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I hope that in this year to come

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.

You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

Neil Gaiman (and seconded by Jules)

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And here we go.

Thingie 1 buy generic synthroidJokers. It’s my occasional laugh-out-loud humor by email. If you like to LOL, it may be for you.

Thingie 2. Writers Lifeguard. If you’ve been published anywhere, you’re welcome to join this even more occasional rant for writers only. If you haven’t been published, as soon as you are, tell me and on you’ll go.

Both are free, easy off, and have members from pretty much all over the world. How do you get on? Reply to this and say something like, I wanna be a Joker. I wanna be a Lifeguard. I wanna be both. And your wish will likely be granted.

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If you know anything about recent Irish history, you know about the Troubles click here for info. The Troubles started in the early 1970s in Derry. On Sunday, January 30, 1972, British soldiers killed thirteen unarmed citizens in Bogside. It is known as Bloody Sunday.

Today, the citizens of Derry are working hard to promote peace among all people in their beautiful, walled city. The Peace Bridge is a walking and cycling bridge built to help bring people closer together in mutual understanding and harmony. It’s a lovely idea and a lovely place for a stroll.

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If you want to have a great time, make your next trip to Dublin. Nearly half the city is under 25, so it’s no wonder it’s a buzzy place—music flows out of pubs, streets teem with people, galleries burst with art, restaurants serve up delicious dishes.
Here’s some things you may not know about Dublin:
Guinness makes 10 million pints of stout every day. No need to worry about running out!
A techie has come up with an algorithm that guides you from one canal to another without passing a single pub. James Joyce thought it probably couldn’t be done synthroid tablets 100mg.
Handel’s Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742 in Temple Bar.
Dubliner Cedric Gibbons designed the Oscar in 1928.


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FOR SOME TIME NOW, I’ve been thinking of starting a list for writers and writers only. We share so many pleasures and privations, sometimes I just feel like sharing mine and hearing yours.

But “thinking of starting” is a long, long walk from “starting.” Today I’m taking the walk. Why now? It’s thanks to Maine writer Hilary Nangle, who pointed me to this:

Harlan Ellison

It’s a brief film clip from American novelist/short story writer/screenwriter/et al Harlan Ellison. In it, he’s talking clearly and profanely about Paying the Writer. Hilary loved it. I loved it. It moved me to take the walk.

I don’t anticipate that WRITER’S LIFEGUARD will only be about getting paid and protecting rights. It’s not just a writer’s whine. But this sure feels like a good place to start.

Miranda Moment: If you want off this list, just say so. No shame, no pain. If you want to invite somebody on, great… as long as you get their permission first.

That’s it.

In the unlikely event you haven’t guessed who’s behind this, yeah, it’s me, Jules Older, in San Francisco.

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Luxembourg is a tiny country in Europe headed by a grand duke. It’s the last remaining grand duchy in the world. How cool is that!

Luxembourg’s neighbors are France, Belgium and Germany. Its population is about the same as Vermont’s and, like Vermont, Luxembourg is largely rural.

If Americans know nothing else about Luxembourg, chances are they know it’s where General Patton led his troops in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII.  Luxembourgians still express their gratitude for the bravery of American soldiers. Those who died in the Battle of the Bulge are buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery with Patton at their head.

In spite of its size, this little country is one of the richest in the world (so, size doesn’t matter). It’s a great place to visit on your next trip to Europe. It’s safe, has delicious food, friendly locals, and you get a chance to practice your French, German, or the national language, Luxembourgish. Good luck with that!

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Wanaka class by Bob Simpson - 1

Ah, the pleasures of teaching writing. There are so many high moments; here are but three …

Two come from Wanaka, the bottom of New Zealand and pretty much the bottom of the world. One is from San Francisco, the center of the known universe.

Moment One

The shyest member of class is Tracey Morrow, a florist in town. She’s never published, never even showed anyone her writing. After class, I call her aside and tell — not ask, tell — her she’s presenting tomorrow morn. She clearly doesn’t want to. The next morn, I can see her hands are shaking. “C’mon Tracey,” I say, “Your turn.”

She reads an essay on duck hunting. Maybe that doesn’t sound a promising topic, but she turns the tale of first day of duck season into a family portrait — a portrait painted by a master artist. When she finishes, the class breaks into loud and sustained applause. I say, “This is ready for publication now.” Someone else says, “First day of duck season is this weekend.” Another student, Tess Wethey, says, “I know the editor of New Zealand’s weekend magazine.”  I say, “Get her on the phone. Now. Tracey, Tess is your new agent. And best friend. Go!”

Three days later, Tracey’s story is read by more than a million New Zealanders. Three years later, I still get chills when I think of her reading it to the class.

Moment Two

Another class member, Helen Herbert, has also never published. In her long life, she’s written a novel but never shown it to pretty much anyone except her closest friend … and one British publisher, whom I immediately spot as a scam artist. He’s after her money, not her book. I tell her to save her money — a lot of money — and look at Smashwords instead.

I just heard from Helen. Now she’s published two novels, seen them on bookstore shelves, even been reviewed in the Wanaka paper. Oh, and the reviewer, who was full of praise for the book, suggested it would make a wonderful TV series.

Moment Three

Almost everyone who takes Writing For Real is an adult. But in our most recent class, at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Valley Library, a pair of young sisters walked in, sat down, and tried to stay hidden from the teacher’s eye. Never works. I prodded them a bit, and they became active —shy but active — class members. Last week I heard from one of the sisters. She wrote,

Hi Jules,
This is Ileana writing to you from San Francisco.
I am presently enrolled in a junior journalism class in my high school; it is an amazing class and I already had a chance to be a reporter/press representative for our school paper couple weeks ago, on the occasion of the 75th Lincoln HS Anniversary!
This English class is demanding, and we have to keep reading books of a variety of themes; for example,our class’s latest assignment is to read and comment on a book of our preference, and since you have free review copies, I wonder if I could read your new e-book TAKE ME HOME.

The housing market here doesn’t show any sign of “normalizing” and because another course of my senior year is Economics, I believe the topic you discuss is going to be totally relevant for both of my classes.
Wish this mail finds Effin and you enjoying your travels. Please keep us posted. I enjoyed the minimovie trail—specially the chubby baby!

Are there more?
So many more. Writing is my great pleasure. Teaching writing is another great pleasure. And moments like these are the height of that pleasure.

— jules


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When you think “eye patch plus wooden leg plus shoulder parrot,” what comes to mind?

You are correct; we’re talkin’ pirate. And this, as you have so cleverly surmised, is the story of a band of pirates — pirates who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Although the whole eye patch + wooden leg + shoulder-parrot thing is as much a stereotype as, say, the jolly fat man or the wicked stepmother, in this case it is an accurate description. P.C. (Pirate Captain) Billy Blythe did indeed possess an eye patch plus a wooden leg plus a colorful-but-bad-tempered parrot on his shoulder.

He’d acquired the patch from trying to figure out where in blazes he was by gazing at the sun through a sextant, one time too many. Slowly but surely, one gaze at a time, the sun had fried his right eyeball.

He’d lost the leg while trying to attack a surprisingly well-defended merchant ship. No sooner had he thrown said leg over the railing than a saber-wielding sailor relieved him of it. The sailor gained an on-the-spot promotion; Captain Billy lost his left limb. Just below the knee.

As for the parrot, Polly (yes, another stereotype, but that indeed was her name) was won playing Pirate Poker, a game in which all the players cheated, and the best armed took home the pot. In this case, the pot held nothing but a green bird with a bad attitude.

As he worked his way up from swab to sailor to able-bodied (this was before the leg incident) seaman to third mate to second mate to first mate to pirate captain, Billy Blythe sailed several of the seven seas.

He put in time in the Caribbean, pillaging and plundering. In the North Atlantic, he attacked merchant ships, though not always, as we’ve seen, with complete success. In the South Pacific, he robbed junks and sampans. And, now, older, somewhat creakier, and past the pinnacle of his career, he planned to raise holy hellfire off the Barbary Coast of San Francisco.

(There is another Barbary Coast, also a favorite among pirates, in North Africa. Strangely, Billy Blythe never made it there, though it was on his bucket list.)

By the way, and for the sake of complete honesty, Captain Billy did not reach the pinnacle of his career entirely through cheerful hard work and a spotless attendance record. He rose to the rank of pirate captain shortly after Captain Bobby, the ship’s previous captain, quite suddenly died in his sleep. No one ever knew for certain who had poisoned him — the ship’s sawbones discovered a rather large amount of strychnine in his potato soup — but there was no doubt that his unexpected demise provided a career opportunity for then-first mate, Billy Blythe. It’s an ill wind, etc., etc.

And speaking of ill winds, in the windswept waters of the Golden Gate, at the entrance to San Francisco Bay and beneath the most beautiful bridge in the world, Captain Billy Blythe now found himself being chased by the United States Coast Guard.


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