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.”