Layla Bunch

May 12, 2016

Six years ago I saw a homeless woman standing on a street corner in Woodland Hills. I gave her some change. I saw her again a few days later, started to imagine her story, how she came to be in such a predicament. Then I wondered what would happen if I invited her into my home. I didn’t take her home, and in fact I never saw her again, but that short encounter started me on a creative journey that resulted in a novel, Layla Bunch,  that is nearing the final stages preparatory to publication. Right now the manuscript is in the hands of Renni Brown who is a well-known editor. She’ll provide a developmental edit that will look for inconsistencies, structural issues, character weaknesses.

In the meantime, I am nearly halfway through a first draft of the next book in the series, Jimmy Wicky, featuring the same characters introduced  in Layla Bunch. Toni Lopopolo, literary agent, will try to execute a two to three book publishing contract.

So, to all the people who’ve asked me, “Where do you get your ideas?” now you know how Layla Bunch was born. If you’re a writer, asking ‘what if’ questions can be one of the best ways to ignite the story spark.

So wish me luck,


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

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I’m Mad as Hell

September 27, 2014
There is so much misunderstanding about metastatic breast cancer that I want to bang my head against the wall.
Vera has a better approach however; and that is to use her words to spread understanding and awareness. Read on to see her letter to the Today Show. And if you would be willing, pass it on.

Vera Writes —
You may have heard that Joan Lunden is going through breast cancer treatment. She was featured bald on People magazine and Today is doing a “Today Pink Power” show in October.

A friend of mine wrote to the show to ask that awareness of metastatic breast cancer be included. They invited her to appear on the show, only to un-invite her once they saw in her photo that she isn’t bald. They say they only want a group of women who are ‘bold and bald’ (their words) on the show to support the cause.

I was incensed at the ignorance and audacity of the Today Show. I wrote them an email, and published it on my Facebook pages too. Thought you might want to know about this.

Here’s my letter:


I’m a metastatic breast cancer warrior. I’ve had this recurrence of breast cancer to my bones for the last 3 years.

My friend Lisa told me that you are only interested in women who are rendered bald by this disease.
I’ll have you know that 12 years ago, when I was bald from chemo, I was only stage 2 and had a 70% chance of never having cancer again.
Unfortunately I ended up in the unlucky 30% and here I am today.

That your news organization only wants ‘bold and bald’ women to stand around on the day you feature breast cancer is so highly offensive, I struggle for words to express to you, as someone dying from this disease, how insensitive and ignorant this truly is. Many treatments for end-stage breast cancer do not cause hair loss. It is one of the few indignities that some of us are spared in our last days.

Shame on you for putting shock value ahead of humanity. I will never watch the show again.

Vera Bierend
Stage 4 breast cancer patient
Santa Clarita, CA

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Categories: Uncategorized.

My grandson has MS

September 4, 2014

I haven’t talked about this before. It was hard for my family to go public with this piece of information. Partly because we didn’t want to talk about it with other people. We wanted to curl around that bit of sadness, keep it to ourselves. Didn’t want to  pretend that our collective heart weren’t breaking.

My grandson, overnight, became the man I hoped he would be someday. Didn’t have a whole lot of indication that he was anything more than someone I loved dearly who liked to play computer games and didn’t have much ambition. I believed in him blindly because I loved him so much. Then this happened, this terrible diagnosis that had so much uncertainty surrounding it that no one knew what to expect from one day to another. My grandson, who managed to be born on my birthday,  stunningly and courageously taught our whole family how to live and to be.

Tomorrow our family and friends will gather together to celebrate this wonderful young man’s journey. Pray for him and all the others so afflicted.

Trevor’s Grandmother


Categories: Uncategorized.

2nd Annual Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference LA County

September 1, 2014

Categories: Uncategorized.

MBC Writing Project

August 31, 2014

Been a long time since I paid any attention to this blog. One starts with good intentions, but after a while the passion for talking to the world grows less. I’m still plugging away at my latest novel Layla Bunch. It’s taken so long, people have stopped asking how’s it going? Well, it’s going. I hope to put Roberta and Layla and the whole cast on stage pretty soon (please God).

What’s taking my time these days is new, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Writing Project. Studies show that writing can be healing for anyone in a stressful situation. Writing is a great way to communicate with yourself and others and in a larger sense in this case, create awareness of the difficulties that must be faced by the metastatic patient.

This project is about encouraging people with metastatic breast cancer to write. Put their thoughts and feelings on paper for themselves (journaling); for the world (blogging). We also have a series of articles  we have asked writers to submit for publication on coping with the disease.

If you know anyone that’s metastatic, tell them about the MBC Writing Project. Soon there will be an MBC Writing Project website. Right now we meet over at Google+ where we’ve been posting samples of articles. Ask to be included in this community.



Categories: Uncategorized.

10 Questions that Create Success

January 27, 2012

This list of questions to  create success popped into my inbox this morning, and good blogger that I am, I immediately appropriated the content. is the plagarizee, and I thank him for this thought provoking reminder of what should be of primary concern to all of us. Ask yourselves these questions at the end of every day, and at the end of your very last day you will have few regrets.

1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?
2. Have I done something today that improved the world?
3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong flexible and resilient?
4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?
5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?
6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?
7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?
8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?
9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?
10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?


Categories: Thursday - Lifestyle Changes.

January 27, 2012

Employee Engagement: There will be a continued growth in employee-engagement programs. If the economy continues to falter, we will see more corporations supporting NGOs and nonprofits via employee volunteer programs, rather than just writing checks. A recent sustainability study by Green Research found that 80% of major corporations are planning to invest significantly in employee engagement in 2012. According to Gallup, 86% of engaged employees say they very often feel happy at work, compared to 11% of the disengaged. Additionally, companies with highest levels of employee engagement saw increases in their bottom line: On average they improved 19.2% in operating income, while companies with lower levels declined 32.7% (Towers Watson). Engaged organizations also grew profits as much as three times faster than their competitors. The Corporate Leadership Council reports that highly engaged organizations have the potential to reduce staff turnover by 87% and improve performance by 20%.

Categories: Saturday - Susan G. Komen.

Some Tools for Writers

January 23, 2012

A writer needs all the help she can get, so here’s a few suggestions from my own tool box.

1. Scrivener is software I use to manage my writing projects. It’s a UK   product and was developed for the MAC. They recently added PC’s to their   universe. You can purchase for either computer type at They   have a 30 day free trial. It helps to tame the beast when trying to revise. I won’t go into details, go check it out.

2. The Internet Writing Workshop is   a listserve managed by some people at Penn State. It is one of Writer’s Digest   101 Best Web Sites for writers. I don’t know if there is any association   with the school, but I have made many good writing contacts through this site.   You can submit an entire ms one chapter at a time. Some of the critters   are published authors.

3. You Write On is based in   the UK. You can submit the first 7 K words of your ms. For every critique you   give, you will receive a critique in return. Assignments are done randomly.   When you are critiqued, your ms is graded in 8 categories from Characters,   Pace, Story, Language, Voice, Dialogue to Theme and Setting. After your ms receives 8 critiques (I don’t know why everything is in eights) it is ranked   with all the other ms on the site (hundreds & hundreds). Every month the   top rated submissions receive a critique from an editor at Orion or   Random House. You can read all the critiques by these professional editors and   learn quite a bit.


Categories: Tuesday - Writing.

I Was Married in Donna Summers House

January 18, 2012
I’ve been married three times. In my first two marriages, I think I was too restless to stay put for long. Husbands one and two all had good qualities, and I am friendly with both to this day, but marriage to husband number three endured the longest, and since I learned some useful skills in my practice marriages, I don’t plan on trying for a forth. 
I met my current husband, Bob, when I answered an ad in a magazine. This was before the more sophisticated match making techniques of the cyber era.  The ad read something like “Retired, good looking gentleman looking for companionable relationship…”  I was a senior officer on Wall Street and I wasn’t dating at the time. Middle aged, married enough times and raising a teenaged daughter in a one hundred year old house in Brooklyn, I was more concerned about protecting my California-bred daughter from wannabe mobsters and stripping paint from woodwork than I was in dating.
My secretary wouldn’t let me rest on my past marriage laurels, “Everyone should have a guy,” was a popular refrain in the office. Even the mailroom guy started to ask me if I was dating, and did I want to meet his cousin who owned a deli.
“Here, I even circled some interesting ads,” my secretary said, and laid a copy of New York Magazine on my desk.
“Trudy, they’re all serial rapists and con men,” I said.
“My cousin met her husband through an ad.” She sounded exasperated and I was tempted to throw her out of my office before the conversation escalated. Trudy is a Long Islander, giving her a sense of entitlement that people from the five boroughs of the city usually don’t have. She tended to expect to get her way most of the time. Whenever I stymied her, she was known to stamp her feet like a child. I put up with her because she was good at her job, and she took good care of me. But I wasn’t about to allow her to orchestrate my love life.
“I’m too busy.”
“Just pick one, I’ll write the letter, I’ll take your picture, and we’ll see what happens.”
“I’ll even field the calls.”
“Good, you can go on the dates too.
A few days later, Trudy smiled broadly when I walked into the office. “What are you so happy about?” I asked her.
“I made a lunch date for you.”
“Why does that make you happy? You make lunch dates for me all the time. Who is it?”
“His name is Bob,” she answered.
“Who’s he with?” Usually she wasn’t so coy. Business lunches were nearly a daily occurrence, and part of the reason I had put on weight since moving to New York.
“He’s with himself,” and she hooted with laughter.
“Trudy, have you been drinking?” I looked at her coffee mug, and it looked like the usual sludge from the office kitchen.
“You are going on a date.” 
I could feel my face getting hot. I must have looked angry too, because Trudy’s eyes opened wider and she wheeled her chair back from her desk and held up her hands. “Don’t get mad.”
“Too late.”
“Just listen, he sounds so nice on the phone. He’s retired and he says he’s good looking.”
“He says?”
“Well that’s what the ad says. He’s coming down here today.” The last sentence was barely audible.
“Call him and cancel.”
“Oh no, he would be so disappointed. He wants to hear about your woodwork and your horses and Cindy.”
“Did you tell him my life story? Did you tell him I’m getting fat and I’ve been married twice? What have you been up to ‘Miss Can’t Mind Her Own Business’?”
“I had to make the letter interesting so people would answer. I didn’t make dates with the other men, just Bob.”
“The other men?” She opened her mouth and I held up my hands. “No, don’t tell me, I don’t want to hear.”
The rest of the morning I was busy at my desk until Trudy stuck her head into my office around noon. “He’s here,” she said.
“I told you to cancel.”
“He’s too nice; he’s down in the lobby.”
“You know you’ve gone too far this time,” I said.
“You’ll thank me.”
When I went down to the lobby, there was only one man standing in front of the security desk. He was wearing a car coat with wooden toggle buttons that looked like something someone would wear on the range in Montana. He peered at me for a minute and then walked up to me. Mr. Toggle Coat was Bob. I’ve tried to remember if I was gracious when we met, but I suspect I was still fuming at Trudy and may have taken it out on my future husband. At least for the first few minutes. Then, his courtly good manners and gentle humor took me by surprise, and I had a good time at lunch. So much so, I agreed to meet him for dinner in  few days later.
Trudy had a smug look on her face when I returned to the office, but I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of telling her I enjoyed myself just as she promised. My only remark as I passed her desk, “Don’t do that again.”
“You can’t fool me, I know you had a good time.”
I stopped and looked at her. “And how do you know that?”
“I followed you and watched you and Bob through the mirror at the bar.”
“You did what?”
“You know, in case he was a serial rapist or a con man.” I heard her sniggering behind me all the way into my office.
Oh, and the wedding at Donna Summers house?  I’ll tell you about it next time.

Categories: Wednesday - Memoir.

Sharon Spencer Schlesinger: NaNoWriMo

November 11, 2011

Sharon Spencer Schlesinger: NaNoWriMo: What am I doing blogging when this is National Novel Writing Month? For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is almost self-descriptive. A whole bunch…

Categories: Uncategorized.

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