Writing makes it all better, believe me.

(As told by Nat Hentoff)

I had heard of Ursula Nordstrom – the legendary orchestrator of books for young readers – from a friend of mine, Maurice Sendak. But l never expected to hear from her.

One day in 1964, she called. Would I be interested in writing a children’s book for what was then Harper & Row? I demurred. I would have to make the words short, the ideas simple, and take care not to offend any librarian or parent. I would let this cup pass from me, I told her.

“Write what you want to write,” Ursula said. “Don’t censor yourself.”

The result was Jazz Country, a novel about a white high-school trumpeter trying to break into the black world of jazz. Published in 1965, it’s still being read, judging from letters I get from youngsters, and for reasons that are not clear to me, the book continues to be very popular in

Writing a novel for young readers can feel like a juggling act. But even if you manage to keep the balls of plot, character, pace and setting in the air, your hard work will be undermined unless you learn to sweat the details.

The little things–the slang your characters use, the clothes they wear, the items they abandon on the bathroom floor–must be chosen with knowledge and care. If they aren’t, you risk getting a guffaw when a groan is what you’re after.

Sassy or Scary?

Of course telling details are important to all fiction. Think of the way Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot primps his “magnificent moustache” or how Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat craves rock ‘n roll. These peculiarities make the characters who possess them as real as the eccentric woman who lives next door. Details chosen with care whisper secrets about a character, inform on her weaknesses, herald her strengths.

Unfortunately, picking revealing details

When I look at Jericho (Greenwillow) now, it seems self-contained, complete, orderly, as if it were always intended to be just as it is today. I’m tempted to forget how much time, how much doubt and indecision and loss of direction are part of this story’s history. When I look at other people’s books, the same temptation threatens. In the bookstore, or the library, or in front of the bulging shelves in our little office up on campus, I flirt with the notion that each of these stories must have sprung clear and complete into the author’s head. Then, I think, the author took her pencil or typewriter or word processor and simply transferred the story to paper and voila! There it was. But of course I know better.

I have been, still am, a teacher. We teachers have learned to be mindful of the process of writing, not just the product. And the process

Municipal representatives plan to meet with provincial officials to suggest they share the province’s new-found gambling revenue with affected charities. The group also wants changes in bingo regulations to make the games more competitive, such as increasing the prize board (the maximum amount someone can win). “I’m not saying our situation isn’t exacerbated by the smoking bylaw,” Mr. Galloway acknowledges, “but I think it’s clear now that that’s not a major factor.”

dssNot true, counters Brian Gilmour, president of Cambridge Bingo. Profits at Cambridge only dropped 10% after the provincially-run Mohawk Raceway and Brantford Charity Casino opened in August and October of 1999. But an informal study last fall of Gilmour’s customers found that 70% to 80% of them smoke and Cambridge Bingo revenue dropped another 25% when the regional no-smoking bylaw took effect. Revenues continue to fall. Last year the centre made $2.9 million in profit and donated $1.9 million to 90 charities, including

vendSome studies suggest that certain food can help people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. They have shown that supplements containing vitamin E can reduce pain in joints, so it is recommended that patients with rheumatoid arthritis eat food rich with vitamin E or take dietary supplements. It is proven that some nutrients can ease the pain and fatigue. What is the best diet for rheumatoid arthritis generally speaking is not known yet, but you can try finding the one that suits you best.

When talking about supplements, you may try not only vitamin E but also vitamin D that can also be received from the sunlight. The sun is the source for this precious vitamin, so try spending at least one hour per day on sun. Of course, not on direct sun if it is very strong, but on the outside to get your vitamin D. One other nutrient you should try implementing in …

With the Oscars a distant memory and Emmy nomination announcements set for July 20, award season is on its ever-shrinking hiatus. Yet requests for complementary gowns, jewels and other products and services keep coming, the cause having shifted from celebrity to charity.

scsnts“I never say no to a cause,” said Rita Watnick, an owner of vintage couture boutique Lily et Cie and one of Friday night’s honorees at the West Side Center for Independent Living benefit at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. The Beverly Hills boutique is widely credited with sparking the vintage couture craze among young Hollywood.

New and vintage Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and Halston were among the two dozen A-list designer gowns and accessories contributed to the auction and fashion show.

“I’ve always given,” continued Watnick, dressed in a Fifties Balenciega gown. “But I’ve never done anything as active as this. When WCIL said they wanted to honor me and