Gateless Poem

Gateless Poem

Most Recent Writing Tips

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published by Stephen Oliver I’ve been a writer for nearly eleven years and a traditionally published author for the last two. I tried self-publishing ten years ago, but that was a lot of hard work without much gain. It’s been a long...

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Gateless Poem

This poem was published in the 2015 Gateless Training Brochure.  I am so grateful!

Annalisa Parent Vermont Gateless Poet Writing Classes

 

South Burlington, Vermont: City Hall Improvements Benefit from $15,000 Grant

South Burlington, Vermont: City Hall Improvements Benefit from $15,000 Grant

Most Recent Writing Tips

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published by Stephen Oliver I’ve been a writer for nearly eleven years and a traditionally published author for the last two. I tried self-publishing ten years ago, but that was a lot of hard work without much gain. It’s been a long...

read more

South Burlington, Vermont: City Hall Improvements Benefit from $15,000 Grant

South Burlington Vermont City Hall Improvements The Other Paper Journalist Writer

The City of South Burlington recently received a $15,000 grant from the Secretary of State’s office to improve voting access at City Hall for individuals with disabilities.

City Clerk Donna Kinville was instrumental in “identifying the funding source and preparing and submitting the grant application, with City Council approval,” according to City Council Chair Sandra Dooley.

The money will go toward installing a new front door for City Hall that meets the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements, including a fully-actuated button to open the doors automatically.  Installation cost of such a door is $31,000.

However, as Director of Public Works, Justin Rabidoux, pointed out in a memo to the City Council, “During the project’s conceptual design, two additional improvements were identified that would increase the functionality of City Hall.”  Rabidoux named sigange and the removal of the black mold growth on the outside of City Hall as priorities.  These additional items bring the total project bill to $48,300, however the grant money defrays approximately one-third of the cost, leaving a remainder of $33,300 for the City to cover.

According to Councilor Dooley, the City Council authorized $35,000 to cover the anticipated cost of the work. This money comes from a “$36,000 savings from lower-than-anticipated debt-service payments,” Dooley said.

Construction on the project does not yet have a “firm schedule in terms of a contractor signed to begin work,” Rabidoux told The Other Paper, “however our goal remains to get the work completed this calendar year.”

Councilor Dooley stresses, though, that the approval of additional funds is not an official endorsement on the City Council’s part for continued use of the building located at 575 Dorset Street.  “This decision,” said Dooley, “should not be seen as a decision on the Council’s part regarding long range plans for the location of City Hall.  That is a subject requiring community-wide participation and input before any decision is made.”

Nevertheless, Dooley is pleased with the grant and the resulting projects which she says “will play a large part in making City Hall more accessible to all City residents and taxpayers.” Indicating the sandbags that currently line the foundation level of the building along the walls, she said that she “expects that folks visiting City Hall have not been pleased to see them,” but points out that they are “regrettably” necessary.

“We want City Hall to be a pleasant place for visitors as well as everyone who works there.  I see these improvements as essential to achieving this standard,” Dooley said.

SOURCE: Annalisa C. Parent, Correspondent

What’s the right way to write?

What’s the right way to write?

What’s the right way to write?

Back in my college days, in all those creative writing and English major-y type classes (See how English Major-y I am– I make up my own words.), I was somehow lead to believe that there was a right way to write and a wrong way to write. Now, this was either because that was how it was actually taught, or because I always felt like I was on the wrong side of the right way, if you catch my drift. In all probability, it was some combination of the two.

backtothefuture

Nevertheless, since then, at various points in my life, I have wondered whether I was a real writer because I didn’t write about the same topics that everyone else wrote about, or see the world the way everyone else did, or write in the morning, or write with a computer, or…or…or…

These were all lies.

A real turning point for me was when I read Stephen King’s On Writing. There are lots of great nuggets of writing wisdom in this book, but what stood out most for me was a section at the end. Mr. King shared (bravely, I might add) the first draft of one of his works. And, it was terrible. Seeing that, he shared this, changed me.

I had always been a drafter and a pantser. My first drafts are terrible just like his. (Maybe the second and third and fourth ones, too, but we’ll talk about that another day, ok?)

The point is that I understood, really understood, for the first time, that writing is a process.

I saw that prose doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try. And it’s OK. In fact, it’s more than OK. It’s the way it should be–for me.

This eye opening encounter was the first time I’d encountered someone who approached writing as I did. I mean, here was a successful multi-published author airing his dirty laundry of a shitty first draft and saying it was part of the process! I was floored.

cliche1

That summer I wrote my first novel and that fall I got an agent. I was 23 years old. Wow. Now that book never (Or should I say: hasn’t yet) seen the light of day, but that’s one more story for another day.

The point here is that I found my groove by discovering and accepting my process.

Oh, I’ve got other quirks, too. For starters, not only am I a pantser who can’t write fiction from an outline (That’s what a pantser is by the way. Did you think I ran around yanking down strangers’ pantaloons? You’re so silly!), I can’t write a book from beginning to end. I hop all over the place. I am an orderly person in my everyday life, so this aspect of the creative process baffles me.

apfeatherAlso, I cannot create and type simultaneously. It is high nigh impossible–blue moon kind of stuff. Every piece of fiction I have thus far written was written out longhand, with a pen, in a notebook. Not my first choice, believe me.

Here’s the thing, though. I’ve come to let the creative process take the lead, and frankly, I like where it’s taken me.

 

 

I’ve learned that the creative process is as unique to each person as a fingerprint. (Ok, so I don’t have the research to back this one up, but I’ve got a really strong empirical hunch.)

I believe it’s important to find your own path, but I also believe that in the context of the larger creative community, we need to respect our differences.

Not everyone works like we do– that doesn’t make them wrong and us right. It only makes us different. In writing, one might say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

obamacliche

I had a great moment this week while coaching one of my clients, a young man writing an extended non-fiction piece. He had all of his research and ideas, and, two days before his deadline, nothing written.

When I asked how “done” he thought he was, he said 90%. He’d done the processing and thinking he needed to do, and in his mind, it was the easy part– the writing– that was left.

Some people like to write from an outline. Some people like to write a little, research a little, write a little bit more. The conversation I had with this client was a great reminder that we all have our own way, and the important part is that we find it and follow it.

Much like our path in life, following our own way is that only means to what we really want, be it fulfillment, finances, or finished books.

freudciche

What are your writing quirks? Am I all alone here? And what do you think of the cartoons I made this week? I’d love to hear more about your thoughts in comments below. Or give my company a call, and we can discuss your writing process. 

All of the best & until next time, happy writing.
Annalisa

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

6c42527a-57b7-47ff-85a4-aa55347e5fb21) Writing is an art. Although many writers will pay the bills with technical writing or designing social media posts, they are still artists. Art is about experiences, emotions, forms, and substance. Many people can write a grammatically correct sentence. But the writer will know that sometimes you start a sentence with a conjunction such as but because it sounds better. (See what I did there?)

The writer will spend hours agonizing over one line of dialogue or tearing through a thesaurus not looking for a word, but the right word. (See more about that here.) A true writer seeks the right adjectives to convey the reader’s or character’s feelings, and will make the reader feel exactly what emotions they are trying to share. Through painstaking nit-picking diction, that writer will show, not tell the raw human experience. (Remember, the Rules of Writing are Nothing Like the Rules of Real Life.) Great art takes time and practice to produce and writing is no exception.

2) One of the great writing adages is “write what you know.” We’ve all heard it, however, that doesn’t mean the writer can’t expand the breadth of what you know and care about. Brush up on your history for inspiration. Read the science and technology section of a newspaper to gain ideas of what the future can hold. Go to a place you’ve never been before– or even more daring talk to a stranger. Travel. Learn to dance. Weed plants out of the garden. Want your writing to be a pleasure to read? Create a piece that you loved to write.

3) The only writer you need to be is yourself. Write with your own voice. While it’s fun to try on the voices of authors we love, and different purposes have different modes, if the words on the page are not your own, then your voice is not being heard. Why would you leave your voice out of the important writing conversation? You are an important member of the banquet.

There is no correct way, no perfect way to write, to convey an idea, to express yourself. Some writers don’t use standard punctuation marks, some write in regional vernacular, some never use contractions. How you write is up to you. And how do you find your own writer’s’ voice?

You won’t know until you write.

There are many rules and tips about writing, but it’s crucial to remember some of the basics: writing is art, write what you know but learn what you can, and the only writer you can be is yourself. We’d love to have you join us for one of the upcoming writing groups or classes. I also have a few openings in our Writing Gym and I’d love to talk to you to see if we’re a good fit. What are you writing? I’d love to hear about it here.

All of the best & until next time, happy writing.
Annalisa

South Burlington, VT: Mme. Sorrell Says “Au Revoir” After 40 years in South Burlington

South Burlington, VT: Mme. Sorrell Says “Au Revoir” After 40 years in South Burlington

Most Recent Writing Tips

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published by Stephen Oliver I’ve been a writer for nearly eleven years and a traditionally published author for the last two. I tried self-publishing ten years ago, but that was a lot of hard work without much gain. It’s been a long...

read more

South Burlington, VT: Mme. Sorrell Says “Au Revoir” After 40 years in South Burlington

Sorrell Retirement South Burlington High School SBHS Vermont writer journalist

Curriculum Area Supervisory and Language Teacher Ann Sorrell will retire at the end of this school year after forty years of teaching in South Burlington.  Sorrell, a Quebec native, began teaching in 1971 and has taught French, as well as serving as a curriculum area supervisor.

Notable to many South Burlington students, past and present, is the work Sorrell has done to provide meaningful cultural experiences for her students. She has coordinated trips abroad since 1972 when she took her first class trip to Colon, France.  In fact, Pat Phillips, the current Assistant Principal, was one of the first to go, Sorrell said.

Over the years this exchange program grew, as Sorrell created a relationship with a high school in Perigeux, France.  This rural regional school has a feel closer to SBHS, Sorrell explained.  “From there, we just developed our own program, allowing students to grow linguistically and open their eyes to what’s available to them.”

The program did expand significantly under Sorrell’s guidance, and now includes exchanges to France, Germany, Spain, and Japan.  SB Students spend three weeks in their host country, living with a family and experiencing native culture.  Students in France and Spain also speak the language as part of the exchange, however experiences in Japan and Germany are open to the student body as a whole.

“I love my classes, but the exchanges are enriching,” Sorrell told The Other Paper in a recent interview. “Getting them to see other cultures, and be sensitized: this occurs when the exchanges are happening.”

Sorrell says that not only do students benefit from a cultural and linguistic awareness, but that close relationships are formed through these experiences.  “People are in tears when they leave.” Sorrell said.  “They form very close relationships; they’ve affected one another.”

Students also benefit from new relationships within the school community. “American students form friendships with people they may not have known before,” Sorrel said.

Language learning and cultural exchanges are important to Sorrell, but she says her ultimate purpose has been “to help students to realize how important it is to think about things.  They really need to look at all sides of questions.  There may be more than one way of looking at things.”  She pointed to language as a good way to hone these skills, as “in learning a language you clarify your own thoughts.  You have to clarify your own thoughts in order to communicate them.”
Though Sorrell had difficulty making the decision to leave her position, she says she feels now it was the best one. She is moving across country to spend time with her husband and children, and hopes to possibly lead cultural classes and excursions for adults.

In reflecting on her long meaningful career, Sorrell said “I could not have done it without my family,” she said.  “We all grew together,” she laughs recounting many a time when up to eight people were staying in her home as part of an exchange.

She also points to a supportive administration as key to the success of the exchange program.

Theresa Mazza-Anthony, who currently teaches at the middle school, will fill Sorrell’s position on the fall.  “She is totally convinced of the importance of exchanges,” Sorrell said.

SOURCE: Annalisa Parent, Correspondent

The Other Paper, South Burlington, VT: SBIRP City Retirement and ICMA Retirement Program

The Other Paper, South Burlington, VT: SBIRP City Retirement and ICMA Retirement Program

Most Recent Writing Tips

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published

Best Reasons to Be Traditionally Published by Stephen Oliver I’ve been a writer for nearly eleven years and a traditionally published author for the last two. I tried self-publishing ten years ago, but that was a lot of hard work without much gain. It’s been a long...

read more

The Other Paper, South Burlington, VT: SBIRP City Retirement and ICMA Retirement Program

South Burlington Vermont Retirement Plan Hafter Journalism Writer

SBRIP City Retirement Plan and ICMA Retirement Program

What is it?  
Hafter was enrolled in two benefit plans: one through the City (SBRIP—South Burlington Retirement Income Plan) and one through the International City/County Management Association-Retirement Corporation (ICMA).  A city employee can be enrolled in more than one plan. Hafter’s pension plans were fully funded by the City.

What was decided?
Councilor Roseanne Greco put a motion on the table to affirm participation in both plans and to waive and relinquish all rights to any money contributed to the plans. The motion was unanimously approved for both plans.

Long Term Care Plan

What is it?
A long-term care policy was purchased for Hafter and his spouse in 2004, for which the City has paid all premiums to date.  Hafter is the owner of the policy to which the city’s contribution has been approximately $60,000 thus far. No official city minutes show that this policy was approved, according to the Council’s Findings.

What was decided?
City Councilor Meaghan Emery put forward a motion to request that premium payments be returned to the City within a reasonable time period, or the City is authorized to take legal action. The motion was approved with affirmative votes from all councilors, except for Rosanne Greco.

Sharing of Increase in Home Value

What is it?
Hafter’s “promissory note involved a $40,000 interest free loan to purchase a home. That loan represented 32.65%  of the Hafters’ home’s original value.  The Promissory note stipulates that Hafter would repay the loan under terms that would be defined by the City Council, and that he would be responsible to the City for 32.65% of the increase in value on the home. Hafter has repaid the loan, a portion of which had been forgiven by the City.  The payment to the city for the home’s increase in value is currently unpaid.

What was decided?
The City Council unanimously approved a motion put forward by Councilor Greco which would ask Hafter to “share in the growth of the homestead in accordance with the promissory note.”

———————
At a special session Monday, September 26, the City Council made decisions regarding former City Manager Chuck Hafter’s retirement benefits.    The Council had delayed making a decision at its September 6th and September 12th meetings as it continued its fact finding mission.  At Monday’s meeting, there was still much missing information.

The meeting commenced with Chair Sandy Dooley and Vice Chair Meaghan Emery reading aloud from a document entitled Matter of Charles E. Hafter Claim for Benefits / Proposed Findings and Discussion by City Council, which detailed facts, assertions and discussions. References to missing information were made throughout the document. “We are being asked to decide a claim for benefits that is based upon undocumented actions asserted to have occurred up to 20 years ago,” Dooley read.  (Go to www.otherpapervt.com to read the entire document.)

The City Council has spent a great deal of time on this issue.  According to the Findings, time was spent undertaking “action to try to verify information that was not in the public record.” In lieu of official documents to record decisions made by previous Councils, the current City Council interviewed former Councilors as well as former city employees to try to piece together missing information.

Lack of information seems to be the one thing anyone can agree on in this debacle.  According to a statement regarding Chuck Hafter’s benefits issued by Betty Moore-Hafter on August 24, 2011, “Mr. Hafter and his attorney have asked the City for the documents that would substantiate the date of the City’s first contributions to Mr. Hafter’s Plan account, but that information has not been provided despite repeated requests.”

At Monday’s meeting, Councilors invited public comment on Hafter’s eligibility for retirement and long term care benefits, as well as his obligation to share in the increase of his home’s value.  South Burlington citizens expressed their concerns to the Council about the missing information, referencing the proposed findings and discussion documents.  “It concerns me that this matter is relying on information that is missing. It’s bothersome that you’re finding what you are, and making it look like it’s fact, when they’re aren’t too many facts,” resident Gary Farrell said.

So, what’s missing and what’s been found?  As the Council discussed each benefit separately, it referred to Council’s 12-page Proposed Findings and Discussion document, as well as Hafter’s 2003 and 2007 contracts that had been made available to attendees.  The contracts were brief—a total of three pages—and contained no mention of the pension plan arrangement, long-term care plan, or waiver of the Home Equity Sharing, under contention. The Council’s findings also make reference to the Promissory Note that indicates Hafter’s obligation to pay back to the City a portion of the home’s increased value. No meeting notes regarding decisions or changes in Hafter’s otherwise-documented plan have been located.

Former City Councilor Chris Smith had addressed the Council regarding the missing notes. “I understand your dilemma, but you have three councilors who’ve come to say they remember what happened.  You’ve already spent $20,000-$30,000 on lawyer’s fees. Aren’t you opening yourself up to a lawsuit?”  Knapp addressed these concerns citing the Vermont Open Meeting Law.  “Unless evidence was taken in an open meeting , and we did not find evidence sufficient to convince us that this decision was taken in an open meeting, it does not meet the requirement of the Open Meeting Law.” The Law requires that binding action be taken in open session and recorded in the minutes.

Despite lack of documentation in prior meeting minutes, the Council moved forward unanimously approving the SB Retirement Income Plan (SBRIP) as well as the International City/County Management Association–Retirement Corporation program (ICMA) and waiving and relinquishing all rights to any money contributed to the plans.

Regarding the long-term care plan, City Councilor Meaghan Emery put forward a motion to request that City-paid premiums (approximately $60k) be returned to the City within a reasonable time period. The motion passed with four affirmative votes and Councilor Greco voting ‘no.’

The final decision was regarding the increase in value of Hafter’s house and the city’s portion of that value.  The City Council unanimously approved a motion put forward by Councilor Greco asking Hafter to “share in the growth of the homestead in accordance with the promissory note,” at 32.65% appreciation.

Once the Council had made its decisions, Smith addressed the Council. “I understand your position.  Looking back at this, if we hadn’t treated this as a litigious matter from the beginning—if we’d started this with conversations with Chuck and the former City Councils—we might not have been as divisive as this. I don’t think we needed to go down this path.”

“We will do things differently,” Councilor Roseanne Greco replied. “We will do things in public and by Vermont Law, and we’re going to record everything we do.”

All of the city documents are available online at www.sburl.com, City Manager Sandy Miller said. Additionally, they can be read at the clerk’s office or copied for a nominal fee.

SOURCE: Annalisa Parent

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