Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Back Soon!

I'm heading to Austin to hang with my former Writing Group buddies.

And I'll be looking for the cool T-shirt worn by Landry (on my favorite TV show- Friday Night Lights): KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD, in picture writing.

Can't wait to see how weird Austin really is.

Back in a week!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wow- Food!

OK, I think I want to be a food writer. What a great opening sentence:
I was not going down over a tortilla.

And the second cook's opening sentence?
Her fifth appetizer was like a knife in my heart.

If you didn't see today's NYTimes and you care at all about food- cooking, eating, writing- click on over and read both writers' take on preparing dinner for the newspaper's food critic at a "challenging" dinner party. Great article. Terrific pictures. Yum.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Plotting, Structuring, Figuring it All Out

I think writing is hard work. Writing fiction is really hard work. I may give it up any day now. But before I do, I'm figuring it out. So I've been spending time reading Helen Hemphill's checklists over at Through the Tollbooth. Trying to put her plotting tips into action. Because I know how smart she is and how good her books are.

And yesterday I ran across this by James Scott Bell, on one of those many writing emails I frequently delete. The Q-Factor! How brilliant. Sneak your tricks in before you need them. Don't wait till you actually need the cufflink that turns into a saw to show your character wearing it.
Bell knows how to explain things so well that most everybody will get it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beautiful Bookmarks!

When I was a reference librarian, I worked side by side with Doris Nubel. She was Old School, in a good way. Although she was some 30 years older than I was, she could have Danced with the Stars. She was a ballroom dancer, a world traveler, and a topnotch reference librarian. And she collected bookmarks. She loved her bookmarks and always brought them back to her fellow librarians when she traveled.

I'm quite fond of bookmarks myself. And these are beautiful and fun to look at. While you're at the site, check out the beautiful libraries which I wrote about in an earlier post. Not to mention, the beautiful bookstores.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Writing Tips

Some quick tips for finding time to write when children and other nuisances (dogs, work, laundry= all those things we love but cut into time we'd like to spend with pen and ink) get in the way. This blogger always comes through with good writing advice.

I love this quote Kristi found from one of my favorites, Katherine Paterson.

“As I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time are those who have given me something to say.”

I think that means our little children (and maybe our dogs and our laundry) are a great writing resource.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

All I'll ever have to say about St. Patrick's Day is petty much summed up in this essay from a past March 17th.

Recycling, in case you missed it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shakespeare Portrait

Funnier and more interesting than some of the pieces I've read on the topic. From Sunday's St. Petersburg Times. Click here to read it!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Advice for Life?

This weekend I wrote two things in the notebook I keep close by my side. One was from the newspaper, a quote from Roy Williams just before the ACC Basketball Conference got under way. With one important player out for the conference with an injury, Roy wrote on the bulletin board in the Tarheel locker room: FIND A WAY.

OK, we didn't exactly find that way to the ACC finals, but it's a good way to look at life. Kind of when the going gets tough, the tough get going way to proceed. And the UNC players almost found a way to pull it off. I'm thinking they will figure it out for the NCAAs. Then again, I'm an eternal optimist when it comes to UNC Tarheel basketball teams.

The second scribble in the notebook was overheard today at an art festival. A festival-goer asked one of the artists if she believed "just anybody" could learn to paint. It's not about the painting, the artist said. "You have to LEARN TO SEE." I think artists- whether they are painters, musicians, writers or whatever-- look at things differently. And I was happy to hear the painter tell the patron that it's possible to learn how to view the world like an artist. Gives me hope. I'm working on that learning to see thing. Not to mention finding a way.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Funny Blog (not mine...)

Not sure how I'd missed Joshilyn Jackson, the author of Gods in Alabama. I discovered her recently, after I was invited to share the southern writers group blog, A Good Blog is Hard to Find. By the way, today Kerry Madden, a favorite kids' writer of mine, posted the Prologue to her new biography about Harper Lee. Click on over to read about how she came to write the book, her trip to Lee's hometown, much more. Loved that.

But back to Joshilyn Jackson. She's funny (hilarious, actually but not in that corn pone southern humor way that bugs me). Especially when blogging but also when writing novels. I linked to her blog once before when she was (peripherally) writing about frozen peas... So, check out this entry about watching TV. Because as someone who can waste a lot of time in front of the TV, I relate. (And I, too, only came to NCIS very late.) Then check out her books. And let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Poetry Tuesday

My friend Joan came to visit and left a copy of Mary Oliver's What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems for me to enjoy. If you click on that link, you can read a selection, from Google books. But this morning, as we watch our (blue, not white) herons and the sunning anhinga across the canal, I found this, from "Summer Poem."

...the white heron
like a dropped cloud,
taking one slow step

then standing while then taking
another, writing

her own soft-footed poem
through still waters.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Horton Foote

When Shelby Foote narrated the PBS series about the Civil War, in the way of all Southerners, my mother claimed he was our cousin, many times removed. "From the Footes in Hattiesburg," she said, "who were distant cousins of the Turners..."
And Shelby Foote is Horton Foote's third cousin, many times removed.
We call that Kissin' Kin. (Or wishful thinking.)

But it didn't take a family relationship to make me love Horton Foote's work. His recent death has brought accolades that point to the quiet virtues of his plays. Most everybody has seen and loved his adaptation of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and maybe even the screenplay of "Tender Mercies" or "The Trip to Bountiful." But when Foote died, at age 92, he was still creating.

I loved this weekend's Terry Teachout piece about Horton Foote, "Poet of the Ordinary," in Saturday's Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

On Writing Fantasy

Which I would never do.
But this mornings ICL Email brought this quote I can't get out of my head.

"As soon as you start telling stories, they slide away from the strictly factual, they don't worry about what's real so long as they can talk about what's true."
-- Chaz Brenchley

Click here for his amazing speech on writing fantasy. But you don't have to read or write fantasy to appreciate his advice. Lots of good stuff.

Here's another of Brenchley's quotes I'm pondering today:

"...good books, better books always lead you forward into unexplored territory, new ideas, new books. It wasn't the internet that invented the world wide web; that web already existed, on paper, in all the books on all the shelves in all the libraries of the world."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Depression Food

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed all the tips and tricks out there for saving money while preparing delish, sort of, food. (Though I'm not sure Chicken Fried Steak--we always called it Country Fried Steak in my childhood kitchen-- is going on my dinner menu tonight.) But since I love reading and writing about food even more than I do cooking it, this story in today's St. Petersburg Times about cooking on Utube caught my eye.

I especially love the Depression Cooking videos with Clara. Click that link to watch a few. What a great story about sitting at her aunt's house, listening to her read aloud to the family. Kind of makes you long for that era, doesn't it. Rice and beans, Italian bread, salad- and the rare treat- beef. Yum. Clara makes it look like a gourmet meal. Well, at least the story's good and Clara's telling of it even better.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Papers

So much to read in this morning's New York Times, and I've only gotten to the Styles section.

Like this interview with Caitlin Macy, author of the book of short stories, Spoiled, about Upper East Siders' failure and social inadequacy--something we might not have thought belonged in the same sentence a short while ago. Some have compared her writing to Prep by Curtis Sittenfield, and there's a funny story in the interview about that.

Since I'm fascinated with names, her comment about names these characters choose for their children struck my fancy. Good interview, worth reading. And it's right next to the story about how nobody can afford private school tuitions now...