The shop is empty except for an OLDER WOMAN, the customer,  and TWO 20-SOMETHING MEN, the sales staff.

The woman is carefully examining the shoes on display. The young men are hanging out at the front of the store talking and rearranging shoes in the display window. They pay no attention to her and finally she holds up a shoe and interrupts:


What material are these shoes made of?


Ummm. I don’t know.


 (unbelieving) You don’t know?


(Uncertain) Um, no


You work here and you don’t know what material the shoes are made of?


No, do you?


No. They’re shoes.


I know they’re shoes. But are they leather? Are fabric? Are they–


Yes, maybe, whatever.


I came in here specifically to buy a pair of Skechers, but you’ve just lost the sale.


(a bit pathetically) But why?


Why should I spend my money in a store that doesn’t even care enough to train its sales staff–


(interrupting) Yeah, well, whatever. (waves arms motioning for the woman to leave)


( walking away) Was this the millenial idea of retail service? Or was it ageism?


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Post image for You’re a Writer Looking to Move into Major Publications? Get Started at My Writers’ Workshop

That’s what we’ll be doing…

And here’s how we’ll be doing it…

  • Every Saturday I post a lesson pertaining to that week’s topic. It will include
    • text written by me
    • an assignment (prompt, research task) for you
  • You have the week to complete the assignment.
  • We will communicate on-line during the week as much or as little as we need to.
  • Some weeks, we will meet in a video chat at a time that works for both of us.


  • I set up a virtual Workshop room in Google Drive.
  • Drive enables not only private sharing of documents, but commenting as well.
  • This will be the central part of the workshop, which you can access any time that works for you from any platform (Drive works on smart phones as well as tablets).
  • The video chats take place in real time via Google Hangouts.

Want to Know How I Know About All This:

  • I’ve been a working writer all my adult life and that means I understand what it feels like to be a writer as well as what how the business works.
  • Since 1975, I have earned my living as
    • a magazine feature writer (too many to list, including Redbook, Los Angeles, New Times, Ladies Home Journal
    • non-fiction book writer (Doubleday),
    • documentary producer (PBS),
    • radio reporter (KPFK),
    • scholarly writer (academic conferences)
    • business writer (British American Chamber of Commerce)
    • print editor (LA Free Press),
    • blogger (Patch,, Third Age, Vibrant Nation, She Posts).
    • I founded in 2008 and the first Writers Workshop began that year.

To Reserve Your Place: Email me at 

  • Your name, email address & phone number, plus
  • A brief note with your goals and blog address
  • Your preferred method for paying the $300 fee
    • Paypal
    • Google Wallet
      • I will send you the relevant info for making the payment when I acknowledge your request to reserve a place

Any Questions…… or in the Comments below

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Writing booksThe early morning hours can be the most troublesome for me. I swim to the surface of a nice-enough dream and land straight in my day-to-day reality. It is, I can assure you, not dreamlike. In fact, those early morning hours when I’m lying awake often feature a parade of my worst case scenarios come to life.

I should get up. I should get up and brush my teeth and start my day. I know this, because when I eventually haul myself out of bed and do it, the worst case scenarios melt down to the bearable reality. But I want to get back to the nice-enough dream and so I burrow in and try for another go at sleep.

Sometimes it works and occasionally I’ll wake up feeling spiffy and ready to meet my day. More often, I wake up an hour later, feeling drugged because I’ve slept too long. When it doesn’t work, I’m left to deal with all the stuff that I don’t want to deal with in daylight–and then some.

As anyone who knows me through ByJane and MidLifeBloggers is aware, I often write myself out of my sad places. Or at least I have in the past. Now–now I’m a little more loathe to do so. Or maybe a lot more than a little.

I’m feeling very self-protective lately. I’m feeling very unsure of where and what and why I am and I’m fearful of put something out there that will be read in any other way than as I intended it. Yes, I would like to control the way people read my words. I work hard to make them specific and true to me, but despite that, my readers have their own agendas, and they will not obey mine.

So I’m not writing the specifics of my sad places, which means that I’m sort of stuck like sludge in them. I came up with an idea this morning for how I could get around that. I would start a new blog, an anonymous blog that would be a repository for all my writing that feels too vulnerable for public dissemination. When I was a kid, I had a red leather diary, with a key no less, that I kept on and off for not very long. I would address my diary directly, but I was young enough that spelling was still an issue for me. I would write, “Dear Dairy.”

I thought, what a great name for this new blog that would contain my most private posts. It would be plain, perhaps a template that looked like notebook paper. The font would be something handwriting-ish. The header would–and here I pulled up short. Header? Template? Font? For whom? Who would be reading this new blog of mine? And wouldn’t the fact that there were readers drastically interfere with my need for total privacy?

Well, yes, it would. But if no one read what I wrote, then what was the point?

That’s when I realized that for me, writing is a performative act; it requires an audience. In some ways, that seems a bit creepy to me. I have this image of my 9 year old self on the school bus flipping her skirts up to get attention. I know people who do that with their blogs. There’s a fine line between showing one’s vulnerable side and TMI. Some bloggers do it well; they’ve built careers on it, and I admire them. Some bloggers I just want to say, “Pull your skirt down and find another way to fulfill yourself.” I think that fine line is mostly in the eye of the beholder–and of the writer. Which is, I suppose, my way of saying, It’s fine for you, but not, I think, for me. At least right now.

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Daphne Merkin


The action is over at JaneGassner(dot)com….come visit.

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bardsley cover“Come on in, sit down. Can I get you a cup of coffee?” I could almost hear Anne Bardsley saying that to me as I read her new book, How I Earned My Wrinkles: Musings on Marriage, Motherhood, and Menopause. In fact, I could swear midway through I could hear her offering to pour me a glass of wine, as well.

Anne explains in the Introduction the source of the many tales she tells about–well, marriage, motherhood, and menopause. She is an inveterate note taker:

I have a library of journals where I jotted down memories and snippets of conversations I wanted to remember. Actually, I’m not really that organized. They aren’t so much journals on a shelf as they are a collection of paper napkins, matchbook covers, and restaurant menus stuffed in a drawer with my scribbled notes and tidbits of memories. Sometimes an idea will come to me and I’ll write it on the back of a supermarket or bank receipt. I now have a vast collection!

Take your choice of tales to read–from”A Weighted Matter,” a discussion of the wisdom of vaginal weight lifting, to “Oh, Those Seven Pounds,” about her granddaughter’s birth, to “Two Old Gals Gone Wild,” which tells of the Virgin Islands getaway she took with her oldest friend. There are over fifty (!) chapters to choose from, on every topic imaginable in the world of a midlife woman.

I read my copy on Kindle, but you can buy How I Earned My Wrinkles in paperback as well. If you’re an Erma Bombeck fan, you’ll certainly recognize Anne Bardsley as a kindred soul.

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