Monthly Archives: August 2012

Barbara McNichol Editorial- Presents Writing Skills Workshop HOW TO STRENGTHEN EVERYTHING YOUR WRITE & “Editing Angles for Nonfiction Authors” blog October Hands-On “Wordshops”

Barbara McNichol Editorial- Presents Writing Skills Workshop HOW TO STRENGTHEN EVERYTHING YOUR WRITE & “Editing Angles for Nonfiction Authors” blog October Hands-On “Wordshops”

If you live in the Denver area, you won’t want
to miss out on a dynamic writing skills workshop by Barbara
McNichol. On September 6, 2012 How to Strengthen EVERYTHING
You Write will be held at DeVry College, Westminster, CO.
For full details go to this link. Registration is easy; just
complete the form at Avante Leadership, the event’s sponsor.
Latest on “Editing Angles for Nonfiction Authors” blog
October Hands-On “Wordshops” – Tucson Dates Set

Calling Colorado Writers: Strengthen EVERYTHING You Write
at September 6 Workshop
No More Dull, Muddled, Exaggerated Subject Lines—and
Ignored Emails

NOW, refer to 360+ Word Trippers all in one
place. This print book and Kindle e-book helps
you use these pesky word pairings correctly. Full
details at or head straight
for Amazon by clicking on the Word Trippers cover.

Follow Barbara on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Barbara McNichol Editorial provides expert editing of
business and professional books to authors, agents, publicists,
publishers, designers, and book consultants.

Please request “How the BME Process Works for You”
or go to my website to start the process!

Barbara McNichol Editorial

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Sydney Writers’ Centre- Reader’s Digest 100 Word Story competition & Many Writing Courses

Sydney Writers’ Centre- Reader’s Digest 100 Word Story competition
More student success – Congratulations

Magazine and Newspaper Writing
TIP: It’s or its?
WEBPICK: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels

Online Travel Writing Course

It’s info-packed and full of practical ideas that can help you get started straight away. I co-created this course so I know it’s full of useful tips and ideas that you usually only learn about when you’re in the industry.

You’ll discover:
about the different types of travel articles and why they suit different markets.
how to speak the language – understanding the industry lingo.
how to develop the right angle for your travel story so it doesn’t resemble a six hour
holiday slideshow.
how to structure your articles, using photos and trip notes effectively.
how to research travel stories, plan your itineraries and find interview subjects on the road.
how to write without ever getting on a plane – discovering your hometown or state.
how to stay out of trouble by following travel writing ethics.
the best way to approach editors and pitch your story to perfection.
insights from professional travel writers around the world through access to exclusive
audio interviews!
and MUCH more!

Online course: Travel Writing with Sue White
5-week course starting Monday 3 September 2012
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.
TIP: Should you end a sentence with a preposition?
Giving advice on grammar is hard – especially when there is so much disagreement around some of the ‘rules’. Like the rule that says you should never end a sentence with a preposition. As Winston Churchill (apparently) said, “This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

So what does this rule actually mean? According to Robert Lowth, who wrote one of the first English grammar textbooks in 1762, the preposition should always be placed before the noun, because the word preposition means “position before”. A preposition is a positioning word – at, by, for, into, off, on, out, over, to, under, up, with.

If you adhere to this rule, this sentence:

What did you step on?

Should be changed to:

On what did you step?

This rule (or myth, as some call it) is contentious because in conversation, we often end sentences in prepositions. Now, most grammarians agree that if the sentence sounds right when it’s ending in a preposition, it’s perfectly ok to do that. But if you think you can remove the preposition without changing the meaning of your sentence, you should do so.

More Student Success

Congratulations to Yatu Widders, who emailed us this week with some very exciting news. After completing the Magazine and Newspaper Writing course with Marina Go in March this year she’s been busy pitching – and has just scored her first commission. Here’s what she wrote to us:

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for the courses you offer. After taking two of them earlier this year, I have just been offered my first paid writing job!

I took the Magazine and Newspaper Writing course and the Twitter seminar. Both were incredibly useful and it was through the contacts I made on Twitter (once I took the course and figured out how to use it effectively) that led me to my first paid gig. I am now a regular paid blogger for Peppermint Magazine – which just happens to be my favourite mag!

I can’t believe it has only been a few months since I have done the courses and I’m already getting paid to write!

Great news, Yatu. We can’t wait to hear about more of your articles.

Reader’s Digest 100 Word Story Contest
Can you write a story in exactly 100 words? That’s the challenge Readers’ Digest has set. They want stories of 100 words, no more and no less, and the winner will receive $1000 plus publication in Reader’s Digest. Two runners-up will also be awarded $250.

Think you can do it? You can submit your story here until Friday 30 November 2012.

Upcoming courses

Writing Picture Books

Learn how to turn your story idea into a picture book that will capture the imagination of children. Cathie Tasker, editor and children’s book expert, will guide you through this five-week course, covering illustrations, language and rhythm, finding the right voice, and much more. This course is perfect if you’d
like to write for children aged 7 and younger.

5-week course starting Wednesday 5 September 2012
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Online course: Writing Book for Children and Young Adults

Are you writing longer books for children aged 8 and up? Then you should consider our Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults. These older readers want stories and characters they feel passionately about, and Judith Ridge will show you how to achieve that. During this course you’ll learn how to get started, the secrets of plotting for different age groups, finding the right voice and much more. And you can do all this from wherever you are, at a time that suits you.

Week beginning Monday 3 September 2012 for 5 weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Successful Freelancing

If you’ve been freelancing for at least six months and want to take your business to the next level, our Successful Freelancing seminar will show you how. During this intensive two-hour seminar you’ll cover the business basics of freelancing, how to get repeat commissions and build your profile as a writer, and how to ensure your freelancing work brings you a regular income. The most important thing to remember is that “freelance” does not equal “poor”.

2-hour evening seminar on Tuesday 11 September 2012
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Did you know? The New Yorker and teen-agers
If you’re a regular reader of The New Yorker, you may have noticed their liberal use of hyphens, in particular their odd spelling for the word “teenager” – teen-ager.

There was a time when The New Yorker was not alone in using the hyphen in teen-ager. Teenager is a relatively new word and first started appearing in written form back in the 1920s. Then, it was usually written as two words – teen age or ager – but the Oxford English Dictionary first listed the word as “teen-ager” in 1941. The hyphen was used until around the late 1950s when it started being dropped and the word “teenager” became the preferred version.

So why does The New Yorker still use the hyphen? It seems the editors there are reluctant to
update their style guide. The magazine is known for its very conservative (some would say
old-fashioned) grammatical and spelling choices, a style that hasn’t changed since it was first
published back in 1925.

TIP: It’s and its
One of our sharp-eyed readers spotted this typo in last week’s newsletter:

None of us would admit to judging a book by it’s cover.

Did you spot it? We should have written its cover, not it’s. Confusing it’s and its is one of the most common errors we see in writing, but it’s important you remember the difference between the two.

It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”. For example:

It’s (it has) been a busy week at the Sydney Writers’ Centre.
It looks like it’s (it is) going to rain today.

Its is a possessive pronoun, like his or her. It never takes an apostrophe. For example:

Every dog has its day.
The football team won its first game.

A good way to test if you’ve made the right choice is to replace it’s/its in your sentence with “it is” or “it has”. If the sentence still makes sense, use it’s. If not, use its.

Plan ahead – Magazine and Newspaper Writing
One of our most popular courses here at the Centre is Magazine and Newspaper Writing. And it’s no wonder – we regularly hear from students who have fulfilled their writing dreams in just five weeks, thanks to this course. Being such a popular course, we want to make sure anyone can do the course, no matter where you live. So we have three options coming up – a weekend intensive, a five-week evening course, and an online course.

If you want to know how you can get paid for your writing, this is the course for you. You’ll learn how to develop story ideas, how to analyse publications, how to structure and write a feature article and, most importantly, how to pitch your story and get paid for it.
Magazine and Newspaper Writing WEEKEND INTENSIVE with Sue White
Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 September 2012 (two consecutive days)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $395

Magazine and Newspaper Writing with Marina Go
Five Wednesday evening classes starting Wednesday 26 September 2012
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

ONLINE COURSE: Magazine and Newspaper Writing with Sue White
Week beginning Monday 3 September for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

WEBPICK: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels
In case your reading list isn’t long enough already … here’s a list of the 100 best novels for young adults as decided in a book poll in the US that garnered over 75,000 votes. Whether you’re into writing young adult fiction or reading it, you’re bound to find plenty of inspiration in this list. It’s not a list of bestsellers – it’s the young adult books readers have chosen as their favourites.

Not surprisingly, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games come out on top. But there are plenty of classics included here, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies. It’s also great to see some Australian authors included here – Garth Nix comes in at number 40 with The Abhorsen Trilogy, and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is at number 10.

Other upcoming courses
Online Course: Travel Writing with Sue White
When: Week beginning Monday 3 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Sue White/Allison Tait
When: Week beginning Monday 3 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with James Roy
When: Every Monday starting Monday 3 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Build Your Profile on Twitter with Kerri Sackville – NEW COURSE
When: Tuesday 4 September 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
When: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 5 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson
When: Week beginning Monday 10 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When: Week beginning Monday 10 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Perfecting Your Pitch with Sue White
When: Tuesday 11 September and 18 September 2012 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $175

Seminar: Successful Freelancing with Gayle Bryant
When: Tuesday 11 September 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Self-publishing – How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When: Thursday 13 September 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Weekend course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Sue White
When: Saturday 15 September and Sunday 16 September 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $395

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker
When: Week beginning Monday 17 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Program: Write Your Novel with Pamela Freeman – FULL
When: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 18 September 2012 for six months
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $1980

Seminar: From Blog to Book with Kerri Sackville
When: Thursday 20 September 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Weekend course: Your Story Structure with Kathryn Heyman
When: Saturday 22 September 2012 (one-day course)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $250

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett
When: Tuesday 25 September 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Marina Go
When: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 26 September 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Professional Business Writing with Sue White – NEW DATE
When: Wednesday 26 September 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Seminar: PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard
When: Thursday 27 September 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $495

Seminar: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When: Tuesday 2 October (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

Seminar: Business Writing Essentials with Tony Spencer-Smith – NEW DATE
When: Friday 5 October 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Travel Writing with Sue White
When: Every Monday starting Monday 8 October 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Jeni Mawter
When: Every Thursday starting Thursday 11 October 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Writing for the web with Grant Doyle – NEW DATE
When: Thursday 11 October 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $450

Weekend Course: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
When: Saturday 13 October and Sunday 14 October 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle
When: Tuesday 16 October 2012 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Cost: $450

WEEKEND Course: Food Writing with Carli Ratcliff
When: Saturday 20 October and Sunday 21 October 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $395

WEEKEND Course: Write a chick-lit novel with Lisa Heidke
When: Saturday 20 October and Sunday 21 October 2012 (2 consecutive days)
Time: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Thriller Writing with L.A. Larkin
When: Every Thursday starting Thursday 25 October 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Course: Writing About Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
When: Tuesday 30 October and 6 November 2012 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $175

Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry – NEW COURSE
When: Wednesday 31 October 2012 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $85

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding
When: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 7 November 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Daytime course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Kate Forsyth – NEW DATE
When: Every Thursday starting Thursday 15 November 2012 for five weeks
Time: 10.00 am – 12.00 noon
Cost: $395

Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge – NEW DATE
When: Every Thursday starting Thursday 15 November 2012 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: How to Write a Business Book with Valerie Khoo
When: Friday 16 November 2012 (half-day seminar)
Time: 9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Cost: $295

Writing in Bali with Patti Miller – NEW DATE
Arrival: Saturday 3 August 2013
Departure: Saturday 10 August 2013

Writing in Paris with Patti Miller – NEW DATE
Arrival: Thursday 24 October 2013
Departure: Saturday 9 November 2013

Sydney Writers’ Centre
Suite 3, 55 Lavender Street Milsons Point NSW 2061


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The Rogue Theatre- Presents JOURNEY TO THE WEST by Mary Zimmerman

The Rogue Theatre- Presents JOURNEY TO THE WEST by Mary Zimmerman

What a fascinating exploration we’ve been having in rehearsals for Journey to the West. Not only is this show filled with fantastical characters like the Monkey King, river demons, spider women and even the Buddha himself, it’s also a banquet of food for thought. We feel privileged to be working with great literature like this and we can’t wait to share the colorful journey with you. Please join us for an evening of music, meditations and fun!

Matt Bowdren, Patty Gallagher, Ryan Parker Knox and Christopher Johnson in Journey to the West.

Directed by Cynthia Meier

Musical Direction by Paul Amiel

A Chinese epic from the 16th century of the monk Tripitaka’s 17-year journey of enlightenment to India, accompanied by immortals, Monkey, Pig and a river monster.

Sepetember 6 – 23, 2012

Production Sponsors
Bill Sandel & Karen DeLay
Jim & Joan Horwitz

Acting Company Sponsors
Ted & Celia Brandt, Joan & Doug Cook, Lillian Fisher, Healthy People Team,
Ruth Kosakowsky, Ed & Nancy Landes, Dave Lewis, Nancy Reeder

Patty Gallagher, Marissa Garcia and Joseph McGrath in Journey to the West.

September 6 – 23, 2012, 2012

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 22 at 2:00 p.m.

$30 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances
$20 for Thursday performances
Students with valid ID: $15 rush 15 minutes before curtain

A musical pre-show of live music will begin
fifteen minutes prior to every performance.

Reservations are encouraged for all performances.

Free parking is available in our lot off Herbert Avenue

(the alley just east of the theatre).

PLEASE NOTE: The intersection at University Blvd. and 4th Avenue is closed due to construction.

For more information about Journey to the West,

To purchase tickets, visit our online box office
or call 520-551-2053

The cast of Journey to the West includes Paul Amiel, Jill Baker, Matt Bowdren, Dani Dryer, Patty Gallagher, Marissa Garcia, David Greenwood, Angela Horchem, Christopher Johnson, Ryan Parker Knox, Joseph McGrath, David Morden,
Lee Rayment, Dallas Thomas, Matt Walley and Julie Wypych.

Please join us for a
Free Open Talk

Music and Spirit
of the Glorious
Tang Dynasty

with composer and music director
Paul Amiel

Friday, August 31, 2012
5:00-6:00 p.m.
at The Rogue Theatre

To make a reservation, call (520) 884-9289
For more information, visit or
Delectables’ Facebook page, “Delectables on Fourth”

The Rogue Theatre’s mission is to create the highest quality theatre possible;
challenging, stretching, and invigorating our community.

We emphasize

LANGUAGE by placing primary value on quality language and literature;
ENSEMBLE by developing performers who seek continuous improvement and creating an academy for training ourselves and emerging theatre artists;
CHALLENGING IDEAS by presenting plays which offer complex and provocative points of view
related to important social, political, and personal issues.

300 East University Boulevard, Tucson, AZ – 520-551-2053 –

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Writers Studio- Amsterdam Faculty and Student Reading, Tucson Free Introductory Class & Brooklyn Book Festival

THE WRITERS STUDIO- Amsterdam Faculty and Student Reading, Tucson Free Introductory Class & Brooklyn Book Festival
“Helping writers reach their potential for more than 25 years”

>> THE AMSTERDAM BRANCH OF THE WRITERS STUDIO PRESENTS ITS 1st ANNUAL FACULTY & STUDENT READING ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2012 (6 p.m.). Kicking off the 3rd year of the Amsterdam branch, the event will feature readings by SUELI GIESLER, SARAH CARRIGER, JENNIFER GRYZENHOUT, LINN KOLBE, and Director of the Amsterdam program, NANCY MATSUNAGA. The ABC Treehouse, Voetboogstraat 11, 1012 XK Amsterdam.

>> THE TUCSON BRANCH OF THE WRITERS STUDIO IS HOSTING A FREE INTRODUCTORY CLASS ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2012 (6:30 – 8:30 pm). Eleanor Kedney, Director of Branch Studios, and Reneé Bibby and Janelle Drumwright, Writers Studio teachers, will lead the workshop and introduce our method. Learn about the elements of craft and receive a writing exercise to begin a story or a poem. A Writers Studio student will present an example of her work in response to the exercise. Beginners and advanced writers welcome. Contact Eleanor Kedney to reserve your space: or 520-743-8214.. Registration is required.

>> MEET THE NEW YORK CITY WRITERS STUDIO AT THE BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. We will be there from 10 am until 6 pm (Booth #92). Stop by to say hello and introduce yourself. Subway 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall, R to Court Street, or A, C, F, to Jay Street/Borough Hall.

>> BE SURE TO REGISTER NOW TO RESERVE A SPACE IN THE CLASS YOU WANT. Students have been registering since the beginning of the summer, so classes are filling up. If you’re not sure which class to join, or have questions, give us a call at (212) 255-7075. Get a full preview of our Fall Schedule.

NYC Level I, taught by Brian McDonald, begins September 24
NYC Level I, taught by Whitney Porter, begins October 1
NYC Level I, taught by Elliot Satsky, begins October 1
NYC Level I, taught by Therese Eiben, begins October 2
NYC Level I, taught by Rebecca Gee, begins October 3
NYC Level II, taught by Peter Krass, begins October 1
NYC Level II,taught by Joel Hinman, begins October 4

>> “MY LEVEL I CLASS IS INCREDIBLE. I am amazed, not just in what has emerged in my own writing, but also in my classmates. And how much sharper all of our writing has become.”–Rebecca Cooney, NYC student.

Online Level I, taught by Michele Herman, begins October 1
Online Level I, taught by Yetsuh Frank, begins October 1
Online Level I, taught by Rachael Nevins, begins October 2
Online Level I, taught by Whitney Porter, begins October 4
Online Level I, taught by Anamyn Turowski, begins October 10
Online Level II, taught by Liz Kingsley, begins October 4
Online Level II, taught by Joel Hinman, begins October 9

>> “I WOULD RECOMMEND THE WRITERS STUDIO ONLINE CLASSES TO ANYONE WHO IS SERIOUS ABOUT WRITING AS A VOCATION. It’s the perfect place to learn craft, where you as a writer are supported and nurtured—like an old-fashioned apprenticeship with a modern-day twist.” –Miriam Santana quoted in Poets & Writers (November/December 2002) about The Writers Studio online classes.

San Francisco Workshops Financial District, taught by Lorraine Babb, begins September 25
San Francisco Workshops Rockridge, taught by Gail Ford, begins September 26

>> “I HAD AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE IN MY LEVEL I CLASS….The method itself is brilliant and has noticeably influenced my writing (as well as helped me “unblock” myself). I definitely plan on taking another class.” — Sarah Berkley, San Francisco Level I student

The Tucson Workshops[1], taught by Janelle Drumwright, begins September 25
The Tucson Workshops[1], taught by Renee Bibby, begins September 27

>> “I WANTED TO THANK YOU FOR ONE OF THE MOST CONSTRUCTIVE, ENCOURAGING, AND SUPPORTIVE CLASSES. I have yet to experience in my writing world. I learned so much from the critiques, not only of my own work but also from reading everyone’s pieces and listening to you explore with each of us how we might move forward and make breakthroughs, however small, in our writing.” — Nancy Philipp, Tucson Workshops, Level I student

The Amsterdam Workshops, taught by Linn Kolbe, begins September 17
The Amsterdam Workshops, taught by Sarah Carriger, begins September 19

* CRAFT CLASS begins October 2 / 212-255-7075 / TWITTER / FACEBOOK /

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Randy Ford Author- Revised R&R

Randy Ford Author- Revised R&R

Jack went back to the temple where he saw a reclining Buddha lying down and welcoming death, and it seemed smaller than he remembered it. He rarely went back to tourist sites, but this site hadn’t been accessible since the war began. Still it hadn’t been neglected.

Jack hadn’t planned to go inside the temple because he hadn’t planned to be in the region, which said as much about his situation as anything. He never knew where he’d be sent. In the covert world of Laos he wasn’t even supposed to be in the country. He always said that he’d someday return to Laos as a tourist, but he knew better than to hold his breath.

Now he was in an isolated region of Laos, controlled by someone he only knew by his first name. Landed not far from there and wanted to see if the temple was still there. He had to do something to kill time. Because everything didn’t always work out smoothly he had time to kill.

Thinking about the time he’d spent in Laos, Jack couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t drawn the short stick. He was used to getting dangerous assignments, so he respected fear. And this was one of those times … when he was short everything … short of information, short of light, and short of a place to land and take off. But more than anything else he didn’t have control of the situation.

Now there were a few places that he was itching to get back to. They all had their appeal, and that was why he kept going back to them. So when he got back to Udorn he was heading for Bangkok. He hadn’t lost anything in Bangkok, but he certainly had in Manila. For obvious reasons, he preferred Bangkok to Hong Kong and Manila. It was time for a little R&R, past time, and he aimed to get some as soon as he got back to Udorn. Jack luckily didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission. He could just take off. But on this day he was more concerned about getting off a mountaintop.

He was killing time, when he didn’t have time to spare. It wasn’t his choice and as usual he was waiting on other people. He’d gotten used to it. People were rarely on time. Today, with a greater distance to cover than usual, timing was crucial.

Like all Ravens, American pilots, all volunteers, Jack carried no identification. So there would be no way of identifying him if he were shot down, which meant his family wouldn’t know what happened to him. So he had to be careful.

It was early afternoon, and he couldn’t wait to get back to Udorn. There was nothing particular waiting for him in Udorn, but he still wanted to get back. He loved flying, unrestricted flying, so he didn’t relish the thought of being stuck on the ground. He volunteered, knowing the risks and that he’d have to transport food and medicine and refugees, but there was nothing worse than coming under fire on the ground and losing a plane.

Back in Udorn Jack would sip cold drinks and swap stories with old cronies in khaki bush shirts and trousers. Although they were old hands (a lot of them fought in Korea), they always had new stories to tell. This year the dry season was unusually hot. There was no mistaking it, although Jack tried to remain cool. He was cool under fire: that was why he was recruited.

There was nothing special about the Buddha. It of course was a copy of a copy that hadn’t been inlayed with gold like other Buddhas he’d seen. They were basically the same everywhere. And he? Why had he taken time out to see it? He naturally felt restless and not in the mood for seeing the sites. He usually never left his plane. They were all big on security, so he didn’t get many chances to exercise. And too often he did parachute drops, which meant he didn’t get a chance then either.

He left the temple and jogged back to the landing strip. So far so good, for there was now activity around the STOL airplane. It wouldn’t be long now before he could take off.

Jack thought that the beauty of Laos was that it was small and its capital was manageable. It was beautiful from the air … with thick forests and rugged mountains, and a few plains and plateaus. You felt like you were in a tropical Colorado, with the highest peak higher than 9, 000 feet, and that’s high for the tropics. There was now massive bombing in Laos near the Vietnam border. Everything now depended on Vietnam, and Jack was often expected to come to the rescue of people trapped on mountaintops. So it was logical that he would be waiting for human cargo, and waiting logically because he couldn’t land on a nearby mountain.

He’d know more about the cargo once he saw the people. So he was glad to see that some of them had arrived, women, children, and elderly men mostly … he was glad he could help … and when he reached the edge of the airstrip he was relieved to see that his co-pilot was helping them climb onto the plane.

Jack was both astute and athletic, so he ran to the plane and helped his co-pilot. When they reached their weight capacity, there were still more people waiting to board. It was always sad when they didn’t have enough room, and Jack always hoped that it wasn’t too late for those he left behind. It was such a dicey situation that Jack never knew.

To be honest, Jack volunteered more for the excitement than for the money, and he wasn’t disappointed. From dodging bullets to dodging ridgelines, it never let up. Runways were rarely paved and never long enough, and Jack narrowly missed the top of trees this time. With the plane overloaded it was a miracle. Yet he would’ve felt like a fool had he crashed.

To connect scattered Hmong outposts separated by mountains, the CIA had built a chain of airstrips, and Jack had flown into each one of them. Some were better than others, but most of them weren’t very level because the people who built them didn’t have adequate equipment. Sometimes at mountain airstrips, they were refueled with buckets. It was unbelievable that there weren’t more crashes than they were. Near crashes loomed in his memory each time Jack took off from one of these landing strips. In many respects it was an unforgiving profession. The weather was often a significant factor, and there were no air traffic control or navigational systems. Yet Jack flew with confidence.

Moving among his Hmong fighters he could see that many of them were young boys and that many of them already bore scars. This was the army they relied on, and it seemed to Jack that they should’ve been in school instead of fighting in the jungle. These were the fighters who would come to his rescue if he crashed. They were also the ones left behind when the dominos fell and Jack and his colleagues were pulled out of Laos.

The Hmong weren’t the only ones left behind. Jack was caught up in the accelerated exit and he couldn’t pick up all of the pieces of his life or face ghosts that haunted him. It hit him like a thunderclap when someone he loved was taken away from him. He wasn’t ready and didn’t know if he’d ever be ready to accept responsibility for a child he left behind in Manila. How old would she be now? He didn’t want to think about her because when he did it brought back painful and sad memories of her mother.

She had to sneak off. Penny’s grandmother was very protective and wouldn’t have approved of her going to Ongpin Street. She knew the risks but considered herself a big girl. She was mature and didn’t have to dress provocative to look sexy. Neither was she careless in her dress or in the way she presented herself, because she didn’t want to be mistaken for a prostitute.

She went to Ongpin Street to talk to American GIs, Penny explained. There would be American GIs hanging out around Ongpin Street, there would be American GIs looking for women there, she rambled on as she explained why she went to Ongpin Street. Standing on a corner, she stood out because she didn’t look like a prostitute. As a young lady with fixed roots, she was curious about all sorts of things. She explained, “I won’t give up until I find him.”

But Penny didn’t know where to look for her father. Not because he was hiding from her … that wouldn’t have occurred to him … it was something far worse. He forgot about her because he was trying to put his past behind him. He didn’t want to be reminded of it, and it was just possible, if he acknowledged her, he’d have to acknowledge the part he played in her mother’s death.

“The real reason, sir, was that he didn’t want to be tied down with a child. You know how that goes?” He knew … had to have known because he was a responsible adult, but Penny didn’t know how he felt. What if he hadn’t wanted to fly? What if there hadn’t been a war? If Penny had stopped to think she would’ve realized that he left the Philippines before the war. She was going to be eighteen soon, which meant that she didn’t need to listen to her grandmother. She couldn’t wait to be eighteen when she’d be considered an adult. She was confident, very confident. There wasn’t any doubt in her mind about her ability to handle herself. It was only a question of her age, since she was mature and didn’t want to hurt her grandmother. It was her grandmother who raised her. Now she was going against everything her grandmother taught her, but if this stunned people, maybe they didn’t know there was a precedent. Penny’s mother was no angel.

This was never discussed. It seemed like her grandmother had modified the story for her benefit. And she never said anything about her disapproval of Penny’s father. What memories Penny had of him were pleasant, but then tragedy struck, and she was deprived of both parents. Now sitting in a cramped jeepney on her way to Ongpin Street she knew that she couldn’t turn back. She thought that she could find someone who knew her father and knew where to look for him. A hint of nervousness was detectable. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but neither was remaining in the dark.

But she had to have been kidding herself. Out of all the GIs who came to Manila for R&R what were the chances of finding one who knew her father? And her father wasn’t in the military. Maybe she should’ve thrown up her hands before she wasted her time. He was dead for all she knew. There were thousands upon thousands of GIs, and she knew it. And many of those GIs would take advantage of a young Filipina, and she knew that too. She was prepared to be careless and wild, and she thought it would be worth it if there were a chance of finding her father. Anyway, she thought she could handle herself. She had been to Ongpin Street before (with her grandmother and on a scouting exhibition) and knew she that she didn’t have to commit herself if she didn’t want to. And maybe it was its seaminess that drew her to Ongpin Street.

Penny was the essence of carefreeness when she walked into a bar. Not that she was unconcerned about how she would be perceived. She never stopped to consider what she was doing, and there’s no doubt that she felt invincible. From out from behind the bar, the bartender approached her.

“May I help you?”

“I don’t think so.”

The bartender never left anything alone, and he knew that Penny didn’t belong in there. That didn’t matter. She was determined to follow through with her plan. There were other women who did belong in there, and they all looked at Penny. There was something unpleasant about the way they looked at her. But if she hadn’t gone in there, she wouldn’t have met her GI.

Yes, he saved her from the bartender. He almost didn’t come over to her table. He wouldn’t have noticed her had the bartender not given her a hard time.

GIs could choose to go to Bangkok, Manila, or Hong Kong for R&R. Colonel Schumaker began to explain it, as though by choosing Manila he had made a smart choice. Most of his buddies who had one thing on their minds chose Bangkok. He made it clear that he was looking for something else and that he could tell that Penny was a “nice girl.” It was as if they were meant for each other. They were both happy about it..

Yes, it was too good to be true. She also knew that he could be false. She’d disappoint him if he were. She wouldn’t sell herself, and he’d be disappointed, if he thought she would. But if she weren’t a prostitute, why was she there?

The chemistry was there from the start. He began by talking abstractly about America when she wanted to know specifics. She was full of questions. He could answer most of them, but he was more interested in her. He liked her. He knew it instantly.

She began asking him about the war. He didn’t want to talk about it. This was why she wanted to talk to a GI. He hated it. He never got away from it, so it was the last thing he wanted to talk about. So each time she brought up the war he grew more uncomfortable. Everytime he told her something, he felt disappointed that she didn’t see how it affected him. Otherwise they got along perfectly.

She knew that he couldn’t tell her anything specific about her father. She didn’t know enough to even ask specific questions about him. As far as she knew there hadn’t been any recent communication between him and her grandmother, and if there had been she wouldn’t necessarily have known it. She had no more to go on than his name.

He went along. He could see that she was obsessed. At that time it wouldn’t have occurred to him to say, “Penny, let’s talk about something else. I came to Manila to get away from the war,” which was the truth. He couldn’t say it because he was subject to the dictates of his desire.

And as they talked, with opposite agendas, they couldn’t avoid what brought them together. As for the war, peace was nowhere in sight … mistakes were being made, people questioned why so many boys were dying, and the lack of practice didn’t make Americans good losers … Colonel Schumaker noticed something about Penny’s mind that was the opposite of his. There was a singlemindedness about her that baffled him. He noticed that she wouldn’t easily let go of something once she got it in her head. Wanting to know everything about the war was one of those things. Another was, wanting to know about Indiana.

But the one thing that fascinated Colonel Schmaker about Penny more than anything else was that though she was a Filipina she reminded him of a girl back home. “You have fair skin.” This seemed unusual to him. Most Filipinas were darker. He’d always heard that the Philippines had beautiful women. Here was a beautiful woman, and she didn’t look like other Filipinas, and she had an American name. At first he didn’t allow himself to think that maybe she was a mixture. That would’ve bothered him. He didn’t understand. Maybe there was no such thing as a pure Filipina.

Penny never had to paint or powder her face like her grandmother did. Men found her attractive without her doing anything. It wouldn’t have been the case had she come from China like her grandmother did. In those days conversations were brief. Bargaining had to be quick. After having chosen someone on the spot, men had to then convince themselves that they had bought true love. In their mind there was an affinity between love and slavery, where love meant possessiveness. Then how many women surrendered and thought they were free? But in Penny’s case, here was a young lady who listened to her inner voice and didn’t have to worry about powdering her face.

He was disgusted with the way the war was going … defeat would look the same in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In October of 1974, Dr. Henry Kissinger said to a journalist, “It is difficult to win on the negotiating table what you have lost on the battlefield.” Lose! Time was running out for Penny’s search. Constant fog draped many of the jungle peaks; and perhaps fog obscured the war to such an extent that the young lady would never find what and who she was looking for.

“What are you trying to do?” he asked.

“I’m looking for an American pilot named Jack. There must be a million American pilots named Jack.”

They went over all she knew about her father, while she wasn’t optimistic about finding him. She didn’t have enough information. He was from Indiana. She knew that much. Colonel Schumaker eyed her with astonishment. Was she nuts? Out of all of the Jacks who flew in Nam, how could she expect him to know her father? She didn’t even know if he was still flying. And he wasn’t in the military. There was no way that he could’ve narrowed it down, and she should’ve known it. It bugged Colonel Schumaker. He didn’t need to be bugged.

“At 1430 hours, Fire Support Base 31 received an attack. Six airborne troops killed, three wounded and one bulldozer damaged. On the following day, towards noon, Fire Support Base 31 fell under an attack again. This time by 122-mm rockets. Killed two and wounded four.” Whenever he tried to forget the war, something reminded him of it. It had always been a balancing act: forgetting and remembering. Now he wasn’t thinking about himself. He wasn’t thinking.

She had every reason to believe that there had been a conspiracy to keep her away from her father. At an early age she was shipped off to a Catholic boarding school, where they assumed she’d find herself. A course was mapped out for her, but she had no interest in following it. There wasn’t much they could tell her. She had already made up her mind that she wanted to live in America with her father. And she considered herself more American than Filipina. People in America were rich. Six and she already had her sights set on America, and she was waiting for the age when she could claim her citizenship. When you’re six you’re easily impressed. This was even more so for Penny. She thought that she could find in America what she lost in the Philippines. Anything was possible in America. She had grandparents somewhere over there. And an aunt named Margo. Bits and pieces of information fueled her imagination. Fragments made up her world, and she no doubt enjoyed them. In this special American, everyone played basketball and everyone made lay-ups. In American there was a gas station on every corner, and her grandfather own one of them.

The war was hours away by plane. Getting totally away from it proved impossible. A little R&R he hoped would help. Then he chose a girl who wouldn’t let him forget it. He hoped that it would help him shed, even for a little while, his sense of terror. Killing dulled the soldier’s feelings.

“The V.C. enjoyed the underbrush and could disappear anytime. That meant that we were never safe. They were in every village; and we may have thought that we were tightening a noose, but we never knew when we were walking into a trap. More and more we relied on our fighting instinct. Superior soldiers have to respect a den of ants.”

They knew that they’d never see each other again. But why was this so certain? Perhaps it was because both of them knew the realities of war. He wanted to make a career out of the Army and enlisted; but neither basic training nor OCS prepared him for Vietnam. The top of his class, Colonel Schumaker came out of it all psyched up. He was not only considered a good officer but a damn good man.

Due to how he related to his men, he was command material. He was highly trained, a tough son-of-a-bitch. Unfortunately sometimes he acted as if the whole shooting match was his private war. In short, Schumaker was simply your-best-dumb-shit ever, because of his gung-ho attitude. But according to him, the son-of-a-bitching war turned his country into a nation of pansies. “Nobody gives a rat’s ass anymore.”

Penny continued to pump Schumaker for information. She listened for specifics, which might relate to her father. As far as she knew, her dad could’ve been dead, because she knew he risked his ass in enemy territory near the Ho Chi Minh Trail. She suspected a conspiracy of silence.

Alpha never showed. What now, Cisco? Why, how now!”

In a driving rainstorm, a chopper flew Schumaker out for R & R. In flight didn’t they trace the Laotian border and see the trail? He was sorry to have to tell Penny “no, he didn’t see the trail”. He really didn’t want to talk about the war but she kept pushing him until he exploded, and what he gave her was a cleaned up version of a noisy, dirty, dangerous hell.

Some veterans talked about Operation Ranch Hand and the effects of herbicides. Not that any of them could give Penny the information she wanted. “Many who thought they could closed their eyes looked in vain in the wrong direction. Throughout the war, if you to spent time in Charlie-Med, you wouldn’t want to see anymore.”

Schumaker said, “We do what we’re trained to do. But regretfully we can no more chase the enemy until we destroy him than he can overrun us. Can we win? Do we know how to do it? For some of us, joining was kind of a John Wayne’ thing to do.”

“All You Need Is Love.” It was a song that struck an accord.

Colonel Schumaker had just survived days of around-the-clock shelling and waiting for death. This from an enemy that was beaten into the ground by 35,000 tons of bombs. Giant B-52 Stratofortresses emptied their payloads every three hours, twenty-four hours a day. Consequently his nerves were shot. And Penny kept pushing him until he exploded.

Here was Schumaker trying to forget the war, as it was fought just six clicks from the Laotian border, when Penny kept pushing him until he exploded and Penny didn’t know that Schumanker and her father had been no more than twelve clicks apart.

He told her that Canada would’ve been a better option for him. “Considering the effectiveness of Agent Orange and napalm, there’ll be little left of Vietnam. It was no prize to begin with. It’s been like trying to save a dead horse.”

A dead horse … ”Penny Lane” was quite possibly the best song ever written. It became their song. “The pretty nurse was selling poppies from a tray, and felt as if she were in a play.”

The trouble with Penny was that she wouldn’t let go of something when she got it in her brain.

And then he plaintively sung, “I’d love to turn you on.” Against a backdrop of a diving plane, through his laughter he meant to say, “Look mom, no hands!”

Maybe her father would show up for her birthday. Or send her a card or something. What was wrong with hoping?

“Now tell me should we cheer?”

In the thick of it…. “Requesting permission to fire on 803513…. Receiving small arms and mortar fire…. Taking causalities….repeat, requesting permission to fire….can you send aircraft?”

“But it’s just a tiny Cessna.

Randy Ford

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The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Arizona (SCBWI AZ)- Presents 2012 “Welcome to Our House” Annual Conference

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Arizona (SCBWI AZ)- Presents 2012 “Welcome to Our House” Annual Conference

“TPhe Changing Landscape of Publishing Today”

October 6, 2012

8:30AM – 6:00PM

Chaparral Suites Resort and Conference Center
Scottsdale, Arizona

Register Now!

For all conference details including faculty bios and registration forms go to (Events Page)

Industry Professionals
Local Authors and Illustrators
Keynotes and Plenaries
Panel Presentations
Breakout Sessions for Writers and Illustrators
Shop Talk
First Page and First Look Session
Manuscript, Portfolio, Marketing Plan Evaluations (At an additional cost.)
PAL Book Sales
Slide Show
Continental Breakfast
Door Prizes
2nd Annual SCBWI AZ Creativity Contest

Michelle Parker-Rock
Regional Advisor SCBWI AZ
2011 SCBWI Member of the Year
P.O. Box 26384
Scottsdale, AZ 85255

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Playwrights Foundation- Attention Playwrights Accepting Submission of New Plays for the 36th Annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival

Playwrights Foundation- Attention Playwrights Accepting Submission of New Plays for the 36th Annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival

School is back in Session and we have quite the course load to offer you this Fall Semester. From completing a First Draft with Anthony Clarvoe, going geeky in Lauren Gunderson’s PlayMath, and writing a Musical in 4 days with Dominic Orlando, you’re guaranteed to walk away with a lot more than just a finished play or musical. Click the image below to learn about our new class offerings and “Labor of Love” Discounts through Sept. 3rd (Labor Day)!

Roughing It

Paid positions are available with our Rough Reading Series. PF is now seeking an Associate Producer and Production Assistants. Starts Mid-September 2012 and goes through May 2013. Go Here to Participate!

Give to Our Scholarship Fund
Help struggling playwrights take classes with our exceptional faculty. Click Here to Contribute!

If you live in San Francisco, mention us at your next trip to Cole Hardware and 10% of your purchase will go to PF. Thanks, Cole Hardware!

Attention Playwrights!

The submission window for PF’s programs next year, including the
36th Annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival, will be open from September 1 to October 31, 2012.

We accept full-length plays written in English by all playwrights living in the U.S.

Opportunities with PF

Have you ever wanted to learn more about new play development or producing theater?

Join us in Fall 2012 as a Fellow and give yourself that chance!

Visit our Website

Playwrights Foundation uses Vendini for ticketing, marketing, and box office management.

Playwrights Foundation – 1616-16th Street, Suite 350, San Francisco, CA, 94103, (415) 626-2176
Vendini, Inc. – 660 Market Street, San Francisco, CA, 94104, 1 (800) 901-7173

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