Monthly Archives: November 2015

Using the Power of the Internet and Tech Tools to Get Your Word Out…

The power of the internet has opened so many doors along with www.WritersSecrets.com

Wonderful to have so many tech tools out there for writers.

Here is an awesome one called Creatavist that I learned about at Writers Circles plus Amazon’s new Storywriting Web App. Info below

Check it out and let me know what you think –

Tech Tools for Writers: Creatavist

Creatavist recognizes that powerful stories can be told through a blend of text, images, audio and video. The emphasis is on multimedia. Writers with a flair for aesthetics will find Creatavist an ideal medium for producing and publishing great stories.

You can use Creatavist to publish an ebook, a magazine issue, a news report, a case study. You can even use it to create an app. Giants such as The Wall Street Journal and The Paris Review have already taken advantage of it to publish a variety of work. Creatavist’s slogan is “Storytelling without limits,” and the catchphrase certainly sums up what you experience in the final product. Here’s a great example of a magazine-style Creatavist story, and another sample story that seamlessly ties together text and audio.


If your interest is piqued, get started by creating a free account.

Read more at the source: Writers Circles

Amazon_StorywriterAmazon’s New Storywriter Web App

On November 19th, Amazon launched their new Storywriter web application. But the app isn’t just a publishing platform, it’s a composition tool too!

The application helps break up the the tedium of screenplay formatting. Anyone who’s ever attempted to write a screenplay, a teleplay, or even a traditional play understands how frustrating they can be to compose. Each type of text has its own margins it adheres to and it’s own capitalization. The “tab” and “return” are heavily used to make everything adhere to its proper form. However irritating they seem, all of these formatting stipulations are crucial to the medium. They signal to readers (more specifically actors and directors) what is happening in the script. Underlining, capitalizing, and indenting show the reader what each line means.

Amazon’s Storywriter makes formatting extremely easy. The platform is stripped down so writers can focus on their writing without getting distracted. All that users have to do is click on the type of text they want to include, which Amazon includes in a convenient sidebar. Each option only needs to be clicked to trigger the proper formatting.

Read more at the source of this info: Writers Circles

A new screenwriting experience brought to you by Amazon Studios
Write your screenplay and focus on the just writing the story 
• Auto-formatting does the work for you
• Store your scripts securely and access them anywhere with 
unlimited cloud storage
• Write your screenplays online and offline
• Import and export your screenplays in PDF, FDX, and 
Fountain formats
• Submit your finished screenplay to Amazon Studios for 
consideration

Source of photo and information Google Chrome Store.


Tips for blog and other non-fiction writers.

Do you have a need to write non-fiction articles for your blog, newsletter, or other purpose? Then you’ll find this article timely, apt, and practical. I am going to share some tips which have stood me in good stead… and should be most helpful for you.

My writing credentials.

I have been a published author now for nearly 60 years; my first non-fiction article appeared in the Downers Grove (Illinois) Reporter and was a look at the neighborhood through the eyes of a five year old. Since then, I have written 18 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of subjects. I also have taught expository writing at several colleges and universities, including Harvard. In the last year I have written over 200 non-fiction articles of about 1,500 words each. You could say, and you’d be right, that scribbling is in my veins.

1) Have a writing place, a room or even just a desk that’s used only for your writing.

Have you got a place now that’s dedicated to your writing and to nothing else? Probably not… and that’s your first problem. All serious writers (and by that I mean writers who are dedicated, productive and focused) know the importance of a room all their own, a room where the rest of the world is cordially not invited. In this space — sacrosanct to your craft — there is NOTHING else going on but what helps you write. These days that means a computer with at least a 36″ screen. The older you (and your eyes) are, the more you’ll appreciate the screen size.

Make it clear to all the world that they are not to touch, ever, a single thing in this space. ALL writers have idiosyncratic organizational systems. Whatever is yours must be for you and you alone.

2) Have standard reference books easily at hand.

Good writers have a good working library containing appropriate reference books. For instance, I have standard dictionaries in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German. I use them daily… and so must you. Good writers are expert are finding just the word they need… the dictionaries ensure they get it.

Note: Some, presumably younger, readers will argue that everything they need is available online. It may be a function of my age and habits, but I like the old paper dictionaries and other reference books. That may make me an anachronism… but a happy and productive one.

3) Set up a filing system.

You should have files for articles and books you intend to write. These files should contain ideas and research findings. Do not be casual or disorganized about these things; losing them could set you back days or weeks and is sure, at the very least, to leave you in a nasty temper.

You also need files for all the articles you have written. Such files will contain your notes and research data and a copy of the final article, as well as any fan letters you received (yes, you’ll get them) and other pertinent correspondence.

4) Have a handy place for all your writing supplies.

Writers need lots of supplies, including reams of paper, fax supplies, etc. You’ll need good pens, too, for editing. What you write online should always be printed out when it’s time to review what you’ve written.

5) Select your writing time and strictly adhere to it.

Seasoned writers are methodical writers. They set the exact time they intend to write, starting and concluding, and then proceed accordingly. In his must- read autobiography prolific Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope made it clear when he wrote and what he aimed to produce (250 words the quarter hour). He set the objective and then made sure he achieved it by being in his writing place at the set time… and focusing exclusively on his craft and output at that time.

6) Never take phone calls or other interruptions during your writing time.

Non-writers do not understand writers and our often curious ways; no, they never have and never will. That’s why they think of telephoning or even showing up during your essential writing time. Such people must be politely but firmly told that you never answer calls, etc. or attend to any other interrupting thing during that scheduled period. Life’s little interruptions are severely detrimental to what we must do, and we must be strict about controlling their access.

7) Write daily.

There isn’t a day that goes by, not Christmas, Thanksgiving or the 4th of July, that I don’t write. Thus, by adhering to a strict schedule, I produce about 325,000 publishable words each year. What’s important, however, is not the quantity of words produced but their consistent quality… and the fact that not a single day ends until the quota for that day is finished.

I live in an academic community where there are lots of experienced and even more aspiring writers. When one identifies himself to me, I always ask what he’s working on now, when he expects to finish it and when he finished his last writing project. The answers provide irrefutable proof as to whether the person in question is a writer… or merely a dreamer. Writers write… more importantly writers write daily.

8) Learn to use the search engines.

As a prolific writer, I spent in earlier years a great deal of time in libraries garnering necessary information. Nowadays, with up-to-the-minute data available online at your finger tips, I hardly ever set foot in such an archaic place. The key here is knowing how to use search engines, the “card catalogs” of the Web. Here are some tips:

  1. a) never limit your search to a single search engine. Different search engines can and do produce different results.
  2. b) never restrict yourself to one search term. Brainstorm different search queries; they will produce different results.
  3. c) Print the data and documents you discover as soon as you find them. What you find today may not be there when you return.
  4. d) Do your search engine researching during time you are not writing. Searching is not only necessary; it is actually fun and relaxing.

9) Set up a blog where you can showcase your work.

If you have a blog, use it. If you don’t, set one up at once as a useful place to showcase your work.

A blog gives you, unlike all previous writers, the opportunity to tell the world who you are and show them what you can produce. It should be well-written, simply but eye-catchingly presented, and always timely.

Last Words

Writers are special people; we have a privilege that most of the world can only imagine: the need, the obligation, the absolutely necessary task of seeking truth, contemplating what we find, then writing about it in the clearest, most honest way we can. In the process we touch people’s lives, inform them, change them, improve them. There is absolutely nothing more essential and more rewarding than that.

Now, with this article in hand, you are ready to perfect yourself as a writer and the process that produces just the words you want, just when you want them; for that is the last of today’s advice.To set a deadline for all your writing tasks… and stay focused so you achieve it…

… Which is what I have just done… finishing today’s article on time and the right length, too. In a few minutes it will be posted online, the next step to helping it wend its way to you. Thus we lucky scribblers change the world, one word, one article, one reader after another… people who make a difference every day and gladly so.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

For more excellent writing tips please accept a FREE Gift from Dr. Lant –

Get a FREE Copy of “How to Be a Writer Who Makes Money, Flies High and Dazzles the Folks Back Home. Oh Yeah!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books.

2016 is here and with it brings Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69 birthday. He is, he likes to

say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age

5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Worldwide recognition and

enthusiasm, which culminated with the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he delighted in the awards that followed.

To get your copy plus find his latest books, events and blog posts at

Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Author Page at Author Central

Go to: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

. You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write at www.writerssecrets.co

Writers Secrets, an extraordinary online writer’s course of exquisite quality. Not just on writing but communicating, how to use words to move people, motivate, broaden horizons, build bridges and bring people together. There is a special emphasis on writing family stories to make your loved ones live again and soar!

Go to: http://writerssecrets.com

Of Maximiliano von Rabbit, Universally known to his legion of friends worldwide as Max

MaxHi, I’m Maximiliano von Rabbit, known as Max to my friends.

I got my start as a Cover Rabbit for Dr. Jeffrey Lant at www.writerssecrets.com

He told me one day, “You oughta be in pictures!” And the rest is history. I’ve appeared
in print media, in video, in pictures worldwide, and made lots of personal appearances
with Dr. Lant. There’s even a lot about me in Dr. Lant’s biography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey” at www.writerssecrets.com . And that is one important book!!!

Now I want to tell you how I’ve done it since you make A LOT of money… and
make new friends everywhere. I even met Baroness Margaret Thatcher in
London. And as all the world knows she kissed me. Yes, the Iron Lady. And I’m not
making  this up.

Contact me at www.writerssecrets.com

Dr. Jeffrey Lant just let the secret out of how to create Animal Characters that are as life like as Maximiliano von Rabbit. Characters that will draw people to your work, exactly what writer’s are looking for to build their readership!

You just missed out on this Writers Secrets Live Session with Dr. Jeffrey Lant but

Your in luck! All the Writers Secrets Live Session with Dr. Lant and Guests are recorded.

You can get it by signing up for Writers Secrets


Here is my story with an exert from “A Connoisseur’s Journey

“The Blue Max”.

I am about to do something I have never done before in all my twenty volumes,  volumes which have made me wealthy and attended to by thoughtful and ambitious people worldwide. I shall give you another voice now for a time, a different voice, an hospitable voice with kindness and tolerance the order of the day. This is the voice of Maximiliano von Rabbit, universally known to his legion of friends worldwide as Max. To accompany this momentous event, I have chosen the theme music from Jerry Goldsmith’s 1966 score for the film “The Blue Max”.  It is radiant, soaring, uplifting, even prayerful, a hymn to heroes… and thus suitable for what follows.

 

About Max.

 

Look for a minute at two magnificent signed photographs. Residing in The Blue Room, they are both of HRH (His Royal Highness) Franz Ferdinand. He was heir to the ancient throne of the Royal and Apostolic Habsburgs.

 

However, even with such an exalted destiny, he was not a happy man, not least because he had married a lady named Countess Sophie Chotek. She was not of equal rank to him, was in fact much lower… and so the man who would be emperor when the slender thread of his reigning majesty Franz Joseph (1830-1916)  snapped could not even walk up one of the grand staircases of Schonbrunn with the apple of his eye on his arm.

 

Thus when this dour and stern, grim man was shot to death by Slav terrorists in the high summer of 1914, in turbulent Sarajevo, his slumping body now lifeless, a thing of horror, launched a mighty war than resulted in the deaths of millions, the dislocation of more… including Maximiliano von Rabbit who once lived contentedly amidst his numerous  and distinguished family, never forgetting the day Countess Chotek, who could not live happily with her husband but could not be stopped from dying with him, gave Max an exceptionally fine lettuce leaf and stroked one of his silken purple ears, a color only  allowed to those in the Imperial house.

 

It was the day Max was assigned to the service of the three young children of Franz Ferdinand and (once) Countess Chotek, (now) Duchess of Hohenberg, the blighted princes who could not succeed to the throne because of their mother’s lowly rank, though as it happened all princes high and low were soon to be swept away forever.

 

He is remembering this kind and thwarted lady now and the children he only saw that  day. I know. I hear him snuffling but dare not look, for then I should snuffle too, and it is far too early for that…

 

He recalls little from his next days, and this is exquisite torture for such a sensitive creature as Max, for whom reliving the best of his happy memories is a special  happiness indeed. He cherishes these as anyone would. They are a strong and tenacious bulwark against other memories which are not so pleasant or reassuring.

 

He says he remembers, and perhaps he does, for Max is precise in everything he says and does, his last view of Schonbrunn, the only home he had ever known. He remembers being thrust into a hard wooden box with a hole just big enough to see the man who was celebrating the fall of the dynasty by grabbing as many of its treasures as he could, among them Max who knew he had to keep his wits about him, though his heart was breaking.

 

It is 1:33 a.m., and I have made myself as comfortable, that is to say, as warm as possible, though that does not suffice. I look outside the window, and I think of my godly ancestors who came to this barren and forlorn land, so adamant to bringing forth God and his Commandments that they embraced every  encumbrance and misery, pitting their frail bodies and unswerving beliefs against a Nature that seemed unconquerable until brought low by these same pilgrims. I am of this stock, and I draw on their strength to augment my own. That has never failed me though I have called upon it often and substantially….

 

Oblivion.

 

Max’s memories of what happened to him after being kidnapped by the enterprising vandal who snatched him and turned his every hitherto happy memory into a cruel hoax, profoundly painful to recall, never to be regained, not even for a minute are slender and episodic. His body they might seize and torment, but his mind, his only asset, was free, always free and might still fly high.

 

Thus did a single act of outrage forge a lifetime of despair. No creature great or small could fail to be cast down under such circumstances, but Max had one  benefit that served him well during these bitter, trying times when the best that could be hoped was that things would not get worse.

 

Then he would retreat into a special place of oblivion and reverie, where he  passed whole years, avoiding the present as much as possible to embrace the  still so fresh memories of everything lost forever. And so he contrived to live with but a single hope to sustain him, that somewhere he might find a friend, a friend who might understand him and provide a place where memory was always welcome and at hand. For such a peaceful place he might yearn, though he had moments when yearning seemed hollow and unprofitable,  rueful, acrid, and bitter.

 

Yet it was all he had and it was valued accordingly… along with the memory of that fine lettuce leaf, the Duchess, her children and the grim Archduke who had once smiled at him as a thing who gave pleasure to the lady he loved and the fruit of their world-changing romance. That memory never grew dim and so though he dared not say so, there was hope…

 

 

Calliope, 33 Brattle Street, a friend.

 

It was one of those dog days where just the thought of going out and about made you hot, draining all resolution and endurance. Still I went to the Square, Harvard Square, because I had to; it is, after all, the center of my universe. Thus it happened that I came to pass a shop now gone, Calliope, a thing which I had done so very often before. Only this time was different. There in the shop window warm to the touch was a little fella whose fervent, unyielding hope called to and delivered… me.

 

He looked like I did that momentous day long ago when Dr. Marshall Gordon let me be, so tuckered out did I look, though I thought I saw rather than heard him say, “Help me!” If so it was an irresistible plea. I walked into Calliope, the childrens’ toy and clothes store and, if I but knew it, into far more than a good deed. It was a life changing event, the kind that transforms your whole existence for the better, if you let it. I must have been ready, too.

 

$60 changed hands, and it was all worth it right from the start. I asked the clerk for any information she had, but she could only say “the bunny” had just come in and he seemed so sad. I could tell she immediately regretted saying that since it might induce me to change my mind and get something more cheerful or just get nothing at all. She hurriedly put my new acquisition in a bag, closing the transaction with the kind of instantly contrived smile successful  clerks maintain for such an occasion.

 

As soon as I was outside, I looked in the bag. Then he said, I’m sure he  said, though smug know-it-alls always tell me purple rabbits can’t talk  “Thank you”, and I felt just the slightest squeeze. You see, that was the last of all the hope he had left. Establishing contact with me took everything he had… and if this wasn’t kismet, I don’t  know what is.

 

 

 

“I am Max,” he said. “I know”, I said. But how did I know? Yes, it was kismet alright.

 

It is 10:46 p.m., my fingers make rebellious progress over the frigid keys. I am determined to write this uncomfortable night, a thing which done need not be done well, only well enough to confirm my superiority over other, lesser beings.

 

Little By Little.

 

As soon as Max identified himself to me, there was a deep audible breath as if a great weight had been taken off his hitherto overburdened shoulders. Deep breath, then immediate sleep from which he did not emerge for two worrisome days. Had he struggled so long, with such pertinacity only to be overcome here, with me, in a place of peace? I was anxious and concerned.

 

Then one day when I was having my afternoon nap (a necessary concession made by age for the sustenance and renewal of near boyish energy), I felt a slight push. I thought it was a dream, but it was Max revived, his expression an undeniable smile. He said, “I am well, Your Excellency. Is there anything I can do for you?” And so from this very first minute our relationship took form, he the majordomo of my domain, me the somewhat feckless nobleman who needed an experienced guide and councillor of state ready for any eventuality, for in my life there might indeed be any eventuality.

 

“Vive L’Empereur!”

 

The first thing that he did was to slowly, laboriously inventory my collection, a Herculean task that continues to this day. Wise, he did not rush through this task, which might cause me to question his motives; our relationship was, after all, new and fragile. No, experienced courtier that he was (though he constantly reminded me he was only at the lowest level in the Imperial service in case I should ask for  more than he knew) he went slowly, carefully, a born conservator and preservationist.

 

Of course, he found many treasures; that is, after all, the purpose of the collection, to dazzle, to awe, to astonish and to generate the necessary “Wow!” Factor that makes the arduous, expensive, exasperating, and time-consuming business of  collecting so very worthwhile and satisfying.

 

Max was inside a cabinet (he’s only 7 inches tall after all) documenting some of my mother’s jewelry, when his practiced eye fell upon an Imperial presentation box marked simply “Klinkosch”, that is to say the Imperial court jeweler. Max knew at once, for all his pooh poohings that there was something significant in the box, and what’s more, something that pertained to his own difficult, storm-tossed history.

 

He asked me to open the box since his paws were trembling. At that moment we were both startled by the opening bars of the Kaiser Hymn, originally composed by Joseph Haydn for the Emperor Francis I in 1797. Where had these unmistakable notes come from, for there was no doubt at all what they were. Max stood up to his full height and saluted. His was the very picture of the True Believer. I  stood  up, too, but rather sheepishly.

 

But then I had never been a member of His Imperial Majesty’s Court… and  Maximiliano von Rabbit, named for Franz Joseph’s hapless brother Maximilian, had. That Maximiliano (1832-1867) had died at the stern, unyielding hand of Benito Juarez who might so easily have let him live, his blue blood saved for better endeavors  than enriching the ancient, arid soil of Mexico. Such things were sacred to Max,  plus royaliste que le roi. He knew his duty, and he did it now.

 

“God save Francis the Emperor, our good Emperor Francis!

Long live Francis the Emperor in the brightest splendor of bliss!

May laurel branches bloom for him, wherever he goes, as a wreath of honor.

God save Francis the Emperor, our good Emperor Francis!”

 

Of course he sang it in German. It was the only way to render it for the True Believer, and Max’s manners are comme il faut and never more so than with the  Habsburgs, whom he never ceased to revere.

A Connoisseur in Action

red_room_panoramicDr. Lant’s glorious red room which houses his marvelous collection as told about in his memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy”

A multi-awards winning, gloriously written and unique memoir by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

First Place in category at The GREAT SOUTHEAST BOOK FESTIVAL


BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

WINNER: A Connisseur’s Journey – Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Great Southwest Book Festival, March, 2016

Sole winner in the category

BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

WINNER: A Connoisseur’s Journey – Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Great Northwest Book Festival, March, 2016

BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

WINNER: Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers – Mathias B. Freese

RUNNER-UP: A Connoisseur’s Journey – Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Awarded FIRST in Class at Southern California Book Festival.

SECOND in Class at the Great Midwest Book Festival.

THIRD in Class at the London (England) Book Festival.

THIRD in Class at the New England Book Fare.

Dr. Lant also was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award with a focus on “A Connoisseur’s Journey” with this citation.

“Dr. Jeffrey Lant. On behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I congratulate you on the release of your Memoir, ‘A Connoisseur’s Journey’. Your work is a groundbreaking experiment into the use of musical citations in literature, adding depth and nuance to the reading experience.”

(signed) Charles D. Baker, Governor and Karyn E.Polito, Lieutenant Governor

Preface of “A Connoisseur’s Journey” by Dr. Jeffrey Lant –

This is my twentieth book, but only the first of my memoirs. Over the course of my long connection with books, the discovery, the reading, the writing, the rewriting and rereading I have come across many volumes of memoirs, some glorious and gloriously written, some so forgettable that you cannot remember the author even a moment after putting the dreary pages down, vowing to avoid him like the plague forever after. However I, dear reader, shall give you what you want in a memoir… humor, indiscretion, secrets, stories of the rich and famous, stories about places and situations you’ve longed to visit and enjoy. You will learn much in theleast demanding of ways… and feel more and more intelligent as you read.

 

You will be in the hands of a man of learning, privilege, and audacity, who has been there, done that, and lived to write the tale. There is nothing fair or objective in what you’re about to read. Nor should there be. For a memoir is all about you, your life, your point of view, your unique journey wherever on Earth and in whatever way you choose to make it. And if some — even you! — cavil or object to even a single word or sentiment, why then write your own memoirs, for the genre is open to all.

Get your copy here: http://writerssecrets.com/memoir-creation-2/

 Watch for Extensions coming to “A Connoisseur’s Journey” soon
In the meantime dive into Dr. Lant’s new series

“Treasures From The Lant Collection: Dr. Jeffrey Lant, Founder.”

Find the whole series at  Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Author Page at Author Central with all his latest books, events and blog posts.

Go to: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Dr._Lant_and_Kip_Combined_framedTune in for two connoisseurs in ebullient conversation about life, money, collecting, and the joy of MORE! F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The very rich are different from you and me”… Come see for yourself. Recorded live at Writers Secrets Live Center: http://www.TheLiveBusinessCenter.com/?id=27538

Recording at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/x2hy57hl45xd8nm/Dr.%20Lant%27s%20interview%20with%20Christopher%20Forbes.mp4?dl=0

when your host Dr. Jeffrey Lant,  internationally known authorand commentator, goes toe-to-toe with plutocratic, billionaire Christopher (“Kip”) Forbes, Vice Chairman of Forbes Publishing company, whose appearance reminds us “living well is the best revenge.”.

Every Collector who ever lived would KILL to be part of THIS Epic Event!

Tune in for Dr. Lant, the art connoisseur – see this connoisseur in action as he is unpacking and viewing his newly restored art-pieces for the very first time, the latest additions to his collection.

 

Go to: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ycf1ljc3zzldk72/Dr.%20Lant%27s%20latest%20aquisitions%20of%20art%20and%20artifacts.mp4?dl=0

See Snippets Caught of “A Connoisseur’s Journey – Being the Artful Memoirs of a Man of Wit, Discernment, Pluck and Joy” in the Making

http://writerssecrets.co/products/snippets-caught-of-a-connoisseurs-journey-being-the-artful-memoirs-of-a-man-of-wit-discernment-pluck-and-joy-in-the-making


Dr. Lant is at ease, at home in his Red Drawing Room as you will see in the video of his special reading of the article below:

 

Red_drawing_room

In the Red Drawing Room, June 14, 2013…… At ease, at home, all thoughts of you.

Author’s program note. When was the last time you ensconced yourself in a favorite space and wrote a letter with your own hand, from the heart to a friend long distant, unseen perhaps for years, but still fondly remembered, loved, a letter which confided all, withheld nothing, touched every emotion, and above all allowed the bliss of deep remembrance, all pretense gone, just you and your dear correspondent, a joyful connection so important to be renewed, too important to hurry.

I am writing such a letter here, now, each word to be savored, no word rushed, each one carefully selected to revive a precious friendship, so important, so cherished, a connection I cannot lose, lest I lose part of myself, for memories of you, of us, are the finest memories of all … and I want them, all of them for here is love, and love I must have, or be but a fraction of a man.

Thus I am spending this evening in a special place, with you, a special person, my friend, the only requirement is for sweet sincerity, for we have known each other too long and with such intimacy of expression and purpose to proffer anything else, and as our memories are vital, so must they be honest and true, as I pledge mine shall surely be.

The sound.

The music I have selected to caress us is graceful, elegant, written sharply at knife point by the most fastidious of masters, no superfluous note, annointed by the most discerning of monarchs to enhance his court, the grandest and most civilized on Earth.

It is Couperin, Francois Couperin, the Grand Couperin (1668-1733), composer, teacher, harpsichordist, court organist to Louis XIV with the precise title “ordinaire de la musique de la chambre du Roi”. Tonight he plays for us, “Les Barricades Myste’rieuses”, “Les Concerts Royaux,” “Le Parnasse, ou L’apothe’ose de Corelli.” Find them now in any search engine, close your eyes. We are together again, at last, just the two of us, the years erased, a memorable evening at hand, to the deep satisfaction of us both.

Pray, dear friend, walk in… for no one is more welcome here than you, and we have so much to recall…. and not an affecting moment to lose.

7:42 p.m. in the Red Drawing Room.

It is the hour when there is beauty within and beauty without. The rains have ceased, outside there is deep, lush, lavish green, splashed with dazzling sunlight, the more radiant because destined to be so soon gone. It is pastoral, bucolic, verdant to excess. The shutters are open, the barest breeze stirs the air. It is quite perfect… quiet, serene, the mood enhanced by the courtly rhythms of Couperin whose every well considered note improves even perfection.

This is the scene moving towards oblivion, soon to be a gracious memory. And then that sun is gone, the shutters closed, the night at hand, as we turn inward, to the Red Drawing Room and to each other, joyous, complete, where we most wish to be, together, in soul, in mind, in heart. And we are happy…. alone in  a world of our constructing and unfettered imagination.

“Too much with us ,late and soon.” (Wordsworth)

We like to think, may actually believe, and are quick to say that ours is the most anxious, harassed and pressured generation ever, as if that perverse distinction was a merit badge. Perhaps. However as I scrutinize the Red Drawing Room, first the pictures, then the signed photographs I must disagree with this characteristically egotistical assessment of my peers.

There are seven Old Masters in the Red Drawing Room, each featuring a single individual contorted by life and life’s exigencies. Behold the stately and elegant picture of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by L.F. Doell, a painter of Germanic precision whose meticulous exactitude deserves to be better known.

To look at this striking picture, with its confident look of condescension and unquestioned superiority you would suppose His Royal Highness (1784-1844) hadn’t a care in the world. But that would be a gross mistake for he had a lifetime of troubles, for all that he was reckoned the handsomest prince in Europe, his sole competitor his own brother, Leopold Georg Christian Frederick, later elected the first King of the Belgians (1831), a set of whose very chairs grace this room. Here is the most brief rendition of his persistent and recurring woes…

When he succeeded to his miniscule patrimony in 1806 it consisted of three even smaller duchies, even in good times by no means sufficient to meet the urgent requirements of fashionable royalty. But he succeeded in bad times, when his duchy was occupied by Napoleonic troops and was under French administration. It was not an auspicious start for the man who called himself Ernest III, for there is nothing quite as pathetic as a prince with neither a principality nor a penny.

But there were more ructions, disappointments, and even for this supremely arrogant and self-absorbed prince events that must have touched his soul, if he indeed had one. His 1817 marriage to Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was unhappy because of flagrant infidelities that broke the heart of his wronged lady whose untimely death at 30 was a tragedy for her children, a mortal sin for her errant and callous spouse.

Perhaps because he could not bear to see this very model of outraged virtue, he exiled her, removing her from his sight and causing his two sons, Ernest and Albert, to hate, loathe and despise him… which in no way prevented him from pestering Albert for money when he married his cousin who just happened to be the wealthiest woman in the world, and as Queen Victoria was sovereign of the greatest empire on which the sun never set. It was all most edifying, a clear moral tale, but it made for gloom and self-pity. Happiness was never a consideration.

But happiness, you see, must always be a consideration for us poor mortals and not just “a consideration” but “the consideration”, the sine qua non that turns mere existence into la dolce vita, the life worth living. And that is why M. le duc of Saxe-Coburg Gotha is here, on the wall in front of me.

It is because he discovered, perhaps too late for the actual man, that being master of three duchies and not just two is not good enough; that marrying the suitable princess to burnish his noble luster instead of loving the woman who loved him is not good enough… that sixteen quarters of noble heraldry instead of sixteen quarters of true affection is not good enough and can never be the basis for the substantial life, the life of joy and contentment, the life that goes beyond oneself, that takes the larger view.

Yet have too many of us and even I betimes have given up everything, yes unto and including our very soul, for the insubstantial evanescence of tawdry things which can never be enough, no matter how ardently desired and joyfully praised upon achievement and possession. There has to be more, must be more… and that is why Ernest of Saxe-Coburg Gotha in all his exuberant panache selected me to sustain and harbor him for my lifetime, because of course, each object in this and my every other room selected me, not as the uninitiated suppose, the reverse.

But, friend, I feel sure you are smiling now, and broadly too, at such a notion of fanciful conceit. I remember how once you told me that you believed in the verities of the material world, nothing more, a world where people purchase pictures, not vice versa.

That, of course, is why you need me and the wizardry and magic that permeates the Red Drawing Room, a place where visions are born and horizons broadened… just by stepping across the threshold where we shall find each other… and peace.

Author’s dedication. It is my pleasure to dedicate this work to my friend and colleague Lance Sumner and his two children Rochelle and Joshua upon the occasion of their first visit to the Red Drawing Room, June 21, 2013. May its undeniable magic and allure remain with all of you forever and a day, always a happy memory.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 30 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

 

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered eight literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

 

Get a FREE copy of Dr. Lant’s Birthday eBook!

“WHETHER I SHALL TURN OUT TO BE THE HERO OF MY OWN LIFE. REFLECTIONS AT THREE SCORE AND NINE!” by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

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Thanksgiving from the turkey’s perspective. Over the river and through the woods, a nation’s fowl behavior is noted, bemoaned, admonished, challenged.Timely commentary from the cutting edge.

turkeys

Thanksgiving from the turkey’s perspective. Over the river and through the woods, a nation’s fowl behavior is noted, bemoaned, admonished, challenged.Timely commentary from the cutting edge

by  Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. If you’re a resident of these United States, the fourth Thursday of November will soon be upon us in all its excess, gluttony, and self-congratulation. We know this as Thanksgiving Day, but it most certainly is no day of glorious and heart felt thanksgiving for the crucial centerpiece of this annual event sacred to gourmandizing and loosened belts. In fact, for the family of the genus Meleagris, commonly called turkeys, this date is the darkest day of their lives, their history and their entire existence on this planet… but no longer.

This year for the first time since their majestic ancestors graced the Early Miocene a long, long time ago and after nearly 400 years of unapologetic, systematic execution and intense gobbling launched by New England Pilgrims in the 1660s, turkeys are rallying for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In short, these ancient birds of unmitigated plumage and pluck now demand respect, restitution, and revolution. Due to a special arrangement with a band of their insurgents, I am able to take you inside their headquarters. Thus they acknowledge their need for world-wide recognition and your support for their pressing cause.

Urgency in the air: my interview with the Young Turk leader called “Squawk”, a bird of stark destiny and purpose.

A Message from Squawk.

I was not particularly surprised when I saw the note left under the door last night; indeed given my support over the course of many years for the God-given right to life of polar bears, eagles, monarch butterflies, African elephants and many others, I should have been chagrined not to have been contacted. I have my amor propre too after all. But there it was.

“Be ready. Comrades will make contact precisely at midnight. No cameras. Nothing but pencil and paper.” Then the bold, audacious, even grandiloquent mark already famous: “Squawk” and his proud sign, one blood-red claw print. So… they had chosen me…

… And then it occurred to me. When I booked my Thanksgiving Day reservation at the Sheraton Commander hotel right down the street, the young manager had asked me if I wanted turkey or ham for my main course. Without thinking, I told her that if the glaze would be as deep and resonant as last year’s, my selection was certainly ham. Thus inadvertently by my choice of which dead animal I should feast upon, I became, if anathema to pigs, yet simpatico to turkeys.

In this way I came to know that adherents of the turkeys’ cause can be anywhere, even in the most unexpected of places. Ah, that is what the bright-eyed, chipper serving person meant when she said, “I’m so glad, Dr. Lant” in an especially insinuating manner. Old-goat that I am I thought her come-hither look was for my geriatric charms, and so I thought again “there’s no fool like an old fool.”

Perforce, to my work.

Understanding my task, I readied myself for what could only be a fateful encounter, its salient and urgent points to be brought to a world of the unenlightened. And so I regained myself. I was myself again for in such matters I remain a “Young Turk,” too, deferring to no one, not even Squawk, revolution’s anvil though he be.

The feathered comrades were as good as their word. At the stroke of midnight, I heard the fluttering of wing and heard the unmistakable sound emanating from the fleshy wattle or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak. And thus I fell, through professional pride and recognized standing, into the hands of those who, without Squawk’s laissez-passer, in an instant could blind me and shred my fragile flesh. I now felt as they had felt these thousands of years a prisoner, helpless, incarcerated, destined for premature death. Thus did the clan Meleagris signal the new order of their kind… and the resulting new order of mine.

Of the next several minutes, I recall sensations only. Of feathers carefully positioned to extinguish all light; just a little showing, otherwise entirely dark. Of the occasional sharp claw prick, whether by accident or design, no less painful for that. It was an acute reminder that I was in their complete and utter power, perhaps the first man so rendered in the long relations of turkey and human. They said nothing. I said nothing. Where I was, who I was with, what they would do to me would become completely apparent soon enough… and was.

Squawk’s headquarters. We meet and “talk turkey”.

I never did discover just where I was and where we met. But even if I knew, I wouldn’t say. I am a journalist and my sources sacred… So I shall simply say the place had a make shift aura about it, as if this were a temporary abode, one to be quickly occupied, quickly abandoned.

“Good evening, Doctor Lant.” It was Squawk, and I felt his power, strength, and authority at once. Here was a bird who meant business… and who saw me only as a tool to reach his objective. We understood each other, and so our business could proceed, briskly, for time was limited and we both had deadlines…

He motioned me to a chair. He stood. And then he began, the words swift, lucid, hot, each a declaration etched in acid. He meant every one and every one came without difficulty. Here was a subject of paramount importance to every turkey. He knew he spoke for all his breed, was supremely confident of his position, of the need to speak out, of the full justice of his cause, and the need for action now, complete action, long overdue action, and of what would have to be done should this action be deferred by even a single moment.

It was a clarion call… and Squawk looked through me and made me see what he saw… he was a bird transfigured… exactly what was required for this pivotal time in the long, one-sided relation of turkey and human. I knew as each word emerged that I was hearing history in the making. Like it or not, every clipped syllable was Important. Things would never be the same again.

What Squawk said.

Now each word came fast, irrefutable, beautiful in its delivery, purified by total belief and total commitment.

Of the days before human came. Of a proud bird, great in size, majestic in movement, free ranging over the great land called by humans North America. These were the proud days, the glory days, when every bird knew the joy that is freedom.

Of the days that brought the people called Pilgrims, people who fled tyranny and injustice only to bring a greater tyranny, more menacing and thorough injustice to the land called New England. These storm-tossed people came with only one thing in amplitude: arrogance, an arrogance that everything they saw was theirs and theirs alone. We did not understand these humans then. We saw them as poor, freedom-loving, in need of help we were ready to give in unstinting measure.

And so we accepted their invitation to the First Thanksgiving… where we were the guest of honor indeed: as food. We came in friendship. We found the cooking pot instead… and not merely the pot for some; the pot for all of us in our thousands, our tens of thousands, our millions.

And so the Pilgrims grew fat upon the bounty of our trusting bodies. No wonder these humans gave thanks. They were triumphant over all, a revolution in every step they took. Against such God-believing people, forever certain in their cause what could be done except revolt, violent, intense, thorough, unceasing until the freedom of old becomes the order of the great new day.

“Does this mean….?”, I asked. He knew the question before I even finished it. “Yes, friend, it does. There are comrades who operate in the shady lanes of liberal Newton, of affluent Brookline, even one hero who patrols the grounds and harasses the privileged students of the Harvard Business School. And as our ranks grow, we shall expand… so that no pedestrian wherever can walk, no motorist drive without our calculated outrage made manifest, painful.”

He meant every word … and from previous print reports I knew he would do it if he could. After all the population of wild turkeys has never been greater or demonstrated greater purpose and solidarity.

Envoi

With the briefest touch wing to hand, Squawk signalled that this unprecedented interview was over. Disciplined comrades were at the ready for my immediate departure, blocking my eyes, escorting me home to a world which suddenly seemed less equable than before.

I turned on CNN which announced that the President would be exercising his powers of executive clemency at the White House today, live in just 15 minutes. The lucky spared turkey was called  “Squawk”. Now wasn’t that cute?

The Marine Corps band was on hand and was just now commencing “The President’s Hymn” written in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared the first official Thanksgiving holiday. Its authors were William Augustus Muhlenberg and Joseph W. Turner, spiritual descendants of the Pilgrims.

“GIVE thanks, all ye people give thanks to the Lord, Alleluias of freedom, with joyful accord; Let the East and the West, North and South roll along, Sea, mountain, and prairie, one thanksgiving song.”

Now face to face, eye to eye, Squawk and the President were just a moment from destiny…

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is an awards winning, best selling author.

See his latest 250 articles at
www.jeffreylantarticles.com

Dr. Lant brings the crucial features of his writing career for

Mastering Writing to

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Write comedy… history… book and film reviews…
food… product reviews.

Write mysteries… video and film scripts… romance “bodice rippers”.

It just keeps getting better. We just don’t have space here to tell
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Tune in below as Dr. Lant reads this classic thanksgiving article:

A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.

A_Connoisseur's_Journey_coverA Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.

An awards winning, gloriously written and unique memoir by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

First Place Great Southeast Book Festival


BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

WINNER: A Connisseur’s Journey – Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Sole winner in the category

BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Great Southwest Book Festival, March, 2016

WINNER: A Connoisseur’s Journey – Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Great Northwest Book Festival, March, 2016

BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY

WINNER: Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers – Mathias B. Freese

RUNNER-UP: A Connoisseur’s Journey – Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Awarded FIRST in Class at Southern California Book Festival.

SECOND in Class at the Great Midwest Book Festival.

THIRD in Class at the London (England) Book Festival.

THIRD in Class at the New England Book Fare.

Dr. Lant also was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award with a focus on “A Connoisseur’s Journey” with this citation.

“Dr. Jeffrey Lant. On behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I congratulate you on the release of your Memoir, ‘A Connoisseur’s Journey’. Your work is a groundbreaking experiment into the use of musical citations in literature, adding depth and nuance to the reading experience.”

(signed) Charles D. Baker, Governor and Karyn E.Polito, Lieutenant Governor

Preface of “A Connoisseur’s Journey” by Dr. Jeffrey Lant –

This is my twentieth book, but only the first of my memoirs. Over the course of my long connection with books, the discovery, the reading, the writing, the rewriting and rereading I have come across many volumes of memoirs, some glorious and gloriously written, some so forgettable that you cannot remember the author even a moment after putting the dreary pages down, vowing to avoid him like the plague forever after. However I, dear reader, shall give you what you want in a memoir… humor, indiscretion, secrets, stories of the rich and famous, stories about places and situations you’ve longed to visit and enjoy. You will learn much in theleast demanding of ways… and feel more and more intelligent as you read.

 

You will be in the hands of a man of learning, privilege, and audacity, who has been there, done that, and lived to write the tale. There is nothing fair or objective in what you’re about to read. Nor should there be. For a memoir is all about you, your life, your point of view, your unique journey wherever on Earth and in whatever way you choose to make it. And if some — even you! — cavil or object to even a single word or sentiment, why then write your own memoirs, for the genre is open to all.

A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.

 

 

Listen to Dr. Jeffrey Lant reading the preface to his fascinating memoirs

Preface by Dr. Jeffrey Lant –

Hear what people are writing about this gloriously written memoir

Get more of these video snippets with the “Snippets Caught of “A Connoisseur’s Journey – Being the Artful Memoirs of a Man of Wit, Discernment, Pluck and Joy” in the Making” This masterfully written, totally unique style of memoir, was over a year in the creation. Written live on screen and caught in video snippets available now for you to see the unfolding of this fascinating memoir – “A Connoisseur’s Journey – Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy” by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

  • Get over 40 video snippets of Dr. Lant live from the Worldprofit Live Business Center – the birthplace in the creation of “A Connoisseur’s Journey”
  • See the master at his craft developing his totally unique style of creating a memoir
  • Learn of his writer’s team, his choice of musical selections for each segment of his book, his thorough research using the power of the internet in a way never been done before
  • Follow the unfolding of this book chapter by chapter with readings by the author, Dr. Lant and some of his writing team, fresh after just having been written

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This unique memoir is also a prime model and text for the Writers Secrets Course with Dr. Lant
Dr. Lant is now ready to bring the crucial features of his illustrious writing career to the world through WRITERS SECRETS where he will spill the beans sharing with you experiences, tactics, stratagems, secrets and insights it has taken him a full, rich and productive lifetime to accumulate
This writing course has a special emphasis on telling family stories, writing that bring life and vibrancy to your loved ones. Folks from all over the world come and ask Dr. Lant one insistent question. “How can I write like you write? How can I keep the people I love alive, like you do?”.

I guarantee you will learn this with WRITERS SECRETS and that this may become the most important class you every took, and the most lucrative.

Here’s an outline of just SOME of what you get in “Writer’s Secrets”. You must master each part to succeed as a writer.

1) How to begin successfully. Go to http://writerssecrets.com/2015/11/13/of-words-written-of-our-loved-ones-so-when-summoned-they-live-again-in-us-thus-we-begin/

2) A room of your own.

3) No interruptions!

4) Prepare tonight to get started in the morning.

5) How music can put you in the mod.

6) Setting a quota — and achieving it.

7) Writing when you feel like it. Writing when you don’t.

8) Gathering your facts. Knowing which to use; which not.

9) Kill the telephone and all related interruptions.

10) Write. Save. Rewrite.

11) A quick lesson on words.

12) Never force your writing.

13) Start your day by editing what you wrote yesterday.

14) Need oxygen? Dance!

15) Creating punchy titles.

16) How to write a knock-out opening paragraph.

17) Knowing and using the right word.

18) Are you writing the truth?

19) Take a break: brainstorm future article subjects.

20) How to use music.

21) The dictionary is your friend.

22) Wikipedia. How to use it.

23) On adjectives.

24) The importance of convenient line length.

25) Fact first. Getting them. Arranging them. Using them.

26) Writing about Mother.

27) Writing about other family members and friends.

28) Writing about pets.

29) Benefitting from my memoirs, “A Connoisseur’s Journey.”

30) Becoming the emotion meister.

31) Writing reports.

32) Writing commentary.

33) Writing elegies.

34) Reviewing your bad habits. If you don’t write regularly, you cannot improve.

35) Research gives your writing heft and teeth.

36) How to organize family history before writing.

37) Writing testimonials and remembrances.

38) Reading your words for maximum impact.

39) How to make characters you create real.

40) How to use “Writer’s Market.”

41) How to write cover letters that sell your articles.

42) How to get civic recognition, prizes and awards for what you write.

43) Plagiarism and Fair Use.

44) Protecting what you write.

45) Internet publication resources.

46) Presentation copies and how to give them.

47) Think and act like a literary star before you are.

48) How to deal with criticism.

49) Read other authors… then read some more. Make it a point to read more than you write.

50) Thanking the people who helped you… ahem!

And more, more, more.

As often as possible individual student works will be discussed in class, particularly if what has been submitted becomes a World Problem! This all happens, hey presto, in “Writers Secrets” where your interests are prime… and what you pay each day is less than a piece of gum with rewards that could be astronomical.

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Learn more tune in…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Lx-JnGKmBA

Of Words Written of Our Loved Ones, So When Summoned They Live Again in Us. Thus We Begin

Dr._Lant's_MotherOur course outline for Writers Secrets starts with:

1) How to begin successfully.

You must master each  part of this course to succeed as a writer.

Sign up here for one year of writing insights AND
Dr. Lant’s award-winning book “A Connoisseur’s
Journey.” $49.95

A most wonderful example of an article written by Dr. Jeffrey Lant that is a beautiful illustration of how you can bring life and vibrancy to your loved ones through writing is his article “My most memorable Mother’s Day… a tenacious memory that tugs at my heart and may touch yours”

by  Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. My mother is dead now. But I want you to know that hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of her… not in some idealized fashion either. For she was a vibrant, beautiful creature whose reality, for me, even if flawed, was more compelling than any fairy tale I might make up. And as for charm, why she was a by-word for that; I knew that before I even knew what charm could lead to. Some say that along with her penetrating eyes I inherited my full measure of that charm too. I leave that to you to find out.

This article is being written because it gives me the perfect opportunity to remember her… not just vaguely… but as she was and remains in my mind’s eye, a real woman, my much loved and often argued with mother. Here I am able to indulge myself in the most profound memories, certain that I am writing this article for you… not just for myself. And because the woman is important and the day I am recalling here one of the handful of truly special days of her life (so she often told me afterwards), I savor every word as I think it, write it, consider it, review it — and if not perfect and exactly so, change it. For there is not a word here or even a comma that I can accept in any other way. For you see, this was one of the handful of truly special days of my life… and I want you to share it and know why.

Thomas Gray, treasured poet.

Where did my mother’s love affair with England and her poets begin? I cannot say, but I can recall that wherever we lived its premises were littered with the lyric beauty of the English language… where words mattered, where understanding them mattered, where using them to maximum effect mattered, and where a word was never an obstacle but a friend not yet known well enough, but welcome for all that. As such, books, rarely closed, always open with makeshift book marks were found in every room. We read as effortlessly as we breathed… and the splendor of language surrounded us, shaped us, sustained us… and no one more than my mother for whom poets were accounted special beings well deserving of the veneration they received from her… and in due course from me. And so the profound love between a mother and her first-born son was made manifest in the poems we discovered and shared, the readings of such poems to each other, and the meanings we strove to find… especially for me when she was gone before. Then these bonds mattered most of all.

Thomas Gray, 26 December 1716 – 30 July 1771, just 54 years old.

Thomas Gray was born in Cornhill, London, the son of an exchange broker and a milliner. He was the fifth of 12 children… 11 of whom died in infancy.  he smell of death permeated his young world… a constant visitor to his home, a constant reality where birth and mourning seemed inextricably linked and inevitable. And so he grew up wondering whether his own expected demise was nigh, accelerated by his abusive father. This recurring thought shaped his life, his outlook, and his poems. Later in life Gray became known as one of the “Graveyard poets” of the late 18th century, along with Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, and Christopher Smart. But for Gray this was not a pose; he had been to the graveyard too often too early for that. Death and Gray were on intimate terms from the start.

His sense of humor.

For all that Gray’s life was turbulent and difficult, it had moments of unalloyed joy, not least because he had the valued knack of seeing the humorous side of even the most oppressive subjects. It is good to see he skewered the masters of Peterhouse at Cambridge University as “mad with Pride” and the Fellows of this College as “sleepy, drunken, dull, illiterate Things.”  It was the kind of thing I wrote to my college friends, too, and I knew the joy of such characterizations.

My mother knew I wrote these kinds of acid word pictures; I sent them to her, and she carefully tied them with ribbons adding her own often equally acid responses. These, too, bonded us; we laughed together. Too, there were other traits which may have made her see me in Gray: he spent his time indoors, voracious reader, avoiding athletics and exercise of any kind. But when the companionship of his friends was offered, he was a crowd pleaser with the apt, devastating mot at the ready. Gray and I might have been siblings; surely Kindred Spirits… she must have seen this… and if so have approved.

“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”.

Thus, my mother traveled to England where I was then working on my first book and asked me to accompany her to the setting of one of her favorite poems, the “Elegy” written slowly, painstakingly between 1742 and 1750. She had waited a lifetime for this excursion… and so she and I on Mother’s Day went hand-in-hand to the ancient village of Stoke Poges, to the churchyard of the Church of England parish church of St. Giles. There great Gray’s remains repose for the numberless ages, his monument weathered, tilted, too much too illegible, special torment for this man of perfect wording.

We had come hence to see, to learn, to venerate…. and in the graveyard to read the “Elegy”, together, in turn, lyrically, each word a pledge to love each other now and forever, though I didn’t know its purpose then.

She had her tattered, well thumbed Gray in hand, so did I.

So we commenced the reading, the first stanza hers by right to intone:

“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day/ The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea/ The ploughman homeward plods his weary way/ And leaves the world to darkness  and to me.”

We are borne on these words to the place we most want to be with the person in this sublime moment we both wish most to be with.

Thus we walked and read together from the celebrated words which British General James Wolfe read to his officers September 12, 1759 the day before he was killed in battle, saying “Gentlemen, I would rather have written that poem than take Quebec tomorrow.” It was an admission made by thousands of those who have thrilled to these sonorous words and their eternal relevance to struggling mankind.

‘Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife”

Now my mother has gone the way of all flesh, the way we all must trod in time. We know such an end is natural but that does not assuage the bitter grief and finality of the matter, particularly when the dear departed is one’s mother.  This loss is bitter indeed at whatever age it occurs.

Thomas Gray knew all this and in his beloved “Elegy”, popular from the moment of publication, popular still, he gave us all the words we need to cope, find hope and resignation — and the words of remembrance and above all of love.

Thus whenever I miss her and want her near me in all her humanity and that dazzling smile I can never forget, I take down from the clutter of my library her copy of Gray’s “Elegy” and read it aloud, as we did that memorable Mother’s Day so very long ago. Whenever possible I go to any search engine and play Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor (published 1738). It was one of Gray’s favorites and perfect accompaniment to his surgically precise words.

“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power/ And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave/ Awaits alike the inevitable hour/ The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

But not, with God’s help and with Thomas Gray’s, to the dark void of forgetfulness and oblivion. They have given us the joys of memory and the words we need to summon it –and our loved ones — at will and thus they live again in us.

Listen in as Dr. Lant reads his article: “My most memorable Mother’s Day… a tenacious memory that tugs at my heart and may touch yours”

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A prime model for the Writers Secrets and text for the course is the most astonishing memoir you may ever read, by a writer you will want to meet and befriend, not just read. That author is Dr. Jeffrey Lant, whom you will meet and will be your guide and mentor in the Writers Secrets Course. His memoir is "A Connoisseur's Journey - Being the Artful Memoirs of a Man of Wit, Discernment, Pluck and Joy"


See the master Dr. Jeffrey Lant at his craft with video snippets of the creation of "A Connoisseur's Journey"

Snippets Caught of “A Connoisseur’s Journey – Being the Artful Memoirs of a Man of Wit, Discernment, Pluck and Joy” in the Making

A masterfully written, totally unique style of memoir, which took over a year in the making. Written live on screen and caught in video snippets available now for you to see the unfolding of this fascinating memoir – “A Connoisseur’s Journey – Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy” by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

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Of Flanders Fields, Remembrance and Heartfelt Gratitude.

Giving blessed remembrance and heartfelt gratitude, love and devotion to those that gave their lives, so they can live on in our hearts. Remembrance with these heart felt words by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

                 U.S. Memorial Day. Remember!

flanders_field_marker_on_stump

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Let us recall this day and its purpose first by reminding you of one of the most celebrated poems of war, youth too soon ended and of the flower that evokes it all, the blood-red poppy.

In Flanders Field by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D. Canadian Army (1872-1918).

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow Between the crosses row on row, That marks our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

When I was a boy growing up in Illinois in the late ‘forties and ‘fifties, every school child was expected to take a few paper poppies (made so we knew by wounded and maimed U.S. Vets) and collect some pennies for them from friends and neighbors who never needed to be reminded of what we were doing or why they should contribute, even if it was the widow’s mite. And if it were the widow or mother with a gold star always in the front window, she responded with exultation and alacrity, hugging her student visitor, and tears would soon be shed. While you didn’t comprehend why, you soon found yourself with tears, too — and the adults called you a “good boy” and always looked into your eyes as they said so.

21 in Flanders fields in the midst of war.

I made my first trip to Europe, to the France I was destined to love deeply, not least for her wounds and too frequent miseries; the year was 1967. Vietnam was on the world’s agenda, rending the people and the nations. On this trip I (unlike all my traveling companions who had very different locales on their itinerary) decided to go, taking a bus tour to Flanders fields. I had helped distribute the paper poppies for many years; I knew the famous poem, and I was curious to see what the vestiges of carnage and military butchery looked like.

But I little knew the power of these fields and of the palpable spirit of this place, the spirit that spoke to you, and at once: “Remember, we are your dear departed, your brothers, your fathers, your young boisterous uncles too soon taken; the cheerful postboy and the brilliant medical student. We are here, all of us,in our millions; we wish you to understand the profundity of this place, the purpose of this place, the solemnity of this place… and the gripping tale, certain to impress you, that we tell in our very life’s blood.

This is a place of unsettled ghosts, of too much loss, too much death, too many to remember and an urgent need never to forget a single one.

Then of a sudden the compelling insistence of this hallowed place made itself known to you. Tourists like you, babbling of places where they had found good values and other places where they had not; these tourists now saw the majesty of unending death, too soon, by too many… and their very words stopped… as they saw around them on every side the unmitigated panoply of death…

Our vehicle went slowly through these fields where death had staked its boundless claims, for more limbs, for more blood, for more and still more fragile bodies and of a world of plans, expectations, destinies, ended right here…

You feel all at this tragic place… and are quiet like your fellow travelers; not one saying a single word… the only sound the wheels of your vehicle, now a cortege, and the tears falling fast… while complete strangers take hold of their neighbor’s hand and squeeze; it is all any of us can do… and we all want the warmth of life and seek it now.

What I learned that day, what you must know, is the immensity of these places of eternal rest for a generation. Here and at many similar places this generation abides for the ages, these fields profoundly marked with pristine graves and simple headstones, that show the last day of their life, the first day of their oblivion.

You think, you hope that the end is nigh, but you cannot say so. You cannot say anything; your vehicle goes slowly, the better for you to understand the awe of this place… and your spirit is sorely troubled and challenged.

And still your vehicle rides through more of the unending graves, each for a life unseasonably, unnaturally ended… and one word rises before you and the other travelers: why? What could have justified so much death and confusion, so much ended too soon, the promise of so many lives, and these so young? Why?

After several hours, your tour is ended… but the graves of Flanders fields are not at an end. They are, at tour’s end, what they were at tour’s beginning: a metropolis of the dead, where the great numbers you see are only a tiny fraction of the unimaginable totality.

And at last, from so much pain, so palpable and pathetic, comes a valiant thought. That the acres of Flanders fields, at least in part, are the story of the greatest gift of all, to die for the good of all, to give your life so that the lives of untold others can be lived fully, happily…. having received from these dead their lives, their prosperities, everything that makes life worth living.

Since the inception of our great republic wars, insurrections, riots, uprisings have punctuated our national existence. And each has yielded a generous quota of good people who died that America and all Americans might live.

The danger, my fellow countrymen, is that any part of us, any one of us should live without blessed remembrance and heartfelt gratitude to the dead… all of them expired in the unending service of the nation, our allies, and the troubled planet we aim to sooth and uplift. Every great cause, every event within these causes has called upon the best among us… and has resulted in the greatest sacrifice of all, for so many.

What the dead of Flanders fields and of all America’s far-flung endeavors want is what only we living can give. And that is our full love and devotion to such as these. We can only be fulfilled by giving it… which is what we do today, and gladly so. It is little enough for the sublime greatness of their gift to us.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated, awards winning author, Dr. Jeffrey Lant is a syndicated writer and author of 20 books, best selling books.

Dr. Lant brings the crucial features of his illustrious writing career to www.WritersSecrets.com for others to master writing.

Listen in as Dr. Lant reads his word of remembrance:

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