My husband and I going into the woods

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This was taken on the grounds of the Nassau County Fine Arts Museum by my cousin, Irwin Yatter.


See the tiny bejeweled ribbon knit purse?

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My dear friend, our own Caroline Leavitt, knitted it for me.


Writing was like an arm wrestle today

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I tried to write another scene in my new novel. Although the sensory details were right on and the dialogue showed insight, it all felt dead to me. But I forced myself to keep at it, staying in my PJ's until noon. Then I went for a walk and read a great essay, Werner by Jo Ann Beard. Although the essay had zip to do with my novel, it just came to me what was wrong with the scenes I was writing that day. I had forgotten the all-important tone, the overall feeling of the piece. Dread, I thought. It should be dread from the get-go. I went back and looked at it through the lens of fear. Yes, it's working!!!

What do you do when you're struggling with your writing?


March 7, ARTS DAY, LA

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This free event offers aspiring writers, designers, filmmakers, and artists a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the subject matter, creative processes, current issues, and potential career paths of six major arts fields. In addition to Creative Writing and Screenwriting, participants can attend sessions in Design Communication Arts, Entertainment Media, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture.

The schedule of sessions, as well as videos featuring several former Arts students, is available online at

Please forward this information on to anyone you know who has an interest in the arts and lives in the Los Angeles area. In addition to our immersive sessions, the event offers a unique opportunity to meet and network with students and professionals in the arts, and is a positive and uplifting day for all involved. It's also free, and held on the beautiful UCLA campus!

If you or your friends and family have any questions about the event, don't hesitate to call the Arts Department at 310-267-4888. ArtsDayLA on Saturday, March 7th.


Opportunity to publish

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An editor is collecting FICTIONAL COLLEGE ESSAYS for a FUNNIEST COLLEGE ESSAY anthology. She has an agent at William & Morris so if she gets enough fine examples, she should be able to get it published--no promises. Your high school kids are welcome to submit as well.
Her name is Jean and her email is

She's including an essay from me, AKA JOSEPH BREADSTEIN. Here it is:

College Essay
By Justin Breadstein

From the time I was in the Odyssey Program for gifted students in the third grade I wore the Harvard baseball cap that my uncle, Kenneth Breadstein lll, himself a Harvard alumni and major endower to Harvard, bought me. Of course, being respectful, I never wore my Harvard cap in class, only in the schoolyard and everywhere else. If you look at my photo closely, you’ll see proof. I have permanent hat head—thin hair on top and on the sides that bunches out around my ears. In fourth grade I almost won the science fair for my study of the social systems of ants, but someone jiggled the table, and my jar of ants crashed to the ground, and the other kids stepped on them. I would have been a shoe-in for the Thespian award for my part as the wandering minstrel, NankiPoo, in the Micado if my wooden sandal hadn’t made me slip off the stage while I was wandering. The citizenship award also would have been mine if in my speech I hadn’t mixed up one word. Instead of thanking my dedicated teachers, I thanked my “defecated” teachers.

In Middle School my teacher in honors history (all my classes were honors classes) said I would have won the Historical Society award for the colonial newspaper that I wrote, but the glue I used to put the newspaper together made the pages bleed into each other. If it had done that immediately, I never would have handed it in that way. Unfortunately, it waited until I handed it in to bleed. But my Bar Mitzvah was a huge success. My uncle, Kenneth Breadorth lll, gave me a thousand dollars towards my future tuition to Harvard, and only a small percentage of what he’ll give to Harvard when I’m admitted. Also, I was president of the Volley Ball Club. Because my wrist didn’t heal well, I began playing soccer. In eighth grade I could have gone to Yugoslavia with my soccer team, but I didn’t want my straight A average to slide, so I went to summer school to get ahead on earth science.

Once I got to high school, I not only threw my energies to clubs and teams, I also studied for Confirmation classes. Each week my rabbi had a lively discussion about such issues as politics, sex, education, sex, and international affairs. My favorite book in High School was Catcher in the Rye. I identified with Holden Caulfield who was in therapy like me. But I would never go to a prostitute like he did. I was the president of the debating team, the Star Gazers, the photography club, and the drama club. All the while, my face was in the glass case in the front hall every month with others who got straight A’s. And I didn’t waste my high school summers. For example, the summer of my junior year I went to The Mitzvah Corps at Rutgers University. We had choices. We could work in a soup kitchen or be a counselor at an inner city camp or in a camp for adults with disabilities or with senior citizens. I chose to do all of them. They said it couldn’t be done, but my uncle, Kenneth Breadstein lll, hired me a limousine so I could show up in each place for an hour a day. That Fall I won the Rotary Club photography contest with my photos of the astonished faces of the inner city kids and the homeless people when I showed up in that limousine.

I hope that you will accept me into Harvard. Not only will I be forever grateful, but my uncle, the endower, Kenneth Breadstein lll, will be forever grateful, too.

Red Hen Press has had the good sense to publish Ching-In Chen's novel in poetry, Heart's Traffic. I just ordered it from Amazon. Ching-In was one of my writing students at UCLA Extension and I was always dazzled by her originality and brilliance. I bet you will be, too.

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