Archive for January 2013


I may not be blogging very much for a while. My time is taken up with lots of other stuff these days. One big thing is working with TM Publishing to complete the editing of the former “Mrs. Job.” As I’ve said before, people pronounce “Job” as if it has to do with paid employment and that is clearly misleading. So we’re looking for another title and cover illustration.

Once we get all this relationship counseling taken care of, I’ll be offering the original “Mrs. Job” at a reduced price.

In the meantime, if you have read “Mrs. Job,” you might be willing to put out a few suggestions for title change (and cover.) (Anything that doesn’t have “Job” in it.) The publisher has offered the following suggestions.

Some questions to prompt the brainstorming process:

What is the core idea of the book?
What is the primary emotional experience you want a reader to have while reading or by reading the book?
What phrases, images, or emotions from the book resonate most strongly with that idea?
What prompts the protagonist’s story arc? Why does the character who changes the most in the book, change?
What symbols and images connect to that cause?
What feelings does the point of view character experience throughout the story?
Does the reader share these feelings? If so, what feelings should the reader experience?
What symbols or images related to the story would evoke that feeling?

These are some of the things we discuss as a company when creating a title and cover. They are just a starting point; hopefully, putting the answers to these questions into words will spark other ideas.

Posted January 30, 2013 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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My daughter pointed this out today. Challenging — even a bit scary — but so important. An excerpt from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt.


In conversation with friends, my granddaughter, an historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, described the question she asks people on the tour she leads at the palace. Who was the last governor to inhabit the palace? If no one answers she gives a clue. “He’s a well-known historical figure with red hair.” If still no one answers, she gives another clue. “He wrote the Declaration of Independence.”

Getting the answer, one friend averred “I don’t really care what color hair he had.”

Here’s my reaction. I think it’s very important to know what color hair he had. Why? Because we learned in school, and in the years following, to see our founding fathers as icons, fixed images of wisdom and unchangeable truths. It follows that we adhere to them as if they are not to be challenged.

That’s not the truth. These were real men, courageously working together to break away from old restraints and establish a new society. They worked, argued, fought, and compromised within the limits of their own experience. The Declaration of Independence was a work in progress, on which they finally decided to agree and get on with it.

Why is it important that Jefferson had red hair? Because it describes him as a living, imperfect human being who needed haircuts. The danger in sealing the arguments of our founders as if they were fixed, unchangeable, perfect-for-all-time pronouncements is to deny the very treasure they left us with… the flexibility and freedom to move and change with the demands of the time and the people who populate it.

In appreciation of Martin Luther King on his day.

Appreciating the surprises   8 comments

We were on the wrong bus — went to the wrong place — didn’t have the excursion we signed up for. But sometimes mistakes can lead to pleasant surprises, like the Australian Gannets we saw when we unknowingly joined the birdwatchers.

I guess the lesson is: Be Prepared For Unanticipated Treasures.

Australian Gannets - Version 2

Posted January 19, 2013 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized


The new header is Holland America’s Oosterdam. Definitely not the best photo, but I’m going to leave it for now. I’m still having trouble mastering the header thing.

Still reporting on the Australia/New Zealand trip, I want to tell you about one of our favorite things in New Zealand – the Taieri Gorge Railway. The train was waiting for us right on the dock at Dunedin, initially named New Edinburgh, later re-Christened Dunedin, the old Celtic name for New Edinburgh.

Our hosts were volunteers enthusiastic about old railway cars and routes. Seated at tables, we were served light refreshments as we traveled hills and gorges, over bridges built specifically for this revitalized train. Occasionally we paused at old station stops, greeted by people selling mostly home crafted wares.

I found it hard to imagine how they made it there in their in their vans, but I was told there were roads through the mountains. Chatting with one woman I realized what an ideal life it was for a craftsperson who liked isolation.

Doug – the real photographer – spent his time on the platform between cars, getting some fabulous shots, while I hung out inside, chatting with the folks from Rhode Island who shared our table.

I would have bought a gorgeous hand knit scarf, but the seller took only New Zealand cash, and I survived the whole time there without acquiring any local money. Credit cards and even dollars got me through.

Anyway, I’m including here a couple of my photos from the trip. Strongly recommended journey!

Taieri RR cars

Taieri RR stop

Posted January 12, 2013 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Finally the photos are ready   4 comments

It took two-and-a-half plus days to unscramble the mess I made of my MacBook Air by migrating the huge contents of my Mac Book. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s OK.  Just know that I created a disaster shortly after my return from Australia/New Zealand. which left me without segments of my financial records, and all my travel photos. Well, they were finally recovered, but all of them in quadruplicate, so back to the bright and helpful tech folks. Finally that hazardous project was complete and I had my photos back in appropriate singlets, but all the work I had done organizing and labeling them was lost.

Finally I had two full days after Christmas to reorganize and relabel them. So now I’m ready to share some of my iconic experiences.

Let’s start with the sort-of -negative that ended in a kind-of-positive experience. It was the result of a rare occurrence: Holland America Line goofed up. We had paid for an excursion to learn about the Maori in New Zealand, but were put on the wrong bus. So we spent time riding, and riding, and riding, occasionally stopping for photo ops. And there were some lovely opportunities.

But we kept waiting for the Maori experience, until Doug figured it out, noticing all the folks on the bus carrying cameras with exceedingly long lenses. We were on a bird-watching expedition. Pretty dull compared to what we’d expected, until we arrived at the destination where we had a surprise view of hundreds of Australian Gannets. Not what we would have chosen, but a serendipitously interesting experience.

p.s., Holland America reps met us as we got off the bus, apologizing, and explaining that they had tried to catch up with us to get us to the right bus, but were not successful. And they did reimburse us our payment for the Maori expedition.

Now, two relevant photos.

We should have noticed the side of the bus when we got on. But we were trusting that the driver actually looked at the tickets before welcoming us on. Lesson learned. We’ll be more careful in the future.

We should have noticed what it said

And then there was the positive experience. The Australian Gannets.

Australian Gannets

Australian Gannets

Now that my head is on straight, and my photos in order. I’ll plan to share a few more in the next few days once I re-adapt to the cold and snow of Minnesota after the relative warmth and clear roads & sidewalks of Williamsburg. Ouch!

So, to all of us, I wish a New Year better than we dared hope for.

Posted January 2, 2013 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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