Thursday, December 31, 2015


All Good Gifts ~ Conclusion                                                                                            by Judith Cullen
© 2015

Image: Public Domain
Some students only wrote to their pen pals for the rest of the school year, letting the delights and America and Anna in Germany, continued to write for the next several years.  They shared stories of their studies, their families.  Anna had just her mother, having lost her father and a brother in the war.  They talked about the news of the day and what was popular.
attractions of the summer months cushion their enthusiasm for overseas correspondence. The two girls, Ann in

Ann began to understand what the teacher had meant by learning about other cultures and different ways.  Most of the time the two girls shared their thoughts easily.  But sometimes her friend would share thoughts or opinions that she didn't agree with.  One time Anna had written about a well known American actress who had done a film in Europe with a famous European Director, and was now carrying his child out of wedlock.  She thought it was fantastic that they had gotten together.  Born in the much less cosmopolitan Midwest, Ann did not share this enthusiasm.  At first it bothered her that her friend did not see this situation as she herself saw it.  In the end she decided to let it go, and did not comment on it in her reply.  In short order their correspondence moved on to other stories and other details and the point of disagreement faded.  It was her first lesson in accepting other people for who they were, and not who she would have them be.

Monday, December 28, 2015

'TIS THE SEASON: A Good Time to Remember

In a time of year filled with gift-giving, we often get caught up in the quantifying of values rather than remembering the power found in genuine gestures.  As we move towards a new year, and now that some of the holiday hoopla is past, here is a brand new original tale that is not about Christmas presents at all.  It is about the power of simple acts, generous giving, and heartfelt thanks that endures. 

Thank you for a wonderful year of new adventures in self-publishing. Part One today, and the conclusion on December 31st, the last day of 2015

All Good Gifts                                                                                                                     
by Judith Cullen
© 2015

Found on
The hands that held the small frame gently were beginning to twist with age. 

"It is one of my most treasured possessions," she said softly.

"I don't remember ever having seen it before, Mom. How long have you had this?" her daughter inquired, noticing the clear affection with which the elder woman was regarding the picture she cradled.

"Oh!  Years and years."

She ran her wrinkled thumb along the dull, gold-painted frame, feeling the texture of it, her eyes never leaving the small oil painting as she spoke.

"Over sixty some years ago, now. Sometimes I wonder ..." 

Her mind wandered away to that realm of familiar yesterdays, where minds are young and full of endless tomorrows, and bodies are still straight and free from restriction or pain.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Available on Amazon:
For Kindle  & in Paperback

Continuing the popular A TRIO OF IRISH TALES, this collection presents two continued adventures of characters from the first volume in Patrick's Path and The Fairy Tree, plus an entirely new cast in Two Houses

Three modern tales steeped in the lore of an ancient land that will call to your Celtic soul, even if you never thought you had one.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


A TRIO OF IRISH TALES II will be releasing in the next 48 hours.  And here is a deal you can take advantage of even after Cyber Monday. This Holiday Special is good through December 15th! Yeah, it costs more than a couple of lattes, but it can be enjoyed much longer!

Here's what you get for just $20

  • Paperback copies of both the original A Trio of Irish Tales and the new A Trio of Irish Tales II signed by the author (me!)
  • Specially gift wrapped, and shipped to where ever you specify in time for the holidays (Sorry, only in the U.S. by the December Holidays).
  • The satisfaction of supporting an independent author, a creator/artist, not a cumbersome corporate entity.

How do I take advantage of this offer?

Send an email to simplycreativettown AT gmail DOT com with the following:
  • Your name
  • The name and address that you would like the books shipped to 
  • Special Instructions: who should the book be inscribed to?  What would you like the gift tag to say?
By reply email, you will receive payment information. When your order payment has been confirmed it will be shipped.  

It is as easy as that!
Happy Holidays!

Look for the release of A TRIO OF IRISH TALES II this week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I am taking a brief moment to pause in the final preparations for A TRIO OF IRISH TALES' release to reflect on the nature of being thankful.  Enjoy!


Managing Life's Glass: 
An Unlikely Essay on Thanksgiving
by Judith Cullen
© 2015

"It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way
-- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."  
~ The opening paragraph of  A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

We do it all the time: measure where we are by comparison to another time, another place, someone else's life, the life we desire for ourselves.  Life is full of "Tale of Two Cities" moments, as I refer to them.  They are blips on the fabric of our lives where we know that our proverbial "glass" has both water and air in it, but we often choose the simpler path of acknowledging only one element.  They are both there.  They are always both there.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ALMOST THERE ... "Two Houses" ~ A Preview

We are days from publication of A TRIO OF IRISH TALES II . . . and here is one more preview, this time of the final story.

Two Houses (Preview)
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

“Mark, the top has to be here somewhere!”
Mark Murphy glanced at the tourist map one more time, but it might as well have been written in Greek for all the sense it made to him.  “I know, we both saw it.”  He paused, lowering his voice, “I should have asked for directions, I’ll admit it.”
Cate turned to him indulgently, “I’ll take that admission, and I won’t abuse you with it.  Not much, anyhow.”  Then she laughed and threw her head back in that way he loved. 
This was part of why he had married her – life was just that much brighter, that much “more” when Cate was around.   Like now, when they were lost in Ireland on their honeymoon, looking for a hilltop they had both seen clearly from the front lawn Rathmore House.  It had seemed like such a natural thing to spend their honeymoon exploring their mutual Irish heritage. They were inexperienced as world travelers, at best, and they really should have done more homework than they had.  Still and all adversity can lead to adventure, and so far they had shared that in abundance.
“Look here!  This lane seems to go up.  This could be promising. Let’s try it and see where it goes.”  She was pointing towards a disheveled gate and a scraggly lane of trees leading uphill. What waited at the end of the lane was not clearly in view.
“You call this ‘promising’?”  He eyed the gate and the road that left the main track and disappeared to God only knew where.  It was a single metal gate between two square stone pillars.  They might have been nicely finished once, with an outer coating of sandstone or something to dress them.  The metal had a few vestiges of ornamentation left – tiny metal swirls and flourishes.  But one of the pillars was almost entirely crumbled away, and the gate hung from the remaining pillar by a single hinge.  Squinting his eyes, Mark wasn’t even sure of that.  He had the feeling that the gate was held there by habit alone, not by any actual constructive attachment.

Monday, November 9, 2015

MORE Preview and the Final Book Trailer - for now!

The final Book Trailer has been released, and the finishing touches are going into the final story.  What a wild, insightful journey 2015 has turned out to be.  Look for the release of A TRIO OF IRISH TALES II very soon! When teamed with the first set of tales, they'll make a terrific gift for the Celtic-hearted (or just the story lover) on your holiday list.

And now: more from Liam Killough . . .
The Fairy Tree (Selection #3)
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

 He soon found himself at a fork on the road he had taken out of town.  One road was bristling with signs and newer pavement.  The other seemed to disappear into the undergrowth as it ascended up a hill.  He tried to peek up it in case it was someone’s drive, for it did not seem to be marked as “private.”  Suddenly the words of a poem came unbidden into his head.
They’d been studying poetry at school, mostly Irish poets.  There’d been a lot of time spent on W.B. Yeats and George William Russell and other late 19th, early 20th century poets.  Liam didn’t always understand the politics laced through the poems, but he was working on understanding the struggles behind the words.  The teacher had spent one day focusing on contemporary poets of the period from around the world, and had read several poems by an American, Robert Frost.  The words just popped up from nowhere in his mind and he spoke them out loud, startling himself, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

PREVIEW: More from "The Fairy Tree"

The Fairy Tree (Selection #2)
By Judith Cullen

(C) 2015

Once outside, Liam looked around the farm for something to engage his interest.  This was all known territory, nothing here that he had not already explored to the point of painful familiarity.  With hardly a moment’s thought he started down the short path to the road and did not stop to consider which direction to turn when he reached it.  He just turned any old way, his hands stuffed deep in his jeans pockets, his shoulders sagging and his head lolling forward like a ragdoll.
After ten minutes of crankily tramping down the lane he came to a crossroads and his head came up.  He looked at all the possible directions he could go, and considered what might be the best path.  He took a deep breath.
“Okay,” he admitted to himself, “they were right about going outside.”  The fresh, sweet air felt good inhaling and exhaling.  It smelled of things coming to life and Liam’s spirits began to rise as the energy of the land awakening began to fill him.  He decided to head towards town.  Liam would have been surprised if there had been a mirror to hand and he had seen himself as he started on his way.  His feet were springing on the ground as he stepped, his shoulders were back, his head was up, and he was smiling.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

PREVIEW: Liam Is Back!

Welcome to a preview of the next story in A trio of Irish Tales II.  Enjoy the newest book trailer, and then the first selection from "The Fairy Tree" where we meet young Liam Killough once more.

The Fairy Tree
By Judith Cullen
(C) 2015

“What did I say about “foostering” on the internet?”
Liam started, practically falling from his chair.  Rose McLane, was standing over him in the cool spring air that wafted through the office of his grandmother’s farm in County Wicklow.  Rose managed the farm, and Liam often used a spare desk in the office to do his homework. 
There was precious little space for him to do this in the farmhouse.  His dad’s office, where there was wireless internet in the house, was a “by invitation only” room. Grans and his Mom always seemed to have one project or another in progress, or about to be, on the kitchen table.  The dining room table was completely out of the question, and when he tried to work from his small bedroom he could not get a reliable signal.  He’d tried using his iPhone like a router, but something wasn’t working right. Liam got frustrated in a hurry, and he stayed that way.
So the farm office was really the only place where Liam could get any work done.  The first year they had lived in Ireland, Liam had gone to an online school, so this was a familiar drill for him.  Thankfully, he was attending a local academy now!  He couldn’t imagine spending all day in the office with Rose the way he had back then.
“I’m not foostering!” he said defensively, “Is that even a real word?”

Friday, October 16, 2015

PREVIEW: the Last Selection from "Patrick's Path"

W.B. Yeats by George Charles Beresford
from Wikimedia Commons
(Public Domain)
Patrick’s Path (Part 5)
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

“…I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore,
Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more;
Soon far from the rose and the lily, and fret of the flames would we be,
Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!”
Pat paused and looked at Declan as he sat beneath the tree with his eyes closed.  There had not been a single “Crap!” uttered through the entire poem.  He waited silently for his teacher to respond.
“Well, you know the words sure enough, I’ll give you that.  The recitation was not without merit, and you’d not have embarrassed yourself at a poetry gathering. Look at the poem again, as if it were a story.  Look for the images in the words and try to bring them to life using only the sound of your voice.”
Pat reached for the slip of paper in his pocket.
“No, don’t look at the words!  The words are in your head, boy.  Find them there.  They are ideas, not printed type.  Take a moment.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A TRIO OF IRISH TALES II: Trailer #1 ~ "Patrick's Path"

A Trio of Irish Tales II features two stories that rejoin characters introduced in volume 1, and the third story introduces an entirely new cast of characters in a situation inspired by real places found in Ireland.

"Patrick's Path" features Pat Flynn from 2013’s story "In the Mists." Pat is 24 now and he's tired of always walking in everyone's wake - following along behind.  He wants to find something that he is passionate about; something that he can claim as his very own. He also wouldn't mind catching the eye of Daimhin Finnegan.

More stories, more adventure, history, romance and mythology.  Three modern tales steeped in the lore of an ancient land. 

Coming to Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback
this Fall!

Follow the preview posts of "Patrick's Path" here on my website to explore more of the flavor of this tale. Another installment is coming soon!

Friday, October 9, 2015

PREVIEW: More from "Patrick's Path"

Patrick’s Path (Part 4)
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

Declan sat on a boulder while Pat trotted up and down the strand reciting names of Irish Lords and Kings, in chronological order.  Every now and then the old man would bellow out questions randomly, and Pat had to respond with a basic bit of information.  If he paused at all, Declan would holler “Crap!” and make him back up a few hundred years or so and start again.  If Pat stopped jogging to think, “Keep moving! Keep moving!” rang down the beach and Pat had to back up his recitation again.  Last week it had been Gods and Goddesses.  The threat of Irish Saints was looming in the future.
Pat didn’t complain.  He found it as exhilarating as he did infuriating.  Even though the sound of “Crap!” made him want to punch something, he kept at it and kept at it until he could recite the entire list uninterrupted but for the unexpected questions which he fielded without pause.  Once he could achieve that, his teacher made him do it again five, six, seven times with no respite.  
The first time Pat had been able to complete the exercise undisturbed, he had felt the power of the knowledge within himself.  He felt like he owned the names, dates, and details and in the joy of it, his jogging broke into ecstatic leaps and spins.  His teacher grinned as he watched Pat careen across the sand and rocks, never once letting up his trial of the young storyteller. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

PREVIEW: "Patrick's Path" Continues

Falcon Pub, London, UK by SuzyDubot from
Patrick’s Path (Part 3)
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

On Monday morning, Pat was still dreaming about the storyteller when his father began to gather tools, as he did when he was preparing to perform repairs in someone’s home or shop. 
“We need to stop by Reilly’s today.  He’s had some trouble with the taps, and he seems to think we can figure out the mess.  I don’t want to disrupt the pub anymore than I need to.  So I’ll want you along with me so one of us can be below and one above. Nolan can tend to his customers, that way, rather than worry about us.  The man hovers anyway, and I can’t abide hovering when I’m solving a problem.”
Pat was excited, wondering whether he’d get a chance to see the Seanchai again.  But he steeled himself against letting his expectations get too high. They were there to repair things, not to sit about prattling with the guests.  Pat stuffed his work gloves in his coat pocket as he followed his father out the workshop, pausing to turn the hanging “Open” sign to “Out On Repair” as they secured the door.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

PREVIEW: More from "A Trio of Irish Tales II"

Patrick’s Path (Part 2)
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

The pub was full to bursting this night; alive with energetically familiar greetings, merry introductions, and the scraping of sturdy wooden chairs on the well-worn floor.  Micheal Flynn, usually a reserved man, was vigorously weaving through the filled tables talking to people as he went, trying to find a place for the three of them close to the tiny stage in the corner.  Pat didn’t understand it.  His father was never pushy, but tonight he was actively negotiating to get a prime spot close to the entertainment.
“What’s Da up to?” Pat asked.
“Never you mind, son. Your Da has ideas of his own, and we who love him can best let him have his way this night.”
Pat looked at her like she’d grown another head.  She rarely let Da just go off and do what he pleased without her approval.  He suspected that she knew why he wanted them up front, but wasn’t about to tell.
He was about to ask outright what was going on, when his attention swerved violently in another direction.  Behind his Mum he saw Daimhim Finnegan.  She caught his gaze and smiled shyly.  Pat felt himself blush and, had he been speaking, he would have surely been stammering.  He returned the smile nervously and then looked elsewhere – anywhere!
They had been part of the same crowd of kids who had grown up together there on the Munster shore.  Pat had always been struck by her loveliness; even back when they had all been young children he’d felt drawn to her.  She wasn’t loud, she never flirted, but she had a quiet strength that he found appealing and comforting.  He noticed how she always made certain that people were taken care of.  A few years older than himself, she had become his ideal: the standard by which he measured all other girls.  Last year she’d started going out with James O’Brien, which had seemed to put her out of Pat’s reach forever.  Big, bold, popular James, who everyone flocked to, including Pat, seemed an unlikely partnering for the modest Daimhim.  Even though something had happened to that relationship in the last few weeks, Pat didn’t dare foster any hope for himself with herself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ESSAY: What Do People See, When They See Me?

The Mirror, the Photo, or Me?

By Judith Cullen
© 2015

It has taken me a long while to get to this point. I have never had a very good self-image.  I never considered myself attractive, and some days I still do not.  The reality is far more disturbing than that. It was not just what I thought I wasn’t, it was what I thought I was: massively imperfect, grossly flawed, highly unappealing.  I’d like to say that I have matured to the point that I realize how wrong that view point was and is.  I would like to say that I fully recognize how popular culture and the media feed the kind of beast that destroys women’s perceptions of themselves as lovely.  I’d really like to acknowledge that I deny the impossible standards of beauty that we are fed from infancy.  I would really like to say that, and some days I can.  Other days I would kill to loose 100 lbs because I just see “me the lump.”

I’ve noticed that there are several different "me" images that I perceive.  There is the me that I see in the mirror.  Thanks to some of the consciousness-raising mentioned above, that image is one that I increasingly love.  Honestly, it is more beautiful now than ever. The years, the miles, the joys, the heart aches – they are all reflected back to me. No matter the frustrations of the moment, the doubts or uncertainty, the sum of these happenstances equals something lovely.  This me has terrific friends, had some great luck, had some challenges that were worth over-coming, and stands to expect more of the same in a future that still holds a lot of possibilities.  This me is very pretty.  I like her.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A PREVIEW of "A Trio of Irish Tales II"

It's about time to begin tempting you with tidbits from November's release.  Already I am busting with pride: these stories are some of the best and most complex that I have ever written.  Over the next few week's, I'll be sharing selections from Patrick's Path - the first of the trio of tales in this volume.

"Patrick's Path" features Pat Flynn from A Trio of Irish Tales"In the Mists." Pat is 24 now and he's tired of always walking in everyone's wake - following along behind.  He wants to find something that he is passionate about; something that he can claim as his very own. He also wouldn't mind catching the eye of Daimhin Finnegan.  



Patrick’s Path
"Wild Grazing" by Brian Henry from
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

Pat tried to loose his frustrations with the stone as it flew from his hand, making a proper splash into the sea about thirty feet away.  He looked down, assessing the rocks and shells at his feet and choosing another stone that felt right.  Tossing and catching it several times with his sand-gritted palm, he leaned back and let this stone fly with the same emotional propulsion, watching it drop into the serenely lapping waves.  The ripples the rocks made in the gentle surf did nothing to reduce Pat’s disquiet.  He pondered another stone.
He was sick and tired of always being the one following behind; always being the best friend, the side-kick.  It had been this way all of his life.  It wasn’t that Pat wanted to be popular. He was an honest soul and well liked, he knew that just as he knew that everyone gets a bit of attention at one time or another.  He didn’t want more friends or more glory.  Pat didn’t crave the spotlight or the admiration of others; he just wanted to stop feeling like an “also-ran”; like an extra bit of nothing-in-particular hanging around for everyone’s convenience.  He wanted to have one thing that was his: something he was good at, a source of pride that was his own.
He kicked his boots into the sand and rocks of the shore. Choosing another stone, he hurled it with all his might. He tried to concentrate all his dissatisfaction into it: the times he’d followed someone else’s lead, done what he was bidden to do, every instant that he’d trailed behind compressed into that one missile.  He threw it so hard he spun himself off balance, almost falling.  The rock plopped into the water so far away that he couldn’t even hear it break the surface.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NEW ESSAY: "The Parable of the Peach Seed"

The Parable of the Peach Seed
"Waves of Golden Fire" (1999) by Eyvind Earle from
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

Life sometimes teaches you in small, subtle ways.  If you aren’t paying attention you miss the larger lessons. 

I am in the habit of having a piece of fruit in the evenings.  It helps ward off late night cravings.  For some reason my evening impulses run to sweets. My 9 pm plum of is a healthy way to stave off a 2 am ice cream binge.

One evening this August I was eating a peach, and the pit split open.  There, nestled inside, was the seed.  I had never seen a peach seed before; never even considered what might be on the inside of the pit.  It looked like an almond, though I later found out that mistaking it for an almond could be the last mistake I would ever make.  Peach seeds are a rich source of cyanide, apparently.  But I did not know that yet, so I dried it off and carefully set it aside thinking, “What would happen if I planted it?  I’ll find out!”

Saturday, September 12, 2015

ART INSPIRED STORIES at Peninsula Art League's 13th Annual Open Show

Welcome, as the 2015 Art-Inspired Stories Project Continues!

I was excited when the Peninsula Art League contacted me about bringing the Art Inspired Stories Project to their Annual Open Show.  I was asked to create ten stories or poems based on works in the show. 

I requested a little flexibility as writing (like painting, drawing, or any other creative endeavor) does not always come out neatly to order. Twenty one works were photographed from the show, and narrowed down to twelve stories and poems. I even allowed myself a little free-verse this time as it seemed to fit some of the artwork best.

All the work submitted was excellent and merit-worthy. It’s really worth stopping by the Harbor History Museum to see the exhibition. 

The choices reflected in the pieces I have written are not qualitative. I could not possibly organize and write stories for the entire show in less than a week. So here are some of the criteria I used in making choices when I viewed the show and photographed the artworks to develop.  

I did not choose:
  • Works whose narrative is already strong - why restate something that is already clear?
  • Works whose stories could not be contained to 100 words
I tried to strike a balance the general themes of the stories (funny, sweet, contemplative, etc) and the various mediums and styles.

I am very pleased with these stories, and I hope that you enjoy them as well.

Pieces Created for the Peninsula Art League 
13th Annual Open Show
 Note: All Stories & Poems are © 2015 by Judith Cullen
Use of any of the photo images on this page without the express permission 
of the individual artists is strictly prohibited

The Philosopher
Image copyright by the artist - Sheila Anderson 
Sheila Anderson – conte

I poured another tall one into the mug.  It sat in his hand the same comfortable way that he wore his clothes - like old friends. 

“What do you think about most?” I asked.

He sipped slowly, relishing the taste before swallowing. His head tilted, considering.

“I think of life, child.”

“Really?” I was surprised.

His chuckle had a gravely antiquity.  “I’ve seen a lot of life – a whole lot, all around.”

“You don’t think of death?”

“That’s always been there too. The wishful righteousness of youth makes death cunning. It waits. It’s just one moment; while life is many.”

Kalaloch Creek Abstract
Image copyright by the artist - Robert Berg
Robert Berg – Photography

The air was sea-salt crisp as I stood there, alone and enrapt by line and motion. The progression repeated itself from the hand of an unseen sculptor. 

“This defines nature,” I thought, “This endless expansion of form, this interweaving of plane and mass.”

Did they stand back, the artist of everlastingness, checking the horizon, vanishing lines, and the angling light?  A little adjustment here, a little molding there, a shifting of pattern before the final chisel cut reverberated away? Then the final moment of satisfaction before the hand washed over it all, casually perhaps, to set it into eternal motion.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

POEM: Feeling Fall-ish Today

Yep!  It is in the air - in a kaleidoscope of different ways. Even in lives.  It seems like there are so many deaths and new births going on around me right now.  This is the most marked transition in the year. I am feeling it both profoundly and joyously.


By Judith Cullen
© 2015

Misty, dewy, cool
Hot coffee embraced mornings.
Warm, clear, bright
No coat required afternoons.
Rising and setting sun
Wild watercolor vibrant.

Trees tipped school bus yellow.
Others taking the flame color
Of summer’s last bonfires.
Air fair and prescient
Of crispness-es to come.
The wheel in transition.

New backpack days.
Check the game schedule days.
Music lesson, State Fair days.
Corn dog and cotton candy days,
Get them before they’re gone.
Beginnings and endings days.

Prepare for necessities of the darkness,
the cold, short, and frosted.
The “so glad I canned that” times
When coats are unquestioned
When light is brief, and we hope
For the return to green and warm.


I am dedicating this to all the lives around me who have taken the step into the next great unknown, and to all those joyously welcomed into this mystery.

Rest in Peace: Bill Becvar, Jim Dollarhide, Bill Bruzas, George McGilliard, Madge Richardson Walsh, and more
Welcome to "The Wonder" to each and every one of the many newborns (I don't know all their names yet. We just met!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

COMING THIS WEEKEND: More from the Art Inspired Stories Project

I have been invited by the Peninsula Art League to bring the Art Inspired Story Project to their Fall Art Show! I was just there today, taking snaps of the artwork and sharpening my pencil.  It is a wonderful show and the venue is really great.

13th Annual Open Juried Art Show -- September 12-October 18
Harbor History Museum
4121 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor

    September 12 -- Opening Reception (and Awards) 6-8pm 

    October 3 – Art Walk - Art Inspired Stories Reading & Art Demonstrations 1-4pm
    October 16 -- People's Choice Award announced
    October 18 -- Show closes at 5pm 

Check out the Proctor ArtsFest 2015 Project HERE
Check out the Proctor ArtsFest 2015 Project HERE

AND THEN, Check back here this Saturday after 9 pm (Pacific) to see the Project Stories from the Peninsula Art Leagues 13th Annual Juried Art Show.

Monday, September 7, 2015

GUEST POST: The Seahawks - A Reflection of Us

I am pleased to welcome a guest posting today: my sister, Maura Cullen.

Way back in the spring I posted Journeys of Triumph and Adversity making sense of the NFL Post Season as the designated sports fan enabler in a family of fans.  My sister also took to writing to express her thoughts and feelings about the Seattle Seahawk's (our local team) near epic loss at the Super Bowl.

Now here we are, and the season is about to officially begin.  There's been all sorts of little dramas along the way - I tell you, professional sports is great theater!  With the Hawks first official game coming this next Sunday, it's not a bad time to revisit why we become attached to certain teams, and why we remain loyal to them.

This essay is written from the perspective of a Seattle fan, but in many ways it reflects how true fans feel about their teams, anywhere.

NOTE: She refers to people "faithfully donning Seahawks gear every Friday" which is a phenomena around these parts known as Blue Friday.  I was in a local grocery last Friday and they weren't just pushing wearable gear.  You could get blue cupcakes, blue bouquets for your sweetheart.  It's a little hard to ignore and yes, I admit it: I have started reading the sports page again.

Welcome Sis!  Enjoy!

Calendar image by graphic artist Dan Boyer
Playing Outside the Box
An Essay by Maura Cullen
(c) 2015

I suppose that it is an occupational hazard for one who has made a career in the social sciences to be constantly fascinated by human behavior. I have been a practicing school psychologist since 1984 and I still find myself in awe and wonderment as to why people, especially groups of people, do what they do.
Now that football season is over until at least mid-summer, I find myself reflecting on the whole phenomenon of the “12’s.”  Why do the people of the Northwest (and beyond, actually) have such a love affair with the Seahawks?  How did an entire region become motivated to faithfully don Seahawks gear every Friday?  Why has Century Link Field become such a dreaded place for other teams to play? Why have Skittles practically become the new state candy?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Coming in November: MORE IRISH TALES

2013's A Trio of Irish Tales is by far my best selling collection, ever. Finally, the much promised second volume of stories is heading for completion and will be released in plenty of time for the holidays.

A Trio of Irish Tales II features two stories that rejoin characters introduced in volume 1, and the third story introduces an entirely new cast of characters in a situation inspired by real places found in Ireland.

In "Two Houses" a young American couple on their honeymoon find their ties to Irish heritage are far more insistent than just a simple perusal of genealogies.  As the past disturbs their future, Mark and Cate must unravel the mystery of two houses that suffered very different fates, but that are somehow connected.

"The Fairy Tree" reunites us with young Liam Killough of "The Shadow by the Gate."  He and his family have settled into life in rural County Wicklow, but Liam is at continual odds with farm manager Rose McLane. The tension has been mounting and explodes with unexpected results, leaving young Liam desperate to set things to rights again.

"Patrick's Path" features Pat Flynn from "In the Mists." Pat is 24 now and he's tired of always walking in everyone's wake - following along behind.  He wants to find something that he is passionate about; something that he can claim as his very own. He also wouldn't mind catching the eye of Daimhin Finnegan.

More stories, more adventure, history, romance and mythology.  Three modern tales steeped in the lore of an ancient land.  A Trio of Irish Tales II will call to your Celtic soul, even if you never thought you had one.

Coming to Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

Join my new Stories by Judith Cullen mailing list to get special email pre-release updates and news of events!


Come to Ireland
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

It happens again and again,
Whispered on the conscience
Subtly suggested coincidence
Inviting, voices entreating
replying, repeating
“Come to Ireland.”

Calling in books, in poems,
A dozen chance implications.
“We’ve been to Ireland,
We just got back in”
Jealously ecstatic
“Come to Ireland.”

Land of past mothers and fathers
Bosom of soul-filled heritage
Yearning past tense, for welcome
On someone else’s native soil
immigrant, heart of toil
“Come to Ireland.”

One day, child of the scattered,
your heart and your heartland
will reunite once more.”
Murmuring promises sent
Wafting on a green wind
“Come to Ireland.”


Thursday, August 27, 2015

NEW ESSAY: It is a Self-Publishing Reality. I Have to ASK!

I actually get embarrassed about it.  It makes me self-conscious every time I post.  I tell myself, “Look, people will self-select: some will be interested and some won’t; some will “like” or “plus” to be supportive; some won’t even really see it. Get over it. You aren’t going to make anyone do or buy anything they are not interested in. You have never had that kind of sales skill.”

The truth is, if I didn’t use social media as a means of promoting my work as an author or storyteller, I wouldn’t use it nearly as much.  I would probably have made a choice between Google+ and facebook.  I would still enjoy reconnecting with old friends and with family, as I have.  I opened my first facebook account because I was still working full time, and the company asked people to as part of their nascent social media strategy.  I looked at it, maybe, weekly. 

Once I started self-publishing it became clear I had to learn about social media.  I even had one e-marketing consultant directly say to me, “You need to not be afraid to let people know what you are doing. Let them make choices.” It was with great trepidation that I sent my first “friends and family” email, complete with a disclaimer at the bottom that made it clear that supporting me in my launch as an author was not a condition of friendship. Some weeks, like right after I have released a book, even I am tired of posts about me!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

HAIKU/POEM: FeelingTall

Awareness of Tall
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

I know I am not
but sometimes it seems I am
and the world changes

Standing in the dawn
a sudden sensation
the world realigns

A mere moment this
consciousness of stretching up
shoulders back, head high

Fancying I see
the tops never in my view
spine reaching skyward

Like Alice it seems
the world shrinks all around me
old life is tiny

The instant is gone
that familiarity
the usual scale

It all returns now
with a disappointing shock
I fit into life

I know I am not
but sometimes it seems I am
and the world changes

What would it be like
sustaining that awareness
life filling with "tall"


Friday, August 21, 2015

FOR KINDLE READERS: It is not just the words, it's the pages that count!

The Four-One-One on KOLL & Kindle Unlimited
By Judith Cullen
Image courtesy of Jeri Lloyd and her trusty devices - Thanks!

Do you own a Kindle or use a free Kindle app on your computer?  Do you download electronic books from Amazon?  If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, here are some important tidbits of information, and we all know that information is golden.  You might already know this, though information like this tends to come in very small print on the users end.

Amazon has two great programs for Kindle users: the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) and the new Kindle Unlimited.  Authors/Publishers are allowed to make their titles available through these programs based on options they are given when they upload their books and manage the title's settings for distribution.

KOLL is a benefit of Amazon Prime membership and allows you to choose from over 800,000 books, which you borrow for free with no due date.  This program only works for people who have Kindle devices.  So if you have downloaded a Kindle Reader program onto a PC, you are out of luck.

For a set monthly subscription fee, Kindle Unlimited lets you explore over a million titles on any device that has a Kindle Reader app program.  Additionally, Kindle Listening makes titles for which there are both text and audio formats available wherever you see “Kindle Unlimited with Narration” listed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

NEW POEM: Inspired by a Real Mom

Inspired by the day that I had to go through my Mom's purse to find the cell phone that we share.  In every pocket of her purse there was one of those little plastic wrapped reseal-able packets of facial tissues, some in little cloth holders. They are inconveniently about the same size as the cell phone.  She thought I was making fun of her when I told her I thought it brilliant: you didn't have to think about which pocket you'd put your tissues, because they were everywhere.  

The thought has stuck with me ever since: when you really need a tissue, for a whole variety of reasons, you don't really want to take the time to hunt for it. It's a very "Mom" approach.  So this is a little bit of sweetness; not really heavy, deep, and real.  "Sweet," after all, has an important place in our lives as well.

Dedicated to my Mother, and all my friends and colleagues who are mothers.  It's not Mother's Day, but lest we forget: you never take a day off from being a mom.

Mom’s Purse

By Judith Cullen
© 2015

Pockets, pockets, pockets
Full to bursting
Necessities and contingencies
Gathered for convenience

Pockets, pocket, pockets
Chambers of utility
A small packet of tissues
Tucked in every one

Pockets, pockets, pockets
Among keys and nail kits
Combs and safety pins
Paper tissue everywhere

Pockets, pockets, pockets
A mother needs these
No pause to think or look
Comfort within her grasp

Reach in the pocket for
Joy, Sorrow, Pride
Anger, and Celebration

Pockets, pockets, pockets
Tucked in every one
A small packet of tissues
There can never be enough


Friday, August 14, 2015

NEW ESSAY: "I get excited..."

No More Apologies 
(well, maybe just the one)
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2015

I get excited about things.  This is a known fact to my good friends and relations.  When I am excited about something, it gets 150% of my available enthusiasm.  I am almost always excited about something: a story idea, a design project, something new I just learned.  While this seeming fanaticism can be hard to take at times, its reverse is wholly unpleasant to be around.

Those who know me well understand that this is not ego-based; this is my creative energy at its highest rev.  I function at my best in this state.  They know that I go a little bonkers when questioned regarding something that I am jazzed about.  I am not so lacking in self-awareness to fail to notice that some folks have strategies to deal with me when I “go off.” 

One is to redirect, ask questions, “This is interesting, can we talk about it again when we have more time? I need to go pick up Jason in 10 minutes.”  Another is to make me aware that I have “gone off” and am rattling on, not allowing them to let them get a word in edgewise.  This is usually done kindly. There are a few people who know, and seem to have accepted that I am almost incapable of answering an open question simply.  I hope this is because they accept me as I am and enjoy my flights of exhilaration.  If they don’t, they are sympathetic enough to my terminal enthusiasm to not let me know it. I am grateful for the compassion that all these approaches reflect.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A RECIPE FOR THE ROAD from "Beauty on the Interstate"

Lots of people nod and smile at the mention of "car broiled peanut butter and jelly sandwich." I actually do have a recipe for this unique treat.  here it is!

“I fortified myself with a “car broiled” Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich which I had been tending on the dashboard since I left home.  It was nice and gooey – just as it should be.  I had noted as first one side, then the other, worked up a nice head of steam in the Ziploc bag on the sunlit dash.  Washed down with some ice cold lemonade from the thermos I had packed, it tasted like the ghost of  sandwiches from a dozen of summer trips past, laced with the excitement of a child strapped in the back seat of the family car.”                    ~ from “OR Highway 20” in BEAUTY ON THE INTERSTATE

RECIPE: “Car Broiled” Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
By Judith Cullen                     
(Serves One)

  • Two Slices of Bread – standard slicing, not thick sliced
  • Margarine or Butter – your preference
  • Peanut Butter – Chunky or Creamy, your preference, though I think creamy works better
  • Jelly – Concord Grape is the best, but decent results can be gained with Strawberry
  • One Sandwich Size Ziploc-type Bag – Fold closures will not do, it much seal closed
  • A roadtrip destination at least ninety minutes distant, and sufficient fuel to get there and back again.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: Your mileage may vary

Saturday, August 1, 2015

ART INSPIRED STORIES at Proctor ArtsFest 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Art-Inspired Stories Project!

This year I chose 21 pieces out of the entire show, and this year I wrote for all. Ten of those were presented live this afternoon at the Festival.

My choices were not meant to be qualitative. All the work submitted was lovely and merit-worthy, but I could not possibly organize and write 71 stories in less than 48 hours. So here are some of the criteria I used in making choices when I viewed the exhibit and photographed the artworks to develop.  

I did not choose:
Works whose message was clear - why muck with or restate something that is already strong?
Works whose stories could not be contained to 100 words
Balancing the general themes of the stories (funny, sweet, contemplative, etc) and the various mediums and styles.

I am very pleased with this year’s stories, and I hope that you enjoy them as well.

Pieces Selected for Presentation at 
the Proctor Arts Fest Juried Art Show
Note: All Stories are © 2015 by Judith Cullen
Use of any of the photo images on this page without the express permission 
of the individual artists is strictly prohibited


1948 Ford Woody Station Wagon
By Jens O Pedersen, Three Dimensional

We chatter together, loading the wagon in the morning sunlight.  The paneling is warm against my hand as doors open and close; eager for the seashore. 

Marta hands me the picnic basket. “You’re better at packing the car.” It’s her Mother’s basket, borrowed for today.  Woven slats feel friendly and familiar as I slide them into a little hole between chairs and beach bags.

The sky is blue and the ocean bluer, twinkling, inviting.  The waves shout. Running on hot, tingling sand, my feet restless to feel what my hands know, even through layers of wax: the sentience of wood.

Backyard Band
Susan Strohm, Watercolor

“What are those kids up to?  Norman, go see what those neighbor kids are up to.”

“It’s none of our business, Iris, let them alone.”

“They’re always setting up a ruckus.  They’ve got to learn some manners.”

Norm has fought this battle before.  He knows when to withdraw with honor.

As he peeks over the fence, camouflaged by laurel and rhododendron, he sees a bow, sticks, strings and the glint of brass.  He returns quietly, and sweet sounds usher him into the room where Iris sits, knitting. He smiles, and she looks up in surprise.

“I think its music, Iris.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015



 "If you have ever had a long drive, be it vacation or vocation, you will be able to relate to these stories. ...She (the author) somehow seems to find details and situations that we can all relate to... An excellent read that makes you think, nod understandingly, crave the open road, but most of all - smile."    ~ Amazon Reader Review

“Beauty on the Interstate” is a collection of short stories and essays inspired by life in motion on the highways and byways, where tales form and reform at a rapid pace, and reflection is possible, but only at 60 mph. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

ANOTHER PREVIEW: What is your "Favorite Drive"?

Beauty on the Interstate is almost ready to launch, so excitement levels are pretty high!

Today's preview is from one of two stories about road trips - something more than a commute and less than moving to another state. This selection is from my absolute favorite drive of all time; one that I hope to make again and again until I can't make it anymore.

I love driving from Tacoma to Port Townsend, here in Washington State.  I love it enough that I am willing to make it a round trip in a single day. It's worth it for a multitude of reasons.

Here's the selections, and be sure to click "more" to see the next "video inspiration" selection at the end of the post.

Port Townsend Lighthouse at Fort Worden State park

My Favorite Drive - an excerpt
By Judith Cullen
© 2015

The destination itself is a fun, quirky safe harbor on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula.  It is known for its creative and artistic community, the numerous Victorian era buildings preserved from its seafaring heyday, and as a maritime center for independent boat builders.  For those movie goers of a certain era, it can also be recognized from the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman” much of which was filmed at nearby Fort Worden, a de-commissioned U.S. Army installation from the pre-airplane Coast Artillery Corps days.

Fort Worden State Park
I was introduced to Port Townsend and Fort Worden as a young carpentry apprentice for a theater company.  Fresh out of college, I spent three summers shuttling back and forth to Port Townsend installing productions in the theater near the park entrance, enjoying campfires where the cast and crew became one among the abandoned gun emplacements, wandering the empty batteries in the woods, hopping downtown for breakfast or dinner at one of the funkier local eateries.  I even remember being dispatched back to Tacoma in the evening a few times, to return with whatever crucial item was required the next morning.  Even though it is three hours round trip, the drive doesn’t really seem that long. It still doesn’t.