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Archive for October, 2007

Corpse of Copse

Posted by contentgrrl on October 31, 2007

I’m looking back on a poem I wrote for a corporate contest Halloween 2006:

Homeward bound in hope and reverie and mist
Through twisted grove in twilight hallowed and shadow-tricked
The wood winds blow chill crystals from my breath
My eyes clench against a musty autumn bluster
I amble, stumbling in brambles abruptly clearing
Free to find a faery circle, the crux a primordial specter
Whose ancient shade cast a fruitless barren
But hidden by bushy locks of coal and silver
A face insinuates in petrification, there a sneer, there a brow
Wrinkle-ringed with eons to tell under a thorny crown
Limbs adorned in lichen and webs of refuse
Round a monstrous trunk worn to a pulp
A wind whispers dry admittance of former glory
Then wafts a golden amber resinous essence’s beckoning
Inexorably I am rooted, entangled and climbed
To wield a wand, then plant within my grasp
A thorn, piercing, slivering, bloodthirsty
Wending its poison’s way into atriums dexter and sinister
And I am fallen, leaves clinging with sap-strewn veins
To cloak and bury ‘til melting slushes
Wash the withered shroud from frozen bones

By TereLyn Hepple, Halloween 2006

“Too bad there wasn’t much of a challenge in the race for best poem/story,” I said, on winning the $25 prize for best poem/story. “That was right up there among the absolute worst poetry in the universe, by Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England. ;^) But thank all 46 fellow employees who voted!”

The worst poem in the Universe:


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mom: free to be you and me

Posted by contentgrrl on October 30, 2007

I am thankful that my mother raised me to be fairly self-assured. When I was a baby in the Big Apple, it was just her, me, and Dad after five years of marriage. Oh, yeah, and Dad’s brother (my godfather) and his wife. Then Dad joined the Army and got stationed as a military surgeon in Oklahoma and San Antonio, where Mom dealt with being a military wife and mother.

And she taught me to love reading. We still like some of the same authors: Clavell, Tolkein, McCaffrey, MZ Bradley, CS Lewis, L’Engle. From there, I branched out into David Eddings, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, Ayn Rand, Katherine Kurtz, Robert Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, Morgan Lewellyn, Douglas Adams, and Robin Hobb.

Mom dove into Edgar Cayce psychics when I was very young. She actually had an audiocassette tape done for me, of a heavily accented psychic channeling what my past lives were, what my destiny was, and some symbols to keep around and ways to encourage my potential. I still like my symbols, and may make a mandala just for kicks someday. It was so psychodelic. Of course, I was a history teacher when Atlantis fell! Of course, I was a Mother Superior in 13th century France, and my mother and sisters were among my convent! We gals have always been together, the fate of our souls are entwined for all eternity! And we will all play a significant role in each other’s souls’ steps toward … whatever the goal is!

From my psychic reading, I think Mom took the role reversal theme to heart. Mom needed me, as a preschooler, to take on the role of the hero child. I helped take care of her through two difficult pregnancies, helped deal with my sisters (one autistic, the other just funny), covered for her substance abuse and some other bad choices (SO seventies!), and later helped her stabilize through a “certifiable” episode, coping mechanisms gone awry, an abusive stalking ex (not my father, just someone she met through a 12-step program).

She struggled hard through her own family baggage, through the changing roles of women over the last few decades, and through the consequences of some bad habits and decisions.

Mom is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. In my opinion, too kind. She believes she has special powers, and indeed she virtually radiates a generous welcome. One that attracts strays of all species. Mostly cats and unworthy men (again, excluding my dad). But when you have no boundaries, and offer all of yourself, there are predators who will take it all, and more. The emptiness and consequences that are left make it difficult to fill your life with wholesome things. Thank goodness for the community she found in a church.

I have to say I have learned a lot from her, and I am thankful for her part in my making. But she is also somewhat of an anti-heroine. I would not follow in her footsteps. She has taught me to be risk-averse, while more ambitious.

But she’s sober. She’s working. She moved to a city where she has friends and a friendlier church. I’m proud of my mom for making strides.

Posted in culture, grrly, heroines, reading | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

learn from mistakes I have made in my resume and job search

Posted by contentgrrl on October 30, 2007

As I was decluttering my desk, I found some of my old resumes and job letters from years ago. A few things actually made me cringe with ew.

Now, it’s not as bad as when I find an old diary from my melodramatic pre-teen days. It was relatively OK for back in the day when you had to go to a printer like Kinko’s to have a stash of resumes printed up to hand out. But I immediately noticed some things that I’ve learned not to do anymore:

  • The “objective” section was so broad it could apply to ten different jobs. Now, I’ve learned to tailor it per job, ideally the intended, individual opening.
  • The skillset and toolset was too long. Again, I’ve learned to tailor it to the requirements of the intended job.
  • The history descriptions are too long. Even while I use great verbs, I did not always identify the real accomplishments. Numbers are more impressive.
  • The cover letter started off self-centered, rather than what’s in it for them. “I was intrigued by your job posting.” So what?

Basically, I was trying to do too much with one tool. OK, so I’ve worked in journalism, software, training, and a weird but happy combination of Web publishing and PR. But I may have come off as too generalist, and certainly over-qualified for most jobs. And I’ve learned more about selling a product since then. I am my own product (Marketing Profs Daily Fix has a great article on this too, Mind Your OWN Business).

With Monster, LinkedIn, and other Web sites to keep the details out there, I can trim it down to a spiffy one-page resume and a short-and-sweet cover letter.

And there are some things that I was glad I had taken the time to do:

  • Response thank-you letter, customizable to highlight specific points of the positive response (or even rejection).
  • Interview thank-you letter, customizable to highlight specific points discussed during the interview.
  • References page (several names, contact information, and a description of our relationships).
  • Chart of experience with various tools and skills (now thankfully available on Monster).

I continue to do resumes for friends and colleagues who like my format. I found a site that has a database of hourly rates for various consulting gigs ( The average for writing resumes is — surprise! — the same average for every other kind of writing in their database, so the key is scoping the project:

  • 30 min: analyze current resume
  • 60 min: meeting to discuss new job history/training, objectives, measurable achievements, possible edits
  • 60 min: writing and formatting of 1-2 page resume
  • 60 min: writing cover letter and thank-you notes
  • 30 min: meeting to discuss edits, completing revision, proofing

PS: After initially posting this, I also found Ten Tips for Writing a Resume That Will Get The Right Kind of Attention from The Simple Dollar, posted today.

Posted in learning, performance, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by contentgrrl on October 29, 2007

I regularly look up lyrics online, and I just came across a great site: SongMeanings.

It’s the first site I’ve seen that lets people contribute not only the lyrics of songs, but also a discussion of what the songs mean.

For instance, in Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, “I see my reflection in the snow covered hills” someone thought it had to do with Stevie Nicks’  father or grandfather, another thought it was turning to a mountain of cocaine, another thought it had to do with being precariously perched on a pedestal, another reported it had to do with an ultimatum from her father after Lindsay Buckingham left her in Aspen, Colo.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham are some of my heroes/heroines in the music world.

Posted in community, culture, grrly, heroes, heroines, music, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

starting and running a reading group

Posted by contentgrrl on October 29, 2007

After I graduated Baylor into my adult life, I no longer had to study all night between my internship, my student teaching, my community service, partying, and classes. I also no longer had most of those activities to fill my time. When I started my first full-time job, I would plop down on my couch, and stare at the wall. Eight hours in one place was exhausting. Those were the days.

Eventually I found a restaurant (Max’s) that welcomed poetry readings, and of course there was Barnes & Noble and a couple of new friends in the office. We started a book group, where we met weekly over Mocha Valencia Grandes. We would each bring one question, comment, or passage for the group to discuss. We did Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, where I marveled over the recurring antiseptic theme, and then my very religious colleague made it obvious that C.S. Lewis was writing about Armageddon at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia, and then my activist colleague had us reading about life in the inner city, which made me so angry that I have blocked out the author and title (I still feel impotent about the rampant homelessness, drug abuse, child abuse, gang violence, and inequalities for which I can find no solution). Sometimes, just catching up would take us hours, but we had flexibility back then. If I hadn’t relocated to another city, I might still belong to that book group.

Then again, I might not. I appreciate the broad range of perspectives in that particular gaggle of gals. We were certainly not of one mind. On the other hand, I think I might be interested to find people who share more of my interests and values.

If you’re starting a book group, BookMuse has some great resources for starting and running a book group, including groups for kids, recommendations and reviews. I wish I had a reading group when I was younger. A kid’s reading club, around a neighborhood, would be a great opportunity for socialization and for learning new things.

My friend Karmon (one of my unsung heroines) was a big proponent of The Reader’s Place, which has an excellent forum for online reading groups, lists, and polls. Also through Karmon, I’ve found Reader2, where you can build your personal reading lists, export your latest read books or recommended books to your site or blog, find readers with similar interests, and track friends’ readings.

Of course, I rely heavily on Amazon’s customer reviews, Listmania, and So You’d Like To… . And they’re starting topical community forums, which you can find if you scroll down on some book pages. So far, Amazon’s forums remind me of only slightly more well-read versions of the message boards on (Internet Movie DataBase). There will always be trolling idiots.

I’m currently reading a public relations writing book, a couple of parenting books, and a couple of religious history books. I’m still recovering from devouring two Robin Hobb epic fantasy trilogies. If you’ve gotten this far on my blog, maybe I’ll see you around!

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7 elements of a good book review

Posted by contentgrrl on October 29, 2007

Looking for elements of a good book review? Try the folks at Scholastic (How to Write a Book Review by Rodman Philbrick). Seven elements for book reports include:

  1. Identify title, author, genre, and theme.
  2. Share your personal reactions (what it made you feel and think).
  3. Summarize what happened and what it meant (but don’t spoil the ending for the rest of us!).
  4. Note characters or points that you loved or hated and why.
  5. Describe the writer’s style (descriptions that pulled your senses into the story, the moral, character or argument development, dialogue, etc.).
  6. Reflect on the time, culture, or perspective in which is was written or set.
  7. Conclude why it is or is not worth reading.

These tips work whether you’re writing for school, for your personal journal, or for widespread publication (such as a print magazine or even blogging). I’ve been a fan of Scholastic and its selection since I was in school. It’s nice to see some really good resources from this company online. Philbrick starts with an example to elicit discovery, then lists some excellent, concrete writing tips, some questions to elicit deeper thought, guidelines for revision or checks for success, and how to publish it.

Posted in learning, publishing, reading, writeroll | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

it’s about time.

Posted by contentgrrl on October 26, 2007

It’s about time for me to thank the heroines and heroes in my life and reading, and pass along my own lessons and memories.

From T.S. Eliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

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