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With seductive prowess, she twirled in a backward arch position around the glimmering brass pole, two feet above the stage. The tips of her brown-chestnut hair swept the clover leaf shaped floor. Her double hip strap thong and scant sequined top reflected a kaleidoscope of colors illuminating the upscale Gentleman’s Club. The song, Paradise City was too tame for, Eden.

Upon completion of seductive spins, cradles, and various leg splitting maneuvers, Eden crept like a predator sneaking up on its prey to the edge of the stage. Elbow to elbow, impatient libidinous men and women waited to slip bills strategically through her thong straps.

Several minutes later, she had worked the perimeter of the stage. A voice announced over the loudspeakers like introducing pugilists ready to battle. “Let’s hear it for San Francisco’s most sexiest exotic lady, Amaaannndaaaa.”

Hoots, hollers, and ear-splitting applause ensued. Cigar-toking testosterone from blue velvet sofa chairs rose to their feet, shoving lap dancers aside. “More! More!”

An explosion stifled the applause followed by the thunderous roar of a Harley Davidson. Two dancers strutted from a billowing vapor as, Mötley Crüe’s, Girls, Girls, Girls began to rock the Club.

Backstage in the dressing room, a pungent odor of perfume and estrogen lingered in the air like a fog bank. Young women crowded around racks choosing skimpy sequined garments, while others were seated at brightly lit vanities, applying foot-long eyelashes over jet black mascara. “Eden, Samantha wants to see you in her office before you leave,” one of the girls shouted from across the room.

A heavy mist of gardenia spray settled on Eden’s face, Samantha’s failed attempt to conceal the stale odor of  cigarettes and alcohol. Dressed in a pair of basketball pants and sweatshirt, Eden took a seat opposite her in front of the wooden desk that took up a third of the office space. “Everything, okay Sam?”

Once a showgirl, the attractive forty-five-year-old Samantha maintained her youthful energy by doing choreography for her Club performers. She concealed the deep lines etched around her eyes by a generous application of cosmetics. A strip of raven-colored hair divided the platinum blonde hair that fell well below her shoulders.

Samantha hesitated before answering with a brittle voice. “Eden, you’re a bright beautiful young woman with a lot of potential, more than this place cold ever offer you.”

Eden recognized a prelude to bad news.

“During the past three years, you’ve earned the respect of everyone here, not to mention the customers who love you to death. You’ve more than proved…”

“Sam, I appreciate the accolades, but it sounds like you’re firing me. Did I do something wrong?”

Ice cubes clanged against a glass permeating the odor of Scotch. “Eden, if I had ten more girls like you I wouldn’t be trying to work up the courage to tell you what I’m about to say.”

“You are firing me. What did I do? I promise I’ll…”

“I’m losing the club, Eden.” Sam’s voice trailed into a whisper.

The Gentleman’s Club had been Eden’s last resort. When no one else would give her a chance, it was Samantha who had noticed her potential.

“How can that be? Don’t we always have a full house?” Eden wondered if Samantha might have had something else on the side. Something that had been draining profits. Again, ice cubes shook the glass. “Between balloon payments coming due and the increase in the lease, I’m afraid there’s no way I can keep this place operating. You make more money than all the girls here and as much as I pay them, I’ve been operating on a thread.”

“What about the bank, can’t they help?”

“Who do you think I owe the balloon payments to?” Her voice wobbled on the edge of sobbing. “This Club is all I have, Eden. I don’t know what I’ll do without it.”

Samantha told her it would take three-hundred-thousand dollars to pay the bills and keep the club afloat for a few months. Eden thought about her eye surgery. Her doctor had told her it wasn’t a guaranteed procedure and to expect the worse. Either way, what am I going to do? she thought.

Just then, a young woman peeked her head through the door. “Sam, there’s someone out here who says it’s urgent they talk to you.”

Samantha waved her hand and muttered, “Tell ‘em to go away and make an appointment.”

Eden had grown to love the Club. Since mastering the pole, it had been her escape into a world of euphoric solace. She’d transcend into a zone of bliss, muting the cheers and innuendos of the sexually immodest audience. Loud cheers and large tips were validation of her desirability. The Club had been her only means of self-worth.

Eden rose and bid Sam farewell. Before turning the doorknob, she turned to Sam. “Remember, if there’s anything I can do, or you just need a shoulder, you know where to find me.”

When Eden cracked the door open, someone nudged her aside rocking her off balance and nearly falling. “Excuse me?” Eden said in a sarcastic tone as the door slammed closed.

In the dressing room, dancers wished Eden good luck on her operation while donning an overcoat and unfolding her cane. “Are ya sure you want your eyes, sweetie?” someone blurted from across the room. “The world can be a scary place, ya know.”

Eden thought a moment as she cracked the rusted metal door open. “At least I’ll be the judge of what I see.”

She stepped out into the chill of the dark alley. Just before the door latched closed, high-pitched yelling came from the other side of the door. Eden wondered if the sudden burst of shivers were from the cold air, or the sound of Samantha’s voice.

Her mother’s accusations sliced through her misery like a surgeon’s blade. She leaped down the last two steps of the staircase listening to the charges behind her, “You killed him! You killed him!”

There were no streamers wrapped around the rails of the banister, or balloons scattering when she whisked through the foyer. There was no evidence of wadded gift paper, bows, or ribbon. There weren’t sixteen candles with icing licked dry from the ends, not even a Happy Birthday banner with her name, Eden, scrawled across.

She grabbed car keys from the entry table and tugged the vault heavy door with both hands. Needles of chills stabbed through her thin cotton shorts and t-shirt when she flew onto the porch of the brownstone into the rain-washed San Franciscan evening.

Fear whistled through her veins as she stumbled onto the narrow brick path. Eden’s emotional state stung worse that the scrapes on her knees. With unforgiving determination, she sprung to her feet and whipped open the squeaky iron gate. The shrill of her mother’s persistent cries neared, “You killed him! You killed him!”

Eden sprinted around her father’s restored Corvette parked alongside the curb. She glanced across the street and noticed the silhouette of a hooded person and canvas covered shopping cart under a dim lit lamp post. It was the same man who for years had peered up at her through her third story bedroom window.

“Come back here you demon!” her mother screamed.

Eden brushed the wet strands of hair off her face and climbed into the car. Her mother stood in the glow of the doorway, screaming and waving gestures. The Corvette ignited into life. Before rocketing into the night, she took one last glance at the man under the lamppost. She hoped to feel one last ray of hope from him as she had had on many occasions before. But there was nothing.

She white knuckled the steering wheel, putting her weight on the gas pedal. Rubber spun through the water until gripping the asphalt and sling-shooting into action. Standing in the middle of the street through the rearview mirror, her mother’s fiery red hair and scorching words drowned in the faded distance. “You killed him! You killed…!”

The Corvette whipped and weaved down the neighborhood street, nearly colliding with parked cars along the curb. She haggled with the steering wheel while searching for the elusive windshield wiper knob. The rapid movement of the speedometer diverted her attention. Forty…fifty…sixty.

Had years of abuse driven her to kill her father? I couldn’t have done it, she thought. She tried recalling the event, but everything was a blur. “Slow down,” a calm voice whispered. She cranked her head to the empty passenger seat. The familiar disembodied voice warned again, “Slow down, Eden.”

Ridden with terror, she yelled. “Who’s there? Who is that?” She swept spilled hair from her tearstained face as sheets of water distorted her vision through the windshield.

The floorboard shuddered from the watery beating from beneath the car. Water lapped the sides of the Corvette. It had been transformed into a mythical menacing creature cutting through the sky with its wings spread wide.

Attempting to focus, she perched her chin over the top of the steering wheel. Up ahead, an obscure red traffic light grew larger as she neared. She thought about her little sister. Why did I leave her there? She thrust her weight into the brake pedal and cranked the wheel. I’m coming Sissy, she yelled.

The three-hundred and seventy horse powered Corvette spun like an out of control twister in Kansas. Revolution after revolution. A period of darkness, then the red light. Black. Red. Black. Red.

She turned the wheel as far as it would go, but the car proved relentless as it hydroplaned over the tsunami of water and into the intersection. There was nothing Eden could do when she heard the steady blast of a horn coming from an uncertain direction. Two beams of light cascaded toward her. The visual spectacle of red, black, white added to her spectacle making her nauseous.

Like the slow motion of her sixteen years, so was the impact of the two cars. Eden’s face dissolved into a contorted grimace when she heard the crunching and twisting of metal. Her head jerked forward as she was catapulted from her seat. Like a rag doll, her body flew over the steering wheel, crashing through the windshield. Dime-sized shards of glass cut through her young tender skin as her body knifed through the torrential rain storm.

There were no flashes of memories racing through her mind. There wasn’t a bright light shining down to lift and carry her away. The only object she noticed was the red traffic light staring down at her as she soared through the air.

Three Full Moons

Three Full Moons: “A 5 minute screenplay”

 

I recently wrote an article on China’s morals which, needless to say, was quite “edgy.” The senior editor of the English magazine I wrote it for, requested I soften it up a bit. I rewrote the entire article from a foreigner’s point of view. Hope you enjoy it.

For most foreigners, arriving in China for the first time is nothing less than an adrenaline rush. Culture shock skips gears and settles into high as our curiosity works overtime. Wherever we go, whatever we see, we witness something new: people trampling over one another to get through a line; construction sites where only women carry heavy materials up flights of stairs; families boarding small motor scooters, and perhaps cuddling a newborn. Our impressions are faced with a new reality – things we’ve only seen in a film, or have read about. We are in the midst of a new world order, behind the great wall of China.

 

Foreigners visit China for various reasons and length of times. Our preparation consists of obtaining our visa, researching cities, tourist sites, cost of living, jobs, and wishing farewell to our friends and loved ones. We visualize obstacles, and how we’re going to cope with the communication gap. Trading the comfort zone of our home country isn’t an easy decision, but we convince ourselves, “Hey, what the heck, it’ll be a new adventure.”

 

Most foreigners I’ve come into contact with planned on staying for only a short term. Most of those foreigners decided to remain here… indefinitely. What changed their minds? Was it the exquisite cuisine? Was it the discovery of 101 uses of toilet tissue? Was it the challenge of dodging taxis? Or was it the people and their culture? Whatever the reason, it’s apparent China has the magnetic capability of keeping a person here.

 

For some of us, it’s an introduction to what freedom is all about. I know where I’m from, every step made is accompanied by a look over the shoulder to see if there’s a waiting policeman ready to pounce on the most petty of actions, especially when it’s nearing the end of the month when their quotas have to be met. In most parts of China, people pretty much do what they want, without fearing consequences. As a foreigner, this is a new revelation.

 

China revels in thousands of years of traditions and customs. In some parts of China, the standards of moral behavior remain in less educated ancient times. Foreigners who witness some aspect of immoral behavior may be shocked at first, but as time elapses, our shock turns into simple acknowledgment – not giving it a second thought. For some of us, I don’t think we’ll learn to approve immoral behavior, but we do need to learn to live with it if we are to remain in China.

 

Confucius visualized a utopian society exhibiting great harmony, made up with rational individuals displaying the values of etiquette and benevolence as its nation’s moral benchmarks. His theory extended to society acting in a manner acceptable to the norm. I don’t think we should forget our morals, but we should respect the existing levels of morals which are “acceptable to the norm.” To borrow a cliche’, it’s just something we must agree to disagree with.

 

Most people in China agree that China lacks the morals and manners of western civilizations. Several students and high positioned authorities in China were asked their opinions for their country’s lack of morals. Their answers were unanimous, lack of education. An intuitive fourteen-year-old student from Dongguan, Harry Ylin Liu, believes that morals should be taught in school, and enforced at home. Perhaps a required reading of Emily Post is necessary? Whatever direction taken, I agree with Harry that education is important to fuel acceptable behavior, especially if a student plans on attending a university abroad.

 

In extreme cases, when lack of morals become life threatening to another, some people believe it’s time for legislature to intercede with appropriate laws. In a recent catastrophic event, people stood by and witnessed a hit and run accident, and did nothing. Chinese legislature is now considering a law similar to America, referred to as, “The Good Samaritan Law.” Nie Lize, an associate professor at Sun Yat-sen University, is in favor, “It is necessary to legislate because the morals of Chinese people are getting lower.”

 

Most of us foreigners were raised being taught proper manners and morals. We have been taught to be polite and benevolent towards others. Our moral standards are at a high level, knowing the difference between right and wrong, not because it was the law, but because it was instilled in us and an early age – manners that assured us we wouldn’t disrespect or offend others, and necessary if we were to succeed in life. Our moral upbringing and manner bearing behavior became instinctive habits – never having to give them a second thought. China makes us review what we’ve learned, and discover examples why we were taught them.

 

Everyday is a sightseeing day for foreigners. We discover new places that have always existed just around the corner; we meet new people wherever we go; and we’re always soaking in new knowledge, or a new Chinese word. Venturing out of our protective caves we call home, we often witness some kind of moral faux pas taking place on the streets. We’re almost tempted to whip out our camera phones and take a snapshot, but we were raised to respect other peoples customs. Besides, chances are we’ll see the behavior again sometime.

 

One of the things that appeals to many foreigners is the fact they are never judged or ridiculed for their behavior or looks – a newfound freedom to be who they are. China is an opportunity to express ourselves in ways that perhaps were not acceptable, for one reason or another, in our home country. Being a foreigner in most parts of China must be how celebrities feel, always the center of attention. That being said, I believe we have a certain standard to uphold, to set an example with our behavior. What’s defined as acceptable morals in one country, may not be considered acceptable in another. As we are not judged, so shall we not judge others. Sound familiar?

 

Enamored by the way of Chinese life, many foreigners want to “fit in” with the populous. In America we have a TV show called, “Girls Gone Wild,” which could easily be translated to, “Foreigners Gone Wild.” There is no shortage of nightclubs, parks, bars, and other foreigner frequented fares. During the day, we’re respectable and knowledgable, teachers or business people; at night, our inner demons are released and encouraged to come out and play. Every night in China is a Saturday night, and a foreigner is never alone. We toss immoral behavior aside, and blend in with the others. Gotta love China!

 

On the other hand, there are some foreigners who believe it is their responsibility to act as saviors, and preach the importance of morals. They use their positions as soap boxes to grandstand their righteous beliefs. As tempting and commendable their intentions, they border on displaying a superiority complex, which Chinese people have a tact for recognizing. Unless a foreigner’s job specifically designates, humanitarian efforts are highly recommended to be shelved until such time they are requested.

 

I first arrived in China at the tail end of the coldest winter in thirty years. My first stroll down a street was more of an exploration, acquainting myself with my immediate surroundings. Although my new home was a far cry from even a three-star neighborhood, I was surprised to see how many doctors lived in my area. There were more people than not, donning surgical masks. Pretty strange, especially since there was no hospital nearby. I soon found out that they were worn to help prevent the spreading of ones germs. That’s something I’d never see in my country. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a foreigner in China wearing a surgical mask. Maybe there’s something we can learn from this? I’m sure if we probe further, there are many explanations that would reveal the logic as to why certain behaviors are acceptable. Allow me to digress, although I’ve been explained the reason for painfully pinching oneself to take the place of over the counter medicine, I still have a difficult time trusting its effectiveness.

 

For some foreigners, China is a giant playground full of freedoms we couldn’t enjoy in our home country. As time goes on, and people continue to be more educated, and legislature enacts laws, the emerging superpower of China will eventually raise the bar on its moral standards. For now, we go with the flow, and be careful not to chip away at the great wall of China.


Scrivener Writing Program

If you’re anything like me, I’ve downloaded and tried almost every available writing software program available in hopes of finding something that suits my specific writing needs. Being a faithful Microsoft Word user my entire life, I never realized how competitive the writing software industry was. I mean, there’s even software that claim to write the story for you. What’s that all about?

While visiting one of my screenwriting forums, I stumbled upon several people mentioning how good Scrivener was. I decided to search it, and found it was perfect for what I needed. Scrivener is an organizational writing tool, for Windows and Macs, focusing on non-linear writing, developed by the folks at Literature and Latte’. It is geared for any kind of writing, from screenplays, short stories, novels, or school projects.

What attracted me to Scrivener was that it doesn’t impose a specific structure. You maintain the ability to customize it any way you choose.

All files are easily subdivided into sub-folders for partitioning off Parts, Acts, Chapters, and Scenes, for working on each individually. After completing, you can compile them into one document for easy viewing.

Another great feature I like to use is the split screen and snapshot feature, horizontal or vertical, which allows for revisions or taking notes from my research folder in the binder.

Scrivener was designed by writers, for writers. Although there are many templates to choose from (or you can design and save your own), Scrivener won’t ask you about birth dates, personality quirks, color of hair, height, favorite food, or what side of the bed is slept on. You’re the writer, so outline and write. Oh yea, it does have an outlining feature as well.

If you need to access an on line dictionary or thesaurus, you can easily access it directly from Scrivener. One of the best features I like, is never having to leave Scrivener to search for files or research. It’s all there in one program with the touch of a finger.

If you choose, you can complete the location and character descriptions, as well as download photos of them. Like most programs, there is a learning curve. It took me about two hours to learn everything I needed, but it’s actually ready to go the minute you install it. To be honest, I only use it for what I need, but the capabilities are endless.

Other features include target word counts, and the capability to keep you on track daily, according to the days you write and total word count estimation. When I come across an idea I need for better organization, I simply type it in the help box, and sure enough, there it is.

The spell check feature is nice. You can set it so it suggests misspelled words for you, and even correct them as you type.

Scrivener provides various templates to choose from, but all can be customized in the fashion you prefer; imposing no unwanted structures. The binder and other screens are collapsible for undistracted writing. There’s even a research file to help create character profiles, location profiles, and the ability to upload photos.

If you’re a self motivated writer just looking for a program that suits your specific needs, then I urge you to download the demo which as a more than generous time period. The price for the Windows program is $40, and the Mac program sells for $45. Both prices are extremely low for what you get, and compared to other programs.

As far as support goes, they lead the pack. Depending on which part of the world you’re in, the response time is much quicker than other programs. You can also search the internet for tips and tricks from other users to get ideas how others use Scrivener.

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. I do not work for Literature and Latte’, nor am I being paid to write this. I’m just trying to help out fellow writers.

Author: Ken Kuhlken

Writing and the Spirit is an inspirational book that helps combine the joys of writing with the love for Christ. The abundance of thought provoking material on attitudes, habits and practices are not only inspirational, but helps a writer gain perspective of the spirit as she performs her craft.

Reading about the Holy Spirit, and at the same time being told to relish the uniqueness in even the most sinister of antagonists was quite the paradox. We are quickly directed to what The Old Testament tells us, that beauty resides in all things. A dark and sinister character should be developed in such a way that reminds us to avoid passing judgement on them. Like Dostoyevski, we should strive to truly know and love all our characters. Everyone has a background and uniqueness, and their motives and quirks should be presented in such a way that reminds us to avoid passing judgement on them. Emulate Dostoyevski’s dramatic structure where every scene has a character suffering a setback, reversal, or disaster.

To better express our uniqueness as a writer, and allow ourselves to be open to the spirit that moves us, we should abide by 1 Corinthians 2:16 which tells us, “But we have the mind of Christ.” We should minimize the cliche’s of sentimentality, propagandizing, and pornography, and accept the capabilities Christ gave us to tune in and accept his divine hope. We must realized what Joseph Campbell suggests, that following our bliss and promises without fear, doors that we didn’t know existed will open for us.

If our hearts are open to the spirit, it will deliver us with wisdom, but it is our job to deliver that wisdom. Making writing our top priority, the spirit will seek out those who can help and guide us, Blessing those who have helped guide us. We must allow the spirit to drive us, filling our hearts with the qualities of Christ.

Raymond Carver suggests we write every day without anxiety or ambition, which only takes away from our imagination and the spirit that moves us. Writing requires peace of mind, leaving our thoughts of ambition outside the door from which we write. We need to listen to Alan Ginsberg who suggests, we loosen our minds and accept contradictions without aggressively grasping for answers. Trusting in the magic of chance is accepting the generosity of the spirit that moves us. Nothing drives our attitudes, habits and challenges more than the opportunity to write in peace.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” We mustn’t fear our writing or the results it produces, but write for the love of writing.

We must write like journalists, focusing on painting pictures with words, and clarifying the obscure and simplifying the complex. We must incorporate brevity, taking out every paragraph, sentence and word that does not propel the story forward. While adhering to the rules of writing, it is for our betterment that we realize the reason for the rules.

It was obvious the author was a Dostoyevski fan, as the ending of the book was more of a summary of The Brothers Karamazov, which was difficult to tie in with the major content of the book.

Although a short book, just under seventy pages, it is is not meant to be fast read. There are too many passages that leave one to stop and ponder about ones own perceptions of writing and the Holy Spirit. For me, it was a reminder of how important revision is. Like a story continuously being rewritten and revised, so shall we do with our lives, allowing the spirit to exhibit truth and honesty so we can love, write, and become more of a person in the eyes of Christ.

Writing and the Spirit is a good read, and I recommend it for Christians and people of any Faith.

Elements of Style

I became familiar with Elements of Style in my journalism class while attending Perelandra College. Since then, it has remained as my “go to” guide when I have a question about English grammar.

Elements of Style was originally written in 1918 by William Strunk Jr., as a textbook for his Cornell English class. Resembling more of a condensed reference book than textbook, Elements of Style touches on the most common mistakes found in writing including: basic grammar rules; punctuation usage; principles of composition; matters of form; and even the most commonly misspelled words. Nearly all explanations are rife with examples. Listed below are ten rules from Elements of Style that I try and apply; improving myself as a writer.

1. Determining apostrophe usage with possessive singular nouns.

2. Omitting needless words; making my writing tighter with more clarity. For example, avoiding “who is,” and “which was,” and other superfluous words that can are deemed verbal camouflage.

3. Maintaining one tense throughout.

4. Distinguishing between the usage of comma’s, colon’s, and semi-colons. For example: enclosing parenthetic expressions between commas (if the sentence can stand on its own without the parenthetic expression then commas are necessary); and replacing a comma with a semi-colon when joining two or more independent clauses.

5. One piece of dialog is a single paragraph, even if its one word. Often times I see: “Let’s go Jim,” said Joe, then continued, “we’re going to be late.” This type of sentence breaks the rule. Is this correct?

6. The active voice is more direct and vigorous than the passive voice.

7. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, and non-committal language. Use words that are more concise and positive.

8. Shorter sentences are preferred over longer sentences.

9. If it is obvious who is speaking, there is no reason to say, “he said,” after the dialog.

10. Most of the words and expressions. For example: all right; whether; certainly; and fewer instead of less.

Elements of Style continues to endure its reputation as the premier handbook for English language usage today. As long as I write, Elements of Style will be by my side.

American Chinese New Year

There’s two types of people that come to mind, when I think of American’s making New Years resolutions: those who reflect on the previous year, and carefully plot out their new year; and those who reflect from their head inside a toilet bowl, screaming out resolutions the morning after, “Never again!” It would be remiss if I didn’t reluctantly admit to experiencing the latter on a few occasions. We’ll save those details for another time.

Resolutions are basically goals we promise ourselves for the new year. The most popular resolutions are: losing weight; quiting drinking; and quiting smoking. If you’re overweight and a smoker, it’ll be like making a pineapple upside down cake without the pineapple. Then there’s many people who refuse to adhere to the harshness of resolutions, but it’s probably a result of never following through with their resolutions in the past. In my case, I just prefer not to be a conformist.

In addition to making resolutions, it’s also time for celebration. Recognized as the world’s melting pot, America experiences all different kinds of ways to bring in the New Year. Some treat it as a religious event; some spend it with family; some enjoy social gatherings with friends or strangers; and many just prefer to share a romantic encounter with someone they love… or plan on loving. No matter what the preference, everyone celebrates New Years.

If you prefer to avoid crowds and traffic, you might want to consider bringing those things into the comfort of your own home. Practically every station on TV broadcasts parties and concerts from around the globe, providing vicarious enjoyment of New Years celebrations. If watching others have all the fun is too depressing, there are always marathon TV series and movies to. The most popular New Years Eve televised event, is watching the glowing ball descend in Times Square, in New York. Thousands of people from around the world gather on this typical frost bitten evening to watch this six ton lighted ball drop, signifying another year passed, and another year beginning. It’s a street party rife with concerts and interviews of celebrities publicly announcing their resolutions for the world to witness.

If you’re a hopeless member of the lonely hearts club, for a small fee, you can venture out and join parties held by local restaurants, clubs and organizations. Whichever venue you decide on, be prepared to experience a typical New Years party decorated room: multicolored streamers; banners; balloons; party hats; noisemakers and confetti which make up the dress of a typical American New Years Party. For American’s, the stroke of midnight is immediately followed by the customary kiss; sealing your luck for the new year. I recommend arriving early to give yourself time to troll for a willing participant.

I’ve enjoyed every New Years while living in California, but the one New Year I’ll never forget was in 2009, in Huizhou City, Guangdong Province. My English sidekick and I were bi-weekly “regulars” at Shui Li Fang, a small nightclub with a large personality. We were on a first name basis with the manager and staff, who invited us to celebrate their annual New Years Eve party. The club was decked out in typical New Years decor and full of dance, song and music. The evening included stage dancing with the beautiful, (and risque) staff dancers; parade dancing around the interior perimeter; and everyone singing to classic English songs. We accepted invitations to nearly all tables for an overabundance of friendly “gan bei” (cheers) sessions, and exchanged greetings of “xin nian kuai le” (happy new years). All this propelled us into the early morning hours. As the last noisemake blew, the last bit of confetti fell, and the last person was seen standing, my sidekick, Peter, and I stumbled out to a waiting taxi and headed for home. Yes, that was a year for making resolutions from the inside of an echoing toilet bowl.

No matter what you do or who your doing it with, I hope all your dreams and wishes come true in 2012.

On Writing Well

 A sacred testament to writers of all forms and abilities, William Zinsser’s, On Writing Well, continues to thrive today as it has since its first publication in 1976. Though Zinsser emphasizes writing tools and techniques for writers of nonfiction, fiction writers reap substantial benefits as well. Just over three hundred pages, the adrenaline rush of information kept me reading from cover to cover, completing highlights and notes, in less time than it takes to cook a twenty pound turkey.

Zinsser informs us that a writer needs to treat his craft like he would any job; setting a schedule and sticking to it, even when he doesn’t feel like it. No excuse for calling in sick when you’re a writer. Like any job, a writer needs his tools by his side; a good dictionary, thesaurus, and E.B. White’s, Elements of Style.

Similar to a writer of nonfiction, a fiction writer needs to recognize the difference between clutter, or “verbal camouflage,” as Zinsser refers to it. He expresses the importance of word choice, distinguishing between nouns, active verbs, adjectives, and those poisonous adverbs. In addition, all writers need to have a command for punctuation, which he briefly reviews.

While On Writing Well, is geared for the creative nonfiction writer, Zinsser dedicates several chapters to stressing the gravity of structure in ways from which a fiction writer can surely benefit. He also points out that a good writer of any genre needs to maintain unity of POV, tense and mood, propelling the reader through comfortable paragraph lengths towards a surprise ending. He reminds us that, “the essence of writing is rewriting.”

On Writing Well is rife with examples all writers should heed. As Zinsser quotes: “You will write only as well as you make yourself write.”

I’mpossible!

Synopsis
 I’mpossible! is a compilation of qualities that most successful people share in common. Everyone already has these qualities, but either subconsciously do not realize it, or refuses to acknowledge them. Yes, it is possible to fear success. This is what separates those who are more successful than those who are not.
Success is subjective. Each person must develop their own definition of success, then work towards achieving that success. This book is designed as a tool to help you overcome negative barriers, and maintain a steady propulsion towards your goals. Although originally written for Chinese readers of intermediate English ability, and published in China, it applies to everyone, anywhere.
This book teaches, that success knows no restrictions. Anyone can easily develop those qualities which will enable them to perform at their optimum, in any field of work, or in their daily lives. Qualities such as: goal setting; developing self-discipline; positive self talk; recognizing opportunities; Law of Attraction; Flying with Eagles;  and visualization, are just some of the qualities that are necessary to efficiently propel any person to new heights of success. Throughout the book, there are numerous exercises and useful techniques that are highly recommended.

I’mpossible! is an inspirational tool teaches how to replace negativity with positive thoughts, clearing the way to accept only the good in our lives.

 

Achieve the happiness of success! Repeat to yourself, “I’mpossible! I’mpossible! I’mpossible! Available in Chinese later this year.

 

“Why are some people more successful than others?”