Working with a Life Coach

May 21st, 2013 by Phyllis Kennemer

Change is a constant in life. Some changes occur through conscious choice; others offer unexpected challenges. How you deal with change determines, to a large extent, the amount of happiness you experience. Sometimes it is helpful to have a guide on the side, providing help with the myriad of choices and decisions that need to be made. When the reasons for making specific decisions are traced back, a fundamental discovery emerges. Almost all decisions come from a place of fear or a place of love deep within the person. A coach can help you make more love-based decisions; conscious decisions that move you toward your personal vision of the life you want to live.

Life coaches can help with facing changes in life; such as

  • A big events: graduations, weddings, retirements
  • An illness of yourself or a loved one
  • The death of a loved one
  • Beginning a relationship
  • Ending a relationship
  • An empty nest
  • A change of location or a move
  • A change of career or job
  • Any type of loss
  • A “decade birthday” -  30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, etc.

Other reasons for meeting with a life coach include: support in decision making;

a desire to make a change in your body size (either lose or gain weight); or a sense of restlessness; a sense of malaise.

Additional information about life coaching may be found at

Understanding Your Canine Friend

May 6th, 2013 by Shelley Widhalm

I need smells, lots of them, because I’m a dog, but not just a dog, an extraordinarily cute miniature dachshund.

Call me Zoey.

Understand me as a complex animal that sees, smells and knows the world differently than humans.

My BFF Shelley is reading “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” by Alexandra Horowitz, but I don’t think she needs to read a book to get how I operate.

The book advises Shelley to read my behaviors and not to anthropomorphize me and to consider my unwelt, or my subjective, or self-world. To understand me, Shelley’s role is to figure out what’s meaningful to me, or what I can perceive, plus how I act in the world.

Anywhere where I can’t sit, lie down or eat food is not part of my world and blends into my background. Take food, for example. It comes from some place with a door (a cabinet) and automatically appears in my bowl. I am handed pieces of it when I use the potty box, do something good or sit or obey other obedience commands.

I act, or behave, according to my desire to receive the food, so I sit even though I want to snap up the treat instantly and chow down.

When I go on walks, I smell my way with my nose toward the ground, trying to figure out the news of my environment. I’m a sniff-a-vestigator.

Ms. Horowitz states that dogs make eye contact with humans to look to them “for information, for reassurance, for guidance.” I stare down the hallway at Shelley when she’s in the kitchen without food smells, trying to figure out if she’s going to leave, take me with her or head to the couch, where I can curl up with my favorite human. She doesn’t tell me what her plans are, which I think is unfair. I have to sit there and figure it all out.

What’s even more unfair is Shelley reads all these books to figure me out when I’m right here available for reassuring her that I’m all love and friendship.

(This is from Shelley Widhalm's blog Zoey's Paw on WordPress.)


May 2nd, 2013 by Fay Ulanoff

This is not a gimmick.  I know because I have done it for ten years.

Watch for an intro in the coming weeks as I am getting together a site so all of you can enjoy the benefits of this innovative easy regime in the privacy of your own home, with no equipment to buy. For new update's on FastFace check out my site Flashfictionforall.comafastface1.






SECRET: Remember to always *smile hard and big.  It is part of the exercise!

Poetic Inspirations

April 8th, 2013 by Shelley Widhalm

The idea of writing a poem a day is a bit daunting.

First, where does the inspiration come from, especially if you write poems as they come, even when the writing space is awkward on napkins or receipt tape? Do you have to try poetry exercises to get the spark started? Or do you just sit down and write whatever spills out?

Second, where do you find those special sparkly moments to condense into a few magical words if you’ve got work, chores and life? Or do those things feed into experience that in turn gives you ideas, thoughts and emotions to smooth like peanut butter into cadence and meter?

It’s National Poetry Month, when poetry is celebrated and poets undertake the challenge to write a poem a day during the month of April.

To write poetry, I listen to music or observe something around me, such as the way a budding tree (I can’t identify the type outside the coffee shop window) zigzags its branches across the street, a skeletal umbrella against the fading blue night.

When I’m listening to music, I filter out some of the words for a starting point, or I match the rhythm of what I hear into the feel of language as I write. The words rumble through my chest, causing my heart to speed up as if I were running, when all I’m doing is chasing beautiful language.

Sometimes what I write is nonsense, though I try to find a line or an idea to play with later.

I don’t pick a form to follow, unless I’m writing from an exercise or trying out the directions for writing sonnets, haikus and sestinas and the like. I might write in blank verse, a type of unrhymed poetry written in regular meter, which is the stress on syllables. Or I might write in free verse that does not contain a consistent meter pattern or rhyme.

These various forms I will try during my poem-a-day challenge, as if sorting through a pile of clothes in the dressing room.

As I do this, I will take five to 15 minutes from my busy, pushy life to notice what I haven’t before, searching out inspiration, hope and poetry love.

Revision Commitment

March 6th, 2013 by Shelley Widhalm

Revising a novel is like making a long-term commitment to someone you kind of love but maybe find a bit tiring.

In other words, revision is an obligation that, unless you’re a one-draft wonder, is part of the process of writing.

I am in midst of that obligation editing my nearly 90,000-word novel that was, at one time, 92,000-plus words. I didn’t just cut 2,000 words but cut much more, including partial scenes, repetitions and unnecessary descriptions. I also added words by fixing missing logistics of where or when, holes in the plot and character development, and word-heavy dialogues that didn’t make it clear who was speaking.

At 11:59 p.m. Sunday, I made the last red mark in my second revision of “The Fire Painter,” which is about a 30-something artist who loses everything in an apartment fire and searches to replace her lost things.

I like to think of myself as a quick editor, mainly because I want to get in and out and go on to more writing. It’s called diving in, using any and every free moment to heal my pain (pain is editing, healing is finishing editing).

My first revision, which I started Jan. 23 and took two weeks, was a read-through on the computer to fix any areas where the scenes seemed choppy or something didn’t make sense.

The second revision took three weeks and involved a printout and my red pen. In this revision:

  • I deleted scenes that partially repeated other scenes.
  • I removed facts or information I mentioned earlier in the draft.
  • I checked for inconsistencies, such as switching eye or hair color, which I did do without the convenience of new contacts or hair dye.
  • I reread the thoughts of two of my characters who tend toward self-pity to avoid making them too whiney.
  • I made sure I referred to important objects in the story in a consistent basis, such as the doggie piggybank, instead of dog bank.
  • I tightened the language by removing adjectives, details that didn’t push the story and any over-done descriptions.
  • With my  descriptions, I listened to how the language sounds, as well as to how each sentence builds on the previous sentence.
  • I changed areas of dialogue that didn’t sound like how real people talk.
  • I filled in words I accidentally left out and fixed any grammar errors I identified, plus added a few missing periods.
  • I realized I named two minor characters Linda, so I left the more minor of the two nameless.

I also plan to remove my tics, which I will do with my “search and find” function. I noticed that I love the words “OK,” “nods” and “shrugs.” Picture me nodding and shrugging and saying, “OK, whatever.”

As for other revisions, I know there will be more but as to how many, that depends on how long it will take me to say this is the best I can make my work. And then I’ll be looking for a literary agent. Wish me luck and bon voyage as I travel yet again through my story.

Golden Dog Books, Book 3

February 6th, 2013 by Shelley Widhalm

The Tale of Zoey Dog (Zoey’s version of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”)

Once upon a time there were four little dogs, and their names were Pansy, Poppy, Mopsy and Zoey. They lived with their momma in a big dog bed in the den.

“Now, my dears,” said Momma Dog one morning, “you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into the garden. Now run along and be good puppies.”

Pansy, Poppy and Mopsy were very good indeed and went down the lane to sniff for treats. But Zoey, who has a naughty streak, went to the garden, where she ate carrots and tomatoes until she felt rather bleak.

That is, until Ms. Humbledum, the garden’s owner, yelled, “Stop, thief.”

Zoey was dreadfully afraid and forgot her way back to the den. She lost a shoe and started to bawl until she collided with a net and ripped her hoodie, feeling very much the fool.

After what seemed to be hours and hours, Zoey found her paw print at the gate. She ran as fast as she could go, even though Ms. Humbledum caught sight of her.

Zoey didn’t care and slipped underneath to escape.

“I’m safe,” she yelped.

Zoey ran the rest of the way home, so very tired, that she flopped down in the den and shut her eyes.

Momma wondered what had happened to Zoey’s one shoe and hoodie. Zoey, who was a wee bit sick, wouldn’t say. Momma sent her straight to bed, while Pansy, Poppy and Mopsy got treats. Those three stayed up very late eating, playing and having fun.

That’s what happens to naughty dogs. They don’t get treats, or to have fun.

Zoey sighed, falling into a long, sleepy pout, feeling very sick indeed.

Planning vs. Organic Writing

December 9th, 2012 by Shelley Widhalm

There are two types of writers, those who outline and those who don’t.

The outliners plan out each chapter, as well as the entire structure of the novel from the beginning to the end. Their planning can include character biographies or sketches, storyboards of plot elements, and research notes of setting, character identity and the other elements of fiction.

Organic writers write as they go, letting the characters or storyline lead the way as the telling unfolds.

I’m an organic writer who needs a rough outline.

For my novel, “The Fire Painter,” which I am editing, I came up with an idea spark as I was sitting in a coffee shop nearly one year ago. I had thrown away a doggie piggy bank my late grandmother had given me because it had a crack, and then I had grieved the loss of a gift coming from love.

I took out my laptop and began writing about a character losing more than just one thing, but everything she owns in a house fire. I wanted to explore what she would do to retrieve her lost things and wrote out some random ideas on one page of paper.

A couple of weeks later, I began to write without knowing exactly where I was heading. A quarter of the way in, I figured out a possible ending without knowing exactly how I’d get there.

Halfway through, I wondered what I could possibly write next. I experienced the middle-of-the-novel slump that outliners, I believe, probably do not encounter as frequently or as deeply. They know where the novel is heading, as well as the purpose of each chapter that carries the plot to the ending.

Unlike the pure organics, I do some planning. At the end of each writing session, I sketch ideas for a few chapters, using the rough notes I initially wrote and add to them as well.

With outlines or rough notes, I find it best to think of them as a suggestion. I want to make sure to think through my main characters and plotlines, so that the story can be sustained over the span of a novel.

I basically want to get from here – an idea of the piggy bank – to there, or my 90,000-page rough draft that I finished in early December. It took me 11 months to turn a visual image into a story that, for me, means so much more than the gift from my grandmother, now that I’ve recreated it in words.

October 6th, 2012 by Shelley Widhalm

The question of being who you are is more difficult if you are afraid, both of uncertainty and of starvation. This poem reflects that question I find to be a constant struggle.

Becoming, or Not

I am not what you say:

I become what you want
you with a capital
I could not begin
to write my letters
how I feel them
pump through my thoughts –
Go away, I must shear
each one off to make
myself simple, a 9-to-5 girl
with a lost heart.

Sherman for President 2012

October 1st, 2012 by Fay Ulanoff

Here he is live on Youtube

Written by F. Ulanoff with photography by M. Ulanoff

Check it out


The Key to Short-Story Writing

September 6th, 2012 by Shelley Widhalm

Deciding among the shoes to pack for a trip requires the same approach as does writing short stories.

Take only the essentials and not a pair for every possible season and whimsy.

Writing short stories, like packing shoes, is done in a small space confined to the basic elements of storytelling.

The length of a short story varies depending on the writer, editor or publishing house doing the defining. The definitions I’ve found describe short stories as 1,000-5,000 words or anything up to 7,500 words or up to 10,000 words.

Because there are fewer words, a short story has to be limited to a specific time, place, event and interaction.

Whereas a novel can span a day or a year or more, a short story’s timeframe typically covers days or weeks. The short story cannot include too many places or events without feeling strained or scattered, or like a list.

A novel, because it is larger scale, offers more pages to develop ideas, plot, character and theme. At most, a short story can handle a plot and a small subplot, or a plot and a half.

Short stories get to the point and don’t have the time or space for long setups. They begin with a crisis or conflict right away and avoid describing how the conflict came about.

Stories, as a snapshot into the lives of the characters, avoid long character histories and descriptions. They have a few characters, so that the reader can identify with each character and keep them straight. Too many, and the story can become confusing.

Here are a few other rules about writing short stories (though rules are made to be broken, of course):

* Show, don’t tell with the action.

* Use one or very few settings.

* Use first or third-person, or two characters shifting point of view.

* Express a single theme, or message to get across to the readers.

Novels, which are 50,000 words or more from the definitions I’ve seen, include more material – characters, settings, plots and details – to sustain readers’ interest over several reading sessions, unless they are willing to sit for hours or an entire day. A short story, alternatively, can be consumed in one sitting in a few minutes or a couple of hours.