The Read My Writin’ Round-up

I’ve been able to write a lot about where I live, recently – in the Berkshires of Massachusetts – so this shameless round-up of my own work is pulled together with a Berkshire County theme.

First, the latest; I wrote a ‘Parents-Eye Review’ for Berkshire Family Focus, upon the opening of the new Berkshire Carousel. Juli was my intern on this project.


Next, on to the world of corporate spa retreats…an actual thing, apparently, and growing in popularity. I used two world-class resorts in the Berkshires to illustrate the trend of spa retreats as part of workplace health and wellness packages.


Finally, a look at the entire region from the point-of-view of the visitor’s bureau and the owner/managers of some attractions in the area, including outdoor recreation spots as well as theater venues (two of the biggies in these parts).




Rest, Relaxation, and ROI

According to the “Global Spa & Wellness Trends Forecast” published by Spafinder Wellness Inc., workplace wellness is one of the top 10 trends in the spa industry for 2016.

The study suggests that this is a direct response to a growing number of businesses across the country taking the well-being of their employees more seriously, for the health of both their teams and their companies’ bottom lines. I was recently able to look into this trend for a freelance article, and while it’s not one that is taking off as quickly as some spa professionals would like, it’s gaining popularity and acceptance in both offices and resorts.

Read more:

Photo: Cranwell Resort spa, JCS

Geeks on Fleek: The Art of Nerd Burlesque


Last weekend, we hit up something new: a body-positive, male/female, nerd-themed burlesque show.

Stay with me.

The show was created by Western Mass.-based troupe Bon Appetit Burlesque, which often performs in the Northampton area and is lead by the delightful Hors D’oeuvres, pronounced the way you want to say it.

So let’s break down Nerd Burlesque… It’s the art of the tease mixed with a healthy dose of Star Wars and hobbits.

Stay with me.

The nerd quotient was high among the performers, much to our glee, across plenty of decades of multimedia nerd-dom. In the course of a few hours, we saw Han Solo, Godzilla, Pokemon, and a bound Princess Leia strut their stuff. The costumes were surprisingly elaborate. There was a wide gamut of talent, too – budding dancers as well as seasoned teasers who all had the crowd riled up as they played to their strengths.

Here are some glimpses… This is Baroness Blitzen Von Schtupp in the midst of her Alien-inspired routine…she also performed a Godzilla-themed dance in Act II.

In the ‘boylesque’ category, this is Dale Stones, CFO of the Boston-based Sirlesque. Here, Dale is transforming into Captain America… He also doubled as Link from the Legend of Zelda.

My personal fave of the night was Femme Bones, founder of the Slaughterhouse Sweethearts, who started off as Red Sonja and returned later as Tina from Bob’s Burgers.

 Sadly, the venue we visited, Diva’s Nightclub, is about to close after several years in business. But all of the performers have gigs on their schedules, and Bon Appetit Burlesque is expected to resurrect itself at a new place soon, pasties and all.
Have any experience in the burlesque world? I’m intrigued. Tell us about it in the comments or send me an email at writerjax -at – gmail.

PodCamp WM returns for its EIGHTH session!

Social media and networking event returns to Holyoke Community College on April 2  

HOLYOKE, Mass. – PodCamp Western Mass. (PCWM) returns to the region for its eighth session on Saturday, April 2 at Holyoke Community College’s Kittredge Business Center.

PCWM is the longest running event of its kind in New England, organized by local volunteers and modeled on the global PodCamp style of workshops. The event welcomes anyone interested in learning more about social media and networking, from beginners to advanced practitioners. Participants choose the topics they’d like to discuss on the day of the event; anyone can suggest or lead a session, and topics often include overviews of current and emerging trends.

PCWM co-founder Jaclyn Stevenson, director of public relations and social media for Winstanley Partners – a creative agency in Lenox, Mass. – said this democratic approach is in line with the key tenets of social media and networking, which aim to involve everyone in a global conversation.

“PodCamps offer all types of people, extroverts and introverts alike, opportunities to both learn and teach in a low-stress environment,” she said, noting that the events also serve as barometers for social media’s influence. “In eight years, we’ve seen this phenomenon take hold of the entire world, and PCWM allows us to not only stay on top of new developments, but to share that knowledge immediately with our local communities.”

PCWM will be held on Saturday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at HCC, with an after-party to follow. Attendees are encouraged to bring laptops, power strips, smartphones, and cameras, and can come and go as their schedules allow. The cost of the program is $35 and $15 for students, which includes lunch and morning refreshments, as well as a PCWM t-shirt while supplies last. Tickets are limited, and participants are encouraged to pre-register via EventBrite. News of the event is also available by searching #PCWM8 and #PCWM on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About PodCamp WesternMass
PodCamp WesternMass (PCWM) launched in 2009 to allow anyone interested in the online world to share ideas, hear from industry experts, and participate in discussions at their own pace. PCWM is part of a large network of similar events; the first PodCamp was held in September 2006 in Boston, and today camps are staged around the globe in response to this rapidly growing phenomenon. To learn more or to register, visit the PodCamp WesternMass website (

Sponsorships are still available.

2016 Park Ranger: HCC Kittredge Center

Trail Blazer Sponsor: Women Business Owners Alliance

After-Party Sponsor: Cider House Media