Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review: Literary Life: A Second Memoir

Literary Life: A Second Memoir Literary Life: A Second Memoir by Larry McMurtry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

My son Jesse said it best, when he reviewed Alex Robinson's book Our Expanding Universe. I read Literary Life and felt exactly the same way about this McMurtry memoir:
"I generally like Robinson [McMurty] but didn't see the point of this book. The characters were incredibly realistic ... to the point of being completely boring. I didn't learn anything new by reading this, it was just like hanging out with another person's less-interesting friends."
And actually, I did not even find the real-life "characters" to be anything but dull. Mere listings of his friends credits did not impress. And except for the turn of a good phrase here and there, I learned little about writing better. That said, it does not detract from his own other literary accomplishments.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: The Writer's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters

The Writer's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters The Writer's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters by Marc Mucutcheon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Another compendium of simple lists. At least topical, and as stated in the intro, slightly better than a Thesaurus looking up synonyms. Again, not really a "book,' but lists of traits of characters, so it does fulfill its title, but as in all things writing, the writer must work at it. This book is best used for building fictional characters, but helpful in nonfiction also.
I find similes and metaphors better for describing characters than a list of traits, like "he looked exactly like Angel from the Rockford files," for example.
The introductory discussion by authors was fun, and the "Do nots" helpful.

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Review: Get Paid to Write!: The No-Nonsense Guide to Freelance Writing

Get Paid to Write!: The No-Nonsense Guide to Freelance Writing Get Paid to Write!: The No-Nonsense Guide to Freelance Writing by Thomas A. Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

this version copyrighted from 2004, and a lot has happened in using social media to self-promote since, which is missing. But the last section How to Build Your Reputation as a Writer was sobering, as constant and varied endeavors are required. Not with this book nor any other on writing is there an easy path; just paths of hard work. This book is geared to freelancing, and again times have changed. Finding editors to contact is more difficult today.
There are references and .com sites that are helpful, but comments like "search Google" were not.
I would however recommend this as an eye-opener to and beginner's guide.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Plot

Plot Plot by Ansen Dibell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

parts seemed vague and general, or that could be the language used. I didn't underline that much of note as i usually do in a good nonfiction book, especially on the craft of writing. Am writing a fiction on better writing myself.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Craft Chats and Prompts for Critique Groups

In the last few blogs I've been talking about starting and running your own Writer's Group, whether at a local library, your home or Panera's. Doesn't matter where. The point is, focus is needed to be productive.

During every 2 or 3-hour class, you should encourage Craft Chats -- sharing tips and tricks for better writing. I usually bring 1 or 2 pages of such tips, on any writing topic, such as self-publishing, useless and vague words to avoid entirely, character development, scenes, plots etc etc. There's hundreds of sources for these. 

One caveat: Writers and companies and colleges own the rights to their work. It's okay to print a page say from a Writer's Relief blog, or SubmitNow blog or any blog or articles or college writing sites like Purdue's OWL etc. But you can't make 10 copies and hand them out UNLESS they state its okay to do so. You can print one copy for yourself to read from, or even read aloud round-robin, and to highlight important points etc. But you can't hand out 10 copies. that's illegal. If you wrote the article yourself, you desreve remuneration for its commercial use. And so do they.

However, under Fair Use copyright law, you CAN copy and reprint for an educational purpose, but only if you can prove it in a defense if someone calls you on the carpet for abusing them. So be careful. If you really want to hand out copies freely, write the source permission, even tho I can tell you it's difficult to find out WHO to write to, exactly, for said permission. Start with the publisher.

And always, always, a;always, cite and make the source and the link well known, whatever you use.

Another thing you can do is remember that this is a writing class. So give them writing prompts! Not every single week necessarily, but at least one a month. Have them do an acrostic poem, or write four paragraphs on their first kiss, or how they felt when Grandmom died etc etc. There's books full of prompts. Besides from my own head, I bought my friend and poet Peter Murphy's book of prompts titled Challenges for the Delusional ($14) available at 

I've also been attending Peter's annual January Writers and Poets Getaway Conference at Seaview resort in Absecon NJ to hone my skills and hobnob with 100 writers and 100 poets. Here the registration link for January 2016: http://wintergetaway.com/

Bottom line: To be a good Critique Group keader, you need focus, diversity, flexibility, timing, dedication, education and sharing. And you need to write, write, write and learn, learn, learn. 


Running a Critique Group for Writers

In the last blog I showed how to start your own critique group, for free (and your "free" time), at your local library. Let's talk about its components and your role.

Your role is to facilitate and educate. You need a few rules to guide the session because you'll have limited time in a 2 or 3-hour group. Depending on the number of pieces to be read, the main goal is to give everyone an equal chance to share and receive feedback. And, when time allows, to share your piece. As a general rule, I limit pieces to 12-1500 words or fewer, which takes10 minutes, and then 10 minutes more for feedback. 

Here's my basic rules, which are flexibly applied and interchangeable (definitely NOT rigid questions):
1. If not obvious, ask "How did the piece resonate with you? Did it reach your mind as well as heart? 
2. Did it hold your interest? Did it flow naturally and believably?
3. Did the piece raise unanswered questions or did it satisfy your need to know? For example, were the characters motivations clear?
4. Can you give SPECIFIC examples of what worked well? Or that might improve the story, such as content, phrasing or word suggestions?
5. Would you want to hear more? (Especially of part of a chapter.) 

Often, before a reader reads, I'll ask, "Do you have any questions for us? Things you want us to know or things you want us to look for?" (For example, often the writer needs a better title.)

The keys to success are:
Accepting all levels of writing from shitty first drafts to fully polished. Accepting other forms, like poetry. BEING FLEXIBLE BUT FIRM.

By firm I mean holding up a Timeout signal when speakers digress and get distracted in their own experiences of the same event or emotion, even tho, initial reactions are great for seeing the impact of the piece on listeners.

There's more you can do as well, such as assigning writing prompts and sharing craft chats, which I'll share next.


How to Freely Use Google Search Effectively

My quickest and easiest source for facts and quotations, history, and reference, is Google search first. I'm on it with just a few words typed in the "Get Lucky" box. What you type there is key to your successful hunting, so here's some tips:
Write a question without the question or question mark, as in these examples:
quotes of Einstein not "what are quotes from Albert Einstein?"
Or Rumi's books not "What are works of poet Rumi?" or battle of bulge not "What happened at the Battle of the Bulge?"

However, if you really want to get specific, use operators. What are they? Bracketed quotation marks will find the exact word or terms used, or site: to find a site and find others here: http://mashable.com/2011/11/24/google-search-infographic/

Another tip you already know is that there's no need of caps unless necessary, for example, in abbreviations or acronyms (which actually won't need caps unless you want to be sure. Another? Use "US" for the United States when searching, not lowercase us, but america would be okay. Don't leave your term open to wide interpretation. 

Titles will pop up first, and their blue link under it.
VERY IMPORTANT: Scrutinize the blue link before you click it!
Is it a recognizable site/source? Or an obscure mixture of a name or numbers?

What's reliable you ask? Look at the blue link. What's the website source? What's the name before ".com," or ".biz," etcetera?
Are you itching to click the link because it looks like a perfect answer, but still not sure? Then enter the ,com name into your browser and check its About page. Peruse it and decide. If there's no "About Us" page or no "Contact Us" page, I won't trust it, in fact, I don't trust any site without those two elements.

The very best thing you have going for you is Google or Firefox searches, with their good spam filters.  Also, if you paid for McAfee or Semantec products for Internet Security, they will also help. But I think common sense is most valuable regardless. 

Starting a "Free" Critique Writing Group

Nothing is "free," but sometimes they are. The one thing every free item costs is your time, the most precious commodity on the planet, from your short life. Whether signing up to a new free email blog on writing, or submitting your email to HGTV's Sweepstakes for a home, it takes time to do those things, even tho, depending on your keyboarding skills, it may be only seconds.

Business monetized this idea, just as they do everything, calling it "lost opportunity costs." Bullshit. You do what you do because that's your choice, decision, need, at that moment in time given your situation and circumstances.

Well, with a sacrifice of some of your time, you can become the better writer you can be by starting your own Writer's Critique Group, for "free."  This is an opportunity you shouldn't miss. It will look great on your Writer's Resume. Here's how I did it and you can also:

Search online for your nearest local public library. The library, besides public works, the police, sewer treatment etc, is a terrific investment and resource, because it's all about education and learning. "It's not just reading anymore," says I, it's much more, including speaking and writing. If I had time I'd offer a class on public and performance speaking also, I would, not just just two writing groups weekly.  Yes, I host, or co-host two groups weekly -- at Public Libraries.

For my Hamilton Library weekly class, in 2012, I composed a proposal, sent it to the director, he agreed and classes started in three weeks. Been goin' strong since. I have learned more as facilitator, reader, listener, critiquer, sharer, writer, speaker etc. than any of my students, mainly by listening to their pieces and the following comments. So will you. To be a good writer you need your wits sharpened; this is one way to guarantee that.

Here's what you write to the Director:

Dear ____________,

Hello. I am a resident of ___________ and have an idea for engaging your patrons and our citizens in learning to write better. I'd like to offer the library a no-cost program on (Creative Writing - Fiction or Non-fiction, Memoir, Poetry etc - whatever you know best), beginning in (month) if free room space is available.  The sessions would last two hours, and I am free on either Monday or Thursday afternoons for 2-3 hours to prepare and facilitate these free writing and sharing sessions with positive critique by participants. 

I anticipate that such a program open to all ages and levels of would-be writers will fit the Library's Mission to ______________, and once time and place are agreed to I will publicize sessions locally, with your permission.

My background in the community and as a writer consist of (list stuff you've done).

If interested, please contact me at (phone and email and address).


That's it. If the library has a room, I can almost guarantee that if you are an upstanding citizen, you'll get the gig.

Next blog will talk about class format.

Using Funds for Writers or CRWROPPS.

As a writer your goal must be to publish. No publish, no award, no reviews, no recognition, no success. 

At least, as a first step, share your piece in a writing group, receive critical feedback and edit and polish the hell out of it. Definitely do that before ever considering submitting for publication, and if you don't attend a regular Writing Group in your area (or start one), then have your Ideal Reader critique it, as wife Tabitha and friends do for Stephen King. 

To find opportunities to submit to, I use these, both free by email subscription:

The first and hardest to use, but most fruitful, is CRWROPPS, which stands for Creative Writers Opportunities List. It's a daily Listserv. That's its' glory and downfall: they're so many opps, you'll receive a dozen daily. But it's worth going thru them, deleting the non-applicables, and red star or note the most promising ones. Heck, you may even find a teaching job! Then go back and select the one(s) that absolutely fit you, and Submit! (And don't spend more than $15 per entry unless you're wealthy. See my earlier Post on what to look for and what to avoid.)

Sign up by joining YAHOO! Groups at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/crwropps-b/info

The other excellent method is signing up for almost daily updates from Funds for Writers Blog and website by C. Hope Clark. Here's the info they put out about it:



Grants are the free money everyone wants. Here you'll find ...

FundsforWriters newsletter

Originally designed for the serious writer, FundsforWriters provides ...


We never close the door to submissions, but we are very ...


Now you're seeing what we are known for at FundsforWriters ...


Writing contests provide steps up for a writer – especially a ...

About FFW

About FFW. FundsforWriters is an online resource for writers. You ...

Best, Rod

When to Submit Your Piece(s) to Journals

Here's an example of a writing contest that sounds legit (scan then read below):

"Lascaux Prize in Poetry

$10.00 USD
Ends on 9/30/2015

Poems may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. The winner receives $1,000 and publication in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in The 2016 Lascaux Prize Anthology.
Submit entries at
Two copies of the anthology will be supplied to every poet appearing in it. Entry fee is $10. Poets may enter more than once, and as many as five poems may be submitted per entry (please paste all poems into a single document). There are no length restrictions. All styles are welcome. Submissions close 30 September.
Entry fees are dedicated entirely to prize money and operating expenses. Editors, judges, and other staff at The Lascaux Review and its sister sites are unpaid volunteers."
Reasons I will submit to this are:
1. 5 poems for $10 or less is the average submission cost. I stopped submitting if costs are greater. When your book sales are making thousands of dollars, submit all you want.
2. "Entry fees are dedicated..."  Look for this phrase on submission sites. Otherwise you're just making the journal etc profit from your hard work.
3. Always follow submission guidelines to the letter.
4. If it accepts previously pub'd or unpub'd, that's ideal, as well as simultaneous subs.
4. I will receive a copy of the publication if selected. If you receive payment, so much the better. 

But the goal, always the number one goal, is TO PUBLISH!!

Choose a contest per month to submit too, focus on that, and submit. Don't get lost in the hundreds of contests, getaways, stipends etc. found in Funds for Writers or CRWROPPS.

Best Rod

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Why Writers Should Study "Act Natural"

I needed a book to read so I picked up actor Ken Howard's (film The White Shadow et al) a week ago and have been enjoying it immensely lounging in my hammock. Every nice afternoon I unscroll it and lay outside, reading and annotating in pen every book I read. I'm still in the middle of Books of the Century, selections from 100 years of New York Times book reviews, but needed a change. I try to only read books, articles, news and blogs that will stimulate and inform, rather than just thrill like my Jason Bourne past favorites. I'm too old not to be discerning with my limited time.

Anyway, Ken's book has and is enlightening, packed with real life examples of the points he makes, and 100% applicable to writers, despite being a book about speaking in public. Speaking in front of an audience is the number two fear of Americans, so as a would-be writer, hoping to do interviews, teach writing courses, sell my books and be a renaissance man, his words are ringing true on all levels. (The number one fear has become walking alone at night according to Time magazine's July 6 Double issue.) 

If I find the time I'll write a companion book titled Write Natural because Act Natural has hundreds of parallels to good writing, and, mainly, good truth-telling. For Ken's main mantra is to be oneself, in no matter what "role" we inhabit: single, married, father, mother, worker, neighbor, leader, actor etc. And that to me, is the essence of good writing - being truthful about and to oneself. To act believably, is to be yourself, with preparational research as your foundation.

To write what is believable, whether fiction or non, is to write well, and that means words chosen and actions shown must ring true. I have two shelves of writing, grammar and style books, and this will not be placed there when done. It's so good (if not a little wordy), it will remain my close companion in weekly travels while I absorb its wisdoms.

Here's a few examples from the book, with my inserts in parenthesis to show its transferability to writing:

  "I will show you how a master singer (writer) like Sinatra (Rowling) also used his (her) body, head, and his (her) heart to reach an audience." (p.11)

"For when everything works -- when the adrenaline, the words, and the charge from a satisfied audience all come together -- the result is an experience that even the most nonreligious actors (writers) ... can only describe as spiritual." (p. 22)

"The Zone is within the reach of public speakers (writers) as well. (p. 23)

"My aim is to help you develop an easygoing, conversational delivery (style)." (p. 36)

"When you practice (write) alone, do it out loud. Trust me. I know it may seem a little strange at first, but it makes a big difference." (p. 43)

Almost every page of Act Natural has clear, applicable points to aid any person become a better speaker, and any writer to become a better writer (if you read "writer" into his lines).

by Rodney Richards, Authorpreneur, Author of Episodes, A poetic memoir, about experiencing bipolar; and facilitator of numerous writing classes.

Act Natural is available on Amazon for $5.90 new, copyright 2003 Ken Howard, published by Random House

Monday, July 6, 2015

Giving Away your Rights

Just a few words
every writer, author, blogger, publisher, or copier 
    must know:

"_____________ Company grants you 
  a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, 
  non-transferable license 
  to access and make personal, 
  non-commercial use of the (Material) or its content 
and not to download 
  (other than page caching or unless otherwise allowed 
         by _______________ Company or permitted by law) 
or modify all or any portion of the (Material) 
  and its content.

This license does not include any resale or 
  commercial use of the Material or its contents;"

Content is King these modern times, always has been
      and it is not "free" although you'd never know
when you see company names 
      like Huff Post or Random House
and the writer's or author's name
      even if "House editors"
and the article title
      and date and time of pub

None of it is free
      not even from my source of choice

All require attribution, and/or a fee, 
      for you to use
unless a critic...
      so criticize whatever you copy 
is my advice

Add your opinion of it.

Speak your mind and heart
      don't let it stand -- 

If that is what you must do 
      to save your assets and not get sued
in this U.S. and worldwide society
      litigious as in ubiquitous
all to make a buck
      not from their content,
but from your auth or 
      unauthorized use of it

More money to be made 
      in that than the creation itself
for Content is King
      and you won't get paid for it
but may get your name in print
      for whatever that's worth...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Asking Permission

Dick my boss told me decades ago
        "Easier to ask for forgiveness
              than for permission"
as we spent millions of
     dollars of
someone else's taxes
      without asking
only telling

Today authors jobs
       tough as nails
 'cause every word  or lyric's
        been hashtagged before
and our job to twist them
         to make our own

With 17 million books
       on Amazon today
over 300k published new
and that's just here

With tweets and captions and bon mots and sayings
       quips and quotes and sound bites galore
who could ever be sure
       it hasn't been said before

I can't

So Google is best bud, my pal, my friend

And when I find
      words from someone else
I want to ask permission

But none tell you how
      not even a tweet
how to obtain
       a Right to Use
so I can make a few bucks
       using mostly mine
and fewness of their's

Writing letters to the Editor
       the Times called and asked
for sources –
       never did in past editions

Publishers and editors
       demand the same
every one
       before they'll print

When once found
       these original sources
only delay response
       perhaps emails back and forth

"How many words (do you intend to use)?
        and they have hidden magic price lists
they won't share

"Six bucks per copy
       for 3,000 words."
And I don't know
       if Mister King or
only Simon & Shuster
       keeps the dough

And the delay
       rather than money
kills the project
       unless self-published

So that's just what I'll do
       and to hell with you
who create deep bottomless
       hell pits

Sue my LLC if you
         care too

Original prose poem by Rodney Richards 7-4-15
Author's note: Based on true stories

Playing Fair with Music Lyrics

There's only one way
      to publish favorite lyrics
for money
      and that's critical review
according to Copyright Act
      section 107

What's said and used must
       be transformative
not merely derivative
        according to U.S. courts

If changing Woo Hoo, woo hoo hoo
        from the 5, 6, 7, 8s
to Wooo Whooo, Wooo Whooo
        that's merely derivative

But if saying "I never heard
        such a stupid thing as Woo Hoo,"
that's opinion
        which can't be challenged

Even tho
        I've probably called it out
once or twice hailing a friend
        but women seem to do that
more than men
        or is it "You Who?"

Whether publishing opinion
       for commercial gain
or not

So here goes, although
       admitting I hate
criticizing popular music or
       classic rocks favorites

Don't like callin' out
       musicians and singers
they work hard and good
        at what they write and sing and play
so deserve their
        sweat from labors
and box office proceeds

Sing along and hum and tap with
       Billy Joel and the
       Beatles and
Stones songs for three

Each free on MS Media Player
       every morn

But can't sell any, any, lyrics
      to make money for me,
that would be illegal
      would get sued for sure
because record labels and Tom Petty
       are ruthless

They sued Robin Thicke
       and Pharrell Williams
just to name two who lost
       over three stupid notes
to "earn" free money for
       lawyers and studios

Publishing one's exact words
      a big "No no"
causing loss of assets
      for sure
as other writers horror stories
      by Writers Beware shows

We're forced to ask some
       unknown or most popular
author or publisher for

Hard to get easily
      for all the hullabaloo and
          woo hoo,
these assholes cause

Original prose poem by Rodney Richards 7-4-15

Friday, April 24, 2015

Writing is a Process

What isn't a process?

There are instants, as in "Johnny get away from that hot stove this instant!" or moments as in "She took a moment to gather her wits," or even periods as in "The class period ended with the bell." And ages and epochs, and hours, days, weeks and months, and cycles and eons and years. All terms used to describe time: 

"Time flies. Time waits for no man. Time heals all wounds. All of us want more time. Time to stand up. Time to grow up. Time to let go. Time is money. Time well spent." - Unknown quotes

And because there is time, everything is a process. A process of change from one moment to the next, from one state to another, from one form to a different one.

Change and time the two constants in this universe, because even the sun will explode or collapse eventually. Both constants yet ever-moving.

PROCESS n. 1. a systematic series of actions directed to some end. 2. a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner.

Writing is a process. Every story has beginning, middle and end. Or at least implied. Every written word, phrase, sentence, paragraph and links of paragraphs has a purpose, a point, a resolution or climax. Except life as in creation, without end; not as in our own that are finite, end-able in an instant or months or years.

And life, and time and change are action. Constant motion. Even standing still is to feel the Earth spin under one's feet.

And writing, good writing, is showing action or leading to action. Every page of a good book either showing or leading to action. For nature abhors a vacuum, abhors nothingness, there must be something in motion, moving ever-forward without end.

Even our finite lives without end if we believe.

And good writing is believable, trustworthy, honest and, and ... what you the writer make of it and what you the reader make of it. Always combining writer and reader, reader and writer seamlessly back and forth, forth and back, heading toward some systematic conclusion, even if hidden from mortal eyes and ears and hands and bodies but not from hearts and minds and -- feelings.

Good writing is action of mind, body, spirit, heart and emotion,


Thursday, April 9, 2015

How to Trademark Properly

When I started my publishing company in 2012, I thought I should have a trademarked name to identify my writings - books, ebooks, articles essays, etc. I thought it was a good identifier for my style of writing and chose a name representative of my major life theme. After two years of futzin' through the USPTO's technical and legal language, I have to tell you, they don't make anything clear.

I have technically ABANDONED my original name, a. because I thought I knew what I was doing yet didn't read the fine print, and b. their website pages are sometimes clear, but too often muddy, vague and unclear.

For example, let's say the name was "Rod's Writings." 
First I did a free trademark lookup and it wasn't taken. Good.
Second I logged into their TEAS system and filed an application. An electronic signature was all that was required and that passed.   

Then it went to a very nice USPTO lawyer for review and approval on its way to getting "registered," That required filing A Statement of Use specifying that I planned to use this name "Rodney's Writings" in my publications commercially. During that process I had to choose the categories of my publications so I chose Class 009 for ebooks etc, and 016 for hard/softcover works. Easy enough. I completed all my contact info, paid $250 each per class, and the process was over. I thought.

I thought that was it until I received by email a Letter of Action against my filing for non-compliance. This started me down the rabbit hole trying to correct whatever problem 'they' had found. 
I couldn't find a specific reason why my filing was deficient. Could it be because I only published in class 016 so far, and not in Class 009? I couldn't be sure after intensive site readings.I pondered releasing my obsolete book as an ebook and all that would entail, but then received a "Notice of Abandonment, and it was recorded and publicized in the Federal Register!  

However, I found a webpage that said I could "Revive" my application by paying an additional one hundred bucks. This was getting expensive, But I was willing to do it to save my $500 I'd already put out. However, scanning the USPTO website, I still wasn't certain what they required. So very confused, I emailed my congressman Chris Smith, who's office has been very responsive in helping to straighten the mess out. Too bad however, that if they wrote to USPTO for an explanation, USPTO had 45 days to respond, well past my deadline for filing a "revival." By this time I only had days to respond.

But Smith's Office pointed out a Tech Center number to call which I did and was switched to the USPTO. There I was told to file a revive notice or it would be lost. That was no help. So I went online and filled out the Petition to Revive Form online, which meant answering very unclear questions. But I did, got a "Confirm" button to click and pay, and entered credit card data.

Boom! "Error 99 Failure" I tried another valid credit card and Boom! again. I called Tech Support, held for 10 minutes then finally hung up clicking the ebusiness Tech Center link on the failure page for help. But guess what? That number/site is no longer in service! 

So, in desperation I called the lawyer, a real nice guy, who actually answered his phone personally on the first ring. We chatted. I tried again. No go. Called him back but this time I pumped out more info. For one, I had to have published a "series of books" for the trademark to be effective. Who knew that? They didn't make it clear I can tell you.

Second, the lawyer said it had been over two years and the application could not be revived. Ever. Deadlines had been passed unbeknownst to me. And another thing, did you know that during the trademark "process" you can only use the symbol TM next to your name? Yeah, that was a secret also.

Frustrating, yes. A waste of money, time and effort, Yes. But now that I know, I'll do it all right when my second book is ready for publication, no big deal.

Oh, the good part, I almost forgot. The USPTO has reduced its trademark fee to only $225 each.
We'll see how long that lasts.

Good luck, best, Rod

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ode to Wives

How do you know
     so much about me
     and I so little of you?
Taking me aback
     when least expected

"Do you think you should visit
     Joe (the barber) soon?
We have community Dessert & Games nite Saturday."
And how is it
    you notice my long hair and beard
    when I never do?
Rare is the time
     I trim and shave my cheeks
    and then you say
"Oh how nice you look!"
And I know you mean it
    because other friends say it too
    not just the women.

Or on cleaning day
    when you say
"Help me flip your mattress.
Didn't you say it was lumpy?"
And I ask myself,
    How did she remember that?

Or on Movie night with Barb
    and you ask
" Why don't you change that ratty shirt
     for the nice one I just bought?"
    you had bought two,
    hearing "I need more long sleeved tops,"
    two weeks earlier

Or before the Baha'i Assembly meeting
     and you ask nicely
 "Should you change for our guests?"
     and I put the other new top on.

Or "Did you brush for the dentist?"
     before leaving for my cleaning appointment.
Or "I taped Agent Carter for you
     why don't you watch that
     while I'm at the PTA meeting?"
Or "Where would you like to go
     for dinner tonite?"
Or "I sent your Mom a birthday card
     from both of us."
And to Dad, and brothers and wives, sister and husband.
Or "Did you see you were tagged 
     on Facebook yesterday?"
Of course not.

I used to resent the nagging
     until I realized
Hell, it's all for my benefit
     she cares about me more than I do!
And that was twenty years ago
      and I've been a happier husband since

Or, rarely, "Would you mind
     going to Acme for skim milk?
     I ran out."
And finally it dawns
     How rare she asks me to do something for her!
How rare in fact
     she asks for anything for herself
     except me to look my best
     except me to remember -- to be nice

I marvel at her noticing
      not rare like mine
At her caring that much
      to remember

 that she still loves me

Copyright 2015 Rodney Richards

Ode to Moms

Oh Mom!
The tongue you bequeathed me
 – inadequate--  
for your praise!

Shall I thank thee for your sacrifice?
That called for single motherhood
for eight hard years that sufficed

Shall I thank thee for your gifts?
That gave me smarts
to endear teachers' hearts
and the girl I married not to miff

Shall I thank thee for your kindness?
That put brother and I first
without showing sadness

Shall I thank thee for thy sweet demeanor?
That only grew angry
because I was meaner?

Shall I thank thee for putting others before thee?
Family, friends, strangers 
and all you see including me

Shall I thank thee for your encouraging words?
Praising our achievements
no matter how absurd

Shall I thank thee for food on the table and clothes on my back?
Before you ate
or took your own outfits
off the Goodwill rack?

Shall I thank thee for your rose-colored glasses?
In light of dark
begging dashes
when He sent you aid

Shall I thank thee for your unlimited faith?
In God, the Pope
and Christian fate

I could go on and tell your stories
but tears would fall
there are so few great glories

Yet, yet, there are many
'cause we survived
 -- by your own and God's hands –
tender at times or hard
creating mutual destiny

So thank you Mom

I am that much more

a better man for it

Copyright 2015 Rodney Richards

Ode to DaDs

Was it the Marine Corps
that taught you cleanliness?

You taught me to scrub a commode
better than Mr. Clean
while you vaccumed our beige-carpeted and walled
garden apartment

You taught me to shake hands firmly
as a man would
especially a woman's

You taught me no hatred
of colored, or weak, or stupid, or foreign, or cruel
or poor ones;
to treat people with respect and intelligence
every time

You taught me respect for humanity
that The Tao
would not
until four years later

You taught me to tee my butts
and jam them in my back jean's pocket                                 
which my wife still uncovers in the wash
and hates finding the stinky things

You must've taught me to drive
your salmon '57 Chevy Bel Air hardtop with no posts               
and it was good enough
to earn my California license as a kid
despite running over curbs

And you taught me respect                        
for our many girlish dates                                                           
and of women likewise                                                                  
to love them all                                                                          
with "Treat women well."

And so "I Do" has meant more than mere words                       
after 43 years with my first wife;                                                     
a strong redhead                                                                           
you gave me courage to approach                                         
without fear of showing a good heart

And you Dad, you taught me responsibility also                            
to work dedicated at a job                                                           
and remain loyal                                                                            
as you supported a family of four at first                                    
then five, then six, seven, eight and nine

And though I never drove your faded green Ford Fairlane            
I remember family Sunday drives                                           
around the gorgeous Delaware Valley                                            
in cold, cool, warm then humid seasons

And you taught me                                                                        
that our recalcitrant decrepit lawnmower                                  
could be repaired                                                                             
by your tenacity                                                                            
and cunningly constructed temporary fixes

So I don't give up hope easily,                                              
fulfilling my Taurean nature

And I learned to arrive early                                                    
which increases my sweetheart's lovingness                                
not keeping her waiting

You both gave me freedom to break rules                                   
and I broke them                                                                          
until one of you said                                                                   
"He must go to his Father."

How else would I have learned                                                       
to tee and clean                                                                               
to respect and drive                                                                         
to dedicate and not be late and                                                        
to love without fear?

Thank you DaDs!                                                                  
Rodney Senior my first and least known                                 
Ralph Senior my last for near on five decades

What's in a Dad's name or appelation?                                     
except example and words?

Sad to think both of you gone physically                                     
but not spiritually                                                                           
not internally                                                                                 
not emotionally                                                                              
not laughably                                                                                
not memorably                                                                                                       
Because I Am your Junior Apprentice

Copyright 2015 Rodney Richards