Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have you ever had a gift . . .

... just drop into your lap? 

This happened to me a few weeks ago, when I received a Cuttyhunk email with this essay. The young woman who wrote it distilled the essence of everything I'm trying to do with my Summerhood Island books into a few paragraphs. 

Here's Sophia Corona explaining why I'm writing the series, without ever having heard of my book(s). (I've added pictures to try and illustrate for those poor souls who've never been to 'our' island.)

The Gift

The greatest gift I have ever received could not be handed to me wrapped up in a box.  Have you ever heard of a small island called Cuttyhunk?  This little island has an area of about one square mile. It is located at the very western end of the Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. 

Cuttyhunk is a quiet, tightly-knit community where everyone knows each other.  There are many things Cuttyhunk has to offer like kind, welcoming people with warm smiles, utterly true freedom, and nature that can paint beautiful images in your memories.

Imagine waking up early in the morning, all by yourself, heading towards the beach; you don't even bother to put on your shoes.  As you 
head towards the beach, there is absolutely no person walking by and the excitement is almost palpable.  You turn your head east and the beautiful sunrise over the shining water with orange and pink colors wrapping themselves around the few clouds in sight.  The wind blows the ocean spray to your lips,and you just can't resist the urge to taste the salty spray.  Once you reach the beach,

the sand melts under your feet, cushioning your toes….Cuttyhunk is an amazing place to embrace the beauties of nature.  During my time at Cuttyhunk, the constant natural beauties never cease to impress me.

This Cuttyhunk gift is also an amazing location to explore by yourself.  I have walked around the entire island and found many secrets. 

At Cuttyhunk, independence can flourish because there are so many corners of the island to find and experience.  One time, I found the remains of a World War II bunker and even bones of a seagull. Most of the time, I like wandering around the island finding small pools of salt water where I stick my feet in and read a book. 

photo a. hinson
During my Cuttyhunk explorations, I do several things I don't normally do elsewhere:  I sing to myself, sometimes for hours while I walk around the island.

Moreover, everyone on Cuttyhunk is extremely kind and welcoming. Whenever I walk around the island, people say hello or wave as they pass by.  Friends may spontaneously give you a ride or invite you to go sailing with them. 

Cuttyhunk yacht club boats
There are many fun events like going to the tiny local church and freely choosing what hymns to sing. 

Once, there was a band that came and played old Elvis Presley songs.  Everyone on the island came and danced in the grass.  Children all held hands and danced in circles for at least two hours while adults were deep in conversation. 

photo a.hinson
There is also a library where I spend some of my time looking for great books that I can take to the beach and read. 

There is absolutely no place on Cuttyhunk Island where you cannot receive a warm smile.  Cuttyhunk Island is the greatest gift I have ever received.  In my opinion, the greatest gifts in life are experiences, not tangible items.

Sofia Corona
Aged 11

Thank you Sofia, for your gift to us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The holiday season has me in a mood . . . (giveaway inside this blog!)

Actually, several moods. They pretty much change every ten minutes, from appreciative of people's generosity toward the burned-out relative of a neighbor of mine, to irritated at the constant Christmas music blaring from a huge speaker at a house up the block, back to appreciative of people shopping downtown instead of at malls an hour away, back to irritated that everyone feels the need to do so much shopping at all.

Yes, I am in the running for the Scrootch 

award this year.

Much like every year.

So I've been thinking hard, (and yes, it hurts) and I believe I might have come up with a way to extend the appreciative and curb the irritation. 

Hmm, that kind of sounds like a 50's song lyric.
But I digress.

So welcome to my Scrootch avoidance plan for 2014.

1. Buy small, homegrown, or local.

Buy an autographed or personalized copy of  Coyote Summer at and I will donate the profit from the sale to our local food pantry. And they could use all the help they can get.

or- B. Give gifts.

Buy 2 copies  of Coyote Summer because everyone has a child/grandchild/niece or nephew. Give one to your local library or local elementary or middle school. Actually, I have no control over this. Do what you will with them. Just remember the blood, sweat and ink that was sacrificed . . . (Oops, I digress again. Pardon.)

Not only will I donate the profits but I will send you, ABSOLUTELY FREE an autographed copy of my memoir with recipes, Cuttyhunk: Life on the Rock. 

This is actually a triple win because now you will have an emergency gift for aunt Hilda when she brings you over an unexpected fruitcake. Or, even better, a gift for your child's school or sunday school teacher. Cookies are so old hat.

You give, I give, you give again, The food pantry gives. (and probably aunt Hilda gives the book away as well. It's the gift that keeps on giving.)

Start the ball rolling. 
(Irritation is so unattractive in a woman my age)

And we thank you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Look what showed up in my inbox . . .

Dear Ms. Solod,

My name is Sage Cooley and I am 6th grade. You met my mom, Carol Cooley who is also an author, at the VCCA in September. She gave me a book you wrote called Coyote Summer. I just finished reading it and I thought it was really inspiring. It exampled the characters personalities strongly; it almost felt like I knew them myself. I thought Jessie’s discovery was so unique. The fact that she went out of her way to save Lancelot (that's so cute by the way) and the pups to replace a bad memory is heartbreaking. I got so involved in this book I refused to go to sleep.

I used your book for my English report. I matched all the main characters with animals that fit their nature. 

Lara = Deer

Susan = Koala

Jessie = Coyote (of course)

Mrs. Silva = German Sheppard

Susan’s Dad = Bear

Daniel = Rabbit

Amanda = Dolphin

I look forward to your upcoming books and I think you’re really talented. (Thanks for the autograph in the book 😊) 

Thank you so much for the amazing story,

Sage Cooley

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dear Sara Loewen . . .

(I have no idea why this showed back up here, when it was written a year ago. Oh, the mysteries of the internet . . .)

Why am I calling you dear?  I spoke to you for perhaps forty-five seconds at this year’s AWP conference.  You were manning the University of Alaska press table when I walked up.  I had no idea who you were, never heard of your book.  I’d attended a panel of Alaskan writers that morning and was actually there to purchase someone else’s book.  I don’t remember whose now, only that it wasn’t available and you told me I’d have to order it.  I’m sure I did, perhaps I’ve read it by now, or perhaps it’s sitting on my shelf;  in the stack of books waiting until I have more time.

But oh, my dear dear Sara Loewen.  You suggested your book, sitting on the corner of the table.  You said perhaps if I enjoyed reading about Alaska I would enjoy your book.  I liked the title, Gaining Daylight, and was taken by the subtitle Life on Two Islands.

 I spent years on an island.  I may have talked to you briefly about that.  But mostly I bought your book because you were there, and you pointed it out, and I would’ve been embarrassed not to buy it.  It would’ve felt somehow rude.  I wouldn’t have wanted someone to walk away after I’d suggested they buy my book.

I picked your book up last week, out of that pile of ‘to be gotten to’ books.  I picked it because it was small and light, because it was short essays that could be carried in my bag and read in waiting rooms.  I had no expectations.

Dear Sara Loewen,
 Your writing stuns me.  I read each essay slowly, once, and then again.  It’s been a long time since I savored a book as much as this one.  Every image is so clear, so bright.  Every word seems to be the perfect word, the only word that could possibly have been used to convey that idea, but that sentiment.  The things you write about and at the same time encompassing everything.  I don’t have the words to describe your words.  I’m not that good.

Dear, dear Sara Loewen.
 Whether you’re writing about salmon fishing, running your own skiff, substituting for second grade, whether you’re telling me about the Russians encamped on Kodiak Island, or Rose Tweed, the Bell of Kodiak during World War II, or baby humpback whales, it feels like everything you’re saying is true and right and important, and I want to know what you know, and I want to feel what you feel.  Do you know how rare this is to a reader like myself?  Do you know how good you are?

Sara Loewen, you inscribed my copy of Gaining Daylight.  You wrote “hope you visit Alaska one day soon.  You’ll love it.”

I visit Alaska.  In small, beautifully rendered, beautifully written essays.  I visit Kodiak Island and Amook Island.  I visit fish camps and beaches swept by fall winds, I visit the 1890’s Russian settlements, and the Army barracks in World War II.  I visit Rose Tweed Lake.  And it’s all because I happen to be in the right place at the right time on a snowy day in Boston.  And because of you, Sara Loewen.
Thank you.  Truly.

You can visit Alaska, too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A very roundabout review . . .

When I was in grade school my best friend was Elizabeth Holmes.  I might not have been her best friend, but I considered her mine.  I was not a kid who made a lot of friends.  Elizabeth and I wrote poetry, and traded first and second places back and forth in contests for several years.  Every year we ended up in the teachers lounge at school, as the winners of the local spelling bee, working on memorizing words in order to make regional or state champion.  Elizabeth usually went farther than I did.  She had more determination, even at that age.

 Fast-forward about thirty-five years.  I run into Elizabeth’s mother in our hometown when I’m visiting my father.  I screw my courage up (I hate asking questions to which I do not know the answers, because what if the answer is bad,) and ask her how Elizabeth is doing and where she is.  I get a phone number and an address in upstate New York.  I hate the phone, so I write. 

I tell her I was in the theater, and now I am running an Inn and cooking and that I started writing poetry again.
Not surprisingly, she is a professor.  It’s that concentration thing again.  And she writes poetry.  In fact, she has a book of poetry out.  I believe I overwhelm her with my eagerness to connect.  We don’t write again.  I buy her book of poetry.

Jump forward ten years.  I have several prize chapbooks and a book of poetry  published.  I look Elizabeth up on that amazing  new thing called the Internet.  She now has two books of poetry.

Elizabeth has married a professor of English.  I have married a professor of English.  Both of our professors are creative writers.
I write a sort of memoir of my time on the island.  Before and after this book I work on a series of middle readers for 8 to 12-year-olds.

It is 2014.  I am fifty-seven years old.  My first middle reader came out in April.  Elizabeth leaves a lovely note on my blog.  I look her up again.  She has published three middle readers.

I immediately buy her books and download them onto my Kindle.
Here’s my review for the first one:
Pretty Is by Elizabeth Holmes is one of a rare and rapidly vanishing species of middle reader, a well-rounded story told in an age-appropriate voice, a story with a plot and equally strong subplot. The characters are finely drawn and utterly believable, and there’s action, suspense, and even a moral that doesn’t sound preachy.  And yet, there are no vampires or werewolves, no epic battles, no fantasy worlds and no alternative dystopian futures.  How could it possibly interesting?

Erin and Monica are sisters, but they couldn’t be more different. Monica is one of those embarrassing older sisters who just doesn’t fit in. And Erin wants desperately to fit in, to be surrounded by a large group of friends. But the girls she used to be friends with are changing, and she’s feeling left out. And Erin knows that’s only going to get worse, as next year she will have to go to the same school with the embarrassing Monica, which will, she is sure, destroy any chance she has left of winning her old friends back. The summer starts out awfully, and goes downhill from there. No spoilers here, but through a series of events and misadventures Erin learns that not everyone has to be popular the same way, and even and older sister like Monica can turn out to be a pretty good friend when the chips are down.

Holmes captures perfectly the angst of that age, those girls on the cusp between adolescent and teen and feeling the pull of both worlds.

I don’t mean this to sound as if I have been in competition with Elizabeth Holmes my whole life.  What I’m trying to say is that I think it’s uncanny how two friends in elementary school can go such separate paths and yet windup somehow connecting at certain points all along the way.

She could always waterski better than me too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's got nothing to do with politics . . .

I called my sister last week, on what is still unfortunately referred to as Columbus Day.  I asked her what she was doing.

“Paying bills, doing laundry, cleaning house.” 

“I’m taking the dogs to the vet,” I said.  Then there was silence. Contented silence.

Every year for the past twenty-one years I’ve called my sister or she has called me on Memorial Day and Columbus Day.  The routine is always the same.  What are you doing?  Not much.  You?  The usual.

This little ceremony is in memory of the twelve years we were innkeepers on Cuttyhunk Island, when the calendar from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day weekend meant our lives belonged 24/7 to the Allen House Inn.

Memorial Day weekend was the start of the season.  We’d scan the harbor anxiously, waiting for the boats to come in.  We’d praise sunny days and curse fog and rain. 
photo nina brodeur
And we’d wait both dreading and hoping we’d get slammed with too many people.We never had more than a  skeleton staff that early in the season, but we needed the cash.

We took out a startup loan at the beginning of every year, and breathed a sigh of relief when it was paid off and we began to make money.  We busted our asses eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, from the end of June until Labor Day.  
photo courtesy A. Hinson

Then the business dropped off as we headed toward the end of the season; but so did most of our staff, who had to get back to school or jobs or both.  The length of the day stayed the same, but our duties were more varied as everybody who stayed on took on any chore that was needed.

Then, finally, Columbus Day weekend.  That last grand slam of business, and the incredible relief with which we saw the harbor empty out on Monday.

A week of intense cleaning always followed, the scrubbing of every surface of the kitchen down to bare wood or metal, washing and bagging up linens, tablecloths, curtains, putting everything a mouse might want to chew into a container that hopefully a mouse could not chew through.  But that last week, difficult as it was physically, was incredibly satisfying emotionally.  We had made it through another season with our bodies and minds mostly intact.
photo A.Hinson
Almost twice as many years have passed without the Inn as the number of years we ran it.  I rarely have the dreams anymore, the ones where I wake up in a sweat because it’s Memorial Day weekend and things are not done.  My sister rarely wakes up wondering who is on the schedule to close at night.

But we remember.  We remember the good, the bad, the crazy.  As the years pass the good gets better and the bad slowly fades. 

And twice a year we call each other and talk about the lives we used to have, that we were so glad to have, and that we are so glad have moved beyond. 

We remember.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

You know when . . .

somebody you love says something, and all of a sudden you have a brilliant idea,
but that idea is gonna cause you a LOT of extra work, so all of a sudden you don't love that somebody quite as much as you used to? 

You know that feeling?

But the idea really is a good one and it will make the book so much better, 
except you are going to have to re-write large portions of the book you though you had just finished.

Yeah. like that. Exactly like that.

Only backwards and in high heels.

Ya'll may not see much in the way of brilliant and original thought here for a while while I hammer this puppy out.

(metaphorically speaking, I would never hammer an actual puppy), but I will endeavor to keep you amused and informed with the brilliance of other people.

The salt mines await.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why Bayberry Island,

you may ask?

Well, because, bayberry. It's all over the east coast. It's on a lot of islands. And I wanted my island for the Summerhood Island series to be an island that could be anywhere, or at least more places than specifically off the coast of southeastern MA that could be seen from Aquinnah if you put a quarter in the binoculars at the edge of the cliffs and looked to your right.
Yeah. That island. Only a little broader in scope. 

So that's why I chose Bayberry out of all the names suggested to me for Jessie's island. And here's  a little discourse on the bayberry plant. You don't have to read the whole thing. You may skim. You have my permission.

Waxing eloquent on wax myrtle

·         Thursday, October 2, 2014
The Narrow-leaved Candleberry Myrtle 
One of the most popular (and prolific) trees in the Lowcountry is the wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera). This aromatic shrub grows everywhere – behind the dunes line on beaches, in woods along the marsh edges and in the natural thickets that often surround our shopping centers and building lots. Since it is unusually hardy and will take salt, wind and heat, the wax myrtle has become an extremely popular landscaping ornamental. There is hardly a landscaping plan that omits the versatile myrtle, especially for high-abuse places such as parking lot entrances and along roadways.
The wax myrtle has as many names as it has uses, and a remarkable historical record. It is variously known as Sweet Myrtle, Sweet Bay, Bayberry, Waxberry, Wild Tea, Tea Box, Tallow Bush, Merkle, Mucklebush, Mickleberry and, last but not least, the Candleberry Tree. For centuries, Lowcountry cooks have been using the slender, pungently “sweet bay” leaves to flavor stews and broths.
Yet, if we lived a century or two ago, the myrtle would have a far greater significance to us than mere food flavoring. It was not given the name “wax” myrtle for nought. The tree’s berries provided the wax to make the bayberry candles so popular for their aroma.
If you get up close and personal to a wax myrtle right now, you’ll find that it is chock-filled with clumps of small, round, greyish-blue berries. It was from these berries, harvested in the fall, that the wax was made for candles. The berries were placed in boiling vats, and as the wax rose to the top, it was skimmed off and strained. This process was repeated again and again until a cake of bayberry wax was formed. Enormous amounts of bayberries were required to produce a single pound of wax.
In 1732, English naturalist Mark Catesby described the annual fall ritual of harvesting bayberries and making wax from the bush he named the “Narrow-leaved Candleberry Myrtle.”
Wrote Catesby, “In November and December, at which time the berries are mature, a man with his family will remove from his home to some island or sandbanks near the sea, where these trees most abound, taking with him kettles to boil the berries in. He builds a hut with palmetto leaves, for the shelter of himself and family while they stay, which is commonly three or four weeks.
“The man cuts down the trees, while the children strip off the berries into a porridge pot; and having put water to them, they boil them until the oil floats, which is skimmed off into another vessel. This is repeated until there remains no more oil. This, when cold, hardens to the consistency of wax, and is of a dirty green color. They then boil it again, and clarify it in kettles which gives it a transparent greenness.”
In olden times, candles were generally made from two types of material, tallow and beeswax. Those made from natural beeswax burned with a more pleasant odor and generally gave off a more stable light. Tallow candles were usually made from fat extracted from beef and mutton but had a lower melting point and burned faster. Bayberry candles were considered better than those made of tallow and were probably the most familiar type of candle used in colonial America.
English explorer John Lawson praised them, writing in 1700, “the Berry yields a wax that makes candles the most lasting and of the sweetest smell imaginable. Some mix half Tallow with this Wax, others use it without mixture; and these are fit for a Lady’s Chamber.”
The wax myrtle was also esteemed for its medicinal properties. Root bark from the tree was collected in fall and boiled in water, producing an astringent and stimulant thought to be both a headache remedy and a curative for scrofula, jaundice, diarrhea and dysentery. A tea made from the leaves was thought to relieve a backache and would also “clean out the kidneys” and “overcome chills.”
Bay leaves were also thought to be an excellent insect repellant. Leaves were placed under and over beef at slaughtering time to keep flies away. Branches were strewn around houses, chicken coops and in beds to repel fleas. Rich in tannin, they were also used for tanning leather during the Civil War.
All in all, the wax myrtle is a simply wonderful shrub. It grows in sand; it will take both sun or shade. It looks wonderful when it is pruned ornamentally and just as good when it is left to its own abandon. Birds love the tree, both for nesting and for its berries. It even smells good.
Of all the wonderful natural abundance we have here on our coast, the wax myrtle is right up at the top in my estimation.
Next time you smell the alluring scent of a bayberry candle, give the valiant wax myrtle an appreciative nod. It has been doing good duty to both man and nature for a long time.

Suzannah Smith Miles is a writer and Lowcountry and Civil War historian.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

National do something good day . . .

Is today
October 5th.

And right now you are saying, well, great, yeah, now she tells us. 
Wow about a little warning?

Well, I've been busy.

And maybe I just found out myself? 

And maybe I can't help it if it is tomorrow and you are just reading this post?

Oh, the guilt. Already I can feel it pouring in.

Now I don't even want to hit the publish button.
But I will. because I want to do something good for you.
so there

and besides,
shhh, it's a secret-
(you can make any day you want national do something good day)
doesn't have to be anything big. 

I am gonna give my new friend Lou a book. 
One of mine, of course.
It is the thought that counts.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

And now . . .

You must be tired of me blathering on about my progress on the next book.

I know I am.

So I am just going to post some interesting things i've found trolling the web.

gifs of how things are made.
just cause it’s so cool

what authors did before writing
In 1977, author-illustrator Simms Taback designed and illustrated the first Happy Meal box for McDonald’s.
  • One of the first professional ventures of author Florence Parry Heide was to attempt a hot fudge sauce company with a friend, but a dislike of cooking put that project on the back burner (so to speak).
  • Illustrator Ted Lewin’s 1993 book, titled I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler, is all about how he was … well, a teenage professional wrestler, all to raise money for art school at Pratt Institute. He lived what he called his “double life: Renoir, Rubens, and Picasso by day; headlocks, hammerlocks, and flying tackles by night.”
  • The great Sid Fleischman was once a magician, having taught himself sleight-of-hand from books. As a teenager, he toured the country with such vaudeville acts as Mr. Arthur Bull’s Francisco Spook Show.
  • Author-illustrator Virginia Lee Burton intended to make dance her career but married a well-known artist, fell in love with the artistic life, and brought us Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne instead.
  • YA author Terra Elan McVoy was once an editorial assistant at Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic, and assisted with answering fan mail for the Captain Underpants books. “Though there were a lot of things I enjoyed about my job, I have to say that getting to write to an enthusiastic Captain Underpants fan, and choosing what exact thing to send to him or her, was definitely one of my favorite tasks. Sometimes, I even got a thank you letter back!”
  • Author Scott O’Dell once worked on a citrus ranch.
  • Author-illustrator Sergio Ruzzier was once an un-folder and re-folder of Persian rugs.
  • Author and poet Eve Merriam was a fashion editor atGlamour.
  • Author Ayun Halliday once had a gig as Bert of Bert and Ernie at a suburban shopping mall when she was “an extremely underemployed actress. It gives me a lot of sympathy for the poor saps currently peering out the eyeholes of Angelina Ballerina, Captain Underpants, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.”
  • YA author Lisa Yee wrote the slogan, “Pass the Old El Paso”; wrote jingles and Red Lobster menus; had a Hollywood gossip column; invented cereals and ice cream flavors; and was once a hand model.
  • During World War Two, author-illustrator Robert McCloskey invented the machine that allowed lieutenants to flip over large training charts in a high breeze.
  • Author-illustrator Don Brown was once a professional clam digger.
  • Before she brought us The Indian in the Cupboard, author Lynne Reid Banks was the first woman reporter on British television.
  • One of YA author Cecil Castellucci’s first jobs was to insert time codes into the transcriptions from documentary footage so that editors could get to the footage easily. For The Matrix DVD, they interviewed a girl, age 15, who dressed up as Trinity. Cecil was also a film extra and was once called in to interview as a child ape in Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. She didn’t land the role but got to try on ape masks at Rick Baker’s special effects make-up studio. The 15-year-old girl later became the character Egg in her novel Boy Proof, and the make-up studio inspired her to make Egg’s dad a special effects designer.
  • Author Bruce Coville was once a gravedigger. “Consider it hands-on research for a scene I once wrote in The Ghost Wore Gray,” he told us. “It was nepotism – my grandfather ran the cemetery. It was a small country cemetery, and we still dug graves by hand. So I know what it’s like to lie down at the bottom of a grave and look up. (I mean, when else would I have the chance?) There was something peaceful about digging graves, and I found it a good time to think.” He joins the ranks of author Meindert DeJong, no less, who also once dug graves, as well as Allan Ahlberg: “I became a gravedigger by a process of elimination. I vaguely wanted to be a writer and I didn’t want a career. I had been a plumber’s mate, a soldier and a postman. I was looking for a job in the open air where they left you alone.”
  • To support himself in college, author-illustrator Marc Brown “took a job at a television station. My first assignment was to make more people want to watch the weather report…I decided to dress the weather reporter, Shirley, up as a weather fairy; she’d swing onto the set on a big swing with her gossamer wings flapping behind her. My boss didn’t see the humor: he gave me a free Christmas ham—and fired me.”
  • Young Adult author Gabrielle Zevin once sold bras, which was “excellent practice,” she told us, “for getting into the heads of adolescent girls. Essentially one long Judy Blume novel.”
  • One of author-illustrator Roxie Munro’s first jobs was as courtroom artist for television/newspapers, her first trial being Watergate.
  • Illustrator Karla Gudeon once worked for The Erotic Bakery in New York City.
  • Young adult and middle-grade novelist Todd Strasser once owned an X-rated fortune cookie company.
  • Before he became a children’s poet, J. Patrick Lewis was a Professor of Economics for thirty years. “So, changing fields was tantamount to transgender surgery,” he told us. “I had to undergo a very delicate operation.”
  • Author David Elliott once worked as a cucumber-washer in Greece and a popsicle-stick-maker in Israel.
  • Newbery winner Maia Wojciechowska, who was a fan of bullfighting, once was a matador in Mexico.
Author-illustrator Barbara McClintock sums it up well when, asked if she’s ever had an unusual or eccentric job of her own, she responds: “I think that’s a pretty accurate job description of what I’m doing now.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Has anyone . . .

reading this ever suffered from re-writer's block?

I mean, I have this swell studio

in this really swell place

with some absolutely swell people.

ok, so the pictures have been altered a bit for privacy purposes

All the hard work has been done. The book has been written. It has a title:

The Ghost/Thief
(shameless self-promotion)

If it is any good my publisher will probably take it. I don't want to sound too positive because my grandmother always told me that to boast is to bring down the evil eye on yourself.

But here I am, procrastinating, taking pictures, writing this blog . . .
Hey, it's all art, right?

Stay tuned-

Thursday, September 18, 2014

And now . . .

I'm off to Virginia Center for Creative Arts (hereafter referred to as VCCA) for a two week writing residency.
ok, that's an easel, yes. but behind the easel is the barn where the studios are.

The purpose of the above heretofore mentioned residency is to attempt, nay, to Succeed in finishing, completing, concluding and drawing to a close book the second in the greatly beforementioned Summerhood Island series.
note Summerhood Island in script under title

Why, you may wonder to yourself, (or even out loud) is she writing in this peculiar, unusual, nay, even abnormal and irregular way?

Mostly because I can. And right soon now I am going to have to get serious, buckle down and put my nose to the grindstone (ouch)
and write at a middle reader level.

Please, all of you who are just about to make some clever retort to that last remark; hold your respective tongues. Or hold another's tongue, if one happens to be within reach . Ick

Anyway, once you have gathered up all the extraneous words in this post and thrown them out the back door you will be left with this:

I'm outta here for a while. To come back with my new book
2nd in the Summerhood Island series -
Summer of the Ghost/Thief

or on it. 

I shall send you juicy tidbits from the  reading and writing world so you won't forget me.

Until I return, I remain
yr hmble and obdnt srvnt

Monday, September 8, 2014

and now for something completely different . . .

New Fictional Holidays: Literary Dates to Add to Your Calendar

Daniel Lefferts

May saw geeks and sci-fi-lovers celebrating not one but two fiction-inspired holidays. First, there was May the Fourth and its flood of Star Wars-themed memes and GIFS on Facebook and Tumblr (get it? “May the force…”?). 

Next, there was Towel Day on May 25, on which fans of the late Douglas Adams carry around a towel in honor of the author and, in particular, a characteristically strange passage from his novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which the towel is praised as “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”

We at Bookish love these holidays and think fiction-inspired celebrations are far too rare a feature of the calendar. So, below, we’ve proposed five more literary dates of note, from ‘On the Road’ Day in July to a day in April on which you’re allowed to feel as paranoid about government surveillance as you see fit. I

1.Mrs. Dalloway (Annotated)

Mrs. Dalloway Day: A beautiful Wednesday in June
Virginia Woolf’s classic novel takes place on a Wednesday in June of 1923. Given how beautiful the weather is in the novel, this one can be a TBD—pick whichever Wednesday in the month will be, according to weather forecasts, the loveliest. How to celebrate? By buying flowers (yourself!) and hosting a party, of course. In general, celebrants should, in the interest of preserving their health and sanity, follow Clarissa Dalloway’s lead on this one, and not poor Septimus Smith’s.

2.The Hunger Games

Reaping Day: A dreary day in winter
The Reaping is the name given to the day on which, in the world ofThe Hunger Games, boys and girls from each district from Panem are chosen to compete in the annual Hunger Games competition. Though emissaries from the Capitol, such as Effie Trinket, try to inflect the occasion with a celebratory spirit, the event effectively means, for 23 of the 24 people chosen, certain death. Hunger Games fans can have fun with this holiday (on whichever day they end up choosing to celebrate it; given the constant dreariness of District 12, perhaps a date in February or March will do). “Winners” of the lottery can buy drinks, go on bagel runs, serve as DDs, give foot massages, etc. I’ll stop there before my suggestions get any weirder.

3.On the Road

'On the Road’ Day: July 15
“In the month of July 1947, having saved about fifty dollars from old veteran benefits, I was ready to go to the West Coast.” So begins Sal Paradise’s multipart peripatetic adventure across America—a trip that will take him to California, Mexico City, Louisiana, and back to New York, all the while showing him (and us) the unsettled and invariably engrossing milieu of mid-century North America. A day in July should be devoted to the commemoration of his journey; it’ll also serve the secondary purpose of inspiring celebrants to set off on their own road trips. So as not to collide with Independence Day weekend fun, we nominate a day at the dead center of the month, July 15.

4.Seize the Day

Day of Moral Reckoning (or, ‘Seize the Day’ Day): Whenever the mood strikes
A good book causes us to reflect on our own life, with its string of various success and failures, and a good literary-inspired holiday gives a specific time frame in which to complete such heroic acts of contemplation. Though it’s unclear on which day Saul Bellow’s novelSeize the Day takes place, pretty much any day of the year will do. Like the protagonist, Tommy Wilhelm, celebrants can spend the day wrestling with their own demons, character flaws, and ill-considered decisions and, just when all hope seems lost (let’s say around seven p.m.), finally come to accept what Bellow calls the “burden of self.” A few cocktails in the evening should round out the holiday quite nicely.


Surveillance Awareness Day: April 4
With the NSA intercepting packages and tracking the phone calls of the entire population of the Bahamas like it ain’t no thang, the gap between the world of George Orwell’s 1984 and ours has become sliver-thin, if it exists at all. April 4, the day on which the novel begins (it’s the “bright cold day in April” when the “clocks were striking thirteen”), should serve as an annual day of heightened awareness of government surveillance and its consequences for privacy, quality of life, and the political health of our country.