproduktion 1987) was labelled “too talky” and made into a Romantic Comedy called “City of Angels.”  “Wings of Desire” relies primarily on two things: what two angels bear witness to and brilliant cinematography; yet it is still a very personal story of an angel who chooses mortality. 


“City of Angels”  moved the setting from post war Germany to present day Los Angeles, cast cast Meg Ryan, Nicholas Cage (two of my favorites) and gave the ending tragic overtones, unlike “Wings of Desire” which acknowledged a tragic past while looking forward to an uplifted future. A clear indication that Hollywood and I were of different mind sets.



Suddenly last week, while in the library, I tripped over “Hysteria” (Forthcoming Films 2011) and “Dragonheart” (Universal Pictures 1996.)  For those of you who missed it,  “Hysteria” was a feminist romantic comedy set in the Victorian era, illustrating the invention of the British personal vibrator. Very funny and very scary, this film focuses on a doctor with the temerity to challenge the managing physician on the hospital’s blatant lack of concern for sanitary conditions. When fired, he ends up working for a physician whose primary clientele were women suffering from “Hysteria” and requiring a proper wank from a licensed physician.[10] The other unignorable character is his new employer’s daughter, an outspoken, free-spirited feminist who runs a clinic for working women. Okay, sex is still a Hollywood staple and no red state politician will ever be able to change that — especially when two strong characters of opposite sex lead the story unerringly forward — three, if you count the vibrator.



People have been telling me to see “DragonHeart” for years. And I’m extremely glad I finally listened to them. It’s a love story, not necessarily between the male and female leads — both worthy characters themselves — but between the last Dragon slayer and the last Dragon. You know, a buddy picture. While the female lead was a strong, capable person, she didn’t have as much action as, say, Snow White in “Snow White and the Huntsman[11]” (Roth Films 2012), as the director, Rob Cohen pointed out in the commentary, she was “the moral compass” of the film. Indispensable, unlike so many of Hollywood’s so called “Heroines.”

Both “Hysteria” and “DragonHeart” gave me hope for a better cinematic future here. Yet, it’s still a fact that when films spring from a book, a previous movie, or some other “published” inspiration, they become something different, whether or not they stay faithful to the source. We, as writers, need to be aware of that. Books, stories, and stage plays have limited authorship. By it’s very nature, films have many “authors:” producer(s), director(s), writers(s) [I’ve seen as many as four screen credits for “writer” in one film], cinematographers, as well as crafts people: effects, make-up, and hair artists, not to mention couturiers. Writing for film requires a very laid back attitude toward collaboration.



[1]RKO ‘s legacy includes classic films like Citizen Kane, King Kong, and It’s a Wonderful Life.
[2]Judy Dench
[3] Yes, that includes the latest Bond: Skyfall (Eon Productions 2012) Surprise, Surprise. Maybe I’m as guilty as those who thought all those wonderful, high grossing, “women’s pictures” must be flukes!
[4]Harry Potter’s Dobby, a free elf who knew the meaning of loyalty.

[5]The “Carry On” movies were British favorites from the late fifties through the seventies.
[6]The “Beach” moves were the standard for teenage angst in the sixties.
[7]Wim Wenders‘ “Wings of Desire:” Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, and Peter Falk as another fallen angel.
[8]]City of Angels, Nicholas CageMeg RyanAndre Braugher, and Dennis Franz in the Peter Falk character, directed by Brad Silberling.

[9]”Hysteria“: Hugh DancyMaggie GyllenhaalJonathon Pryce Rupert Everett; Director: Tanya Wexler. The DVD extras include excerpts from a documentary about the history of the female orgasm.
[10]While the film takes dramatic and comedic license with history, sexual stimulation was the standard practice for “Hysteria.”
[11]DragonHeartDennis QuaidPete PostlethwaiteDina Meyer Sean Connery. The characters were all strong yet engaged well. Director: Rob Cohen
[12]Snow White and the Huntsman : Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth. Director: Rupert Sanders

[13]Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer known for it’s extravagant musicals.

Posted by: Judy M. Goodman | September 17, 2013

Jane’s Stories 2013 Retreat!

Ghostwriting and Burgers
Hackney’s on Lake
1514 E. Lake Ave ~ Glenview, IL 60025 847.724.7171
October 5, 2013         9:00 AM – 3:00PM
A good writer is like a ghost. She lays bare the longing which pulls us into tomorrow. She haunts us with bits of the past which must not be suppressed or forgotten. Her invisible, hair-raising touch catches us in our most mundane moments to freeze, heart racing and breath stolen, while fear or wonder or mystery forces on us a new appreciation of what’s possible.
We can’t promise that ghosts of the 1920s will swirl around us as we work to hone our writing skills, but we can offer you historic Hackney’s, which dates to the Prohibition era with its illegal beer, gangsters, burgers and gamblers. Bring your imagination and a willingness to look for the ghost in you.

Don’t forget to bring your favorite writing tools: pens, spiral or electronic notebooks, laptops — whatever medium channels best for you!

Use PayPal to reserve your spot at the 2013 Retreat
Our Exciting Agenda:Shobha Sharma
9:00 Introductions and Networking, JSPF President Shobha Sharma. Shobha, co-editor of Jane’s Stories IV: Bridges and Borders and editor of its seminal chapbook, came to this country over thirty years ago with chemistry on her mind. Some of her short stories and poems were published (one by Hachett Book Group a few years back) and also by Jane’s Stories Press Foundation. When time permits, she is also working on her short stories and three novels.
 Linda Mowry
10:00 Your Editor Is Your Friend, Linda Mowry:  In this brief overview of publishing’sroles you will learn what editors do and how you can be the writer editors will want to work with and publish. Prose editor for Jane’s Stories IV: Bridges and Borders, Linda has been active with Jane’s Stories since its founding, most recently as treasurer. Also She has helped edit and/or produce several chap books.
11:00 [watch Jane’s Stories website for more information]
12:00 Lunch: ​The retreat fee INCLUDES a scrumptious Hackney’s meal: Your

Hackney's Famous Onion Loaf

luncheon choices will include (but are not limited to) a Famous Hackney Burger, fish, or any of several vegetarian options. And YES our call to table will include Hackney’s unique and sought after French Onion Loaf!
​1:00 Walking Workshop: After lunch, weather permitting, we’ll indulge in a walking workshop. We can either drive a few blocks to Glenview Woods (aka Memorial Blue Star Woods) on Harms Road or, for those with more urban sensibilities, we can hike through the parking lot to the shopping center with Trader Joe’s or across Waukegan to Carillon Square and look for inspiration in the quirky shops. Lot’s of time to write!
2:00 Circle: Time to write and share
3:00 Annual Board Meeting
Use PayPal to reserve your spot at the 2013 Retreat
Take 91 from the South or Waukegan from the North to Lake Street in Wilmette. Hackney’s on Lake is just East of Waukegan on the North Side of Lake.
Posted by: Judy M. Goodman | June 11, 2013

SFWA Bulletin #202 Maelstrom

Robert_White_engraving New Bethlehem hosp3

sfwa logo2Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America [SFWA (affectionately referred to as “Siffwa” in conversation )] has gone through a bit of a maelstrom. It started with cover art depicting a woman chain mail bikini and article some felt showed a lack of respect for women writers and editors both of which drew ire. To top that, in the next issue, it was suggested that Barbie remains a role model and popular because “she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should.” In the following issue, two authors  railed at the backlash.

In the infamous SFWA Bulletin #202, SF writers Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg’s article irritated many more female and evolved male members and writers.  They called those who criticized their Barbie remark “liberal fascists,” and, in the words of novelist and blogger SL Huang, accused “people who called out sexism of demanding ‘censorship’ SL Huang3and suppression.’ They label such criticism ‘thought control,’ they dismiss their critics as stupid and cowardly, and they imply that people objecting to their statements is tantamount to pushing a freedom silencing dystopia a la Stalin and Mao.” Huang continued reminding the embroiled authors that an important element of Free Speech is that “The right to free speech does not equal the right to a platform. They can have all the freedom of speech they want, but that is in no way equivalent to having the professional publication of a professional organization as their playground [for] bullying the members of that organization who don’t agree with them.”

seanan mcguireFurther reaction to the Resnick/Malzberg piece has included at least one resignation from SWFA, a torrent of outraged acid, and not a few four letter words. The other day, I was directed to another  blog  called “Sexism, the current SFWA kerfuffle, and ‘lady authors'” by novelist, singer, and songwriter Seanan McGuire. Not known for pulling her punches, McGuire starts the essay, “in the latest issue of the SFWA Bulletin there was an article essentially saying (among many other problematic things) that if I say that ta[l]king about my gender as if it somehow makes me an alien creature makes me uncomfortable, I am censoring and oppressing you, rather than just asking that you, you know, stop doing that shit if you want my good feeling and respect.”

She references Jim C. Hines’ “Roundup of Some ‘Anonymous Protesters’ (#SFWA Bulletin [Twitter] Links), a litany of Jim C. Hinesdisgruntled readers and authors outraged by the notion that a revered organization such as SFWA would allow the article, let alone not comment on the inappropriate use of the Gender Card. One of the most intriguing comments came from Ursula Vernon’s blog (called “Bark Like a Fish, Dammit”): SFWA – Housebreaking a Puppy or Abusive Relationship?  which Huang summarized: “compares the SFWA’s continued, repeated offenses to an abusive relationship. Because you don’t just let people get away with that shit; you walk out.”

John Scalzi2On June 02, 2013, the organization’s president author John Scalzi issued a statement averring that, though he was on an airplane finishing up a book tour when the spam hit the fish[7], he researched the situation carefully and created a task force to examine the article and previous incidents at which others had bridled, calling into question the Bulletin’s misogyny. First and foremost, he, as president and overseer of all things SFWA, took personal responsibility for the fact that the article appeared.

He was very supportive of the Bulletin’s editor Jean Rabe, who, he wrote, had taken “over the Bulletin at a problematicSFWA 202 time in the publication’s history, got it back onto a regular schedule and otherwise righted what was a foundering ship. When previous concerns about sexism regarding the Bulletin were aired, specifically the cover of issue #2oo, Ms. Rabe listened, understood and was responsive to them and solicited work relevant to the concern, in the hope of furthering discussion. She has always acted in good faith for the organization, and I have valued and continue to value her dedication.”

barry malzbergHe went on to say that he was advised that two articles would appear on the cover, the Resnick/Malzberg and one by Hines. However, he wrote: “It’s possible if I had more closely read the article I might have alerted Ms. Rabe to portions that might be an issue. She might then have had the opportunity to take those concerns back to Mr. Resnick and Mr. Malzberg, who I have no reason to believe would not have taken editorial direction.

Scalzi’s summation was eloquent: “To all our members, I say: You are welcome, you are valued, you are needed.” We Mike Resnick ( photo by Laura Domitz)need you, and your voice and your willingness to make yourself heard when you feel that we are not the organization we can be. Be part of us, and help us be the organization you need us to be – that all science fiction and fantasy writers need us to be, and can be proud to be a member of.”

I applaud the authors who stood up to say “no more” and  Scalzi’s willingness to act and his determination to bring inclusivity to SFWA (even though I had minor problems with some of his statement). Still, the specter of Default to the Male continues to recur and is particularly outraging when it appears to be institutionalized.  Both Scalzi and Resnick made an interesting point about the relativity of apologies and insults: the impact hinges on the target’s sensibilities.

Some of the most vociferous (though certainly not the most virulent)  of antisemitism I’ve encountered came from Jews. Moreover, what has now become known as the “N word” can be safely said among peers, but if used by someone outside the circle, it’s the strongest and most offensive of slams. One of the Tweets suggested that those who don’t get the uproar over the SFWA bulletin article, “should read it replacing words meaning ‘female’ with words meaning ‘black.'”


Jean_RabeThree days later after his released statement, Scalzi announced Rabe’s resignation, citing her for excellence in her job beginning when she was hired as the journal’s business manager and continuing through her promotion to editor. He wished her well in all of her pursuits. He did not give the slightest hint of the process that led to her leaving, but one can as easily imagine subtle mollification in corporate Male Default as it is to imagine Female assertiveness or even a set of less flattering pictures of Female and Male responses.

In August of last year, Columbia Pictures  released “Hope Springs”, a feature examining the Hope Springsdeclining marriage of a middle-aged couple, who not only sleep in separate rooms, but barely speak at all. Wishing to go back to a time when they had a sensual, more communicative relationship, the wife asks her spouse to join her in marriage counseling. His initial response is that she must be nuts if she can’t see how appropriate their long term relationship is.

I Love LucyWhile many films over the years have illustrated this phenomenon, they’ve usually taken for granted the validity of his statement. Not to speak ill of beloved icons, I’m not quite sure how to take “I Love Lucy” given that the basic premise of the humor was that a wife strove not to be defined only by her marriage. Not that the men in that show were any saner. It’s just that, as a vehicle for Lucille Ball’s extraordinary comic talent, when the husband didn’t get his way right off the bat, she suffered for her efforts.

While this incident spotlights a plethora of problems that go beyond women’s issues, whether it’s in the home where a 1st Monday in Octmale standard of sanity prevails or in the work place, where “the period instability of women,” as  the “first” ever female Supreme Court Justice called it in the film “First Monday in October,” has given society license to presume that a woman’s assertive stance is prima facie evidence of gender-wide insanity.[13]

If in 2013, sexists and racists still don’t know what true equality is, we really need to get our work into the spotlight and banish the Male Default.


You can read the Resnick/Malzberg article for yourself by following these links:

[1]The new Bethlem Hospital, designed by Robert Hooke, 1676. It is a corruption of the name Bethlehem that gave us the word “bedlam.”
[2] The Science Fiction Writers of America has some rather stiff membership requirements having to do with the number of publications an author needs to join.
[3] SL Huang’s [b]log line reads: “Because the world doesn’t have enough snarky mathematician gunslingers” and one can expect the blog entries to live up to that statement.
[4]Seanan McGuire, American author and filker, has published eleven urban fantasies, (Chimes at Midnight, due in North America from DAW Books on September 3rd, 2013), seven essays and nonfiction works, and innumerable short stories and poems all under her own name. As Mira Grant, she has five medical thrillers (the most recent Parasite [Book one of the Parasitism trilogy] due from Orbit North America, November 2013).
[5]Jim C. Hines is known for novels about goblins (Goblin Quest, Goblin HeroGoblin War), his newest novel Codex Born is due out in August.
[6]John Scalzi: published mostly in fiction, his newest book, The Human Division is the most recent in his series of The Old Man’s War Novels. His other novels include Fuzzy NationRedshirts: A Novel With Three Codas.  He’s also published Novellas, Novelettes and Short Story Chapbooks and been collected in a series of anthologies.
[7]SWFA Bulletin 202
[8]Barry Malzberg is an award winning novelist
[9]Mike Resnick  is the author of 68 published novels and a frequent guest at Science Fiction conventions.
[10]Jean Rabe is a prolific Fantasy writer whose fiction include the multi-volume Dragonlance Series, and many stand alone novels. Her work can also be seen as editor of anthologies and in Dungeons & Dragon modules.
[11]The couple is played by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones Lee Jones. It couldn’t be bad if it tried. Steve Carel as the marriage counselor. Written by Vanessa Taylor. Directed by David Frankel
[12]Lucille BallDesi ArnazVivian VanceWilliam Frawley. It’s been pointed out that Arnaz, a producer of the series, was Cuban, which would have affected his view of women, marital norms, and by extension his comedy sense.
[13]And we won’t dwell on “Gaslight” (Ingrid BergmanCharles Boyer, and Joseph Cotten), which has also found its way into professional jargon.

Posted by: Judy M. Goodman | May 2, 2013

Merynomy: A Cloud of Confusion

The more I read about Human Language, the more in love I am. During my brief flirtation with linguistics in college, probing the rich textures of syntax, semantics, and semiotics filled me with joy. Early primary school English text books brought forth giggles, like swarms of butterflies, at dangling images like being given a piece of cake by “the lady with pink icing on the corner.” At every step in between (and following) each acquired word has come with that particular anticipation of traditional and preternatural infusion; subtleties in meaning have toyed coquettishly with my fingertips as they dally with the keyboard.

Yes, keyboard. Despite many good arguments against composing on a keyboard, I keyboardpersist primarily because I cannot consistently read my own handwriting, especially during the white-hot frenzy of creation. My only regret is that it is far easier in keyboarding to stop the flow of pictures and ideas to buoy up various crumbling phrases, revel in those working far beyond their capacity, and to wonder at the way language propagates and develops. I also worry about how much influence new technologies will effect the creative process given that they are already moving further and further away from my needs as user.

As my control over my files and file systems is eroding, formatting features are moving away from the complete and easy system I came to know and love in WordPerfect before the giant techno-cannibal devoured it and tried to eviscerate it. Despite attempts to scuttle it, WordPerfect is still the only software that gives me an easy way look for code cdsurprises in a document. Why, you ask, does a creative writer needs to mess around with codes? When in pursuit of high velocity sentences, I can hit odd combinations of keys simultaneously, which often results in creating codes that disable, misformat text, and, generally, frustrate. With WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” function, I can take a stealth bombing run through the narrative, and demolish the offending code. While, most word-crunchers format columns so I have to work vertically to the end of the first column before creating the second one.In experimenting with other software, I’ve had to start from scratch to fix the problem – inputting to WordPerfect, of course! Oddly enough, WordPerfect still allows me to create parallel columns with block protect. So sue me. I work horizontally. But I guess the vast majority of programmers at the conglomerate think vertically and believe that everyone else does too.

Word-crunchers have moved from the author’s need toward business applications[2] so they could make room for creative writing software like Dramatica and NewNovelist. Such software maybe good for formatting a page and teaching structure, but you can find the standard formatting in Writer’s Market and at various places online. More important, when submitting to literary journals and contests, the writer has the responsibility to learn the preferred guidelines of the target venue. As for structure, I suppose one has to learn it somewhere.

Technology is invasive – not all bad, necessarily – but I’ve been increasingly concerned that dependency on software is potentially dangerous to the creative process.[3] Though I’m frequently reminded that an artificial brain cannot be programmed to act exactly like the human brain in language functions, they do keep trying. Nevertheless, there is comfort in knowing that it would be highly inconvenient to try to emulate certain of the language vagaries.

In “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Meronymy,” a recent article on Visual Thesaurus, Lexicographer Orin Hargraves[1] analyzes the difference between meronymy: words a part-whole relationship: like calling a farm worker a “hand” or, in worst case scenario, a man a “tool,” and metonymy: using the name of an attribute or feature of something to stand for the thing itself: such as referring to a computer enthusiast or science buff a “geek,” He points out how difficult as it would be to code language use despite the straightforward two step process that happens autonomically when humans use meronymy, metonymy, or synecdoche which is similar to metonymy. The difference between metonymy and synecdoche (rhymes with “Schenectady”) is well illustrated in this excellent, very amusing High School English project.


Hargraves wrote:

  • It would be convenient to draw a solid line between [parts and attribute], but it turns out that we don’t really do this very effectively in our heads, thus making it harder to define a consistent division between the two for computational purposes. Studies have shown that when people are asked to list properties of objects, they do not distinguish between attributes and parts. One reason for this may be that part is a highly polysemous and high-frequency word in English. As a noun it consistently has more than a dozen senses in most dictionaries. By some counts it is the tenth most common noun in English, and it is the second-most common word appearing in definitions of nouns in one dictionary study. Finally, among the many definitions of feature and some of attribute, also both highly polysemous, you will often find a few instances of the word part.[4]

Perhaps a computer can be programmed to understand some subtleties and varieties of word meaning, but to create it? Thankfully, that’s highly unlikely. We human writers will always be the main component in the creation of literature . . . and I won’t be losing my soulmate in this lifetime.

1. Visual Thesaurus, Language Lounge, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Meronymy” May 1, 2013.
Orin Hargraves is an independent lexicographer and contributor to numerous dictionaries published in the US, the UK, and Europe. He is also the author of Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions (Oxford), the definitive guide to British and American differences, and Slang Rules! (Merriam-Webster), a practical guide for English learners. In addition to writing the Language Lounge column, Orin also writes for the Macmillan Dictionary Blog.
2. Perhaps being directed at businesses, they assume all the typing is done by secretaries.
3. I’ve used a screenwriting in a film writing class and I might be convinced otherwise about using like technology because of a movie script has very unique and complicated formatting. Also one might also argue, unique problems in distribution.
5. “Metonymy & Senecdoche” by Brandon Tao, YouTube May 1, 2010.

Posted by: chobhi | March 28, 2013

Behind the beautiful forevers… book review

As always, I go to India in December and come back in mid -February. It was rejuvenating to be in the warmth and sunshine of India.  A year ago, I had read a remarkable book review in the New York Review of Books about Katherine Boo’s book about the Mumbai slums. I was fortunate to get the book in India from my brother and read it. It was heartrending, hopeful, miserable and painful to read. The book is called Behind the beautiful forevers  and Katherine spent time in a Mumbai slum close to the airport area.  The lives of a few families who live in the slums is followed in detail and you realize that all people want the same thing, economic stability to raise themselves. The difference here is the lack of too much education ( except in the case of one woman who teaches in a make-shift school and her mother has high ambitions for her)living in misery, squalor. But there is no lack of entrepreneurship and innovation amongst the young men and women who try various ways of eking out a living under appalling, unsanitary,  conditions.  But what brings them down? Not illnesses, lack of money, surprisingly.When all are looking for the same way out, jealousies, competition seems to bring out the worst in humans.

I loved the book and I am not surprised by the turn of events in it. I have this young  woman who takes care of my sister’s home and dog and cooks for her. Rani is amazing, she lives in a one-room house where she cooks, sleeps and has a small area to use as a toilet. The room is smaller than my kitchen area, but she tries to survive. She has two sons who have not even finished high school and a husband who drinks and beats her. Yet Rani comes to the house and does her work cheerfully, thankful for her job and finding humor and fun in her little community where she lives.

This is the life of most of the characters in the Mumbai slums; some manage to survive collecting recyclable goods and selling them to make a little money to support their families. Most of these are young boys who should be in school. They are the forgotten children of India. But as you keep reading the book, you lose their surroundings and focus on their means of survival, you cheer them on and hope they make it. Will they? Do they?

In the end, I felt everyone is a hero ( she-ro) in their own way; I could not judge them for their actions, because I kept thinking,What would I have done if I had to live like them? Could I even imagine one day living their lives?

Katherine Boo shows compassion and empathy, without sounding patronizing and clawing, a well-written book. I highly recommend it.

Posted by: chobhi | March 20, 2013

Jane IV anthology

Our new anthology had a wonderful book launch in October 2012 and we were so packed at Women and Children First we had people standing all over! Six authors were present to read besides two more who turned up to listen to them. If you go to our facebook page  (Jane’s Stories Press Foundation) you will find more.Here we have a picture of one of our Chicago based authors from the anthology, Yolanda Nieves. Now that 2013 is here, we are busy planning the book readings on the road to reach as many authors as possible.   Glenda has readings arranged in Florida and I will go the east and west coast for readings and also plan more readings in Chicago, see you there!Image

Posted by: Judy M. Goodman | September 19, 2012

Reserve Your Copy of Jane’s Stories IV: Bridges & Borders

Jane’s Stories Press Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of its new anthology, “Jane’s Stories IV: Bridges and Borders, at Women and Children First Bookstore just North of Foster on Clark Street in Chicago, Friday, October 5, 2012 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. Several contributing authors will be on hand to read from the collection in which women from all over the world consider Bridges and Borders from many different perspectives. Women from all over the world consider Bridges and Borders from many different perspectives and our authors have written thoughtfully, imaginatively and passionately about the conflict, hope and reconciliation inherent in the theme.

If you reserve your pre-order copy at a discounted price you’ll also get FREE SHIPPING!  Go to Jane’s Stories website for more details!  And watch for readings in other parts of the country in early 2013.

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