Category Archives: wilkes

Two Pubs: Wilkes Magazine & interviewed in Keystone Edge

Posted these two on my writing blog as separate posts, but figured I’d post them here as well:

I am super excited to share this publishing credit! I contributed an article to the Summer 2010 Wilkes magazine on the various ways social media is being used across the Wilkes University campus. From PR students using these newer mediums for their real-world clients to nature podcasts, students, professors and staff are going social. Read the store online here by downloading a PDF.

Wilkes Magazine Summer 2010 Going Social Donna Talarico

A few weeks ago at work I received a call from freelance writer Sara Hodon. She was working on a piece on technology companies for Keystone Edge, an online publication dedicated to the new economy of Pennsylvania. Sara’s piece was about Internet marketing. Her article is very comprehensive and includes quotes from me, as well as some other PA-based tech firms. Additionally, photographer Aimee Dilger took some fantastic photos around Solid Cactus.

This article, “Search No More: PA Companies Lead Online Marketing Revolution” is a true testament to the work we do at Solid Cactus as well as to the success of online marketing.

Solid Cactus Donna Talarico Keystone Edge Article

Screen shot of the Keystone Edge site, where we were the "cover" story.


Wilkes University MFA Graduation — Bittersweet.

In January 2010, I completed the MFA in creative writing from Wilkes. Since there is no winter ceremony, my cohorts and I had to wait until the May 2010 graduation. We all joked yesterday that it was as if we were milking this graduation thing. In fact, some of my acquaintances thought I maybe went back for more. “Didn’t you graduate in January,” they would ask. In a way, I guess we did get two celebrations out of the deal since we had a banquet at the January creative writing residency at Wilkes!

At any rate, the MFA is certainly a great accomplishment. I could not be more proud of my friends and fellow cohorts. It’s been an incredible journey, but it’s not over. The great thing about the creative writing program at Wilkes is that it is a true creative writing community where alumni always come back to visit at residencies. I will always be part of this program.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s ceremony:

Wilkes MFA January 2010

7 of the 14 graduating MFAs walked at the ceremony.

Wilkes MFA graduation Donna and Mom


Social Media Workshop Next Month at Wilkes University

I love my alma mater, Wilkes University. So much so, that I am now part of the communications studies faculty as an adjunct professor. My first class, Social Media & PR, starts in a few weeks. I’ve also become active with our alumni association as a member of the communications committee. The Wilkes alumni office has been putting together some really great programs for recent alumni, a mixture of social events and workshops.

They invited me and Stephen Moyer, another Wilkes graduate that I also met at Tweet Up, to lead a social media workshop this February. I am very excited to be a part of this. The event is not limited to Wilkes alums, either; it’s open to the public.

Here is the awesome flier that Bridget designed:

social media workshop at wilkes university


Talented People I Know #3 – Ashley Ambirge – Writer, Designer, Blogger, Awesome

When I returned to Wilkes to finish my BA, I was older than most people in my class (although there were a few people in the communication studies departments also in their late 20s). That said, I never saw many of my fellow students so much outside of class and that said, therefore not many close friendships formed the way that they had been my first time at Wilkes as a traditional freshman. BUT– I met some amazingly talented people and love following the successes and journeys of my fellow communication majors. One spunky young lady in particular is Ashley Ambirge. Had we been closer in age, or even just spent more time together, I am convinced we’d be like peas in a pod. She is, in a way, who I desire to be.

Ashley Ambirge is one of the talented people I am lucky to know. | Photo Courtesy TheMiddleFingerProject.org

Ashley Ambirge is one of the talented people I am lucky to know | Photo Courtesy of TheMiddleFingerProject.org

We just had a quick correspondence on Facebook, just an hour ago. She commented that she liked my haircut, and I take that as gospel from her because she is quite the fashionista. I wrote her back to ask how her grad school was going. She replied, and shared with me her new blog, The Middle Finger Project. It’s a blog about lifestyle design. I haven’t made a Talented People I Know post in a month or so, so I immediately started this post to spread some love for Ashley and her blog.

Ashley’s Middle Finger Project is all about living life the way you want to lead it. Being non-traditional. Non-conformist. Living for the now. Being a bit impulsive. Doing only what makes you happy. These are all things that I believe in, and I actually teared up reading her About this Project page because it’s just so amazing to see a beautiful, talented woman living her life the way she wants. Her unique and optimistic outlook on life is very similar to mine, except for one small difference – she took that leap of faith and is DOING it! After reading her blog post, I cannot help but think that maybe I should be doing more. I can’t say I haven’t thought about it. The tagline of her blog is – Rejecting the Status Quo and Rebelling Against Mediocrity.

She’s well-traveled, well-dressed, and well on her way to big things. Meet Ashley. Here’s a snippet from her Who’s Behind This page:

I found this fascinating quote today:

As excited as I am to implement these objectives, I’m also a firm believer that the journey is equally important (if not more so) as the destination.  A lot of my impulsivity is rooted in that particular belief, and I make decisions largely based on what I feel will add the most value to my life both immediately and in the long-term, in line with the goals I’ve outlined above.  If that means doing things in an unconventional matter, then so be it.  For me, life is an adventure to be lived, an experience to be had, and one that should not, by any means, be disrupted by mediocrity and routine.themiddlefingerproject.org, Who’s Behind It

You should read the whole article.


Wilkes Homecoming 2009 was great! Reliving old memories with my old roommate

“No one believes me when I tell stories about college that involved you,” said Tanner.

“That’s why I am writing a memoir,” I responded. “Life with me is always a little more outrageous.”

We giggled as we walked back to campus from Ralston field, the same route we walked form our old dorm, Evans Hall to go to Amnesia, the then 18 and over dance club. As we told stories on the walk back, she held hands with he fiance. And, since I had free hands, I took pictures and talked with my hands (the 1/4 Italian in my went directly to my story-telling handicap) as I told outrageous stories from the past ten years that she hadn’t heard. (The ones I hope will make up my second book of non-fiction: a collection of essays.)

Tanner and me in front of our old college apartment in Wilkes-Barre. We lived there together a few years. I had left Wilkes but still lived there. After she graduated, I lived there another year with another college buddy. This apartment was where most of our crazy stories happened.

Tanner and me in front of our old college apartment in Wilkes-Barre. We took a walk back on Homecoming Weekend. We lived there together a few years. I had left Wilkes but still lived there. After she graduated, I lived there another year with another college buddy. This apartment was where most of our crazy stories happened.

But, I was happy to confirm to her fiance that we really did do the Hokey Pokey with Faith Hill in 1998 in Keenan’s after a show at the Kirby Center. Although, she reminded me of a few details I forgot like I wanted Faith and her band to do the chicken dance, but none of them heard of it. I always thought it was the Hokey Pokey they didn’t know. (I also don’t think anyone believes me or my friend Jenn G. that we danced onstage at the Kirby with Davey Jones and got to me the Monkees backstage after – that was in 1996. Unfortunately, since we were both on stage, there are no pictures. Anyone at that show??)

“Do you still have the pictures,” she asked.

“Of course I do,” I replied. “I have to look for them, but it’s funny you brought that up. I blogged about it the other month.” (Turns out, it was actually in January – read about our hokey pokey with Faith Hill here.) Mental note to self: go hunt through pics. Not sure if they are in the storage shed or here.

It was a blast to talk to Tanner again and just have all these memories come out. I stay in touch with here on Facebook and e-mail, but until you talk and laugh in person, it’s not the same.

Some other things that she brought up that I had long forgotten was our perpetual leak… we had this one area in the long hallway of our apartment that just always leaked water, almost like a horror movie would have a hotel corridor that would leak blood. She reminded me of the time I went back to a boys dorm after a party but didn’t know where I was and called her for help getting home.

Tanner, Bonnie and I at Ralston Field on Homecoming Weekend, 2009

Tanner, Bonnie and I at Ralston Field on Homecoming Weekend, 2009

Perhaps the funniest memory was of Charlie and her friend Joe. Charlie was a homeless man (who many speculated really had money and lived on the streets because he didn’t want to pay taxes or something like that) and was very well-known in Wilkes-Barre. He had psoriasis and was always bundled up, but his outer layer was always a worn in, tan coat and he also wore a furry brown hat. He was nice when you talked to him. Well, Charlie took up residence in the foyer of my building. Some guys who lived downstairs would give him food and sometimes let him shower. Sometimes I would leave food, too, although, , my roomies didn’t know. It was like feeding a stray and having them always come back.

So one time, Tanner’s friend Joe put a wire hanger on the end of a broom and used it to fish for Charlie’s bag – we were on the second floor. Joe was successful. We looked through his bag and we pretended we were detectives. I recorded everything on an audio tape as Joe cataloged the items. We used the contraption to replace the bag where we found it. Then, Charlie started to cough and Joe said, “He needs a doctor! Quick, get me my lab coat.” I ran to my room and brought Joe back a white robe which would have made a fine substitute to a lab coat except for the lace ruffles on the ends of the sleeves. For some reason, Tanner had a chef’s hat. So, Joe went down to Charlie in my robe and Tanner’s chef’s hat and woke Charlie up and discussed the cough. It was very funny.

I can’t believe I forgot that. But, after Tanner told the story it all came back to me and now I can see Joe, well over 6-feet tall wearing my robe. I laughed so hard I cried. It’s nice to have memories that make your stomach hurt with laughter. Nothing like a tear rolling down your cheek from a great memory. Going back to the line I started this blog with, it just makes me feel pretty cool that I am part of people’s favorite stories to tell.

Overall, homecoming was a blast. I say it on this blog so much that I love Wilkes, so I didn’t want to get too mushy in this post. Instead, this one’s for you, Tanner! Great memories. Was glad to laugh with you so much on Saturday!

Now off to find that Faith Hill picture.

Update: A few hours later after writing this post, I found the album these pics were in. Surprised I never scanned these in yet. This is from February 2008 at the Faith Hill concert at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, which the radio station I worked for, Froggy 101, sponsored. This was right after “This Kiss” came out when she really hit big. This was the last show on her tour, hence the big after-party. Always trying to be silly and get the crowd involved, I requested some silly kid songs and Faith Hill and her band joined in.

The memorable night (yep, Faith still remembers this night from what my buddies tell me) where I had the DJ play the Hokey Pokey at the post-show after party. Faith Hill and her band did the Hokey Pokey with me, my co-workers, my old roomie, and some fans.

The memorable night (yep, Faith still remembers this night from what my buddies tell me) where I had the DJ play the Hokey Pokey at the post-show after party. Faith Hill and her band did the Hokey Pokey with me, my co-workers, my old roomie, and some fans.


On Cover of October Happenings Magazine for Wilkes: The Back to School Issue

The October 2009 cover of Happenings Magazine. Cover photo by Rob Lettieri

The October 2009 cover of Happenings Magazine. Cover photo by Rob Lettieri

Some cool news. Happenings Magazine of PA each year does a Back to School issue, featuring college students on the cover. This year, the focus of the story was on alumni of the local colleges in Eastern PA for the cover story, “Brain Gain.” I was selected by Wilkes to be featured. Before Labor Day eight other local alums participated in a fun photo shoot at Miller’s Orchard in Clarks Summit.

There were alums from Wilkes University, King’s College (which happened to be Scott Carey, one of my colleagues at Solid Cactus), Misericordia University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre, Johnson College, Career Technology Center of Scranton, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (not a local school perse, but student did all rotations locally), East Stroudsburg University, and University of Scranton. The University of Scranton student is kind of a double-feature because she’s also part of the first class at Commonwealth Medical College, which is another cool highlight.

The photo shoot was a lot of fun. So many bright minds in varied career paths from medical to technical to creative. The nine of us posed all over the farm: on tractors, in corn fields, in the mud with pigs (I’m serious!), in kiddie rides, on a hayride, and more. Did I mention we got to take a hayride? The folks from happenings, Erika and Lisa, were a lot of fun and the photographer they hired, Rob Lettieri was also extremely cool. The folks from Miller’s Orchard were also very accommodating for Erika and Lisa, from driving the tractor to helping us find locations to take pictures.

I told the photographer that this was perfect for me since I'm corny. Then, I told my "Why don't you tell secrets on a farm joke." Oh, an I made sure Malachai was not in the corn first.... Photo by Rob Lettieri

I told the photographer that this setting was perfect for me since I'm corny. Then, I told my "Why don't you tell secrets on a farm joke." Oh, an I made sure Isaac and 'he who walks behind the rows' was not in the corn first.... Photo by Rob Lettieri

The magazine looks great. Happenings has always been a very visually appealing publication. The cover story, Brain Gain: Meet Talented Grads Staying in NEPA, had a small profile on each featured student as well as side bar stories on careers in the area, profiles on each school featured, financial aid, cheap and free things college students (and anyone) in NEPA can do, and more. Great issue. Happenings also did a profile on Miller’s Orchard in Clarks Summit, which is getting ready for its busy season. Miller’s Orchard has a great store. I left with pumpkin spice instant cappuccino mix, homemade apple sauce, homemade apple butter, and all-natural peanut butter. The two apple products were made at Miller’s, from Miller’s apples.

To read the full issues, pick one up locally. They are all over and there is so much in this issue about all the fall happenings. If you aren’t local or can’t wait to read it after I’ve raved about the issue, you can read it online here. The website I will admit is a little hard to navigate, so click on the read online banner, but you can also follow the linked text I have here. You need a program to read PDFs and will view sections at a time. The Back to School cover story is all pretty much within the first PDF.

There were so many fun pictures available so they created a page on the site that shows the behind the scenes pictures, too. Check these out…

On a side note, I was surprised that only nine colleges/post-secondary schools sent alums. (NOTE: My previous employer, Allied Medical Technical Institute didn’t send anyone from either of their two campuses. When I worked there, I tried so hard to push the value of PR and later, social media. But I was never in a position to make it happen and my ideas were pretty much laughed at… Guess they still didn’t learn the value because this issue is a great example of schools beaming with pride for their alumni.)

Screen shot of my bio... please read the rest of the magazine at the link provided. (c) Happenings Magazine

Screen shot of my bio... please read the rest of the magazine at the link provided. (c) Happenings Magazine


Talented People I Know: Kaylie Jones, Novelist & Memoirist

Kaylie Jones's Lies My Mother Never Told Me is getting rave reviews

Kaylie Jones's Lies My Mother Never Told Me is getting rave reviews

For my second Talented People I Know post, I’m going to introduce you to novelist Kaylie Jones, who I’ve come to know through the Wilkes University MFA in creative writing program. She’s one of our fantastic faculty members, along with my two great mentors throughout the program, first Beverly Donofrio and then Becky Bradway. Kaylie, who primarily works with fiction students, has been a wonderful mentor to some of my friends in the program. The wonderful thing about the Wilkes program is that everyone learns from one another, so although I did not work one-on-one with Kaylie, I’ve definitely learned from her.

(Fun little sidebar: Actually, to be a little more specific, Kaylie and I really connected outside of Wilkes University on Twitter. We were having fun talking there and I casually mentioned that, because of my day job and interest in social media, I had pitched an idea for a workshop during residency on how writers can use Twitter and Facebook. Turns out her husband, Kevin works in the Internet marketing realm. She called the Wilkes program director, Bonnie and pretty much got the ball rolling on my proposed class. In June 2009, Kevin and I presented “Social Media for the Anti-Social Writer” which got many, many more Wilkes faculty and students on board with social media!)

Over the years, Kaylie has released several novels including A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries which was also turned into a movie of the same name. Speaking of daughter, she’s the daughter of famous novelist James Jones (From Here to Eternity). She teaches in a few different creative writing programs, including Wilkes and chairs the James Jones First Novel competition.

Kaylie’s new memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me, was released last month; but, I was lucky enough to over the past two years hear excerpts during her whole writing and publishing process at nightly readings during residencies. The book is so familiar now to the entire Wilkes writing community. It’s just truly amazing to be part of a writing community full of such support for one another, and while Kaylie is getting a lot of wonderful media attention right now, she’s forever promoting the works and honors of her friends, students, and peers, too. She’s just kind and generous like that.

kaylie_jones_donna_talarico_brooklyn_09_09

Me with Kaylie Jones after her launch party in Brooklyn.

A whole slew of the Wilkes people went to Kaylie’s book launch in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, and many students have been following her along the book reading route around New York and Pennsylvania. Her next reading is tomorrow at Anthology in Scranton, so that’s why I am writing this post: she’s top of mind. That, and I’m halfway through the memoir.

The press Kaylie has been getting for Lies My Mother Never Told Me is impressive. Publisher’s Weekly. New York Times. Washington Post. CNN. Lots of other larger city papers, too like Pittsburgh, Columbus, Palm Beach, etc. And, I even suggested a story to my features editor at the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, where Mary-Therese Biebel did a wonderful interview with her. The Wilkes-Barre area media has embraced Kaylie, actually. Here’s a link to her interview on WVIA-FM‘s (the local NPR affiliate) ArtScene, a daily arts program. She gives great kudos to Wilkes. While we’re linking to Erica Funke’s interviews, here’s one from another Talented People I Know, Jim Warner.

I will let this great video from Better tell you more about Kaylie’s history and about her new memoir:

Check out the memoir if you can. It’s fantastic! And better yet, if you can see her read, go.