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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Carl Hiaasen's New Book

Click here for my book review, published this week in the Christian Science Monitor. Hiaasen is one terrific Florida author, fun to read.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Help

My review copy just arrived. I sat right down and read Chapter 1. I can tell I'm not going to get a thing done till I finish this book. From the very beginning, it's powerful. And so far, so true.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Sometimes I think perhaps I watch way too much trashy TV. Then I happen upon Hornbook editor Roger Sutton's blog entry about flashbacks. This one cracked me up, including the comments. So. Maybe all that time I spend watching Lost isn't completely a waste? We won't talk about American Idol however...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lois Lowry's Blog

How did I not know about this? I love her books and her blog is like having a funny conversation with a friend. Click here to see what I mean. And to see a great view from the window of her NYC hotel!

More Seen from the Road

Sorry. Can't resist. Another bumper sticker observed on the beach yesterday:
Places to Go. People to Annoy...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Script and Scribble

Can't wait to read this one! Check out New York Magazine's take on it. Having the absolute worst handwriting on the face of the earth, I admire those whose handwriting can actually be read.

I plan to read this book soon. In the meantime, here's an excerpt from the review:

Florey, a nun-educated “scriptomaniac,” lovingly traces the history of handwriting, from its ancient birth to its imminent demise. She rounds up some fascinating arcana: that a typical pencil can draw a line 35 miles long; that Confederate soldiers boiled rusty nails in vinegar during an ink shortage; that the Coca-Cola logo, now an icon of scriptographic fanciness, was once probably just “a typical bookkeeper’s hand”; and that “cacography” (poor handwriting) costs American businesses roughly $200 million a year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cybils Announced

These awards always intrigue me. Books that kids actually read! (on their own).
The winners were just announced and you can click here for the list.

I just finished reading YA winner The Hunger Games. Wow. A real page turner, set in a world we hope we never see.

Monday, February 16, 2009

View from the Beach

You never know what you'll see on a stroll down the beach with Jay and Al. Maybe a Community Sand Castle, built from found objects. According to the sign, this one's been around for 5 months.

Here's another view, with a nod to our Canadian visitors (note the flags).

And this one's for you, Lucy, Evie, Jackson and Uncle Jack= Sponge Bob!

While making our way back to the car through the beach concession, Al notices a bunch of old fellows sitting at a picnic table discussing Power Ball. Really old guys. Just having a great afternoon, hanging with their buds, talking about winning the lottery.

Closer to the street, I stop in my tracks. What's that sound coming from the restroom's open door? 3-part harmony emanating from the beach concession's men's room. "On State Street, that great street..." Now could you get in the car till you knew who was singing? More old dudes in bathing suits, tanned bronze as the nearby trunks of palm trees, emerged from the men's room, still harmonizing.

Just another day at St. Pete Beach. There's gotta be a story here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Food Glorious Food!

I've written about food so often that you'd think I really knew how to cook. Compared to my friends (Barbara, Ivy, Lee, etc.), I'm at the low end of the culinary cooking chain. But I love to read about cooking and just fell upon Michael Ruhlman's blog. I spent a long time just looking at the gorgeous pictures. I'm not sure I can steal one to copy here so you'll have to click on over and look at the homemade pasta, the eggnog. Wow, the eggnog, from his December 31 post, is aged over a year. But, he cautions, before he shakes it up, he makes sure there's nothing growing on top.

Now that's what I call a story.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So what?

Yesterday my friend Lee, from my late, lamented writers' group in New Jersey, and I had a phone meeting to discuss our writing. She'd given me an assignment to come up with three new essay topics. I'd thought about this and had a vague idea (very vague) of something to write about. She hadn't. But that's OK, instead we talked about writing and how hard it is to come up with endings that mean something. What Ann Hood kept pounding us over the head with at my Writers in Paradise sessions:
1. What happens?
2. Then what?
3. Then what?
4. So what?

So what? This is what really matters in a personal essay. Otherwise, it's just a moment in time, a slice of history, a fun story I might tell my friends and family in an email. Not that interesting to the rest of the world.

So this morning I took out my notes from that conference and reread Day 1 with Stewart O'Nan, and I stopped at this quote:
"Start big, finish big, in the middle go as deep as you can."
He was quoting short story writer Lorrie Moore but the same applies to any good writing.
Figuring out those endings, though, that's the hard part about writing personal essays. I said that to Lee yesterday and she laughed. What? she tells me, Did you forget writing's supposed to be hard?

Then I kept reading my notes from O'Nan's lecture and he said the same thing. Writing is hard work. But he also said we need to learn about writing from reading- reading best sellers, poetry, great fiction and bad fiction. So that's the fun part. The reading. Today I'm reading every personal essay in my vast files and figuring out the So What.
Otherwise, I think I could ask another question about these proposed essay topics of mine:
Who Cares?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Seen on a Bumper

I could fill up my whole blog with Bumper Stickers Seen on St. Pete Beach, Florida. 
Today's entry:
Good Girls Go to Heaven. Bad Girls Go Everywhere Else...

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Good Blog is Hard to Find

Well, today it's my turn over at the funny, interesting, full-of-book-and-writing-stuff blog written by some very good Southern writers. Click here to read my post. I wrote it after my Christmas travels this year and eating and holiday recipes were on my mind.
I can tell you're going to want my friend Ivy's recipe for Lime Curd. The one we had served over pound cake. Yum.
Here it is, by way of the Barefoot Contessa (I didn't have room to post it on the other blog):

4 limes at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter at room temperature
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/8 t. salt

Remove the zest of 4 limes. Squeeze the limes to make 1/2 cup juice.
Put the zest in a food processor, add the sugar and process for 2-3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter with sugar and lime zest. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lime juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring contstantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve over pound cake.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Boys Love Books?

If Greg Neri and his fellow writing guys have anything to say about it, they will. Check out Greg's blog for interviews, book recommendations, more blog links- lots of good stuff.

Here's what Neri (author of Chess Rumble) says about why he writes books that appeal to boys:

I always say you can’t give Jane Austen to boys and expect them to connect to it. That time and place is too far removed from their own experiences. You must create a bridge to Jane Austin, expose boys to the fact that their stories are just as worthy of being represented in books. So I look at Chess Rumble as a gateway book, something that surprises boys, gets them reading for the first time and hopefully opens them up to exploring other voices in other books too.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I'm always amazed at how quickly and efficiently word travels on the internet. Just the other day, I lamented on my facebook page that I'd about run out of friends, family, and friends of friends and family to arm twist into writing about their Book Group for my Skirt! Magazine column. So, out went the word and now I have several leads.

But if you're reading this post and you are in a Book Group (and I haven't already twisted your arm), I'd love to know about it. I need a new group every single month, twelve months of the year. And it's fun to write/ tell me about them!

Go ahead, leave me a message in the comment section or an email on my facebook page.

And thanks, Ivy, for the picture of the kiosk in Palm Harbor, Florida. Skirt! Magazine is everywhere!