Monday, October 18, 2010

"Where Did the Time Go?"

Once it was summer -
The lazy days of talking to neighbors
and watching our gardens grow,
Where did the time go?
Once it was fall-
With leaves turning to bright reds and yellows
and children returning to school,
Where did the time go?
Once it was winter-
Snow and ice covered the ground with trees barren
and fireplaces aglow,
Where did the time go?
Once it was spring with flowers budding and
birds reappearing-
Where did the time go?
It rolled right back to its past just as God planned it to go.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Author Vendor Marketing: Be Prepared

Last month's Arts Alive! festivity gave new meaning to the word, "alive," when my canopy scooted across the street as I attempted to sell my book, Seasons of the Soul, at the Shadow Lake Town Center's outside artist event in Papillion, Neb.
As a vendor, I did not think about bringing weights, especially since the night before my husband and I belatedly celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary - a romantic night at an Omaha restaurant and took in a movie.
So we were amazed at facing cooler weather and fierce winds as we set up my brand-new canopy the next day, which I purchased the week before to meet vendor specifications, requiring only "white" canopies. A vendor neighbor helped put up our booth.
I placed the table underneath the canopy. But when I tried to spread the table cloth, wind gusts roiled. It blew my cloth onto the street. Moments later my 3 x 5 index cards flew in several directions. I picked them up, returned to my booth and put them inside a case then plopped down in my chair to await the calming of the seas.
However, instead my canopy swayed. I gulped.
"You better get some weights or it's going to blow." I faced my neighbor, stomach churning. They secured their canopy with sand-filled canisters attached to the bottom legs.
I scrambled to think of how to keep mine intact.
With an unhandy husband, I knew we needed a simple remedy. I suggested he fill empty ice-cream containers, stored above the refrigerator, with water. I continued, "On a top shelf in the garage, are some luggage ties. We could pull those through the canopy's top loops and let the pails hang from them."
Paul nodded.
I waited for him to return, hoping he would follow instructions.
Art enthusiasts visited booths of paintings, carvings and homemade jewelry. I hid my disappointment through a pinned-on smile. Paul returned about a half-hour later.
"Where's the ropes?" I gasped.
He shrugged. "I couldn't find them so I brought cases of pop."
"Hope it works."
He smiled, believing he found the right answer, and placed the filled buckets and 12-pact soda cases on each side of the protruding metal, normally used to pound stakes into the earth. Paul left.
From my bag, I grabbed a heavier cloth and pulled it over the table. Books displayed. The winds died down. I relaxed.
But within minutes, they once again intensified, blowing a treasured-pottery tray off my table. The tray, used to hold my index cards and which honored my late state-senator father, slammed onto the concrete and shattered into pieces. Heart aching, I picked up the tiny remnants, threw them into the trash can and settled back into my seat.
Then the canopy swayed. I leaned my body against a leg and held onto it but to no avail. Seconds later it sailed toward a vendor across from me. I watched in horror and swallowed the lump in my throat.
But a group of men saw it and stopped it a few feet before it landed into that booth.
They folded up the canopy. "I'm afraid it's damaged. You better not use it," said one of the men as he handed it to me.
I laid it on the sidewalk behind me and called my husband, forcing back tears and sat there in shock. A vendor suggested I move to another location away from the sun. I agreed and she helped me drag my items to a small area between two booths, which provided greater protection from the sun and winds.
Later, I told event volunteers about the incident. Sympathetic they arrived with an unused canopy, put it up for me and secured it with sand-filled, five-gallon tubs to weigh it down. Grateful, I finished the day selling my book.
And, ended the day with a valuable lesson learned. A lesson Boy Scouts are taught in childhood:
Be Prepared. God bless.
Janet Syas Nitsick is the author of the Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. Visit her Web site: or follow Janet Nitsick on Facebook for more details.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ramblings that sparkle your writing, spirit and soul

Word Economy

Whether you write nonfiction or fiction you need to economize words.

Why? because nonfiction writing requires it and for fiction it makes your writing sparkle.

As a journalist, word economy is essential. You need to write a story in as few words as possible. Space is premium. This is why reporters write the important information upfront and less at the bottom. If editors need space for advertising, etc., they can eliminate the unimportant details without destroying the message.

Keep this in mind if you submit a newspaper or magazine article. But you can transform these techniques to the fiction world. Characters’ actions and dialogue must move the story forward and unnecessary words will impede the readers’ interest. Successful storytelling glues eyes to the page. Unsuccessful puts people to sleep.

(1)Example: Rev. Mark German, Steve Timmerman and Gene Manning climbed the 19,341-foot mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, as part of the Nebraska Evangelical Lutheran Synod vision trip last week.

(2)Reworded: “Pole, pole,” Tanzanian guides told a Christian group determined to climb Mount Kilimanjaro ...

Which grabbed your attention? If it is the latter then you learned a valuable lesson in word economy and engaging the reader. However, economizing words also includes deleting “that,” “the,” adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases whenever possible.

In nonfiction work, this is a must. In fiction, it is necessary to maintain plot and peak emotions.

(1)Example: Indian Joe worked in the city jail in exchange for board and room in the back of the building.

(2)Reworded: Indian Joe toiled and cleaned the jail in exchange for a back room.

See the difference? The first sentence includes five prepositional phrases: in the city jail, in exchange, for board and room, in the back and of the building. What does this do to a reader? It makes him focus on the phrases versus the action. Additionally, the word, “worked” is vague but when replaced with specific verbs “toiled and cleaned” a new meaning emerges - one signifying “a hard worker.”

Did you catch another unnecessary word? It is “city.” Settings tell the reader where and when the story takes place so good writers avoid redundancies.

Grammar review: Adjectives describe a noun or pronoun, such as tan hat. Tan is the adjective; hat is the noun. Adverbs modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. (1)The child speaks clearly. Clearly modifies the verb speaks. Often adverbs end in ly. (2)She is a really intense competitor. Really modifies the adjective intense. (3)She skated very well. Very modifies the other adverb, well. And, “very” is never needed either in fiction or nonfiction. Use a more precise adjective or expand your description in fiction to enhance a scene.

But how does this grammar review relate to word economy? A lot because you need to

delete adverbs and not overdo adjectives.

(1)Example: He walked very quickly.

(2)Reworded: He paced the sidewalk.

See how you can get rid of three words? walked (verb); very (adv. modifying the other adverb, quickly.)

In nonfiction, adjectives are seldom used. Why? You are relaying facts through speakers and data gathered. However, in fiction the opposite is true. You need to foster emotions and produce intriguing atmospheres. Adjectives, thus, are assets but do not overemphasize.

(1)Example: Edith pulled at the tight, high-necked dress. Her face warmed. She wrung her hands together and stared at the heavy, stout, wiry-headed clerk, creaking the windows up. The hot-steamy air circulated the room. I’ll be glad when this nightmare is over.

Eliminate words, “tight,”“heavy,” “hot.” High-necked dress denotes that the collar is tight, stout means heavy and hot is steamy. Additionally, wiry-headed clerk draws attention away from the dramatic scene taking place.

(2)Reworded: Excerpt from WIP in Sustaining Love: A Time Remembered. Edith pulled at her high-necked dress, her face warm. She wrung her hands together, staring at the clerk as the stout man creaked the windows up. The steamy air circulated the room. I’ll be glad when this nightmare is over.

Nightmares are something we want to forget but dreams are something we want to savor. Do the same with your writing. Dynamism material will lure in the reader and conciseness will propel you in the right/write direction.

About the Author: Janet Syas Nitsick is the author of the Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. She and her family, including two different autistic sons, were interviewed on KMTV, a local Omaha television station. Her radio interview aired on WVNE 760 am in the Springfield, Mass., area. Visit her Web site: to order your paperback or e-book by clicking the book cover on the order page or click order link for audio version. Also, posted on her Web site is her winning short story, “The Silver Lining.”