Saturday, January 27, 2007


Marcela Landres Offers a Workshop on How to Write a Book Proposal on Feb. 8, 2007

How to Write a Knockout Book Proposal
Sponsored by the Learning Annex

WHAT: Agents and editors don't have time to read entire manuscripts.
So how do they choose which writers they want to work with?
Proposals. Regardless of whether you have a book for adults or
children, in fiction or nonfiction, you need a strong proposal. But
while many writers invest a significant amount of time, energy and
money in crafting their manuscripts, few know how to compose a
proper proposal. In this class, you will learn:

* Why 90% of submissions are rejected based on the cover letter alone
* The single most reliable—and free!—resource for finding a good
* Three common, yet easily avoidable, mistakes writers make
* A proposal's true purpose (hint: it's not to demonstrate talent)

WHEN: Thursday, February 8, 6:45 pm - 9:30 pm

WHERE: School for the Physical City, 55 East 25th Street b/w Madison
and Park Ave, New York City, NY

WHO: Marcela Landres is an Editorial Consultant who was formerly an
editor at Simon & Schuster and is the creator of Latinidad, which
was chosen as one of the 101 Best Web Sites for Writers by Writer's
Digest Magazine. A member of the Women's Media Group, she has acted
as a judge for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and speaks frequently
for organizations such as the Romance Writers of America.

REGISTER: Call 212-371-0280 or visit
and search for "427DNY"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Making Family Connections

This Christmas season I did something I don't usually do. That is, instead of sending Christmas cards, etc., I decided to call friends and relatives I don't usually talk to very often and almost never at Christmas time. They were all quite pleased to hear from me and I was able to catch up with the latest news.

I have to confess that I am not sure I called and left messages for the right person in each case, as many of the phone numbers have changed since my last making contact. I was however prepared when I left messages, saying something like: This message is for X and if by chance I have gotten the wrong number, well, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.

Fortunately, having a cell phone made this personal touch possible due to unlimited phone calls, etc. It's amazing how things have changed. I remember my mother calling our grandmother and asking the operator for a person-to-person call while really asking to speak to herself after our 17-hour drive back to El Paso from Nebraska. In this way, my grandmother would know we arrived safely without my mother having to pay for a rather expensive phone call, as calls managed to rack up cost-wise. Now, we have a situation where my elementary-school-age nephews and neices have their own cell phones to keep in touch with their mother. And fortunately, cell phone costs have come down making it possible for almost anyone to have a cell phone. Having succumbed to the need to have a cell phone, I finally got mine for Christmas in 2005, so though I don't have my cell phone attached to my kidney, it is quite nice to be able to connect with family at an airport or from a side street.

The other thing I realized this season is that though we know family can't endure life forever, it is really people who make holidays, and holidays don't have the same impact unless we are with family and/or friends around--at least that's my take on it. Money and fame are fine but they are fleeting; however, relationships can and do make the difference when we are at an emotional loss. Nothing brings this message home more than being on a plane during an electrical storm while one can hear a pin drop during the roller coaster ride because everyone has practically swallowed his/her tongue.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Neil Labute & Paul Hindemith and Good Friends on MLKJr Day

Playwright Neil Labute and composer Paul Hindemith probably don't have much in common other than people might misunderstand their work.

This past week I saw "This is how it goes" by Labute at the Studio Theatre and heard Paul Hindemith's "Concerto for violin and orchestra (1939)" played by the National Symphony Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz at the Kennedy Center.

First the play, whereas some might not like the nature of Labute's work (that is, how people interact and how close their biases come to surface), the play is well worth a night's evening out for no other reason than the play challenges us to question our own inner thoughts in light of recent faux pas by ex-Senator George Allen (forgive me for mentioning this name but he is just the tip of the iceberg) and others who have shown their true colors. The cast: Eric Feldman, Anne Bowles, and Benton Greene did a fine job; it's just the male characters who are too much to stomach.

My partner and I have noticed that the Studio Theatre seems to have a pattern of producing short plays of late; this is good for a week night's out but many times one comes away wanting more theatre.

Paul Hindemith's passages for the solo violinist were quite pleasing and Leila Josefowicz is quite accomplished but overall the 27-minute concerto is not one I would count as a favorite.

The NSO ended the evening with Johann Strauss's "Emperor Waltz" which was a crowd pleaser and once again Leonard Slatkin did not disappoint nor did the orchestra.

Thank goodness for good friends, the kind one enjoys on a long weekend in the same mountain chalet. Fortunately, we have good friends who also enjoy our company and who have invited us to stay in their home on numerous occasions. Aside from intellectual conversation (no TV, thank God) and good food and drink, we are able to commune with nature at Cool Font, West Virginia. We always come away, saying "isn't it nice to be able to really talk and break bread with others who share similar values while not putting on airs. It seems that certain segments of societies are caught up in the rat race and it is refreshing to find others who wish to be part of the rat race (for we all need a well-paying profession) while still being able to pull away from it and not letting the 'rat race' dominate our lives." Certainly the characters in "This is how it goes" could have learned this lesson.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The Jewish Connection at Monticello

Who knew that Monticello had a Jewish connection.

Let me explain, my Montgomery College colleague Dr. Francine Jamin recently visited Monticello as a result of her creation of the Jefferson Cafe (R), whereby a limited number of attendees read a text before hand and then meet to discuss the text and any related issues that arise via the discussion. Francine learned that after President Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 his eldest daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph inherited the estate which was in dire straits.

In short, Martha sold Monticello to James T. Barclay in 1831 who then sold the property to Uriah P. Levy, a Jewish commissioned officer in the USA Navy. Of course the Civil War came to the area, but after an extended period of legalities, the Levy estate eventually sold the property to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1923, and the rest is history.

While talking to Francine, I asked if she had wine while Monticello, because after all Jefferson introduced wine grapes to Virginia, but not to what is now the USA--that honor would go to the Spanish in what is now El Paso--the brandy was superb in New Spain and after all the monks needed wine to celebrate mass.

Then we both learned thanks to our mutual colleague Ben Henry, who has taught at Montgomery College for over 46 years and counting, that it was Jefferson who introduced rice to the USA as a result of planting some rice in the area that he had gotten while in France.

My memories of Monticello are good ones, less the unpleasant experience I had while at the grave site but I won't go into that at the moment, and it is high time to return to Monticello with the hopes that perhaps the Commonwealth of Virginia will acknowledge that the Spanish were in the area that is currently Jamestown (years before 1607) and the Cheasapeake Bay before the English came over and that Monticello will have come to terms with both the Jewish as well as the African slave contributions to its heritage.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Translation (Spanish to English) Class at Writer's Center on Feb. 17th

For those of you who are interested in Spanish to English translation, the workshop to be given by writer/poet/translator YVETTE NEISSER MORENO at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland might be of interest to you.

When: Starting Saturday, Feb. 17th, over a period of 6 weeks
Time: 2 PM to 4.30 PM
Cost: $190 for Writer's Center Members or $210 for non-members

To register: visit: Writer's Center
or call: 301.654.8664

Here's the course description:


This workshop is designed for creative writers who want to explore the
exciting, mysterious art of literary translation. No previous translation
experience is necessary; however, participants should have experience
writing either poetry or creative prose in English (and have strong
knowledge of Spanish). We will examine different translations of sample
texts, discuss various theories/approaches to translation, and do in-class
exercises; but classtime will focus primarily on “workshopping” our own
translations. As such, students will be expected to come to class with
either a translation work-in-progress, or an idea of a text(s) they would
like to translate. In the process of workshopping students’ translations, we
will discuss the myriad questions that a literary translator faces, such as
word choice, sentence structure, tone, rhythm, and sound. Discover how the
creative process of translation can enhance your skills as a writer and
stimulate your own writing; and how your writing skills can enhance your
translations. If you are fascinated by language and its nuances, this class
is for you!

YVETTE NEISSER MORENO is a poet, translator, writer and editor. Her poems and translations of poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including the Innisfree Poetry Journal, The International Poetry Review, and The Potomac Review. She is currently translating the work of local Argentinian-born poet Luis Alberto Ambroggio for a bilingual collection of “selected poems.” She also has translated several sonnets by Pablo Neruda, and some poems from Hebrew and Arabic, which were published as part of a critical essay in the Palestine-Israel Journal. In addition, she is seeking a publisher for her own first book of poems (in English), Fields of Vision, which was a finalist for the 2004 Gival Press Award. She resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband and two children.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Some Reflections On Recent Activities: The Arts, Food, etc.

Wow, how did 2006 pass us by so quickly? It seems like I was just trying to figure out how 2006 was going to treat me. As it turned out, 2006 placed some stops on my parade but slowly I have come a long way given my fate in 2006.

But now 2007, I pray, will be a better year for me and others as well. Certainly Congress has given us all the hope we needed. In November I regained faith in the American people; after all I really didn't want to leave my country, one my forefathers came to wanting to fulfill their dreams and that is what I plan to do with regard to my own life and aspirations. So 2007, get ready because here I come.

But before leaving 2006 behind, I would like to point out the following which I never got around to giving complete reviews or something of the sort but nonetheless these deserve recognition for the quality, etc.:

1. Washington Skakespeare Theatre's production of Equus was quite good and Christopher Henley and Jay Hardee in the leading roles did a geat job. I came away from this play wondering if Peter Shaffer just couldn't have the boy confront his sexuality as seen in today's eyes. If the boy were gay, the play would take on a richer and perhaps a more complete explanation for the need to destroy the gods' eyes.

2. The Studio Theatre's production of The Long Christmas Ride Home was interesting but many passing through the theatre and I were not overtaken by the use of the puppets. Without the puppets would have made this play much stronger, in my opinion.

3. Baltimore Opera Company's production of Nabucco was adequate, the music itself being the highlight of the evening.

4. Washington Concert Opera's production of Orlando was superb. Countertenor Bejun Mehta in the leading role was breathtaking as was countertenor David Walker in the role of Medoro. Certainly this was one of the best productions of the year.

5. The National Symphony Orchestra's performance on November 11, 2006, with Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducting was something to remember. Specifically the La noche de los mayas by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas was eloquently performed by the NSO, who knew they could take on such a diverse and demanding score. Though this might not have gained favor with some stayed Washingtonians, this music lover was delighted and thrilled for the opportunity to hear a rare performance, on an evening that began with Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole. Bravo, NSO for your excellent performances on more than one occasion. Since 1994, you have come a long way and I have seen much improvement since Music Director Leonard Slatkin joined the NSO. I will miss him when he leaves the NSO.

6. The Phillips Collection Exhibition of Societe Anonyme, Inc. and El Lissitzky are both worthy of visits. Though there are several artists I could focus on at the moment, Man Ray stands out and do pay attention to his oil painting in the very last gallery of the exhibit. Known for his photograpy, this painting will surprise any art lover.

7. Finally if you are in want of exotic cuisine, then I have to recommend Bamian Afghan Cuisine. The food and service are exceptional and the prices will not shock you. It is a drive out of the way, and it could be seen as an excursion for Washingtonians.
Bamian Afghan Cuisine
5634 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041

This is not far from the Ballston Arlington area but you do need a car or taxi to get there.

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