What are we tethered to?



I heard someone say they were tethered to their job today, and that got me thinking of the word tether and tethered, and tethering. I researched the most modern definition. Tethering is connecting one device to another. In the context of mobile phones and tablet computers, tethering allows sharing the Internet connection of the phone or tablet with other devices such as laptops. Connection of the phone or tablet with other devices can be done over wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), over Bluetooth or by physical connection using a cable, for example through USB.

Surprised to see this definition to the old word that usually implied tying an animal to a post?  Me, too. I thought about what we’re tethered to… like,

red string of fate fate? Or being tied to friendship, love, remembering?

Or are we bound to objects (like the smart phones and computers), people, ideas, or an action, an obsessive action? A Country? My one friend is tied to the news, every station, every event, and says, “I need to know what is going on in the world. There so much going on: Syria, drones, North Korea, the election. I’m afraid I’ll miss something I should know.” She’s tied to world events, the experiences of others. My mother was obsessed about the Kennedy’s, and had so many articles about them, she kept a scrap book. Talked about them incessantly. She also kept a scrap about manners–the appropriate way to behave at different social events, and also at the work place. She was fixated about being attractive, and acting appropriately, by the cultural standards of her time.

Proper Etiquett3 In The 1930′s (9)Get the “Men deserve, desire your entire attention part?”

What about me? I’ve been obsessed lately about finding the right path. Will my life feel complete if I am acknowledged by the road-attachment.aspxothers for my writing, listening, psychological, or teaching abilities? My plays, short stories, or helping when I can? A friend of mine at Hunter College School of Social Work, a priest getting his MSW with me, once said: “The happiest day of my life has already occurred, the day I became a priest.” He tied himself to God. I felt sad for him … almost like no other life experience would ever surpass that day.

Most often, we’re tethered to people, co-dependents–kinda like my mom. Kinda like loads of people. A friend of mine says she’s tethered to karmic energy, traces that follow us from life to life. I wouldn’t know about that, but tethering to an invisible force, like many do to religions, like my priest friend, is a form of co-dependency. Imagine being tethered to God? I couldn’t.

Oh well …

See how far my mind wandered, free and un-tethered contemplating tethered-ness? This is just a writer’s trip. No answers. One I take often when a word pops into my head.

lifetime tether

A Clean Well-Lighted Park Bench

every dreamSeeing my play on video brought me to a deeper level of my work. A friend of mine said that he had to remember that even though the actor, Brian Levi, made my play shine, that it was me that wrote that very first word. Like bringing anything to life, the seeds get planted, grows and then blooms. But in the playwright world, there are so many hardships the flower must endure before it can be appreciated. First the playwright may have to change some of the words, or a sentence, and the flower has less leaves, maybe even less color. Then their is a gardener, a director, that takes hold of  the flower and plucks it into a vase that reflects the the beauty of the work, or not, the final manuscript. The actors accent the design, the curves and the special nuances. The stage is the room that the flower is placed. Is it given enough light? When the sun rises like a curtain to a new day, will its essence shine, or will it wither?

All these aspects have to blend together to achieve the perfect blossom. Yet, in the end, the audience decides whether or not they like your vision, your theme, your flower. But you have the last silent word, not the audience. My silent words? It was awesome, and I loved it. What else is there? Until it does eventually wither in memory and is replaced by another seed to be nurtured.



Silence Interrupted

I know I said that I would have the third installment of mystery authors that have witnessed murder, outside of police, investigator, and military, but I’m still waiting for some people to respond to my survey. It seems not many people have witnessed an actual murder, then added it to their mysteries, or even began to write mysteries.

But … instead, I’m sharing with you my short play, SILENCE INTERRUPTED, last show, of four, tonight, March 29th, in San Fran’s SF Theatre Pub (144 Taylor St, San Fran). Logo below.


Cast of my play, with producer and director:

Silence interruptedFrom left to right: Sara Judge, producer; Ellen Dunphy playing Cara, Danielle Gray playing MIME, and Carole Snow, the director.

P1080832 A mime, played by Danielle Gray, meets a distraught CEO of an internet company, Ever Lasting Love Dating service, played by Ellen Dunphy. It reminds me of a quote from my fellow International Centre for Women Playwrights comrade, Barbara Blatner, “Silence is as fascinating as language, methinks.”


Does anyone see theatre or movies with/about mimes anymore? There silence is rich for the telling. In the world of noise, working a mime into my play was enlightening and rewarding.th

Livius Andronicus Latin adaptations of Greek plays in 230 BC (Rome),  were more lyrical in their metrical form, and more impassioned in their tone than the ordinary dialogue parts. In the musical recitation of these Livius seems to have been very successful, however,the exertion being too much for his voice, he introduced the practice in these monodies, or cantica, of placing a slave beside the flute player to recite or chant the words, while he himself went through the appropriate gesticulation. Hence, a mime was born. There is much more to the history. I just wanted to point out how  far back in time this form of acting existed.

The emotions of the mime to the gesticulations of what the mime sees is what attracted me to write this play … not to mention that Danielle was a mime–a performance artist.  What would bring the mime out of her/his silence? What attracts the mime to stay in such a world? Even when abused, the mime stays silent. Yet, it is in that silence, and the ability to act out a story, we find their superiority. Maybe that is the reason some people dislike them. However, I love them, and intend to build my short play into an one act, one hour play about the nature of silence verses the nature of the talker.th (3)



More and more magazines and literary journals, as well as theatres, are asking for fees. I’ve been following this, not only with my mystery writing organizations, but now with playwrights.



“Why Writers are Paying to get Published”

The Atlantic Magazine

October, 2015


Joy Lanzerdorfer

Note: Since all writers, no matter what their genre are being met with the same probles, I have added playwrights in parenthesis. The article does not do this.

It’s fall, the time of year when literary journals open their doors for new submissions. Around the country, writers are polishing poems, short stories, and essays (and plays) in hopes of getting published in those small-but-competitive journals devoted to good writing (and theatres devoted to good plays). Though I’ve published short stories in the past, I’m not submitting any this year, and if things continue the way they have been, I may stop writing them altogether. The reason, in a nutshell, is reading fees—also called submission or service fees—which many literary journals (and now theatres) charge those who want to be considered for publication. Writers pay a fee that usually ranges from $2 to $5—but sometimes goes as high as $25—and in return, the journal will either (most likely) reject or accept their submission and publish it. Even in the lucky case that a piece is published (produced), most journals don’t pay writers (including playwrights) for their work, making it a net loss either way.



Authors call for boycott on non-paying festivals

Published January 15, 2016


Benedicte Page

Prominent writers including Linda Grant, Denise Mina, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon have responded to Philip Pullman’s protest over the Oxford Literary Festival’s failure to pay author fees by joining a call for publishers and fellow authors to boycott events with the same policy.

Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, has stepped down from his role as patron of the festival, saying it is a case of “simple justice” that authors should be paid for their appearances.

Now novelist and critic Amanda Craig has written an open letter to The Bookseller calling for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work without a fee. “For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free – even though the public is paying in good faith to see us,” she wrote. “We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels and said No.”

Craig’s letter has attracted immediate support from many other authors, with Linda Grant, Louisa Young, Denise Mina, Francis Wheen, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon among those who have put their names to it. (Full letter below)

The fact that many literary festivals do not remunerate authors for appearances has been a long-running grievance among writers, with the Society of Authors currently campaigning on the issue and “working with them [festivals] to agree reasonable fees and best practice guidelines”, as chief executive Nicola Solomon told The Bookseller earlier this month.

Novelist Robert Harris yesterday tweeted a response to Pullman’s comments on his resignation, saying “So true! A few (insane) punters paid £50 for a front-row seat at my last event. I was given a mug, appropriately.”

If you’re a writer and want to add your signature to the petition, leave a comment on this piece.

Letter to The Bookseller:

Sir/ Madam,

Further to Philip Pullman’s resignation from the Oxford Literary Festival, we would like to call for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work for free.

For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free – even though the public is paying in good faith to see us. We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels, and said No.

Perhaps playwrights can also fashion a similar letter, and send it to any theatre that asks for a fee.



The Effects of Witnessing an Actual Murder–PTSD PART 2

“A neighbor broke in to my home at 3 am and I heard the foot steps as she walked into my moms room (Where I was laying next to my sleeping mom) she held the knife over her head then ran at me and stabbed me in my chest twice, my mom then awoke and the killer ran around to her side of the bed and stabbed her over 30 times. I did see most of it but ran out of the house and hid behind a car half a block down the street. I stayed there until the police came and after surgery, found out my mom didn’t make it. I have come a long way in the past 6 years, but the flashbacks are the hardest to deal with and make me feel so unsafe and that this will happen again.” PTSD (Post Traumatic Shock Disorder) blog from 2013

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according the the Mayo clinic (www.Mayoclinic.com/PTSD) is defined as:  is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event


Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative feelings about yourself or other people
  • Inability to experience positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships

Changes in emotional reactions

Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened

“Im currently awaiting a decision to be made for compensation from the, criminal crime compensation authority , (CICA) . Due to something terrible that happened to me and witnessing (being forced to watch a person murdered in my home) The person that commited the crime, was later sentanced to life imprisonment, as i was the only witnees i stood and testified against him to ensure justice was served. The impact this event on my life has been huge, suffering from flashbacks, deppression, isolation, fear, social anxiety and guilt, also choose alcohol as a coping stratergy which now i have let go off. so find it hard to build a life for myself and keep stable, but strive hard for myself to recover” PTSD blog

These are stories of people who were impacted by seeing murder. One story reminded me of a noir story I once read. It’s from the same blog. I could hear a Private Investigator recounting his first brush with murder (and possibly his own death).

“I was working as a bouncer in a bar in college in 1997, and there was a shooting. I saw the guy with a gun run by me, tuck his gun in his pants, and followed him out thinking I could point him out to a police officer. We ended up outside, and as I was pointing at him he reached for his gun. I grabbed him and forced him against the wall while thinking “If i see the gun I am going to kill him.” I felt my mind snap at that moment. Someone behind me said “let him go, let him go” and he took off. I went back in the bar, pulled a woman off the victim so they could try to help the guy, but his brains were scattered on the floor.
I found out later there were 2 shooters, and the person behind me was likely the other shooter. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t let him go … Anyway, I find myself thinking about it constantly. Its weird to me that people I know don’t know this about me. When people get stressed at work, all I can think of is at least your brains aren’t on a floor right now. It gave me a new perspective.”



At Death’s Door

At Death’s Door– Part 1

towersMy husband and I live in a 90-unit apartment complex, and you can imagine the goings-on that can happen (and do happen) with approximately 150 people living in close proximity to one another.

Our across-the-hallway neighbor died in his apartment. Alone. He was dead for two weeks before the manager made a “wellness” call. We thought he had gone away on vacation. He went away, all right. When the fireman opened the door to the apartment, the pungent, acrid, decaying, nauseating smell that overtook the hallway, and us, is one I will never forget. The rancid smell was so overpowering that I couldn’t describe it at first. Rotting grapefruits? Rotting citrus mixed with dirt and vomit?

Death smells vile.

But that wasn’t all: the flies—every size, and shape, and color—escaped (different flies for different stages of decomposition, we were told). The downstairs neighbor suffered the most from the flies—through the kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents they came, maggots, too. It was something out of a horror flick.

Did I say I would never forget the smell, a smell that took a week to diffuse, and lingered after the “cleanup” crew came with, what appeared to be, hazmat suits? As a mystery writer, I would have never before been able to describe the feeling of a dead man’s flesh-eating fly buzzing around my ear, panicked it would land on me. I could never before have been able to describe the smell of death, the stages of the smell of death.

The coroner said they couldn’t release anything to relatives until they’d discovered the cause of his death. Was it suicide? He was depressed, had a limp, couldn’t ride his motorcycle anymore, drank, took his medication, then didn’t take his medication…you’ve heard all this before. Nothing new.

He died of a massive heart attack.

Luckily, many of my stories do not involve describing corpses. I couldn’t now anyway. Tony’s dead body—which I only smelled, along with meeting the flies that covered him—would immediately pop into mind.

What about mystery writers who have witnessed an actual murder? How do they write about it?

Tune in


Happy Holiday, and Gingerbread Houses

Happy Holidays, and so far, we are enjoying the season, the people, even the rain. We hope you are, too–except for the questionable weather you may be having in your area.

We spent a few days traipsing through town and viewing all the gingerbread houses in the Sausalito (CA) Gingerbread Houses’ contesour houset. After attempting our first ever house to your left, we decided we needed to explore all those possibilities. It’s almost like after reading your thriller novel, you decide to read others, like yours, but maybe, not so much like yours. Here are the houses we visited. Oh, BTW, our roof caved in within the hour.



blueThe Blue House

graham house DAS BOAT




IMG_2008The Love Shack




The Taj and it’s entrance




   IMG_2015 All of these creations are winners in different classes. This is a small village … hmm … very small.IMG_2038long houseThe long house,

and at last, the Fairmont Hotel’s huge gingerbread rooms!

Gingerbreadroom at fairmont Hotelginbread FairmontWe did come to one conclusion after observing the mastery of this art form. Our first New Year’s resolution: no more building of gingerbread houses.

Hope you enjoyed the quick show. Happy Holidays once again, and again.

Giving Thanks to the Self

Shadowart200It’s that time of year again. I posted this picture one other thanksgiving to discuss  our “shadow”. In Jungian Analytical theory, I wrote, there is a concept called the Shadow. The Shadow is the collection of unacceptable characteristics about ourselves, others, and society that we place in the dark nooks and crannies of our personality. The more one is true to themselves, the smaller the shadow is. What I also added: “Every individual needs,” as Jung stated in 1966, “a revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing them upon his neighbors under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility.” I would add … or an adherence to cultural demands and institutions. So family members and holidays don’t have to go together, if you still want to celebrate the holiday.
FullSizeRender (3)

This year, I’m giving thanks to me. We don’t  give thanks to ourselves enough. My new collection is coming out in three weeks, Deadly Illusions (The title kinda fits with our “shadow” lurking about to nudge us to question reality), and I’m proud of my work. Each collection gets deeper and richer. Just when you think you have done your best work … I know we all go through those phases, but I’ve been pleased with each growth spurt.FullSizeRender (4)

I helped produce the 24 hour play fest for the Playwright center of San Francisco, and learned what goes into a theatre production.

My plays have taken off this year with an award in Marin Fringe, and one play chosen to be produced in NYC (Times Square Theatre) and in SF (Exit Theatre). “A Clean Well-Lighted Park Bench” will show in two weeks, Dec 3,4,5,10,11,12! Seven shows, eight plays. I’ll take pictures.

falling_angels_detailThen, I completed my psychological thriller, Moloch and the Angel, am sending it off to agents. Even if it doesn’t get picked up by an agent, I am thrilled that I have worked it to my satisfaction. I thank me for hanging in with all the drafts, researching pace and movement, and most of, asking for help. Sure I’m grateful to those that aided in my growth, but right now I’m indulging in self gratitude; it’s making me smile just writing this.

But most of all, I am thankful for finally reaching a decision on how I’m going to spend the next year of my writing life: my Dr. Anna Smith series and plays. My short stories are turning into plays anyway, so I’ll focus on my novel and plays.  I’m relieved that I made that decision, and am thankful that I have the acumen to see clearly a path, and the strength to follow it.

So for any of you reading this, thank yourself for your accomplishments, for hanging in when you thought you couldn’t, for making a unspoken promise to yourself, and for that smile that seems to appear out of nowhere.

Is “Round Up” herbicide killing dogs?

                                  “NEVER BELIEVE THAT A FEW CARING PEOPLE CAN’T CHANGE                                       THE WORLD. FOR INDEED, THAT’S ALL WHO EVER HAVE.”130822_MEDEX_LonelinessIllo.jpg.CROP.original-original                                                                  Margaret Meade

My friend’s dog died Sept. 18 from an oral cancer less than four months after diagnosed. She couldn’t understand how this could have happened, and when asking veterinarians about this cancer, was told that mouth and nasal cancers in dogs are on the rise.flyerIt came to her attention that San Francisco sprays herbicide “Round Up” (Glyphosate) by Monsanto, liberally to the parks and dog parks. California demands that Monsanto place a “black box” warning on it’s product which translates to “probably causes cancer”.

Children play on this herbicide treated grass. They are obliged to post a warning near schools, but not dog parks when spraying. Children crawl around on this treated grass.children on grass

Check what herbicides are used to control weeds in your town, city, local area.  Call or email the environmental agency closest to you. For San Francisco: environment@sfgov.org

Also, in the agriculture world,  Monsanto now makes seeds for soy, corn, canola, cotton, alfalfa, and beets that are “Round Up resistant”. Monsanto’s “Round Up Resistant” genetically engineered (GE) crops have had the effect of increasing the use of this herbicides by many times (in an attempt to kill the “weeds,” which also rapidly evolve resistance).

In areas growing Monsanto’s GE crops, the rates of human cancer are sky-high.  A study in France (published in 2012, but silenced until 2014) showed a double increase in breast tumors in people exposed to Round Up. The tumors were also more aggressive. There was also an increase in pituitary glands. In some heavily sprayed farming villages, cancer is up 31% in Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay devoted to GE soy production, while in ranch areas, the amount is up 3%.

The scary part, as if the above is not frightening, we are being exposed to Round Up residue 500-4000 times the amount proven to cause cancer.

So, get involved. Call your local government. Discover what pesticide/herbicide they are using, and demand they use organic pesticides/herbicides for the well being of our children and our pets.banner_getinvolved_05



When did you realize you wanted to write?

FullSizeRender (1)Haruki Murakami, my favorite author, recalled in this book (that includes his first two short novels, Wind and Pinball): “The satisfying crack when the bat met the ball resounded throughout Jingu Stadium. Scattered applause rose around me. In that instant, for no reasons and based on no grounds whatsoever, it suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.

His second experience: “Hear the Wind Song” was short listed for a prize … just as we were passing an elementary school, I noticed a pigeon hiding in the shrubbery. When I picked it up, I noticed that it seemed to have a broken wing … and decided to bring it to the police department. As I walked there along the street, the warmth of the wounded pigeon sank in my hands. I felt it quivering … That’s when it hit me. I was going to win the prize. And I was going to go on a be a novelist who would enjoy some success. It was an audacious presumption, I was sure it would happen. Completely sure. Not in a theoretical way, but directly and intuitively.”

Murakami wrote his first two short novels in English because he wanted to learn the language. Interesting. My second short story was written in Latin because it was an advanced Latin class assignment. Both Haruki and I can attest to the severe changes in style and vocabulary.

download (1)My first ever writing:

My favorite Dog and Me

I have a little Dockson- pretty as can be-a short and funny dog-that watches over me. She wears a bright red color- and has four tiny claws-she’s short and long-with black around her paws.  when I wake up I see-a happy face, a waggy tail-My favorite dog and me.

Kinda lost at the end, but hell, I was in third grade, and I had written my first poem. I knew then that I would be a writer. images (9)

My first short story at twelve involved a white horse that meets his end in a “river of tumult”. Not too symbolic of what was happening in my life at that time–my loving grandfather had just died.

Murakami said: “These short works have played an important role in what I accomplished. They are totally irreplaceable, much like friends from long ago.”

My first works were place-marks, and I remember them well. But I was much younger than Murakami when I began to write. I couldn’t even spell dachshund! My writings helped me explore feelings … different people, different experiences, all I can re-touch, re-experience by re-reading my works.

For Murakami, it was: “tactile memories that teach me to believe in that something I carry within me, and to dream of the possibilities it offers.”

How about you? When did you realize you wanted to write? And what was it?