Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

A Tribute to My 18th Cousin, Princess Diana

Princess Diana in pink silk suit

This photo of Princess Diana contains a flaw in the fabric of her jacket. My daughter and I haven’t decided yet whether it’s a food stain or an irregularity in the silk.  But, whatever it is, it represents a woman who was flawed herself — and all too human.

When she was six years old, Diana’s mother left the 8th Earl Spencer for another man. This scandal devastated Diana, scarring her for life. She felt abandoned, unloved, insecure, and alone. She tormented her nannies and mothered her younger brother, Charles. When her father re-married, Diana and her brother punished their new stepmother in every possible way.

Who knew that such a shy and gawky girl would one day marry Prince Charming? Diana always reported that she would grow up to do great things. She would not live an ordinary life. She knew instinctively that she would never become Queen of England. And, not long before her tragic death, she predicted that she would die in an auto accident.

Her life was brief. She was only 36 years old when she died. But she lived a full and remarkable life, in spite of her struggle with bulimia, her inability to find true love, and her deep-seated emotional problems.

The shy, gawky adolescent blossomed into a beautiful, regal, and charismatic woman. Always in competition with her husband’s long-time mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, she played out her revenge by becoming a great success in her own right.

Fashion icon. Humanitarian. Mother of the future King of England. One of the beautiful people — the rich and famous. Glamorous and charming. A world celebrity. Unofficial ambassador for Great Britain. Princess of Wales.

Diana had it all. But her position and wealth could not assuage her feelings of loneliness and betrayal. Diana was, after all, an incurable romantic who devoured episodes of the popular British TV show, “Coronation Street,” and the numerous romance novels penned by her step-grandmother, Barbara Cartland.

The fairy-tale wedding of Charles and Diana, viewed by billions of people around the world, morphed into a Grimm Brothers nightmare. And when reality set in, Diana discovered that Prince Charming wasn’t so charming, after all.

Sleep well, Sweet Princess, on your lovely garden isle. Dream long and deep. We salute your bravery and love you still.

August 29, 2017

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death (August 31st) and the victims of Hurricane Harvey, please make a generous donation to the American Red Cross:

http://www.redcross.org

Thank you!

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Rainbows: A Sweet Vignette

Water_DROP_colored_rainbow

 

Dedicated to my Husband and Daughter

It was early in the morning, and a young woman and her husband were driving to the train station. Temporarily, at least, the rain had stopped. The air was pleasantly fresh and clear, though oh! so cold, and here and there a patch of blue showed through the thick November clouds. Pale sunlight shone thinly against the grey morning dampness, brightening just a little the depressing aspect of the city.

“Oh look, a rainbow!” the young woman cried, pointing out the window.

Her husband, who was driving, looked up into the distant sky. Sure enough, half of a large rainbow emerged from a thick grey cloud.

The woman’s face beamed with happiness. “Isn’t that lovely?” she said. “It makes the whole morning beautiful.”

As they drove down the muddy narrow road which ran alongside the railroad tracks, the rainbow seemed to grow more distinct. Soon they could see each end of the rainbow, though the middle was still hidden by clouds.

“Now you can see both ends,” the woman cried eagerly.

“See where it goes,” her husband said. “Maybe I can find my pot of gold.”

The woman searched the sky, trying to determine beginning and end.

“It seems to stretch between the hills over there” — (she pointed left) — “and downtown over there” — (she pointed right.)

“Where does that story come from, anyways?” her husband asked.

“The Irish, I think. You know, leprechauns and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

“Yeah,” said her husband, a greedy grin on his youthful face. “I’d like to find a pot of gold at the end of it.”

The young woman frowned. “Oh, Jim, that’s all you care about is money. Can’t you think of anything else?”

“Not when we don’t have any,” he answered.

The woman said nothing more, and they drove along in silence until they arrived at the station. But when Jim was helping her out of the car, she suddenly noticed the other rainbow.

“Now look,” she said triumphantly, pointing at the sky. “There are two rainbows!”

Above the first rainbow, which was growing brighter by the minute, half of a second rainbow could be seen. 

“That’s unusual to see two rainbows,” she said thoughtfully. While the young couple watched together, the first rainbow grew stronger and more distinct as the sunlight shifted.

“Now you can see the whole arch!” the woman exclaimed. Truly, it was lovely. The rainbow colors stood clear and vivid against the somber grey sky. “That’s rare to see such a rainbow,” she said, grabbing her husband’s hand and squeezing it tightly. Indeed, the colors seemed almost unnatural.

“And remember, Sharon, there are two,” Jim reminded her gently. “Perhaps they’re man and wife — like us.”

Sharon giggled. “Which one is the man?” she asked playfully.

“The one on the bottom is the strongest.” Jim put his arm around his wife’s ample waist and hugged her close.

“On the bottom, right where he belongs,” Sharon teased.

Her husband laughed. “Actually, I rather like it when you’re on top.”

Sharon pounded him lightly in the stomach. “You’re incorrigible, you beast!”

The young man patted his wife’s swollen belly, feeling the unborn child move inside. “When rainbows make love, do they make little rainbows?” he whispered in her ear.

“How else could there be rainbows,” she whispered back.

“Actually, there are rainbows all the time. We just don’t see them.”

“My husband, the brilliant scientist!”

Suddenly the skies opened up, and a great rain began to fall. The wind whipped up, chilling them to the bone. Laughing wildly, the young couple ran onto the covered platform.

“I love rain like this!'” shouted the young woman over the roar of the downpour.

“I don’t like getting wet all the time,” shouted her husband, who was more practical. “Here comes the train!”

Down the track, the two bright headlights pierced the misty, watery veil of rain, and in a few moments, the train pulled into the station. The woman hugged her husband tightly and kissed him passionately on his warm lips. “You smell so good,” she murmured, snuggling close to his big, warm body.

“I have to go,” he said, disentangling himself from her clinging embrace. “Have a good day. Rest!”

“I will,” she promised, smiling. “Have a good day!”

She waited until he was safely on the train, waved good-bye, then ran into the rain. Behind her, the train began to move slowly down the track. She couldn’t help herself. She stopped and watched as the train gathered speed and chugged out of sight. She pulled her drenched jacket closer around her bulging body. Rain poured down her face and hair. In a moment, she heard the train whistle blasting farther down the track. “I love you,” she whispered, and a lump formed in her throat. Tears watered her eyes, spilled over, and ran down her cheeks, mingling with the rain. She turned and ran as fast as she could to the car.

She climbed into the car and turned the key. The engine sputtered, died, then caught again. She pulled out of the parking space and followed once more the primitive road which ran beside the railroad tracks. She was wet and cold and eager to get home to a hot shower. Her husband was gone to work, the babe was safe and warm inside her. The day would be long and lonely. The rain would carry on, darkening their small apartment. Still, she was happy and content. She had followed her rainbow long ago. She had found her pot of gold.

Dawn Pisturino

November 1983

A true story. Written while I was pregnant.

Copyright 1983-2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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TOO MANY BOOKS, TOO MUCH COMPETITION

stack-of-books

 

In an interview with the blog SIX QUESTIONS, John Raab, Publisher/CEO/Editor-in-Chief of Suspense Magazine, answered the following question:

“What can you truly expect to get out of your writing?”

“I feel that many authors have false expectations and think they are writing the next NY Times Bestseller. Here is the problem with that. Just because your book is not high on a list or selling that great, doesn’t mean you can’t write. Authors have to remember that anybody can now publish an EBook on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. What does that mean? That means that readers now have to navigate through thousands of more books to find one they like and readers only have a certain amount of money to spend. If you don’t have thousands of marketing dollars behind your work, then you have to spend triple the amount of time marketing to fans than it took you to write the book. Writing the book is the easy part, getting paid from it is the difficult part. Authors should expect to not retire off their work, but instead write for the love of it, because it is your passion. Writing and music are the same thing, you see a great band in a bar and say ‘They are better than anything I hear on the radio, why aren’t they signed?’ Writing is the same way.”

Is it true? Are there too many books on the market? Writers don’t just write for the love of writing, they write to make a living. But if thousands of self-proclaimed authors are flooding the market with books, how can someone achieve that goal?

For myself, I stopped buying books because I was tired of wasting my money on mediocre crap that was marketed as best-seller material. A slick cover and a wide audience do not a-book-worth-reading make. Extensive marketing will not salvage a poorly crafted commodity. Readers might buy from you once, but they won’t come back again.

The book market is, in fact, overwhelming. Every time I go into Barnes & Noble, the stacks of unread (and unbought) books makes me want to swoon.  Scanning through Amazon and Goodreads makes me feel the same way.

The books shout in my head: READ ME! READ ME!

It’s the same on Facebook. Thousands of self-proclaimed authors scream at me: BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!

Millions of blogs and online publications float around in Internet outer space, vying for attention.

TV, movies, and video games also provide tough competition. And to top it off, a recent poll suggested that only 75% of the population ever reads a book (print or digital.)

So, what’s a writer (and reader) to do in an age of information overload?

1. Write the best damned book you can, using original ideas.

2. Don’t write derivative material because thousands of others are doing the same thing. We don’t need anymore books about vampires and wizards unless the slant is so original, and the characters so unforgettable, that the world just can’t live without them.

3. Define your goals realistically. If you are only writing out of love for the craft, then be content to do so. But if you dream of making a living as a writer, then treat it as a business.

Personally, I think the publishing industry bubble is going to burst, just like the dot.com bubble and the housing bubble. Too many books means too many choices and a flattened market. After all, people don’t have the time or the money to spend on reading all the books out there. And traditional publishing houses depend on blockbuster best-sellers to keep themselves afloat.

I will continue to write because I love to write. But don’t be fooled: I want to make a living off of my writing as much as any other writer. The question is: can I beat the competition?

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Right on, Bree Ogden!

this literary life

In 1912, Henry Gilbert released his epic novel, Robin Hood.

In 1922, released was the stunning Ulysses by James Joyce.

a_wrinkle_in_time_original_coverAldous Huxley published the ground breaking Brave New World in 1932.

Albert Camus brought us Existentialism with The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus in the year 1942.

1952, had us all crying over a spider with E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

A Winkle in Time, Something Wicked Comes This Way, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Clockwork Orange all blew our minds in 1962.

No one will ever love a book more than The Princess Bride which 1972 brought us.

Roald Dahl owned the year before I was born, 1982, with James and the Giant Peach and The BFG.

In 1992, The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey  by Ernesto “Che” Guevara had us rethinking our lives and the journey’s we have taken.

2002 had us evaluating family…

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Poetry Magazine is a fine publication for poets and poetry lovers.

the Whole Garden Will Bow

bradbury

via

Lucie Brock-Broido : Father, in Drawer

Mary Karr writes about suffering in The Blessed Mother Complains to the Lord Her God on the Abundance of Brokenness She Receives

One of the most fun poems of the year is March by Richard Kenney

Atsuro Riley continues to write some of the best things you’ll ever read. The middle section of his poem Striplings is nigh perfect.

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Good writing comes first because no amount of marketing will salvage a poorly crafted book.

Writers In The Storm Blog

By Lyn Horner

I’m sure you’ve all heard this before but it bears repeating. When you publish an e-book, expect to spend as much time on marketing as you spend writing the next book, especially if you’re new on the publishing scene. In order to get the most from promotional efforts, it’s wise to pick and choose where you’ll invest your precious time. Today I’ll share some suggestions gleaned from two successful e-book authors.

Most writers have heard of John Locke, the New York Times Best Selling Author who was the first self-published author in history to sell one million Kindle books. Last year he published How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, a helpful guide I highly recommend. It reveals how the author built a loyal following of readers who promote his books for him. Before Mr. Locke explained his marketing system, he listed several…

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A Writer 24/7

Image

by Dawn Pisturino

Adopting the writer’s mantle places us instantly in the spotlight. Everything we say, write, and do is being evaluated and judged by people we don’t even know.

With this in mind, it’s important to display our best writing at every opportunity.

I recently read a blog post by an English writer that was poorly formatted, riddled with errors, and unprofessional-looking. The purpose of the blog was to dispense writing advice to budding young authors. But what can a young author learn from run-on sentences and words that blend into one another with no punctuation or spaces? Needless to say, I no longer follow that blog.

Many self-proclaimed authors haunt Facebook and other social media sites. They promote their books with quickly-composed, ungrammatical sales pitches that reflect poorly on their abilities as writers. My thought is this: if they can’t write a simple post on Facebook, how can they write the next Great American novel? The answer is obvious.

E-mail tends to be a casual form of communication, but some people take it for granted that it’s okay to write in texting jargon and incomplete sentences. Clear, concise communication should be even more important when writing e-mails. I check my grammar and spelling every time I send out an e-mail because I want my readers to see me as a real writer.

My elderly aunt in Michigan fills her hand-written letters with poetic descriptions of the seasons and countryside where she lives. She’s not a writer, but she knows how to write. She knows how to turn a phrase and color a description so that it sticks in my head. She makes me imagine that once upon a time she wrote poetry in some dark garrett. That reminds me–I need to ask her!

Writing is a 24/7 job. And everything we compose should reflect our abilities as a writer. Our readers expect it. Our profession demands it.

Published in the July-August 2012 issue of Working Writer.

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Cheap Wine, Dried Salame, and You

 My husband was one of those “bad boys” that girls fall in love with and parents deplore. With his black jacket and black leather cap, he looked like a Sicilian gangster out on a hit.

His pent-up anger spilled out of him in dangerous ways. For example, he mapped out a plan whereby every bank in the city of San Francisco could be robbed on the same day.

His dark nature captivated me, and soon, I was hooked for life.

We fought like cats and dogs, but oh, the fun we had! We went treasure hunting in crazy, out-of-the-way places, finding cold hard cash lying in the sand in a cave. We drove up and down the Pacific Coast Highway  in his green Fiat X-19, enjoying the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair. We hiked through the redwoods on Mt. Tamalpais and watched the ocean tides under a full moon at Ocean Beach.

One day, singing at the top of his lungs, my husband suddenly stripped down and drove naked with the top of his car open along the 92 over to Half Moon Bay. Thrilled and excited, I watched for the cops, laughing all the way.

On cool, foggy nights, we slipped away into the darkness and made love on sandy beaches. On warm afternoons, we packed a picnic snack: a bottle of Riunite Lambrusco and a link of dried salame. Sun, warmth, ocean air, sand, green grass, and a hazy glow of love and darkness and friendship between us.

After our daughter was born, we included her in our crazy life. Archery at the range on King’s Mountain, afternoon tea at Agatha’s, strolling the malls, tramping through the sand at Half Moon Bay, riding the carousel at the San Francisco Zoo, flying kites down on the Marina.

Those days are over now. Our daughter is grown, and we’re not as skinny as we used to be. We live in the desert in Arizona, work, walk the dog, watch TV, and complain about the heat, wind, and dust. But whenever I go back to California, I relive those glory days of sunshine and salt air. Whenever I spot a bottle of Riunite or a link of dried salame at the grocery store, I remember foggy nights and making love in the sand.

So let me fill my plastic cup with cheap red wine, arrange slices of salame and cheese on a paper plate, and offer this toast to the man I love:

I LOVE YOU, DEAR HEART, MY LOVER, MY BEST FRIEND, MY MENTOR, MY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, MY DARK KNIGHT — AND I ALWAYS WILL.

Dawn

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Young Love, Undying Love

Young Love, Undying Love

When I was fourteen years old, I fell in love with my algebra teacher. Teaching silly high school students earned him a living. His real goal? To complete his PhD. in physics.

His curly dark hair shimmered with dandruff, detracting from his coffee-stink breath. He wore wrinkled blue seersucker suits in warm weather and corduroy jackets with patched elbows in cold. Nervous and shy, his hands and voice trembled when he stood in front of the blackboard explaining algebraic formulas to a bunch of disinterested teenagers.

He seemed young and old at the same time. And he had violet eyes—I kid you not! The most beautiful eyes I had ever seen behind a pair of dark-rimmed glasses.

My heart burned with love for this nervous nerd. I adored him throughout algebra and again during Life Sciences. I worshipped the ground he walked, waiting expectantly to catch glimpses of him between classes and after school.

I even wrote him a poem.  I forgot it for many years, and suddenly, one day, I remembered part of it.

Bitter Fragment of a Beautiful Dream

My love, thou hast hearkened to my sorrows

Ere the night as ere the day;

Among the grasses of these meadows

Hast thou hearkened to my laughter

Clearly echoing the joy bound in thine heart.

Beyond the hill hath mine hand wept in thine:

Thou wip-ed away the tears.

Beside the stream—how sweetly flows the rivulet wine!—

Thou rejoiced as mine;

We wept for the years,

Since-parted, we knew each other not.

Belov-ed, thou hast planted deep the seed of love,

And how it grows!—

Reaching, reaching for the height of its passion,

But endlessly reaching—

I love thee.

My sweet, thou hast made pure of me a lover.

A burning fire scorches the flesh and tendons of my soul,

Melting fast the waxen candle:—

I love thee as myself,

For I love thee as thyself,

And as one should we destine,

Striving for the highest and deepest aspirations

Of Life!—

Or Death . . .

(Beginning of poem written Spring, 1970 for R.B, remembered Spring, 1986)

You see here, of course, the influences of the great Romantic poets, with whom I was obsessed: Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Byron, and especially, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. How the world burned with love, passion, and death! For love had to end in a tragic, prolonged death. Young love, undying love. Romeo and Juliet. Catherine and Heathcliff.

I found a photo of R.B. in an old high school yearbook. Examining the greasy hair, weak chin, thin body, I could only exclaim: WHAT WAS I THINKING BACK THEN? Romeo and Juliet? Hardly. Catherine and Heathcliff? No way!

I often wonder if he achieved his goal. Is he a Doctor of Philosophy now in Physics? Does he still teach? And I still remember his deep, soul-sinking violet eyes. But not my cup of tea. No, definitely not! But he was my love, my very first love, and I treasure that memory. Always.

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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