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The Perfect Daughter

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mama2wCourtney stood in the doorway.  Her heart pounded with the frenetic energy of a trapped bird fighting for life.  She tried to concentrate on her breathing.

“Mama?” she whispered in the darkness.  “Mama? Are you awake?”

She peered into her mother’s bedroom hoping today would be a good day.  As she stepped into the disheveled room, with the smell of illness permeating the air, she approached her mother’s bed.  She held her breath. She could see her mother’s pale face upon the pillow and her chest rising and falling.  She leaned down and gently laid her hand lightly on her mother’s frail, thin shoulder.

“Mama?” she repeated softly.

Her mother slowly opened her eyes and focused on Courtney.

“And cut!” cried the director.  “Damnit Courtney!  What is with you today?  You moved off your mark again! Now let’s try it one more time and please do it like we rehearsed.”

Courtney cringed and felt her anger rise. She knew she hadn’t blown it. But, she didn’t argue and moved quickly back to her starting mark for another take.  This job was a nightmare.  Had she not been so desperate for the work, she would have quit. The director, Al, was sadistic in demanding needless takes and lighting changes.  He was deliberately malicious to crew and talent alike.  He had created an atmosphere of almost unbearable tension on the set.  Word had it he was a frustrated actor himself and on a steady diet of coke, and God knew what else.  At first, she thought he had bad allergies or a cold.  But on her second day of shooting she’d found out from a second-line-prop man it was drugs.

“Just try and stay under the radar kid, and you’ll do fine,” said one of the production assistants.

“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen,” she murmured.  She was in three more scenes today.

But, she made it through her second day, and then, her third and fourth.  Today should be her last day and she’d make enough to pay her rent and buy some food.  The utilities would have to wait a little longer.  God, how she hated living like this.  She was in a constant state of anxiety and there were times she had to concentrate just on breathing.   To make matters worse, she wasn’t feeling well, probably due to lack of enough sleep.  She moved to her first mark and concentrated on the scene.  Prop men and technicians swirled around her.   A makeup lady touched up Courtney’s face.

“You’re doing fine, honey,” she whispered to Courtney.  “Just hang in there one more hour and we’ll break for lunch.”  Courtney nodded. At least she’d get fed today, that was some comfort.  She had no food at home other than a can of tuna,  a couple pieces of bread and two tomatoes.

“Okay people!”  hollared Al.  “Let’s get moving!  Time is money!”   Courtney wiped her sweaty hands on her skirt and concentrated on her character. Al’s grating voice echoed through the soundstage. “Lights! Speed! And…ACTION!”  Courtney moved forward into the room.

“Mama?” she whispered in the darkness.  “Mama? Are you awake?”

And, as Courtney whispered her lines she was suddenly transported back to her own childhood in Illinois.  She was seven years old and walking into her mother’s dark, depressing, cave-like bedroom. Her mother had been drinking again. Courtney could smell the liquor.  The depressing aroma was forever hanging in the air.  How she dreaded those mornings.  She never knew what to expect.  The memories came flooding back.

Iconic 4th St. Bridge – Los Angeles

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You’ll stop traffic with this iconic shot of the 4th St. Bridge in Los Angeles!  I’m so excited about this latest apparel item with VIDA!  These cover ups are so versatile and comfortable.  You can dress these up or down, depending on your fancy or plans.  They go great for that cocktail party you have to attend with that fabulous man you just met; or start up a great conversation with your girlfriends as you’re having4th Street Bridge tea at The Peninsula.  Shop now and take advantage of the 10% off sale with code VIDA10.

shopvida.com/collections/kimberly-mack

4th St Bridge

Photographic Scarf Collection Has Launched!


Hello Everyone!

My scarf collection has LAUNCHED!! So fast too! What a joyous day this is; and I’m so thrilled and proud to share with you my latest collection on VIDA!

This collection represents some of my best artwork from over the years and is very authentic to who I am as an artist.

I’m really excited to collaborate with VIDA for this collection. VIDA is a new kind of fashion ecommerce company that connects artists like me all over the world with producers to bring our work to life. For every product sold, VIDA hopes to provide the gift of literacy to the makers they work with.

Thank you for all your comments and encouragement on this endeavor over the years.

Below are some of my favorite items from this collection.

Discover

Keep It Safe For Your Pets This Holiday Season-Foods to Keep Out of Reach

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As the holidays quickly approach and you are a busy bee preparing  sumptuous feasts for your family and friends, take extra precautions to keep your fur babies safe this holiday season.  A kitchen with unattended counters teeming with delectable dishes can be a minefield of potential trouble for you and your pets.

Before your guests arrive and to avoid unnecessary chaos during dinner, try keeping your pets in a separate area of your house and out of harm’s way.  Uncle Henry won’t be tempted to sneak a little piece of turkey or pie to the dog or cat.  And, if little Billy drops his turkey leg onto the floor you won’t have to fight the dog for it.  Whether you’re able to do this or not, you’ll still want to be aware of the potentially toxic foods to keep out of your pets reach.   You don’t want to have to make an emergency trip tot your vet.

Bones

Be they turkey, chicken or ham bones, avoid giving these to your pup or kitty.  Bones can be a deadly choking hazard.  If swallowed, there is also the danger of the bones splintering and puncturing your pet’s intestinal walls, causing internal bleeding.

Turkey Skin

Yes, it’s delicious but very fattening, so avoid feeding any to your pets as it can also be dangerous.  The skin, although very tasty, is heavy in fat content.  If fed in large quantities can cause pancreatitis.

Onions

Love that vegetable dish with the little white pearly onions?  Don’t feed any of it to your dog or cat.  All onions, no matter what size or color, are also potentially toxic, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and anemia.

Macadamia Nuts

Delicious, but they are not for your pets, as they can cause vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain. 

Dough Yeast

Nothing smells yummier than bread or cookies baking in the oven except, well, turkey.  But, feeding uncooked dough to the fur kids is also toxic.   Dough rises in warm places and will do the same in your pet’s stomach causing vomiting, diarrhea, and discomfort.

Alcohol

It doesn’t matter if your grandparents have a cocktail for medicinal purposes now and then.  The same does not apply to pets.  Alcoholic beverages and animals don’t mix so keep those unattended drinks away from your curious pets.  They can become quite ill if you catch them sneaking a cocktail or a beer. 

Chocolate

Don’t drop any of that chocolate.  It may taste heavenly to you, but if you feed any to your dog or cat you may soon find yourself cleaning your carpets.  Chocolate is very toxic and causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Garbage Detail

Those unwanted bones you’ve decided to toss out will set a dog or cat’s nose quivering and the hunt in the trash will be on! The bones can be dangerous alone, but when discarded with foil, string, or plastic, you’ll want to ensure you have a good tight lid on your garbage to keep it inaccessible.   All four can do damage to intestines.

If you do want to give your pets a little  dinner, raw or cooked carrots or string beans mixed in with their kibble is safe.  You’ll want to avoid anything with fat such as gravy, potatoes and yams.  A little taste of turkey won’t hurt them, as long as it’s boneless and skinless.

To also better prepare for any possible emergency, check with your vet beforehand and find out their holiday hours.  Make a list of backup facilities and keep all the information handy on the refrigerator or cabinet door.  If your pet does happen to ingest something, and is behaving out of character, or is obviously ill, don’t hesitate to call your vet.  Give yourself peace of mind knowing your pets will come to no harm.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday filled with many furry hugs and sloppy kisses.   Let the feasting begin!

 

The Wailing Woman

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ghostResidents in the small, upscale community of La Jolla said sometimes you could see her walking on the beach just before dawn, when the tide was out and fingers of fog clung to the top of the cove and nearby hills. But, you could only see her for a few moments and then she’d disappear. Sometimes over the sounds of the surf pounding on the rocks, you could hear her crying. In town they called her “the wailing woman.” I didn’t believe these stories, of course. I’d never seen a ghost and had no desire to.

I was house-sitting for my cousin and his wife one weekend.They had a beautiful home overlooking La Jolla Point.  I’d been up late trying to work on my book when I fell asleep.Sometime later I woke on the sofa and was stunned to notice it was almost dawn. I rose to put another log on the fire.It was then I heard her.It was soul-wrenching sobbing and seemed to echo throughout the house.I quickly went to the balcony and scanned the beach below.She was there; standing on one of the rocks, oblivious to the pounding surf as it washed through her.Her transparent arms stretched upwards, towards the sky as if reaching for someone or something.Her cries were none I’d ever heard before, almost like a wounded animal.They were gut wrenching and disturbing.My heart was pounding in my chest as I stood rooted to the railing.Then she turned and looked right at me.I felt sucked into her dark scrutiny and could not move had my life depended on it.Her eyes were full of such despair and something else I could not identify.Then suddenly, without warning my legs turned to jelly and gave way beneath me. I crumbled in a heap on the deck.When I came too, the woman was gone and the sun was rising, its giant orb casting a golden light across the water, banishing all things dark and mysterious.I welcomed it.I felt cold all over.There were only the sounds of the waves crashing and the gulls crying.I turned and made my way back into the house telling myself to breathe. As I rounded the corner of the living room, I glanced down at the hard wood floor. There was water beneath my feet as if I had spilled something.I know I had not.I froze, understanding suddenly dawning.I was not alone.She was here.

Bill Dauber Tells Journalism Students “Bring It to the Table”

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Bill Dauber, Professor of Journalism at Los Angeles Valley College, and advisor of the school’s Valley Star, tackles the question: “What is the future of journalism?” as guest speaker of LAVC’s Journalism 108 class last Tuesday night.

“Journalism is changing the way we get our news,” confirms Dauber. “New media is moving in new areas, becoming more democratized.  Digital

media has been eating away at advertising profits and cutting into the number of print jobs.  Those jobs are disappearing.”

Ten years ago, the Los Angeles Times had a news staff of 1,300.  Today, that number is closer to 720, making it one of the hardest hit newspapers of our time.1    In 2010, the LA Times daily circulation of 600,449 was down from the previous year’s figure of 657,467.2      Revenue and circulation continue to make a downward descent, as papers struggle to give birth to new sales strategies, such as inserting links into their on-line editions to increase readership.  Dauber shares an interesting fact.  Although, advertising revenue and circulation for newspapers across the country have been negatively impacted with the evolution of digital media, such is not the case for college newspapers.  The opposite is true. “Because,” says Dauber “advertisers are trying to specifically reach the students.”  Dauber further shares that one of the things he does like about digital media is that it offers much more access to newspapers.   He is an avid and consistent reader of The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Atlantic.

Having been a reporter for the LA Times, and The Orange County Register, Dauber’s advice to journalism students is “Be familiar with social media. You need to know it, and read about it.   Write a blog. Find out what you are interested in.  Develop an expertise, and ask what can you offer that is different.”   Dauber elaborates, citing Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish, as an example.  Sullivan, a political commentator for The Atlantic, provides people with an analysis, posting what he thinks about each news item.  Sullivan found a way he could contribute.

“You need to bring something to the table with whatever you are doing,” Dauber tells the class.  His final piece of advice was take advantage of the many journalism and mass media courses at LAVC and other colleges.

Yes, the future of journalism is changing.  But, wherever digital media takes us going forward, Dauber’s message is clear.  “Bring it to the table.”

Professor Dauber has been teaching at Los Angeles Valley College for nine years.  He graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in history.  He’s been a reporter for the LA Times, the Orange County Register and is author of “The Real Las Vegas: Life Beyond the Strip.”

1. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/business/media/03paper.html

2. Retrieved from http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Newspapers_24/Newspaper-circ-declines-lessen-again.asp

Hollywood Piano’s Glenn Treibitz and Cheryl Fox: Sharing Their Passion

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hollywood pianoIt’s the weekend of the 86th Academy Awards and despite the rain mercilessly pummeling the city; Hollywood Piano’s Burbank store is busy with customers.  The Wall of Fame and original neon sign welcome one and all.  The beautiful and vast collection of grand pianos and uprights will make your fingers long to touch the ivory keys, and have you falling in love before you play your first note.

Owned and operated by brother and sister team Glen Treibitz, president and Christy Fox, vice president, Hollywood Piano has been the premiere piano retailer servicing the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the “go-to” piano place in the movie and entertainment industry since 1928.

Hollywood Piano came into fame with their original store at Hollywood and Highland, and the release of the first “talkie,” the 1927 Warner Bros. film, The Jazz Singer.  Their list of clientele and patrons reads like a Who’s-Who of Hollywood.  Frank Sinatra was a regular customer, as was Jerry Lewis, Walt Disney, and movie mogul Louis B. Meyer.  More recent patrons have been Robert Pattison, Steve Wonder, Jay Leno and Lana Del Rey.  The list goes on.  The day Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell were photographed putting their handprints in cement at Grauman’s, they paid an impromptu visit to Hollywood Piano.  Russell played and Monroe sang.  The customers went wild.

The entertainment and movie industry has had a love affair with the piano for decades and given us wonderful moments and award winning films such as The Pianist and The Piano.  In the 1971 Best Picture Five Easy Pieces, we are treated to an impromptu recital as Jack Nicholson, fed up with traffic strolls down the highway to discover an upright piano in the back of a truck.  In the 1988 film, Big, Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia play Heart & Soul on a giant keyboard.  And the famous Herman Hupfeld tune “As Time Goes By,” in Casablanca, sung and played by Dooley Wilson?  That piano was supplied by Hollywood Piano.  They’ve provided pianos and top service to hit shows such as Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, I Love Lucy and All in the Family.

Treibitz and Fox’s passion for music and the arts inspires them to be involved in the community. In their quest to further music education, they also work with the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, schools and non-profits.  “We care,” says Treibitz. “And music has always been an important part of our lives.”

Last fall, Treibitz and Fox, a graduate of the Boston Conservatory, launched the Hollywood Piano Academy of Music.  It encompasses multiple practice rooms and classrooms.  They offer piano lessons for all ages, “Mommy & Me” classes and piano story time for toddlers.  The academy is also proud to feature the patent pending Andrew Weitz Miracle Piano Course, teaching the student to play after just a few lessons.

Besides the tremendous joy derived from playing the piano, studies have shown a marked improvement in confidence, self esteem, patience, coordination and SAT scores. Treibitz and Fox readily agree there are many health benefits to playing music.

But, what matters most to Treibitz and Fox is building relationships with integrity and professionalism and delivering high-level customer service. Their sales staff is knowledgeable and helpful.  First time piano buyers and renters will be steered in the right direction.  “It’s great to be able to set up someone with the right piano,” says Fox.

“We have direct involvement and we’re ‘hands-on’ everyday,” adds Treibitz. “There is something for everyone here, and we’re passionate about music.  We know what a difference it can make in someone’s life.  What can be better than that?”

Hollywood Piano is located at 323 South Front Street, Burbank, CA 91502 and is open seven days a week.

Visit their website at www.hollywoodpiano.com

Reprinted from the Tolucan Times March 5, 2014

Mindy Dai: A Doctor With A Lot of Heart


daiMindy Dai: A Doctor With A Lot of Heart

By Kimberly Mack

Dr. Mindy Dai’s Acupuncture and Herb Center, located on Alameda in Burbank, may not look any different than other medical structure, but there is one big difference.  As you exit the elevator on the second floor and enter Dai’s lobby, the chaos of the day falls away. There is a Zen-like calm that wraps around you.

While you wait for Dai to work her magic and take away your pain, you admire the awards she has on display from the Burbank Leader voting her “Favorite Acupuncturist.”  You begin to feel reassured that you are in the best of hands. Your anticipatory anxiety level drops. Dai’s specialty is pain management. She greets you with a warm smile and promises “no pain.”

Before Dai came to California from her homeland of China, she was an attending physician and associate professor for 12 years.  Since her time in California she has acquired three years of postdoctoral training at USC, an MRI fellowship at Providence Saint Joseph medical center, and a master’s degree in oriental medicine at Samra University.  She worked for many years with a neurologist and has an MD.  She possesses a vast knowledge of both Western and Eastern medicine and combines her knowledge and training for tailored treatments. Her background in radiology enables her to read x-rays, MRI’s or CT scans.

Acupuncture is an effective and safe medical treatment.  Originating from China over 2,000 years ago, today it is very popular and growing. It is also recognized as a primary health care profession in California.  There are no side effects.  The most sterile of needles are used and only once.  Acupuncture needles are made of stainless steel, are flexible and don’t rust or break. They are inserted on or lightly beneath the skin on points along your energy line called “acupuncture” or “acupressure points.”  This releases the qi (pronounced chee) to stimulate the flow of energy. The qi travels through your body’s channels or “meridians” regulating the flow of energy, clearing disruptions. Dai works to bring your body back to a balanced and harmonious state.  And, although acupuncture is very effective, Dai will tell you “it isn’t 100%. But, it does help.” She may also prescribe Chinese herbs.

Dai treats patients with a vast array of disorders with warmth and caring.  Many of her patients are referrals from other doctors such as chiropractors, neurologists, ob-gyns, oncologists and internists.

She has people come to her with spine and musculoskeletal disorders.  She treats scoliosis, and gastrointestinal disorders. Many women seek out Dai for fertility, menstrual or menopause issues.  She helps those with neurological disorders such as migraines, stroke rehabilitation, or those suffering from partial facial paralysis known as Bell’s palsy.  She can help with insomnia, anxiety, depression or stress.

“Everybody has stress,” states Dai.  “Slight stress is good.  It releases adrenalin and keeps people younger.  But, too much is not good.”

So what does Dai plan for the future?  “I just want to help more people,” she smiles. “I feel good and am very happy with what I’m doing.”

Dr. Mindy Dai’s office hours are 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  She is flexible and will accommodate people’s schedules before they go to work or after.  Her office is located at 2601 W. Alameda, Suite 402, Burbank, (818) 842-8177. For more information visit Dr. Dai’s website at www.drmindydai.com

Save A Life This Holiday Season and Adopt A Pet

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willieIf you or a loved one are thinking of getting a pet this holiday season, won’t you please check out your local shelters and animal rescues?  So many animals needing loving, forever homes. Be it a big dog or a smaller breed, your shelter will have them all.  Not able to walk a dog or have a yard for them to run around in?  Consider a little kitty that is lower maintenance, but still gives you unconditional love and will make you their whole world.  Give someone life this holiday season and adopt!  Spread the love and joy! Happy Holidays!

The Long Walk

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DSCF2843The street was silent as he parked beneath her building.  She lived on one of those crazy winding streets high up in the Hollywood Hills that boasted of past residents from the ‘20’s and ‘30’s like Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin.  He could hear Frank Morgan faintly floating out over the hills…a jazz fan.  He smiled to himself.

He grabbed the bottle of red wine he brought and began the trek up the steep stairwell.  It was quiet except for the occasional bark of a dog and the music.  It got louder the higher he climbed.  He arrived at her front door.  It was 35 steps to her door, and was surrounded by bright Bougainvillea and a breathtaking view of Hollywood and downtown LA.  He had to catch his breath.  The stairs were a killer.  He knocked.  She answered.  She was the one playing the jazz.  Things were looking up.

“Hello,” she breathed in her soft Veronica Lake voice.

“Hi,” he replied back.  She stepped aside and he stepped in.   He caught a whiff of her scent as he moved past her and into the livingroom.  She smelled of baby powder and lavender.  There was a fire going in the fireplace.

He held out the bottle of wine.

“Thank you.  Won’t you sit down?” she said with a floating gesture towards the white sofa.  He would and did.    “A drink?” she asked.

“Bourbon … on the rocks,” he replied.  She glided over the polished hardwood floor to her liquor tray, and fixed his drink.  He drank her in like a man dying from thirst.   She was a petite little number, lean with hard angles and cheekbones like Lauren Bacall.   Her shoulder length hair was blonde with red highlights when it caught the light.   Her eyes were emerald chips, the irises flecked with gold.  Her skin was smooth and pale.   She was intoxicating.

She sat next to him.  He studied her over the rim of his glass as he took a swallow.   A bell went off from the kitchen.

“You’re cooking?” he asked.  She nodded.   He had planned on taking her out.

“Yes.  I thought it would be a way to repay you for helping me last night.”

He nodded.   He met her the night before at The Formosa in Hollywood.   She’d gotten herself into a jam and had too much to drink.  He stepped in and helped.   She hadn’t any money on her.  He paid her tab and gave her a lift home.

“I have the money to repay you now,” she said, pulling a twenty out of her purse.  “So silly of me to have grabbed the wrong bag.”

He studied her and waved away the money.  “Does that happen to you often?”

She shook her head, her hair falling forward.  She brushed it off her forehead with a carefully manicured hand.  Her nails were short and painted red.  He liked that.   He never cared for long fingernails on a woman.  They could get a man into trouble.

“No, I don’t do that very often.” She moved suddenly off the sofa and over to the dining table.  He watched her intently like a starved man.

“If you’ll open the wine and light the candles,” she whispered. “I’ll bring dinner out.”  He nodded and like a man hypnotized, rose.  While he opened the wine, he gazed out over the city.  The view was impressive, and the lights twinkled like gems in the dark night.    The music of Miles Davis filled the room, and he was suddenly struck with a strong feeling of déjà-vu.   He had been here before.

 Chapter 2 

He didn’t know what time it was when he woke up.  He only knew that she was gone.  He reached out across the bed.  His hand fell away empty.  He lay quietly, listening.  There was nothing but silence, and the faintest scent of her perfume.   He didn’t like what he was feeling.

He waited around.  He took a shower, stalling for time, and thinking she’d show.  If this was his place he would’ve thought he had dreamed the whole thing.  But, that was her rumpled bed he’d crawled out of an hour ago.  He felt like a dope;  like he’d been dumped.

He walked out the front door into the bright, smoggy sunshine of Los Angeles.  It was going to be another hot day in the city.

He descended the same 35 steps he climbed last night.  It was faster going down.

Images of her floated through his mind as he made his way to his car.  He wanted to see her again.  She’d gotten in.  He turned, glancing up the street and swore. His car was gone.  He reached into his pocket for his keys.  His pocket was empty.

Transporting Your Reader

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One of the jobDSCF3295s of writing is to tranport your reader to another place or time with words, feelings and impressions.  You have to see or feel it yourself first if you are to have any impact.  What you write and describe needs to be believable or interesting.  Paint a picture so vivid and strong you wet their appetitie and make it impossible to stop reading.  Reach out.

Clearing the Cobwebs

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Are you DSCF6186stuck?  Do you feel that your story or article has come to a dead end?  Is your brain muddled with too many details or twists and turns in your plot?  STEP AWAY and change your surroundings.  Take a drive to one of your favorite
places.  Go to the beach or the mountains, or walk to your favorite coffee hang-out and people watch.  Think about something completely different.  You will be amazed what your refreshed eyes will see when you return.  Let me know how it goes.

Writing With Passion – Falling In Love With Words

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AB15521Write your first draft with your HEART. Don’t think about it – just write. The passion with which your idea comes from is your driving force.  It’s your ignition.  Turn it on, let it quicken your heart and give you goose bumps.   Do you over-think when you first fall in love or see your newborn for the first time? Discover a new piece of music or food you like?  Not at those first moment s of discovery.   You’re swept away by your passion and feelings.  There’s magic in your passion.  Let yourself get excited by your ideas and your words.  Let yourself fall in love.  It’s a journey.  Enjoy it.

The second draft is the time to engage your mind.   This is your re-writing process.  You’ll see what works in your story and what doesn’t.   This can be difficult, because we all have egos.  If a particular paragraph or sentence is awkward and doesn’t fit, you may need to put your ego on the back burner and re-think it.  Does it serve your character(s) or story?  If not, take it out.  If you feel lost, go back to your beginning.  Think about what you’re trying to say, what your objective is.   Your passion is where it all begins.  It’s the birth.  If you need to, take a break and step away for a few hours or a few days.  You’ll be surprised by what you’ll see when you return.

When you think you’ve got it just right – you’re ready to edit.  Although this is the final stage it’s one of the most overlooked.  A writer, as in any other occupation, needs to know the tools of their trade – proper spelling, punctuation and grammar.   Your work represents your integrity and professionalism.  If you’re unsure, look it up.  I do.  Or, if you feel the need, take a class at night school or your community college.  It is well worth your time and an investment in your future.   You don’t want to grab your reader with your passion and enthusiasm, and then lose them because of poor spelling or punctuation.    Learning the mechanics is easy, but you can’t teach the passion.  That’s your gift!  So, begin your piece with passion and polish it off with proper spelling and punctuation.

Good luck, enjoy falling in love.  Let me know how it goes!

A Man and His Chips

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I was in abonaventuren elevator the other day with a young man, maybe mid-30’s,  who was eating a bag of Doritos.  It was silent inside except for the whirring of our descent to the main floor and his crunching and chewing.  The rustling of the bag echoed off the walls.  We were alone.  He was quite intent on his chore, as he never looked  anywhere other than into his little cellophane bag.  I was hesitant on speaking to him for fear of breaking his spell.   He seemed so…focused.  And I was fascinated by his focus.  And as the elevator doors wooshed open I suddenly thought…okay, this would make a great commercial.   The ideas came pouring out.  So, you see you never know where inspiration may strike.  Stranger things have happened in an elevator…and I found some in an elevator with a man and his chips.  And not a word was spoken.

Loving Adjectives

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AB15521Adjectives! I love them don’t you? Do you want to reach out and touch your reader and draw them in? Then do it and put in details. Describe the scene, the character and his or her mood. Look around you and observe. Make it rich so your reader will want more. So important as I’ve been told with my own work. I always refer back to my journalism lessons. The four W’s and H – What, when, where, why and how? If you’re stuck try these. Let me know how you do. Wishing everyone a fabulous weekend and may creativity abound!

We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym

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Dina Kimmel, a successful entrepreneur, is giving to the community, and word is
spreading. She is giving strength, love, patience, and acceptance. Kimmel,
president and owner of We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Tarzana, has designed  and built her kid’s gym with a specific clientele in mind. Thirty percent of the  children that come through the door are children who have been diagnosed with
Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. It all started with a little boy named  Gabriel.

It was in 2009 that Kimmel learned that her youngest child,  Gabriel, was Autistic. He was two years old. Kimmel and her devoted husband Tim,  feeling overwhelmed at this news, set out to learn all they could about Autism.

The Kimmels discovered that no two children’s symptoms are alike.
There is a wide spectrum of symptoms. There are approximately 46,000 children
born every year in the U.S. that will be afflicted. But, when detected early
enough and treated, many children go on to lead more fulfilling and independent
lives. There is hope.

Motivated by her love and drive to help her son,  Kimmel then took over the space of her son’s previous gym, and designed the only  Open Play occupational sensory gym in Los Angeles. All of the equipment and  games are colorful and beckoning. Great care was taken to avoid any possible  sensory overload. Everything was designed to enhance and improve sensory skills, strengthen coordination, and teach crucial communication skills and social  interaction. There is an arts and crafts room, and an abundance of sensory-fun  toys. Everything is designed to provide a fun and safe learning experience. It  is a happy place and a gym children love. Kimmel’s seven-year-old daughter,  Sophia, is a regular visitor, and Kimmel is thrilled she has been able to  discover games and activities that her two children can do together.

This  sense of togetherness seems to be at the root of the gym’s mission.

“My  gym is a place where all kids – despite their differences — can have an equally
fun time,” Kimmel says. “The gym has the best top notch occupational equipment
in it that is essential for kids on the spectrum and just good old fashion fun
for typical kids.”

This month marks the gym’s one year anniversary. “I  love it,” Kimmel beams, looking around. “So many people need to be given a safe  place where they feel comfortable. It’s my home, and we’re all  family.”

Kimmel has also built a dedicated team of licensed therapists,  each highly accomplished in their own field of expertise. Her support staff  consists of licensed occupational and behavioral therapists, social workers, and  language and fitness specialists. They are all compassionate professionals. They  work tirelessly with parents to reach their child’s goals in both group and  private sessions.

Regularly scheduled Youth Fitness classes held by Coach  Kee, a certified children’s fitness specialist, are popular and contagious. Her  classes are designed to build self confidence and improve self esteem, as well  as help the children to develop agility, balance, cardio, courage, and  leadership. Her women’s fitness classes are equally popular.

“I have an  amazing staff,” Kimmel states. “I’m very blessed. I’ve gotten such a welcome in
the area, and I’m very proud of what this has done for the  community.”

And We Rock the Spectrum is a bona fide deal. “To use a gym  with the equipment I have in it usually costs $150 an hour, and we simply charge  $10,” Kimmel says.

In addition to their regularly scheduled classes, they  also have special events, private play dates, and birthday parties. They offer  their own online store of toys and gluten-free snacks.

“With Autism on the rise and not everyone able to afford to pay the expensive prices for private  therapy, We Rock makes it easy for just $10. It’s a place where special needs  kids and their family and friends can play too!”

Living in Hollywood Heights: The Mystique of the High Tower

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 Living in Hollywood Heights in the early 1960’s as a child with my father was exciting. He had a two bedroom apartment at the top of Rockledge Road, off of Camrose, nestled in the hills behind the Hollywood Bowl.  He would often entertain.  His guests consisted of creative and colorful personalities, ranging from advertising executives, to directors and actors.   Many nights I would lay in bed listening to their laughter and the clink of glassware, too excited to sleep. His apartment offered a panoramic, breathtaking view of Hollywood.  At night, the twinkling lights of the city below would stretch out like a carpet of sparkling, colorful jewels.  His rent was $150 a month.  What were once apartments surrounded by obscure stairways and bougainvillea, are now multi-million dollar homes.

I went to visit recently with my camera in-hand.  It was early. The heat the forecast had promised for that weekend had yet to arrive.  It was the perfect time of day for my hike, and visit, to my childhood stomping grounds.

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Sore Loser

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Rain had come to the City of Angels and it was coming down in truck loads.  The streets were sloppy and flooded.  It’d been raining for weeks, and the skies were bleak and grey.  So was my mood.

I didn’t like driving in the rain, but I got a call from a buddy, so was headed downtown to the county jail.  He was in a jam.   I took my last five hundred bucks to bail him out.

Seems he was at his weekly poker game last night and had won big.  Good for him and good for me.  He owed me money.  Next thing he knows he wakes up in a hotel room with this doll curled up next to him.  Would have been okay with him, but she was just a kid; and only sixteen.  He’d never seen her before in his life.  But she was telling a different story and sticking to it.

Another kicker, he’d  been rolled.  They took all his winnings.  Somebody was a sore loser.

By the time I got to the county jail my stomach wasn’t very happy. I hadn’t had breakfast.  I chewed on a couple of stale lifesavers to shut it up.

Roger’s bail was set at just short of five hundred bucks.  I’d have enough left over to have breakfast at The Pantry and grab the morning paper.  The place reeked of urine, sweat and despair.  I found it depressing.  The sergeant at the desk had a two day’s head start on a beard and a bad attitude.  The soggy cigar stuck between his teeth had gone out long ago, but he kept chewing on it.   The floor was filthy from the wet traffic.  At the far end of the room a tired looking janitor was mopping up somebody’s accident.  In the distance the clang of a bell was followed by the grating sound of steel clashing on steel; it was the lock up.   The halls echoed with each sound.   I wanted some fresh air.

“Wait over there,” growled the cigar chomping sergeant when I paid Roger’s bail.  I sat and checked out the scenery.  At 7 a.m. the place was already buzzing with activity.  Cops were coming and going hauling in drunks, prostitutes and gang members sporting some pretty nasty war wounds.  Some of them were still bleeding.  The janitor wasn’t going to be happy about that.  Suddenly the clientele took a turn and a couple of men dressed in snappy business suits and shiny shoes came in.  They looked a long way from home.  I watched as one stepped up and whispered to the desk sergeant.  The other two hung back.  The guys looked familiar but I couldn’t place them.

Ten minutes later the bell rang again. I waited.  I could hear footsteps on the tile floor.  I stood up, but it wasn’t Roger.   It was the blonde I tangoed with two weeks ago and who had “borrowed” my car. Her buddies were the suits.  Suddenly it all clicked.  I’d seen them all together at The Formosa.    She looked good and like she’d spent the night at the Ambassador and not in a cell at the county jail.    She kissed the big guy and saw me.   Our eyes locked across the room.   She winked at me.  I nodded.  Suddenly Roger was standing in front of me shaking my shoulder.

“Hey buddy,” he said.

I roused myself like a man sleep walking.  Roger looked and smelled like he’d been on a two day drinking binge and then hung out to dry.  I was suddenly glad I’d come to bail him out.   As Roger signed for his belongings I looked around.  The blonde and her friends were gone.  I pushed her out of my mind.  My friend was in trouble and needed my help.  But, my troubles were just beginning.

Writing Short Stores – An Interview With Kimberly Mack

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www.writeonamerica.us   The Long Life of Short Stories With Kimberly Mack Kimberly Mack chats with Write On America about the art of writing short stories, and gives a reading of her latest, “The Slow Burn” … Kimberly Mack is a writer and artist residing in Los Angeles, CA. She is a passionate writer and photographer who writes in a variety of genres; from straight news, fantasy and noir pieces. Her noir work is her latest endeavor and offers its reader an added surprise as it’s sometimes written from the viewpoint of a man. She couples her short stories with a dramatic photograph she has taken of an iconic building or vista in Los Angeles.      Mack is also a freelance writer for the Tolucan Times, and has a column for Examiner.com. One of her current projects is a photography book on Los Angeles due out later this year. She is also working on a collection of her short noir stories and photographs for publication.   www.writeonamerica.us

A Lover’s Deception

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Artwork by Colleen Ross

The words “I hate you,” slipped so easily off her tongue.  She laughed when she said them.It made me wonder.  Perhaps she did just a little.   I watched her and began to notice things. There was a new hesitation in her touch, a passion missing in her kiss.  Her beautiful sea-blue eyes would never quite meet mine.

Suddenly there were more lunches with “the girls,” visits to the museums and shopping trips.  But, she never bought anything; never brought home any “souvenirs.” Then the funny phone calls started.   The person on the other end always hung up.

She said she was running off to meet the girls for their weekly bowling night.  With a light kiss and a wave of her small hand she was off.  I stood looking down at the driveway as she pulled her light blue Plymouth out of the garage.   She hadn’t taken her bowling ball.  It was still in the hall closet.

I tailed her down Highland three cars back to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.   I had a sick feeling in my gut.

I was losing my girl.  – Mick

The Slow Burn

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blistering-dayss.jpgThe rain had barely cooled off the city.  The suffocating heat was a killer.  I was driving back from visiting an old pal of mine in Echo Park. I left an hour later twenty bucks lighter and wishing I’d never gone.   I decided to step into my favorite watering hole to shake the heat and my mood.  Fifteen minutes later I stepped through the door of The Formosa.  The place was quiet.  It was early.  I waved to Joe.  He was wiping down the bar.  I took a seat.

He nodded.   “Hey Mick.  How are things?”

“Not bad,” I said reaching for my cigarettes.

“What’ll ya have?”

“Give me a bourbon, would ya Joe?  Heavy on the ice.” 

He nodded, threw the bar towel over his shoulder and moved away.  I lit a cigarette and turned to check out the scenery.  The Formosa was a favorite of mine.  Even if you weren’t thirsty, it was a great place to people watch.   Nobody really bothered you.  If they did, Joe would toss ‘em out.   Or, if you were broke somebody would always loan you a couple of bucks.  If you got really lucky, somebody would pay you back.  I was hoping I’d get lucky.

So, there I was, minding my own business, working on my second bourbon when I saw her.  She was sitting in the back booth facing the door.   I could tell just by looking at her she didn’t belong.  A voice in my head said, “Careful Mick.”  I didn’t listen and moved further down the bar.  She lifted her eyes and looked directly at me.  Her eyes were the deepest blue I’d ever seen.  Like the color of the sea on a hot summer day.  I stopped breathing.    She looked away.  Somebody fed the jukebox and the music of Miles Davis floated out.  I heard the front door slam and laughter.  It echoed down the bar and off the walls.   I watched her nurse her drink.  She had small, well manicured hands with red nail polish.   There was no ring.   She looked at me again.  I nodded.  She gave me a little smile.  That was my cue. I took it and moved towards her table.

“Mind if I sit down?” I asked.   She shook her head, her dark hair floating around her shoulders.   I sat.

“Would you like another drink?”   Her hair danced again.

We looked at one another across the table.  A few seconds passed.  Her eyes had flecks of green.   She wore no makeup, other than red lipstick.  Her skin glowed like freshly polished porcelain.

“You have a name?” I asked, trying to get the ball rolling.  She nodded.

“Leonore,” she whispered.  I leaned towards her to hear.

“Mick,” I replied offering my hand.  She hesitated, then quickly placed her hand in mine.  She was trembling.    I watched her.

“You okay?” She looked away and rummaged in her purse.  She pulled out a handkerchief.

“Please,” she said raising her eyes back to mine.  I saw the threat of tears.  “Please, would you get me out of here?”

I nodded.  I was in big trouble.  I was about to go down for the count.  We left The Formosa and walked out into the muggy night air.  The heat was suffocating.   I couldn’t have cared less.

The Long Drive

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The fog was coming in.  I wasn’t particularly fond of fog, especially when I was driving in it.  But, I promised I’d get her home.  I glanced over to the passenger’s seat.  She was out cold.  The streetlights from the highway slid across her face and blonde hair making her skin look like glowing marble.   The car was filled with the scent of her perfume, something I couldn’t place.  It didn’t smell like any cheap drugstore brand.  She wouldn’t wear any of that.  This dame was all class.  Everything about her spelled money.

That left me out.  She was way out of my league.   I was flat broke.

Her house was right on the beach just past the Ventura County line.  She was awake by the time we passed Malibu.    She was instantly alert.  I liked that in a woman.

“Pull in here,” she whispered, pointing to a dirt driveway.  I did.  The house was way out at the end of a small cliff overlooking the beach.  It was a nice piece of real estate.

“I haven’t been here in months,” she said.  “So, you’ll have to forgive the way it looks.”

I nodded and like a man sleep-walking followed her inside.    It was dark and musty.  I could have cared less.  My eyes followed her hungrily as she crossed the room to a set of balcony doors, pulling sheets off furniture as she went.    She flung the double doors wide and breathed in the ocean air.  Her hair danced in the evening breeze.   She smiled at me and tilted her head.   I suddenly felt like I had all the dough in the world.

“Would you like a drink?” she asked.  I would.  I nodded and watched as she went to a small cabinet, her dress floating around her long legs as she moved.

“Whiskey if you have it,” I told her.   She nodded.  “It’ll have to be neat.  There isn’t any ice.”

“That’s fine.” I told her.    She smiled at me.  I smiled back and then I remembered.   I had met her before.  The fog begin to lift.