Fabulous Furniture, Boiceville, NY

Three works of art, all from the mind of one artist: Steve Heller, of Boiceville, NY.

IMG_8059 IMG_8084 IMG_8097And that’s just the beginning. If you’re lucky enough to be traveling through upstate New York on Rt. 28, you can’t help noticing the fabulous pieces of sculpture outside a little shop in Boiceville, just north of Woodstock. You must stop and look at them. And go inside.

There, you’ll find a menagerie of glorious art pieces disguised as furniture, made from reclaimed wood by award-winning car restorer and American Visionary Art Museum contributor Steve Heller.

The furniture is displayed amidst his collection of robots and space vehicles, also made from reclaimed materials. Pretty soon you’re going to want to meet the guy who made all this. And you can. Just ask for him. He’s more than happy to leave his shop to visit with you and tell you all about the making of any piece that catches your eye. Steve is a completely charming guide as he takes you through his store, listening to you just as much as talking about his process. You’ll quickly see how much love and creative genius has gone into every item, whether it’s wood or metal.

The photo opps are endless at Fabulous Furniture. Here’s just a sample of what’s waiting for you. And Steve does custom pieces, obviously.

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This weekend, Steve hosts a show of new sculpture. The mind reels. Details below.

11722558_10207453078354772_2804554398306781217_oFabulous Furniture | Wed thru Sun 11-5 | Route 28 Boiceville, NY | 845-750-3035 | fabfurn1@gmail.com

Rejected Titles for Go Set a Watchman

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  1. Go Sell a Roughdraft
  1. Scout-Tacy and Tib
  1. Burn This
  1. Peyton Place
  1. Call Me Atticus
  1. In Cold Mockingbird Blood
  1. I Can’t Find the Key to My Safety Deposit Box
  1. Ignore All Those Red Marks
  1. How to Reform a Racist in Six Easy Rewrites
  1. Think This Thing Has Legs?

Update: The talented Nan Tepper surprised me this morning with these! Double the fun. Thank you, Nan!

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Would You Take Back a Manuscript Before Your Editor Finished Working on It?

Kitty Sheehan:

A precise explanation of a common sense approach to editing an author’s work.

Originally posted on The POP Newsletter:

Several times throughout my freelance career, I have had reason to suggest an author take back a manuscript and work on it some more before I continue with my editing. The reactions I have received run the gamut.

The first time this came up, I had been hired for a developmental edit and project management. I had done plenty of project management but was new to manuscript development, and it wasn’t until I had put in about 10 hours of work that I realized the project really amounted to a ghostwriting assignment.

WorriedGhostwriting costs a lot of money for a number of reasons, the two most obvious being it takes a lot of skill and it takes a lot of time. It definitely costs more than development. With my client’s pocketbook in mind, I suggested he take back the manuscript, do some work to transform what had been a transcript into…

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Improvisation for Writers

Kitty Sheehan:

Writers and storytellers! We hope you’ll apply!

Originally posted on Stephen Tobolowsky:

img_1421 Dartbrook Lodge, photo by Kitty Sheehan.

This October I am conducting a writing workshop in the mountains of upstate New York. Beautiful. I am thrilled about the change of scenery. I am excited about the workshop. I am going to be teaching improvisational techniques for writers.

I have 10 years experience teaching improv for actors and comics. It has been fun. I get a lot of good feed back. Several of my students have gotten jobs. Not necessarily in acting. I ran into one of my students about five years ago. I asked the standard teacher question, “So how are things going?”

“Great. I got out of show business.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes. It was your class that made me quit.”

“Oh…”

“No. It was a good thing. I’m a writer now. I’ve had two books published. Working on my third. I owe it all to your class.”

I was…

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A Bubble Bath for Your Spirit

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Paulette Goddard in Anna Lucasta.

Have I ever led you astray? Wait, people who knew me in my 20’s, don’t answer that. Or my 30’s. Or early 40’s. Ok, have I led you astray recently? I try not to. Leave it at that.

In a perfect world, Sunday is supposed to be a day to care for the spirit. I’d like to help you do that. Dig in, if interested.

There are quite a few things happening around me right now that are causing me to take a closer look at the big picture. My husband and I had a long talk about this today. As you get older, the big picture has less detail and becomes more abstract. For me, life’s big picture is about remembering these few things:

  1. Do something to make today better than yesterday. Even if it just means listening better. Especially if it just means listening better.
  2. NEVER say never.
  3. Try to say yes as often as you can.

As a way of helping to make your today better than your yesterday, here are my offerings.

This episode of The Mischke Road Show. I told you about this days ago. Why haven’t you listened to it yet? Thank you so much to those of you who have, and who have let me know. I assure you, it’s worth your time, and it will inspire you and change your day. (And a shout out to our children, who are doing their part in filling that bucket with drops. After you listen, you’ll know about the bucket and the drops.)

The website of the brilliant Taylor Negron. Spend time here, lift yourself up. He was so much more than a character actor and stand-up comic, as you’ll see. He was a bright, light soul who used his time here in astonishingly productive and creative ways. All the art on the website is by him, including the gorgeous paintings. An essay not to be missed: The Pink Gorilla (Tuesdays with Lucy).

And this. If nothing else, this. A Last Gift From The Genius Mind of Taylor Negron: Reflections On A Life Spent Playing Everyman: A meditation on saying goodbye from a master of the form.

A sweet song about why you should laugh more.

Hope you feel a little lighter.

And much appreciation to all who take time to comment here or to email me. It’s everything! xo

The Mischke Road Show

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I’m an AM radio geek. And I’ve been a fan of Tommy Mischke on Minneapolis radio for a couple decades.

Tommy’s show isn’t for everyone. I’ve been in a room with his other fans; I’ve seen a motley lot of us together in one place. I had a faint sense we were all a little unhinged somehow. Wait, who among us isn’t a little unhinged somehow — in one way or another? OK, yes, yes,  it is for everyone.

Mischke’s one of a kind, starting with his voice. You absolutely cannot match his distinctive, colorful and sometimes crazy delivery with anyone else’s. His unique takes on life are both wildly funny and deceptively profound. He’s that friend we all want to run things by, because you know he’s probably going to pose an angle you hadn’t thought of, a new way to connect the dots.

Up until 2013, Tommy’s then-gig was a nightly show on WCCO-AM that made me laugh, cry and think…usually on the same night. Then during one summer show that year, he announced he was quitting. Just like that. He told his listeners he knew he had to do something else, though he didn’t yet know what it was. We fans were in mourning, but we trusted him. We knew he was telling the truth and we wanted the best for him. We’d been through a lot with him, at least from our end. We hoped whatever it was he decided to do would be something we could share.

And it is. It’s the Mischke Road Show, a weekly podcast. It’s at once funny, informative, original and thought-provoking — and always unpredictable. You can find each week’s episode on his website. (Full disclosure: I created and designed his website along with my partner, Nan Tepper. How that happened is a Mischke tale for perhaps another day.)

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and on Spreaker.

This week’s show, to me, is the epitome of what Tommy does so well, and is honing to perfection with his new venture. “The Fighter” is a story that will take you on a stunning journey, one you’d probably never thought of taking. That’s Mischke. He finds the people who have quiet, powerful stories to tell. And off we go. He knows just when to step in, to steer, and when to be silent. This episode is, as always, masterfully edited.

If you’ve never heard Tom’s show before, this is the perfect place to start.

Here’s hoping the joy and light coming from Rachel and Jason, the couple in this story, might warm your deep, dark winter night.

Click on the image below, to listen.

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Lucky

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Milestones.

Some of them are more like millstones. The death anniversaries, the birthdays of your deceased loved ones, the date of your first wedding when you’re no longer married to that person, the day the music died…whichever time it died. These dates hang over us commemorating what might have been, what should have been, what was.

We each get a birthday that’s supposed to be our day. The day we were placed on the earth to enslave at least one or two adults for the next 20 years or so. For me, this has turned into a day for which I have NO expectations, and then I’m not disappointed. My husband threw me off my game a couple years ago when he had a surprise party for me, damn him.

But some of us truly have a day that really DOES belong only to us. A milestone we can celebrate however we choose. Except one particular way: we don’t drink to it. It’s our sobriety date.

Today, September 9, is my 13th. Thirteen years since my last drink. That’s a grade school and high school education. That’s some marriages. A car replaced. At least two presidents, three if things are extra messy. Some new houses start looking old by then. Carpets certainly do. It’s getting up there.

Each year of sobriety feels different. I’m feeling grateful this year.

The first year or two, my mantra was the great Carrie Fisher quote from Postcards From The Edge: “Thank GOD I got sober now so I can be hyper-conscious for this series of humiliations.” Two months in, newly divorced, broke, with Christmas around the corner, I was fired from a job I hated. And things went downhill from there.

It was a humbling experience to get sober in my hometown after having lived away for 20 years. I went to 90 meetings in 90 days, “the poor man’s rehab” as we called it. Outside the rooms, I had little support from people around me when I stopped drinking. The lack of support varied. A couple of my friends said, “I never thought you drank too much,” and that was that. No questions asked. On the bright side, my daughter said the same thing. Eternal thanks for that one.

Others said, right to my face, “I hear you took the cure,” an expression I’d heard since I was a kid in my town. Anybody who “couldn’t handle” their booze and had to quit was taking the cure, those lightweights.

If I ordered a Diet Coke amidst a table of drinkers that included my mother, she’d nod in my direction and say, “There’s nothing worse than a reformed ANYTHING.” Always a big laugh.

So, maybe you can see why the Carrie Fisher quote rang true to me. This lack of understanding pissed me off, made me feel singled out, even sorry for myself at times. But as the years of sobriety have added up for me, the quote has changed from sarcasm to truth.

I really am grateful now that I’m sober to feel all of it – the humiliations, the joys, the sad things and the crazy things – without being numb. Numb is dumb, my friend Ray used to tell me. And I really hate to be dumb. Nothing much scares me any more. Terrible things happen, and we get through them. Some people don’t. We learn. We learn how to feel. We learn how to help other people feel. Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be. People are mean; people are nice. Sometimes nice people are mean.

Simply put, the last thirteen years of sobriety have given me a life I could never have imagined, not in my wildest dreams. And my dreams were pretty damn wild.

A Master Class in Memoir

Would you like to spend 5 days in October working on your memoir with a master teacher? Come to one of New York’s most gorgeous Adirondack Mountain lodges and workshop your writing with eight other students, with a private chef, luxurious accommodations, amidst fall splendor.

Details are here, for the second annual Dartbrook Writers Retreat, a memoir workshop with writer Abigail Thomas.

A Master Class in Memoir.