Los Angeles Emmy Awards

Writingfeemail a.k.a reneejohnsonwrites has been busy collecting the best of Los Angeles for her version of the Emmy Awards.  It’s a real treat and pleasure to bring you an eclectic mix of artistic greatness.

Los Angeles Emmy Awards


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Carolina Beach Days

Summer called…

Carolina Beach chairs and umbrella

“Go east,” it said, and I obeyed…

Carolina Beach Courtyard Marriott

“My favorite place to vacation is any place by the ocean.”  — Nina Arianda

Carolina Beach umbrellas

Sunshine, seashells, surf, boardwalks…

Carolina Beach shell wash station   Carolina Beach boardwalk sign

“Summer means happy times and good sunshine.  It means going to the beach…” — Brian Wilson

           Carolina Beach boardwalk       Carolina Beach gull


Carolina Beach musician at Hurricane Alley's    Carolina Beach band


Carolina Beach oysters    Carolina Beach boiled shrimp

Carolina Beach broiled seafood   Carolina Beach fried seafood

Sunrises and sunsets to break your heart and then mend it once again…

Carolina Beach sunrise fantastic 5       

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”  — Jeanne Moreau

Carolina Beach ride   Carolina Beach pavilion

Old-Fashioned rides at the pavilion…

        Carolina Beach merry go round    Carolina Beach Hurricane Alley's

Even storms lend themselves to beauty…

Carolina Beach storm clouds 2    Carolina Beach storm clouds 3

So, if you come looking for me, glance along the sand…

Carolina Beach sunrise 1

I’ll be reading books and working on my tan!!

How about you?  Who or what is calling out to you this summer?


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Dire Straits guitarist, Jack Sonni, returns to his first love–novel writing! Follow his amazing journey in this interview as he takes us through his many transformations, trials, and back to the beginning, where words not only mattered, but inspired him every step of the way.

Originally posted on Renee Johnson Writes:

Trudging through standing water in the midst of a rainstorm, I felt a bit like the mariner who had once lived in the residence at Edgartown on Marthas Vineyard, Massachusetts. Beneath an arch, I pushed through a garden gate, past a long wooden table and chairs, pots of flowers taking a beating from the downpour, up a ramp, and into the French door as I had been instructed.

He must have noticed my arrival before my fingers ever touched the door handle. I had no sooner stepped inside of the houseinn reallythan a smiling face approached, welcoming me to Noepe. Introductions commenced, the delicious aroma of something from the kitchen wafting through the warm interior calling him back to tend to dinner.

Jack Sonni Picture taken by Craig Clement Jack Sonni
Picture taken by Craig Clement

That was how I met Jack Sonni.

That is generally how all of the residents…

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Where in the World?

Originally posted on charactersfromthekitchen:

There’s not much I can add to what has already been documented and enthused over about the place we visited last weekend on a celebratory city break. And anyway, as I’m feeling inordinately lazy and undisciplined at the moment, I thought a few snaps might suffice.

Well, snaps and  some quotations I’ve come across from various people that I reckon sum it up pretty well.

It’s definitely somewhere to visit at least once in a lifetime: it’s magical, surprising, expensive and indulgent. If you go, enjoy to the full.

Fino ad allora…

“In the winter, imageVenice is like an abandoned theatre. The play is finished, but the echoes remain.”

(Arbit Blatas, sculptor and painter) 


“If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is — Venice is better.”

(Fran Lebowitz, author)

 “Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.”

(Truman Capote…

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Wilkes Cruisers Car Show

Downtown North Wilkesboro, North Carolina hosted the Wilkes Cruisers and their immaculately restored cars on the most beautiful day of the season.  Sunny, warm, Carolina blue skies…a slice of heaven.  So I took Gretel for her first car show!

car show gretel upclose      car show gretel looking at car

For the record, I have been around people with a love of antique cars and their restoration–my nephew Johnathan Call for one–my entire life.

car show 8  car show 10

But make no mistake.  I didn’t inherit the gene for identifying a Dodge from a Ford.  My apologies right off the bat.

car show 2      car show 17Car show 1

So if I mention a make or model, it is precisely because the owner told me what it was and I wrote it down.  Such as this 1955 Ford Roadster.  The owner said only 3 were made, so I guess this one is truly special. car show 55 ford roadster

What is terrific about a car show though, is the lack of necessity for knowing this information.  car show 5

Car show 3    car show 4

Their owners are happy to talk about them.  They have been a labor of love, a source of enjoyment.

car show 7   car show 11car show 6

And while Gretel and I were out and about, I took the opportunity to really look at my town and its gorgeous mountainous surroundings.

car show historic sign    car show street view

The Art Gallery, Car show Art Gallery

the Public Library car show public librarywhere I had my reading for Acquisition, perf5.000x8.000.inddthe Post Office car show post officewhere I work–up on the hill with the flag waving proudly, my favorite

car show taliacoffee shop–Talia–the car show theater and BrancifortesLiberty Theater still operating as it did when I was a child, Branciforte’s Italian Restaurant, car show town hallTown Hall,

Brame Drugs–proudly announcing that it is a Dispensary, Restaurant & Pub, (I can’t begin to count the number of meals I’ve eaten there in my lifetime.) car show Brame Drugs      car show art on building

The sudden spark of heat is starting to wilt early spring flowers, but the flowering trees and shrubs are just getting started.

car show tree     car show flowers

And Gretel is getting all of the attention.  Such a beauty, this one.  And letting everyone pet her from the youngest attendee, to the lovely skater girl.

car show Gretel and skater girl   car show youngest attendeecar show 21

I even ran into an old school friend, Mark Wood.  He probably single-handedly saved my entire last gathering of a reunion from a flaming death as he put out the fire I accidentally started from dipping streamers into a candle flame.  Oops.  Officially his title is Reverend Mark Wood/Fireman Wood.  Apparently I am going to end up needing his services one way or the other.  *laughing*

car show mark and 68 camaro   car show 20

Perhaps that close call helped him decide to purchase this gem–a 1968 Camaro.  (He told me what it was!)  Looking good!

car show 19car show 18

While we milled about, music cranked up.  The streets, barricaded from traffic, filled with people out and about enjoying the day.  Tents were set up for food sellers.

car show 15car show 13

I actually was treated to my favorite local specialty–barbecued chicken!  Oh yes, thank you Broadway Fire Department.  Barbecued Chickencar show 9

It was their first of the season and boy was it good.  And special thanks to Jason Hart for making sure we got ours.  Yay!car show street view 2

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My Monastic Writing Experience in Orvieto, Italy

Originally posted on Renee Johnson Writes:

Writers attend workshops and retreats for various reasons.  Some wish to hone their skills of description or dialogue, others are seeking inspiration or direction, and then there are those of us who have something to explore within ourselves—something too difficult to sort through with our morning coffee while retaining a smiling face and carefree demeanor.

When I accepted Justen Ahren’s invitation to join his Monastic Writing group studying in Italy, we both knew I was part of the latter category.  My inward journey would be much more difficult than the procession of planes, trains, and taxi cabs I would need to arrive at the base of the cliff which had long protected the residents of Orvieto.

Orvieto - cliff

“After climbing a great hill, oneonly finds that there are many more hills to climb.”Nelson Mandela

A week in a medieval Italian hillside village of artisans, wine makers, divine architecture…

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Justen Ahren Demystifies his Monastic Approach to Writing


Check this out. Following shortly is my experiences in Orvieto, Italy, studying Monastic Writing with Justen Ahren!

Originally posted on Renee Johnson Writes:

As I researched writing residencies and fell upon the Martha’s Vineyard Writing Residency at Noepe Center for Literary Arts, there was an additional page on an Italy Retreat.  Clicking on it, a single sentence snagged my attention.

“Where will your writing take you?”— Justen Ahren Tweet thistweet-graphic-1

Applying this simple question to the Monastic Writing Retreat held by Justen Ahren in Orvieto, Italy, images of the Italian landscape, great food and wine, and ancient architecture immediately began to flood my imagination.

Orvieto - brightened monastery

Curious, I sent an email to Justen Ahren requesting information, and an exchange began to happen where I learned about an approach to writing that was different from any I had experienced before.  Yet, it was nothing new.

On the contrary.  It can be traced to many of the earliest writings, especially those of anchorites — people so dedicated to devotional practices they withdrew from society at large…

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Making Your Own Rules

Do you make your own rules about blogging, email, writing time?

Most of us do. We nearly have to or we would just become bogged down by the sheer weight of all of the responsibility.

I commit so many sins where email is concerned. With a smart phone, I-pad, kindle, and lap top — all backups for the desktop computer — I can check email any time of day normally.

So, I scan through them, reading the ones most important to me. However, the others build up until I’m looking down the list of page after page of interesting articles I meant to get to, sales I’ve missed, and opportunities to connect long gone.

My new rule, I cannot let the first day of the month arrive with old emails in my inbox.

“Your email inbox is a bit like a Las Vegas roulette machine. You know, you just check it and check it, and every once in a while there’s some juicy little tidbit of reward, like the three quarters that pop down on a one-armed bandit. And that keeps you coming back for more.” — Douglas Rushkoff

Blogging is a passion, but if I spend too much time on posts — and let’s face it, who among us doesn’t seek the best picture, the most poignant quotes, the perfectly worded sentences — then I’m not connecting with other bloggers, working on the next manuscript, learning a foreign language, or getting in a workout.

My new rule, I will post at least once a month and connect with my followers and those I follow before moving on.

Writing time? Oh boy…this is sacred. Around here, things start getting crazy as soon as the sun rises. So I have to protect writing time with an iron fist. And the only way to do that, is to get up early and by that I mean…4:45…which gives me a couple of hours to write in solitude.

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”W. Somerset Maugham 

Workouts? I know what you’re thinking. If anything on the list could be passed over, this is it. Well, NO. Workouts are a writer’s best friend. We sit too long at a time. We hunch our shoulders. And we probably drink too much coffee.

So getting a full rush of sweat is good for us. It also feeds our creativity.

New rule, I won’t have dinner until the workout is in!! Most days I can squeeze something in even if I have to break it into chunks of time, say 20 minutes in three different segments. Try it, it works.

“So many people are insanely busy nowadays, and it’s easy to say, ‘Ah, I’ll workout tomorrow.’ But you have to set aside a time and stick to that schedule.”Derek Jeter

But these are my rules. What are some of yours??

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2014 in Review

When the year starts out, as 2014 did for me, there is precious little expectation for the rest of it.  You see, that was the day of my mother’s funeral.

mother's 90th birthday 019

The following week my oldest dog, nearly seventeen, died — another sad goodbye.


As if that wasn’t enough, I tore the MCL on one of my knees on the first day of February.

Friends were asking me what it felt like to be Job — referring to the Biblical character.  It felt like life had turned a dangerous corner for me and nothing good was ever going to happen again.

But that couldn’t have been further from the truth.  I signed with a publisher, The Wild Rose Press, for my first novel — Acquisition.


My knee healed — slowly — without surgery but with a lot of exercise and physical therapy.  I am super thankful for that, although I don’t think I’ll be running anytime soon.

IMG_1457 IMG_0735

IMG_0978 IMG_1034

Then I joined a prestigious group of writers at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, bookending the trip to the island with a few days in Concord, Massachusetts before, and Boston after.

IMG_0566 IMG_0524

IMG_1510                      IMG_1526

Acquisition was released on November 7 and I left for Italy on November 8 to join up with another group of writers studying Monastic Writing in Orvieto.  (You’ll want to check out reneejohnsonwrites.com for an interview with the instructor, Justen Ahren, and my experiences — both coming in 2015.)

IMG_1901                       IMG_1804

Sprinkled in between these writing events were wedding celebrations for my son and his wife.  They were married on December 13.

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If you are thinking this has been one incredible whirlwind of a year, you would be correct.


And it caught up with me over the Christmas holiday, leaving me tired, drained, and with a bad case of stomach flu which arrived pre-dawn Christmas Eve and is still nagging me.

Hopefully, by New Year’s Eve, I’ll be feeling up to celebrating with friends and toasting 2015.  I must say that I will be looking back with a mixture of sadness and elation.  The new friends I have gained are priceless, the experiences immeasurable.  But the losses and grief and sadness have also been overwhelming.

Perhaps we cannot truly enjoy the victories without learning from defeats.  I’d like to give it a shot in 2015 though.  And that is what I wish for you all — a wonderful year of triumphs and successes without any failures or heartbreaks.

Hilton Head glass of champagne and 2 strawberries     Hilton Head birthday champagne and berries

Happy New Year from Writingfeemail!



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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum…

Please play the youtube song while you read this post.  It is the soundtrack to this Roman adventure!!

To quote the musical with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and inspired by the antics of playwright Plautus (251-183 BC), a funny thing did happen to me on the way to the forum.

(Incidentally, I’ve always wanted to use that line, but it had to be authentic.)

Rome Renee with forum behind

I was in Rome, Italy, following a Monastic Writing Workshop in Orvieto — more on that later.  And I was on my way to the Colosseum and the ancient Forum where Julius Caesar walked, ruled, and is buried.

Rome Caesar's tomb Caesar’s Tomb

There was an unusually large number of policeman and military milling about, at least it appeared larger than normal, helicopters circling overhead, and there had been a train strike the previous day.  Traffic was halted along the del fori imperiali and a parade of Italians began, bearing their red, white, and green flags.

Rome flatbed truck


As best I could decipher, it was a labor issue and the Sindaco di Roma – Mayor of Rome — Ignazio Marino, with a Pinocchio nose had become their main focus.  Apparently, he had misrepresented himself to the voters, and now refused to negotiate with the labor unions.  Imagine that!

Rome Sindaco pinocchio

The demonstration was well-ordered, only becoming ‘unruly’ when staging a shot with the photographer who had run into the street and asked for some action.  To make sure he captured them in an angry run, they were happy to back up and do it again.

Small flat-bed trucks hauled additional protesters and the roadside was lined with loud speakers as they shouted, “Basta Marino.”  The occasional blast of an air horn being conducted through the speakers for magnification of sound could be heard, while some kind of machine generated green smoke.

Rome flatbed protest

So where is the funny part?

It was what happened next.  The theme song for this demonstration was one I knew and could sing along with them, which I did.  “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.  And yes, they sang it in English!

For a moment I just sang without thinking about it.  Then it dawned on me.  I was in Italy.  This was an Italian labor march about an Italian work force issue.  And their theme song was in English!

I wanted to call people and let them hear it — experience it — with me.  But it was 11:00 a.m. in Rome so it was 5:00 a.m. at home.  Oh well, I’d just have to laugh to myself and capture as much in my memory as possible while singing along.

Have you ever experienced something in another town or city that you just couldn’t wait to share with others?

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