guest post

A Cluttered Life…Not that I could relate or anything…

Welcome to a wonderful guest post by Pesi Dinnerstein, Author of A Cluttered Life: Searching for God, Serenity, and My Missing Keys


            What My Mess Says about Me

by Pesi Dinnerstein

            Clutter is not a generic term.  There are all types of clutterers and all types of clutter.  It’s not just what we save that differentiates us, but how we store it—and why.

Some of us are neat, and some are sloppy; some find aesthetic pleasure in abundance, and others are simply too overwhelmed to dig their way out from under.      There are sentimental types among us who save every card and letter they ever received and creative types who like to be surrounded by their unfinished projects; optimists who refuse to discard the clothing they haven’t fit into for years and pessimists who store duplicates and triplicates of everything, just in case; procrastinators and collectors, compulsive stockpilers and people who simply have too much to fit into their limited space.

A good first step toward a less cluttered life is an honest look in the mirror—and what better mirror is there than our own closet?

So, let me begin with mine . . . .

I have a walk-in closet in my bedroom that I can no longer walk into without climbing over stacks of newspapers and magazines waiting to be read—a clear, if unrealistic, testament to my belief that life will be less busy someday, and I’ll be able to catch up to the rest of the world.

On the other side of those piles are . . . more piles.  Things to wear and things to wash; things to fold and hang and mend.  To the casual observer, it might appear that what we have here is simply a mess.  But there is, of course, more to the picture than meets the eye.

When I look at these piles, I see a woman who is not able to maintain her own system of order, but isn’t ready to give up the fight just yet.  Above the piles are clothing on hangers—perfectly arranged by category and color—and shelves filled from top to bottom with neatly folded garments, wicker baskets, and hand-labeled plastic boxes.  The walls are an organizational masterpiece, but the floor is a study in chaos, with all the unsorted piles waiting to be incorporated into the highly refined system surrounding them—a very slow process because the gap between the two is so great.

There’s obviously a lack of balance here.  My standards, it would seem, need to be lowered a few notches so that my ideal vision of order and my day-to-day reality will not be quite as far apart.  Perhaps, a halfway house of sorts would help—something in between the disaster on the ground and the beautifully organized structure above.

What I see in my closet is what I see everywhere in my life—an attempt to create order and harmony that results in disorder and chaos because my systems are always too complicated, too detailed, too perfect to be easily maintained.  The path to simplicity, my closet seems to be telling me, needs to be simple itself—a whole lot simpler than mine currently is.

I hope I’ll remember that the next time I have to climb over all those piles.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the journey of the author. Her honest look at her quest to connect with God (and maybe even keep her keys in sight) was a powerful reminder to live in the present and appreciate the people in your life. Check out this great review on Kirkus.

About the Author:

Pesi Dinnerstein (a.k.a. Paulette Plonchak) has written selections for the best-selling series Small Miracles, by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal, and has contributed to several textbooks and an anthology of short stories.

Dinnerstein recently retired as a full-time faculty member of the City University of New York, where she taught language skills for close to thirty years. She has been an aspiring author and self-acknowledged clutterer for many years, and has spent the better part of her life trying to get organized and out from under. Despite heroic efforts, she has not yet succeeded; but she continues to push onward, and hopes that her journey will inspire others to keep trying as well.

For more information visit: or


Insightful, unsettling, and wildly funny, A Cluttered Life:  Searching for God, Serenity, and My Missing Keys (Seal Press) is the story of Pesi Dinnerstein’s quest to create a simple and orderly life—only to discover that simplicity is not so simple and what constitutes clutter is not always perfectly clear.  When a chance encounter with an old acquaintance reveals the extent to which disorder has crept into every corner of her existence, Pesi determines to free herself, once and for all, of the excess baggage she carries with her.  Along the way—with the help of devoted friends, a twelve-step recovery program, and a bit of Kabbalistic wisdom—her battle with chaos is transformed into an unexpected journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.

What to look for in an Indie publisher…and win a book

birds of paradise giveaway and guest post by author kathy handley on capability mom blogI am pleased to present another guest post from the site WOW! Women On Writing™ (really lightens up the writing for me and nice to introduce other voices). This blog is one of the stops on the blog tour for Birds of Paradise and this post is by author Kathy Handley and her advice on what to look for in an Indie publisher. Thank you. Kathy and WOW! for the book and sharing a copy of this book with a reader…yes, a giveaway!
  Birds of Paradise, follows a group of runaway teens through a quickly changing world but one in which friendships and alliances are made and honored. There are connections and an underlying sense of caring and thoughtfulness in this tale of friendship and growth. Ms. Handley writes with both sensitivity and clear-sightedness and captures the language and feelings of teenagers.


After an author has taken on the creation of a book project, the question of publishing arises at varying stages of the process. The brand new writer often thinks that she is read to publish and starts asking questions and researching the avenues of getting the book into print. Conferences offer classes on “query” writing and general sessions and sometimes an agent will request a partial manuscript or even the whole manuscript.  Meanwhile authors are also encouraged to have their drafts critiqued and polished up–most need it. Often an author will ultimately turn to an indie publisher. It is lovely to talk to authors who have used small presses and found them to be professional and considerate.

I discovered two new presses in the New York-New England area–run by two amazingly capable women; Stephanie Blackman, of Riverhaven Books, Inc. who published my first two books, Birds of Paradise and A World of Love and Envy as well as several books by Virginia Young and several other writers, and Michelle Toth, of SixOneSeven, Inc. who published her first book, Annie Begins, and has opened up her business to other authors.

It is important to note that several very talented authors who self-published their books had them picked up by major houses.  Lisa Genova’s Still Alice and Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader are prime example of best sellers with fabulous second books to follow …

My personal needs in a self publisher (after the fact for me)

  1. An honest forthright person who readily and often communicates directly with the writer.
  2. A person who will get answers, investigating the nuances in the process and supporting the writer during promotions
  3. One who will give you an honest estimate of expenses
  4. One who will encourage promotion–planning events and working in tandem with the writer.
  5. One who will participate in an interview in person and/or by phone and provide references and samples of work
  6. Do it yourself:  Michelle Toth started her own company and published Annie Begins – only totally brilliant folks will do this!

Considering Indie publishing means that you are ready to do the work and celebrate when you hold your book in your hand.

Good Luck,

Kathy Handley

About the Author:

Kathy recently won Word Hustler’s Page-to-Screen Contest (2011) and currently serves as Prose Poetry Judge for the National League of American Pen Women Soul-Making Contest. A collection of her work has just been released under the title A World of Love and Envy (short fiction, flash-fiction, and poetry). She credits the folks at Grub Street, the creative writing center in Boston, for offering her the classes, encouragement, and schmoozing opportunities she needed to finally become a published novelist. Read Kathy’s Grub Street post here.

Author Websites:

Book Giveaway Contest: If you would like to win a copy of Birds of Paradise, please leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in a random drawing. The giveaway contest closes this Sunday, October 16th at 11:59 PM, PST. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #BirdsParadise, then come back and leave a link to your tweet.  The winner will be chosen at random from my favorite plugin “And The Winner Is…” and announced in the comments section of this post on the following day Monday, October 17th. Good luck!

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