Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Awards Ceremony (with NFPW President)

This photo was takn by our local IWPA president, Marianne Wolf Astrauskas. My comments: I look old and fat, and I'm wearing the same outfit I wore for the ceremony two years ago in Richmond, Virginia. It's time for a complete makeover!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Conference Inspires Me to Write Here Again!

The National Federation of Press Women held its 2009 conference in San Antonio, Texas, September 10-12. Desspite a few difficulties (see "Never too Late!"), I enjoyed many aspects of the trip. What inspired me to resurrect this blog, at least for a while, was the fact that I received two national writing awards, and the First Place award was for two posts to this blog: "In Defense of Self-Publishing, Parts I and II" (August 12,16 2008). You may read them below in the archives.

The judge commented, "Writer provides clear advice without preaching or ego. Offers something for every level of self-publisher, from the wannabe to those looking for new options."

Since the idea of self-publishing is scoffed at by many professional writers, I was elated to win first place and such a positive comment.

My little book of poetry, Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters, won second place. Of my three books, this is the least-read, yet everyone who has read it has praised it. Doesn't anyone read poetry any more?

Anyway, I liked the judge's comment: "I really enjoyed the use of the rictameter. Its use to describe the different parts of a life was really unique. A very good piece of work!"

If anyone is interested, Elder Expectations costs about $10 and can be ordered from

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rictameter from a Morning Person


"Time to rise and
Shine," they say. I do that,
Facing each new day with courage,
Anticipating challenges, new joys.
Why do some despise alarm clocks,
Resist the call of day?
Time to embrace

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Goodbye for a While

To the few followers of this blog:

Because of its low readership, I have decided to semi-retire this blog in favor of my other, more popular one, "Never too Late!" I'll still come back when I'm inspired to write a rictameter or two, but don't expect much new content.

You can find my writing assignments and other material on writing here in the archives, and the site will remain live, at least in the near future. Your comments are still welcome.

You can also find my thoughts on writing in my eGenerations columns, now approximately monthly, at

Meanwhile, if you want to know what I'm up to, read "Never too Late!" at

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cultural Center Information Desk Routine: A Rictameter

Comforting, not
Dull or dreary. Getting
Out to meet and greet the world of
Eager visitors who want to share the
Beauty of Chicago and its
Arts and culture. Here I'll
Sit, enjoy my

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Flowers in a Seniors' Dining Room: a Rictameter

Bloom in little
Vases, bringing cheer to
Diners, veterans of many
Winters turning into spring. The colors
Make white tablecloths less boring.
They bring us hope that soon
Parks will blaze with

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guest Post: A Rictameter about Winter

Many thanks to Pat Murphy, an old friend and former neighbor (not the Pat from "Pat's Place") for today's guest rictameter. Pat is a fellow northerner who appreciates the season.

Is a respite
Under a white blanket.
We warm ourselves and we get strong.
There is a season when we can reach out
To meet the world with new vigor.
Everything will be fresh,
Until the next

By Pat Murphy. 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snow Again: A Rictameter

Snow Again

Snow fell last night
As spring hopes retreated.
It's hard to see snow's beauty as
February fades toward dreary March, with
Early flowers still far away.
It's time to write more poems
As winter speaks

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Writing Challenge!

As winter slowly winds down, most of us reflect on its beauties and challenges as we eagerly wait for spring. Where you live undoubtedly makes a difference, but most of us have some winter thoughts to express.

How about writing a rictameter (or more than one) about winter? If you will submit them to my email address (there's a link in my complete profile here), I'll put them together for a mid-March collection. I'll consider other poetic forms as well. Let's celebrate the coming end of winter, share our winter disasters and/or our winter joys.

Thanks to Pat of "Pat's Place" for this idea! (

Early Morning Musings: A Rictameter

Early Morning Musings

Time to rise and
Shine, the cliche has it.
Tired? Perhaps, but life starts now.
New day, new challenges, new things to do.
A cup of coffee starts the day.
Who knows what adventure
Looms ahead this

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy? A Rictameter

I have had a bad case of the winter doldrums, among other problems. If winter is getting to you too, why not join me in a poetry-writing project (choose your own form)? Guest contributions are welcome!


Yes, I will be.
Time to shed sad thoughts, to
Begin anew, awaiting spring.
Sun shines brightly, lake turns blue, buds appear
To bring renewal, brighter days.
These poems will ease winter's
Grip to make me

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Monday, January 26, 2009

Old and New Realities: Self-Publishing Gets a Nod From the Media

"Saying you were a self-published author used to be like saying you were a self-taught brain surgeon." Lev Grossman, in "Books Unbound: The Forces of a New Century are Shaping a New Kind of Literature. It's Fast, Cheap and Out of Control," in the February 2 issue of Time, reminds us, and he gives some grudging respect to beleagured self-published authors. Some of their books have gone on to best-seller status.

I've written before about the agonies and perils of the traditional publishing process: the long and often futile search for agent and publisher, the shrinking advance, the slight chance of seeing a book actually published, the quick trip to the remainder bin if a book doesn't sell well.

The traditional publishing industry is suffering, but people are still reading. What's happening? "Old publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste." Publishing as a whole is expanding in new forms.

According to Grossman, this is "neither good nor bad; it just is." Once, novels were considered vulgar and immoral, but "they shocked and seduced people into new ways of thinking." The very idea of self-publishing anything, fiction or non-fiction, still seems undignified or contemptible to many. Still, self-published books give everyone a chance at self-expression and are likely to seduce us into new ways of thinking. This is, indeed, a brave new literary world.

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Casual Musings from a Non-Bestselling Author

Occasionally I consult my profile, looking for news on my book sales there. To say that they are disappointing is to understate the case. It's a good thing I don't depend on book sales for a living.

Anyway, this morning (at 6:25 a.m., to be exact), I discovered that my little $9.95 book Seniorwriting ranked #46 in the Books> Nonfiction> Education> Adult & Continuing Education category. I've never seen it higher than the 60's there, so I was elated. It's not the money; I make only a dollar or two on each sale. I think it's just that a book is like a child to its creator, no matter how minor or insignificant it may be to others.

I still hope that this little book will help some senior non-writers get started on their memoirs, and that anyone affected by the book will contact me. Never mind that one reviewer objected to the fact that it doesn't help the reader to write "serious novels." If I knew how to do that, I'd be a novelist myself. The rest of the reviews are very positive.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Written on Moving Day, January 9: It's the Little Things that Matter

One of the saddest things about my move was seeing my former cat Lyon's favorite toys suddenly revealed when a living room cabinet was moved. There they were: a light blue catnip mouse and a red-and-yellow hedgehog. The latter was a funny-looking toy, but I still remember marveling at the soon-gone identifying label. Without the tag, I wouldn't have had any idea what it was. Both toys still bore traces of cat hair mixed with dust.

Chasing those toys, and others, across the floor, where they eventually disappeared beneath the furniture, was Lyon's favorite pastime until he got too old for such frivolity. I always tried to retrieve the toys, but obviously those two got away from me a few years ago. Suddenly I remembered those years of watching Lyon and the cats that came before him at play, and I was sad. As I approach what will probably be my final move, nostalgia reigns.

When I first contemplated this move, back in 2004 or so, I made a point of asking if pets would be allowed at The Clare. I wouldn't have signed up if the answer had been "no." But little more than a year later, Lyon succumbed to complications of his diabetes. Will he be replaced? I don't know, but seeing his old toys reminded me of pleasant years.

In the traumatic process os moving, it is, indeed, the small things that are memorable.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tomorrow is Moving Day!

I'm finally moving into The Clare at Water Tower, after many problems and much angst. Check my other blog, "Never too late!" for part of the story and two pictures.

There probably won't be new posts here for a while, but later I hope to write about my efforts to get my fellow residents writing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

On Moving to a Senior Residence: A Rictameter

On Moving to a Senior Residence

This is the week
To leave a familiar
Scene behind, with memories good
And bad, joys and problems, things to deal with.
Is anyone ready to move?
For me, a final choice.
Better or worse?

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne