Thursday, February 25, 2010

Television Musings Rants and Raves of a Romance Writer

By Kathy Carpenter

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Garden Views: Cultivating the Inner Gardener at Springfest

Save the date. I’m scheduled to present an overview of Cultivating the Inner Gardener: Gardening for Personal Growth ( )on March 12, 2010 at 3:30pm, at this year’s Springfest Flower and Garden Show in Augusta, NJ at the Sussex County Fairgrounds ( ). Come by and say “hello” if you’re in the area.

Springfest started out as a small local show and has grown to host more than 8,000 visitors annually. This year, there will be a special dedication and grand opening of the new 5,000 sq. ft. conservatory, the generous gift of Bev and Bruce Gordon. Topiaries from Duke Gardens, donated by the Doris Duke Foundation, will decorate the conservatory. Shops, a cafĂ©, kid’s activities a full lecture schedule, and a dozen gardens make for a great break from cabin fever.

See you there.

Lois de Vries' thoughts on gardening and environmental issues run the gamut from gardening in her own back yard to promoting land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth. To discover how to express more of your personality and creativity through your garden, or how body/mind/spirit can play itself out in your gardening activities, visit: or contact me at Read more!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sculpting a Life.

By Susan Gallacher-Turner

Celebrating Love before and after Valentine's Day.

I'm lucky to do what I and writing and teaching. But it's not always easy. It's very easy to get side tracked, blind sided and disappointed by things that happen in life. So I don't take it for granted when life delivers me a weekend of what I love and sharing in what the people in my life love as well.

I went to congratulate friends on their new gallery shows. My husband did what he loves to do as well. The next day, we had time together walking, napping and watching the Olympics. Then later, we both got to share our daughter's performance doing what she loves to do, singing. And we enjoyed a delicious meal of salmon, salad and bread.

Sunday was restful and relaxing as we took turns cooking up a storm in the kitchen. We both love to cook and cooking together in the kitchen is always a labor of love and a way to connect and create. It was harder when the kids were little, but we still made time to make these heart shaped cookies(in the picture above) that the 'Valentine Fairy' magically hung on their bedroom doors just in time for Valentine's Day.

This weekend, we were childless...something new to us. Caitlin has a home of her own now and Kyle was out of town snowboarding with his friends.

Alone in the house, Michael and I made a puff pancake for breakfast, spinach Parmesan omelet for lunch but we saved the big adventure for dinner. We cooked a live lobster! It isn't as hard as you might think, you just steam that lobster in a big pot for about 20 minutes, crack it open, clean it out and serve. It was delicious with the fresh asparagus and hollandase sauce. We shared one of our heart shaped cookies for dessert.

Love comes in many ways in life and I'm very grateful that this weekend, I got the chance to cook up ways to connect and share it.

To see some of my sculpture check out my website at or my other blog, Susan's Art & Words at Read more!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


A Day to Fall In Love with Your Art All Over Again

by Lisa Riley, LMFT

It’s as if Valentines Day is treated like the Sabbath. Using that day out of the year to make good with our loved one. It’s an attempt to make up for those weeks or months when we weren’t so attentive or fell short of expectations. It’s the one day we have permission to find ways to reconcile. So we grasp at the bouquet of roses with the cellophane heart shape balloons and fight for the reservation at the hot restaurant in town. All in hopes of reconnecting with our partner and just maybe fall in love all over again.

Then this morning I thought of a different perspective around this holiday. What a perfect day to reconnect with ourselves and most importantly reconnect with our most beloved art. Maybe it’s been months since you’ve picked up the paintbrush or revisited the unfinished poem or half done sculpture. It’s a day to spend reflecting on the reasons you fell in love with that particular art to begin with, similar to reminiscing about a first date. Carving out some time to do what you love allows the exchange of giving and receiving. It nurtures the heart of your soul. To express one self creatively is expressing a love and appreciation to your true gifts. So spend some time on this day to honor your original love by honoring the essence of your creative soul.

Lisa is a psychotherapist, painter and writer. She has spent the last 25 years integrating various forms of self-expression as a way of life and an avenue towards healing. Because of her background in the arts she understands the unique challenges of the artistic personality and has spent the last 8 years working with artists, writers, actors and musicians in helping them gain self-awareness and a deeper understanding of themselves as artists. Lisa has her own private practice in Southern California. For more information visit

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Plot, Character and Emotional Arc

Working on my Character Workout mini-ebook for subscribers to my creative writing site (as well as trying to meet the deadline on my current screenplay). Of all the aspects of the manuscripts and film scripts I get to assess, Character is something writers get stuck on. But any guidance on Character has to include flagging up the need to approach the work with all the elements in mind because everything in a story has to be completely interrelated.

That's why so many How To Books can mislead. Focusing on the elements of writing as if each is a separate entity not only fatally dooms the success of the work, it almost always smothers the creative source of your unique vision.

And that's why I don't like the word 'Plot'. I use the term 'Emotional Plot', because this phrase implies simultaneous human feeling-and-action. The origin of the word 'drama' applies as much to novels as plays and screenplays. It comes from the Greek word meaning 'something done', and the ancient Greek playwrights thought of their stories as 'people doing things'.

The emotional plot is what drives the story - it makes characters 'do things'. So, focusing on the outward action or plot isn't going to get a writer very far in creating a compelling story. Instead of making the first question: What is my story about? A better question is Who is my story about? If you're not asking: 'Why are my character's emotional needs not being meet?' you get stuck. This question alone should be enough to start to generate the story. Creating character will lead automatically to dialogue, setting, structure, pace - every element of story-telling.

Approaching a novel or script through thinking about the emotional arc of the character is, for me, the most fruitful way to write stories.
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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Garden Views: The Genius of Place

Eighteenth-century gardener, poet, and acerbic critic Alexander Pope’s phrase “the genius of the place” is often quoted by garden writers, landscape architects, and environmental advocates to urge us to respect what Nature herself provides.

But, it’s important to understand Pope’s phrase in context: The context of the times, the context of Pope’s rebellion against the excesses of the wealthy, and even within the context of the larger poem. Those who’d like to read the whole, Epistles to Several Persons: Epistle IV To Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, can find an annotated version at Representative Poetry Online, .

I’ve reproduced the 18 relevant lines here:

            To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
            To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
            To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
            In all, let Nature never be forgot.
            But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
            Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare;
            Let not each beauty ev'rywhere be spied,
            Where half the skill is decently to hide.
            He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds,
            Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.

            Consult the genius of the place in all;
            That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
            Or helps th' ambitious hill the heav'ns to scale,
            Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
            Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
            Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
            Now breaks, or now directs, th' intending lines;
            Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.

Pope's own summary of the Epistle makes clear his intention:
"The chief proof of it is to follow Nature, even in works of mere luxury and elegance. Instanced in architecture and gardening, where all must be adapted to the genius and use of the place, and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it.” 

He also said: "All the rules of gardening are reducible to three heads:-- the contrasts, the management of surprises, and the concealment of bounds ... I have expressed them all in two verses;..."

Lois de Vries' thoughts on gardening and environmental issues run the gamut from gardening in her own back yard to promoting land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth. To discover how to express more of your personality and creativity through your garden, or how body/mind/spirit can play itself out in your gardening activities, visit: or contact me at
Read more!