A Gentleman’s Sport

Photo by Laura Thomas

Sailing is a gentleman’s sport I heard, yet as the time drew near to board the craft, the fear and trepidation mounted. See, I’m a land lover, and while I like the water, it scares me. Sailing had been something I’ve wanted to do, but the fear griped me nonetheless. I climbed aboard to not only overcome my fears, but to stretch my wings, and go on a new adventure.

 Watching the crew work, to put this elegant sailboat out onto the waters, seeing what it takes to make it possible to sail. The captain directing, the crew work in unison, shifting sails to catch the wind. I know nothing of the happenings and feel a bit out of place, like a fish out of water. The sails are heaved to the heavens, catching the winds, moving the boat across the waters of the lake. For as I learned, sailing is as close to walking on water as you can get.

 The day was warm with a good wind, not hot, nor cold, perfect for a day to sail. The captain gives me the rudder–me a land lover–full control of the direction we take, oh the precision, the sensitivity to my guidance. As I guide, I feel elegance in this contrivance, a sense of calmness comes over me. I relax and as I take in the views, I see that this body of water is surrounded by mountains, and the shore line is dotted with homes.

The Captain always directing his crew on the best position of the sail, catching the optimal amount of wind, the breath of the craft. The crew then works the lines, working in unison to move, shift the sails making the boat heel over, as the captain gives orders for tacking, or jibing. As the wind catches the sails the boat is skimming the surface, flying over the top of the waters with an ease. Moving with the whims of the wind, allowing the sails to pull the boat through the waters A peaceful feeling the wind in my face, as it is brushing across the waters, forming ripples of waves that crash against the boat, almost like the sound of breaking glass in my ears. This is the only sound I hear out on the waters, there’s is stillness to the air, a quiet sound.

Looking up to the top of the mast, I watch the sky being swept with the sails; the clouds seem to be keeping pace with the boat. In this sky, the sun is circled by a rainbow, a sun dog I learned it’s called an omen of change, a sight to take your breath away and keep it.

 The waters heave as the winds move across the top, telling the sailors there is a good wind to catch the sails. Stay away from the smooth surfaces of the waters, for in them there is no wind, I am told. I hear the easy chatter of the people on board, they are relaxed and at ease, with each other and the boat.

 From the other side of the lake, another sail boat appears. A race! Each craft playing a cat and mouse game to see who is going to outwit the other. With strategic movements, fluid in motion, precision at its finest. A gentleman’s sport, for really there is no loser that day, it was all in fun and a bit of competition. Let’s raise the spinnaker sail, a question the captain is all too glad to answer, yes with a gleam and a smile. This sail is similar to a half balloon, come sit under it, a billowing motion, catching the wind to pull the craft. This lifts the craft up even higher out of the waters picking up speed, and a sudden rush of wind and adrenaline come upon me. The captain shouts “We won!” and smiles as his boat, the easy winner, pulls ahead–a victory.

 As we are ending our day, (oh what a day), the captain asked me, “Well what did you think?” I smiled and said “I loved it, I would love to come out on the waters again.” I think that made his day, for he also had a big smile.

A Writer’s Entrance Exam

by Bob Hostetler

Copyright Bob Hostetler (www.bobhostetler.com). Used with the permission of the author. 

Say you wanted to enroll in studies at a respected educational institution—let’s call it Wisenheimer Academy for Clever Kids. You might expect to take an entrance exam to determine your degree of fitness for WACK, right? Just as you would to begin training for ministry, law enforcement, or interplanetary space travel.

Oddly, though, there is no entrance exam for writers. Until now.

That’s right. Thanks to this website, you can, with a modest investment of time and effort, determine your fitness to pursue the writing life. The following questions may reinforce your confidence in writing for publication–or save you much time and trouble by steering you away and into an easier, more rewarding line of work, such as lumberjack or Alaskan crab fisherperson.

Simply answer yes or no to the following questions, and calculate the results when you’re done:

Simply answer yes or no to the following questions, and calculate the results when you’re done:

  1. Do you love words? Sentences? Paragraphs?
  2. Do you have a favorite punctuation mark?
  3. Do you drink too much coffee? Or tea? Or wine?
  4. Are you constantly feeling assaulted by spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in magazines, newspapers, billboards, cereal boxes, and protest signs?
  5. Do you talk back to the television or movie screen to complain about poor characterization, unrealistic dialogue, and plot holes?
  6. Do you sometimes imagine story lines for strangers you see in stores, on the street, or on planes?
  7. Do you sometimes think, in the midst of a great or terrible experience, “I can use this?”
  8. Do you feel a rush when you enter a bookstore or office supply store?
  9. Do you critique birthday, Christmas, and anniversary cards you receive, thinking, I could’ve written a better greeting than that?
  10. Do you lose track of time when you’re on a writing tear?
  11. Does your Amazon delivery driver know your name?
  12. Does a word or idea often keep you awake—or wake you—at night?
  13. Have you cried because of something a character in your story did?
  14. Have you ever used toilet paper or a cash-register receipt as a bookmark?
  15. When you’re writing, do you alternate between “This is the best thing anyone’s ever written” and “This is the worst thing anyone’s ever written?”
  16. Have you ever named a pet after a character in literature?
  17. Have you ever named a child after a character in literature?
  18. Do family members refuse to play with you in Scrabble?
  19. Do you resent your parents for giving you a happy childhood?
  20. Have you ever used laundry, dirty dishes, or alphabetizing your canned goods as a distraction from writing?

Now, total your “yes” answers. How did you do?

5 or less = What kind of monster are you?

6-10 = You’re a writer.

11-15 = You should be in therapy.

16-20 = Forget therapy; it’s too late for you.

The post, A Writer’s Entrance Exam first appeared on:

The Steve Laube Agency
24 W. Camelback Rd. A-635,
Phoenix, AZ 85013 United States

Thank you to Carol Buchanan for sharing this and getting Mr. Hostetler’s permission to pass it on.

April Book News


An audio version of my non-fiction Shhhh! It’s a Secret: How to Compete with Walmart and the Internet was just released.

I used a professional reader from Findaway, now bought out by Spotify, and it’s on Amazon.

The experience was almost painless. If you have the time, the right equipment and diction as professional sounding as Susan Purvis, doing your own recording is a great idea. For the rest of us, it is great to learn professional readers are an internet click away.


By Janice McCaffrey AKA Madge Wood

Where does inspiration come from? Sometimes from life experiences.

Marseille, France

Janice McCaffrey Goodison with daughter Bonnie, Marseille

Excerpt from Plans Interrupted by Madge Wood

May 4, 2016

After the scheduled light lunch our tourist itineraries said, ‘free time.’ That meant being on our own, to do some local shopping and refresh our classroom French.

I’ve spent most of my adult life going along, mostly with my husband, and since his death, with my son. But on this my first trip abroad and my first trip anywhere alone, I’d promised myself that I’d regain the confidence I had as a girl. This day would mark my first step. So, casting restrictive diets to the wind, I made my way to the ice cream shop I’d read about in the hotel information brochure.

I ordered one scoop of the berry-red framboise sorbet. The clerk answered my ‘merci beaucoup’ with a pleasant laugh and head nod. My attempts at his language pleased him. The sorbet, cold, creamy and delicious on my tongue, pleased me. My ‘C’est Magnifique’ received an even broader smile and several nods. I promised myself I’d find my way back here for sure.

I wandered the narrow streets climbing up and down sidewalks some so steep they had steps. It didn’t take long to realize that Old Europe’s terrain necessitated their construction. Most ancient structures have many levels with, of course, no elevators. I counted each step, up and down, for fun, but also to distract my brain from the discomfort of ever-tightening calf muscles. I hoped I’d be able to walk the next day.

According to the guidebook Fort Saint Jean had been built at the entrance to Marseille’s port in sixteen-sixty by Louis XIV, but unlike most, this citadel’s original cannons pointed inward as a warning to the residents. Rumors had circulated about townspeople planning an uprising against the governor.

As I strolled along its rampart’s seagulls screeched overhead. The fort’s worn terra cotta bricks radiated the heat of the afternoon sun. The view from the promenade included the city’s skyline, the port, and the glistening sea.

The warmth of the early May sun caressed my face. I breathed in the cloudless azure sky wanting it to fuse with my soul. Another American tourist checked his Smartphone and announced that the current temperature read sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit. Marseille’s sixty-four degrees touched my skin much gentler than any sixty-four degrees I’d experienced back home.

A light breeze off the Mediterranean Sea teased what my mother had called my dishwater-blond hair. I wondered what she’d tag it with its gray streaks. I tried long tresses in my youth, but my fine hair always hung limp and stringy. At my age a one-length bob suited not only my hair texture, but my lifestyle as well.

Sigh. Alone in this romantic setting, I could pretend to be young and adventurous, as long as I avoided my reflection in shop windows.

The Power of Gifts

by Fran Tabor

We are inundated with occasions to give gifts, from religious holidays to social milestones to be celebrated. It seems we are inundated with excuses to go shopping for things to give; things too soon forgotten. Can gifts make a difference?

Yes, sometimes a gift can change the world.

A popular gift for several centuries has been a diary. Even in today’s electronic age, diaries remain a popular gift.

Diaries figure prominently in movies and are often a source of instant humor when the “bratty younger brother” sneaks forbidden peaks at his older sister’s romantic imaginings. Diaries have given us insights into history not possible through other sources. James Boswell’s Diary of London Life is a famous example.

Nearly a century ago, a diary was given to a very ordinary girl on the verge of womanhood – a girl who wondered if she were pretty enough to be a movie star, who wondered about the people around her, her nascent romantic musings. All this and more she shared with her special friend the diary.

She never lived to womanhood, but her diary became a part of the lives of many millions who took her words into their own journey from childhood to adulthood. The gift her family gave her, the gift of a diary, gave us the gift of understanding.

Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy. A million dead is a statistic.” Anne Frank’s diary turned the statistic of millions murdered into the single death of a very ordinary girl – a girl who could have been anyone’s treasured daughter, sister, neighbor…

Her diary was, is, a gift to the world.