Fear in Writing: November 2009

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Monday, November 30, 2009

Musing Mondays - Holidays Hitting Your Reading Hard?

Rebecca asks: How does your reading (or your blogging) fare in the holiday months? Do you read more or less? Do you have to actively make time to read?

I read every night religiously. I cannot fall asleep without devouring a few pages. Be it eight p.m. or midnight: I. MUST. READ. So I don't let little things like endless shopping, interminable parties, rivers of spiked eggnog and excited children stand between me and the smell of book glue.

As for blogging...This is my first year as a blogger. I truly enjoy the interaction and exchange of ideas. I think I will take Christmas Day off, and probably any days we use to travel, but that is just out of pure necessity.

I look forward to your answers on this question...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday's Foreign Post Roundup

As I am spending this day with my family, this last day of their visit here, I thought I would do something unusual on my blog. I will admit I am a little devoid of inspiration, and I see that others are not in the same boat, so I am redirecting you to several interesting questions posed at several interesting blogs I follow.

What I would really like in your comments here is for you to leave the most interesting blog post you come across on your Sunday perusing, and also what you think of this post. If it works, it may become my usual Sunday-thang. It actually takes a lot of work, but it also has a lazy, salon quality to it.

Here we go...

First Sunday post comes from Helen Ginger's Straight From Hel. Today she poses the question: Are a writer's heirs really entitled to strip-mine his papers for every conceivable nugget of value? Go to her post to get in on the discussion.

Next up new books to make your mouth water! New authors to me, which is always exciting, and one of them Irish, which makes her even more new and interesting. The Rap Sheet actually posted these possibly 'stocking stuffers' yesterday, but I thought I would pass them along. Check out the post for the full list.

Finally (in the few minutes I have before I must dress for church), I send you to Lee Lofland's The Graveyard Shift, where he takes us to the deep south, early NASCAR and moonshine. Read on for every southern author's delight.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

New posts people have suggested:
Birth Order at Mystery Writing is Murder

Time Management: Writing Through the Holiday Season at Orange Co. RWA

Friday, November 27, 2009

Do you know Roald Dahl?

In fifth grade my teacher read aloud to us The BFG. I was swept along with Sophie to Giant Country, where I hung on every stranger word the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) said, where I learned the origin of dreams: giants mix them up and blow them threw a trumpet into the ears of children. Mrs. Brown moved from this magical tale to James and the Giant Peach and I was smitten. An adventure inside an enormous fruit, with insects for companions and batty aunts as villains? This author writes of imaginary worlds with such conviction I sware he has visited them. They must exist.

Then today my sister sends me this article. It turns out Dahl's writings did not start out as works of fantastic whimsey. As James Parker writes in Slate's article, Dahl once wrote of "a woman who beats her husband to death with a frozen leg of lamb, then defrosts the murder weapon and serves it to the investigating police officers('Lamb to the Slaughter')."

The strange thing is that while Dahl's writing became lighter and more fantastic, his life took dark and twisted turns. In 1961, the year he published James and the Giant Peach, his son was injured when his carriage was hit by a taxi. The following year his daughter died of measles. In 1965 his wife, actress Patricia Neal, had a stroke while she was pregnant, and Dahl began the long road nursing her back to health.

We know our lives affect what we write. We know change in ourselves affect our writing, for better or worse. This man was a magician with a pen to me. I didn't realize he was so human. But that doesn't make his books any less wonderful.

Back to Chaos

My two children - 19mo and 4yo - spent nearly two weeks with my parents and in-laws in Nashville, TN. Now they are back and their warm skin and smiling faces light my house with joy and wonder. Their voices are the sweetest songs in my ears.

But it also means the return of chaos.

For nearly two weeks I wrote in silence, or the music of my choosing. I had freedom of movement, freedom of choice. I could write when the mood hit me, or force myself to work through tough periods of dull inspiration.

Now I have to learn to function in chaos again. The noise is an astounding! The constant "Mommeeeeeeee!"
But I love it, as I love them. I loved my peace, but I missed them greatly. I write this as I watch them devour silver dollar pancakes. Their little mouths stretch around the tiny circles, beads of syrup line their lips.

And I wonder how this will impact my work. How will the characters change as chaos reigns again? How will I handle the chaos as the characters change me?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A quote to live by today...

"Celebration is not about perfection. Laughter is a much better goal."
~Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My children have returned and I am grateful for this life. I am grateful for this forum through which I share my thoughts and my journey toward publication. I am grateful for the blogging friends I have made and the advice you all have given. I am grateful for the voice I have found and the words that keep pouring out of me. I am grateful for God's hand in my life, His presence in my children's smiles.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope this week brings warmth to your homes and joy to your hearts.

God Bless,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Historical Fiction or Fiction in History?

Recently I've seen a number of people say things like, "I love historical fiction. My favorite is The Count of Monte Cristo" or "Jane Eyre." And little by little the irking has begun to irritate, this small itch has turned into a rather noticeable rash.

Please forgive my bluntness, but it is time we laid out the difference in plain English.

Historical fiction captures the spirit of a time, often with accurate characters of the period, but with an alternate view of what actually happened. Take, for example, Caleb Carr's The Alienest (a near-perfect plot and a must-read for any mystery writer). Teddy Roosevelt and the city of New York exist as characters in the novel, in place with known characteristics, but changed by the author's chosen view and the facts of the storyline. It is a fantastic glimpse into the late 19th century, psychologically, socially and industrially.

The reason Jane Eyre is not historical fiction is that it was actually written in the time in which it takes place. Author Charlotte Bronte lived from 1816 till 1855, and her masterpiece was published in 1847. To Bronte there was nothing historical about it: it was contemporary. To us, it is a classic.

Please, enjoy them both! I ravaged Tasha Alexander's Only To Deceive and Phillipa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl (though not so much her others), and tore through all the Bronte sisters, DuMaurier, and Little Women.

Just know the difference.

For further information here are some sites: HistoricalNovels.Info has era by era listings of novels so you can browse according to interest. Within each century you can even choose, say, between "Napoleonic Era Mysteries" and "Seafaring and Warfare at Sea and on Land." Wikipedia Historical Fiction also has a nice list and range of links. This seems to be a pretty comprehensive list, but feel free to post your own findings: The Ultimate Reading List. Enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My first surprise! by a character

Writers you know what I mean. I was writing a new scene for my Parthenon novel (reference, not title) and a character I had pegged as a devoted husband suddenly started flirting with a waitress. And it was a waitress at a restaurant familiar to the characters, that is set to be a main locale in this series, meaning: this might not be the first time he has done this.

I almost stopped it and kept him devoted husband, but who am I to fight his character? I think this is a real breakthrough for me. I suddenly feel like a writer!

Had to share.

Thanks for listening.

Character Contrast

Do you read front to back, first page to last until your done no interruptions? I don't. I certainly don't read the last page first! But I also don't read just one book at a time. (Unless it's an easy read -- the easier the faster, capisce?)

So it was that I found myself reading Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union alongside Tasha Alexander's Only To Deceive. Talk about your strange combinations.

From Chabon, p. 181:
"He yanks his sholem loose and turns it around, and the world pulls the trigger on all its guns. Zilberblat grows a horn of blood from the crown of his head."

From Alexander, p. 210-11:
"The bright sun did not take much of the chill out of the air, but I walked at a brisk pace, welcoming the turn of the season. The freedom brought by a simple change of clothing was extraordinary."

What made this co-reading work for me was the quality of both authors' writing - they are both very good. But what fascinates me is the contrast between the two, and it is something I feel very important in any great book, and in any great life.

Unless one is channeling Aldous Huxley with dystopian intentions no one intends to write static characters. The contrast is so important. I don't read or write romances, but I want my characters to have feelings. So how can a tough, murdering detective feel love? That's a contrast I have to play out carefully.

What kinds of contrasts have you sewn into your characters? What is one of the most interesting characters you have read?

P.S. The Coen Brothers are rumored to be making Yiddish Policemen into a movie. I am a Coen fan, but I highly recommend the book for its unique style and glimpse-by-word into a world that was new to me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Return: Missing Brain

First of all, I apologize for my absence. A myriad of events have made it a rough few weeks. I don't like to complain or make excuses, so I chose just to drop off the blogosphere for a few days.
The latest and final straw is one with which I think most of you can empathize: the crashing of my hard drive. Fellow writers, you know what heartbreak this means! Amazingly, there are hard drive surgeons who take this "brain" of my computer to a "clean" room (i.e. static free) where they remove the information piece by piece. But I won't be assured it is all recoverable until it is all recovered.

So this explains my absence.

The good news? I got a new laptop! And we discovered a man, just out of college, launching his own business refurbing laptops for resale. It felt great to buy from someone so courteous, professional at such a young age, and greatly entrepreneurial.

Alright. More daily posts to come! And less complaining!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


So music is art. I don't think we'll get many arguments. But it's not often that we find poetic lines amidst a down and dirty country song that speaks of rolling joints and sticking your ass in the sand.

Truth be told, I don't listen to country music anymore. I hail from Music City: Nashville, TN. But I grew up in the suburb of Brentwood (not exactly rural, more where country stars live than where they are born) and knew only the society side of the city. This is just background for my annihilation of the song I am about to present.

Here are the complete lyrics:
"I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today. Life is good today.
Well, the plane touched down just about 3 o’clock
And the city’s still on my mind
Bikinis and palm trees danced in my head
I was still in the baggage line
Concrete and cars are their own prison bars like this life I’m living in
But the plane brought me farther.
I’m surrounded by water
And I’m not going back again

I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today. Life is good today.

Adios en vaya con dios
Yeah I’m leaving GA
And if it weren’t for tequila and pretty senoritas
I’d have no reason to stay
Adios en vaya con dios
Yeah I’m leaving GA
Gonna lay in the hot sun and roll a big fat one
And grab my guitar and play

Four days flew by like a drunk Friday night as the summer drew to an
They can’t believe that I just couldn’t leave
And I bid a due to my friends
Because my bartender she’s from the islands
Her body’s been kissed by the sun
And coconut replaces the smell of the bar and I don’t know if its her or
the rum

I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today. Life is good today.

Adios en vaya con dios
A long way from GA
Ay, and all the muchachas they call me “big poppa” when I throw
pesos their way
Adios en vaya con dios
A long way from GA
Hey boss dome a favor and pass me the Jaeger
And I’ll grab my guitar and play

Adios en vaya con dios
Going home now to stay
The senoritas don’t care-o when there’s no dinero
You got no money to stay
Adios en vaya con dios
Going home now to stay

Just gonna kick it by the lake
Put my ass in a lawn chair
Toes in the clay
Not a worry in the world a PBR on the way
Life is good today. Life is good today."

It was Thursday and I had the unusual freedom to be flipping through radio stations in the car. The second verse of this Zac Brown Band song caught my ear. Not having heard the first parts I was immediately swept away to the islands. Smells of coconut and buttery rum and visions of brown-skinned women with come-hither eyes beckoned me to the singer's dream. And I repeated the words into memory.

And then I found the song.

The words I picked out are orchids among carnations, flowers on dirt. I love that this band is capable of such imagery, and I love that these images are the few I was able to hear in a song of so much crassness.

Honestly, I had more to say tying this in with writing, but my head isn't in it today. Maybe a commenter can do it for me?


In the spirit of finding art in new places, today I have a challenge for you. I found these words and they spoke to me from the center of an otherwise ugly mass. To me, they flow like poetry...
"Her body's been kissed by the sun,
And coconut replaces the smell of the bar
and I don't know if it's her or
The rum"

Here is the challenge: From what did I take this group of words? Do they make you feel, smell, see what the writer describes? Are they beautiful, sexual, abhorrent to you? Tell me what you feel, but most of all guess from whence you think they came.

I'll let you know on Friday.
Hint: it's amidst art, but not where you'd look for poetry.
The only rule: No Googling! Use your writers' brains!

On another note, I apologize for skipping the Thursday blog. Glad you all came back anyway!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mystery Skateboards

You read that correctly. Instead of waxing philosophical on the balancing act that is the life of a writer/mother/freelance journalist with a torn MCL, I chose to google.
I googled "mystery."
This is what I found:
Mystery skateboards.
Mystery is all around, as pervasive as the art through which it is produced - and art these are!
The influences of great mystery and horror stories are in this art, as surely as they are in the fabric of our society. There is the black bird - Poe's raven, or at least a reference to ill omen. Psycho Annie - authors must at once think of William March's The Bad Seed (personal story about this at bottom of post), but other variations exist as well. Primal Rage again takes me back to Poe - The Murders In The Rue Morgue - but there is also King Kong and the question of friend or foe in that goliath.
I never would have googled "skateboard," but I found this site and was struck by the images. It's amazing how in this vast world we share a common experience: the story. No matter how it comes to us, be it movie or grandmother's voice, Internet or dog-eared book, it shapes our very existence and brings us together.
It's a mystery.

For more on these artful skateboards check out the website of Mystery Skateboards.

Now for the personal story. My mother is an actress and did many local theatre productions when my sister and I were young. When the time came, she drew Melissa and I into the acting world as well, and we took center stage for one special production each. At age 10 I played Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (won Best Actress for the year if I might brag). My sister was Rhoda in The Bad Seed.
I am not implying anything by this distinction! We had no control over the seasons chosen and the ages we were! But my sister made a scarily good Rhoda, and my father played the janitor she burned to death...Would you call us a sick family?
Years and years of theatre quotes and therapy later, we are all best friends and everyone is still alive.

So far.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mailbox Mondays...too enticing to resist!

Thank you to Cathy of Kittling Books for turning me onto Mailbox Mondays, and to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting the meme.

Into my house this week came Patricia Cornwell's Book of the Dead. I can already say I am not impressed and will most likely send it right back out the door. Also new to my home is what I hope will become a valuable jumping off point: The Complete Encyclopedia of Signs and Symbols by Mark O'Connell and Raje Airey. Definitely not a cover-to-cover read, but research material to keep at my desk.

Those are all the newbies, but I also started and finished some great, relatively ones. I read Elizabeth Spann Craig's Pretty Is As Pretty Does in two days. Loved Myrtle and Bradley, hoping for more Elaine. Finally finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. Slow start and drawn out close, but well-plotted. I'll definitely read the next two.

Good reading week - and the stack on my nightstand isn't getting any shorter!

Under the Beautiful Fall Weather

I managed a couple of comment-provoking posts this weekend, but I'm afraid I most sit back and watch for a couple days. The nasty Sore Throat has hit our house and I must curl up in a blanket, sip hot tea and stare at the shivering leaves while echoing their sentiments.

But I will make the rounds on blogs I follow today, and hopefully spend my time on my own WIP.

Sounds like a plan. Let's get started.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Empty Houses

We are childless for the weekend. My parents and in-laws so graciously offered to watch our son and daughter until my family drives out for Thanksgiving, so we have the quiet and the freedom that can only come with being childless.

But that is not what I mean by "empty houses."

Yesterday my husband and I spontaneously(freedom!) stopped the car to take in one our favorite hobbies: model homes. This was our kind of subdivision, million+ dollar homes with all the trimmings. The kind of place we get enjoyment (without guilt) from critiquing.

Nothing seemed out of place. The lot was filled with cars. The signs were accurately marked with realtor-in-residence times. The yards were well-manicured and driveways roped off. But the doors were locked.

We tried the next model, a soaring, white brick home-turned-clubhouse. The heavy oak door creaked open. No warmth greeted us. No sound but the echo of our own breath and the continuing creak of the door.

I won't spoil the rest by describing the barely verbal, hoodie-clad golf "pro" who came to the door, but the developer was bankrupt. The houses built and sold won't resell any time soon. Those warming families are a made a little colder by the empty lots on all sides.

This is happening all over the country, but that is not my focus. My focus is the setting: what a setting! What other settings have inspired you lately? Whether it is circumstance or a particular place, please share.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

HELP...Writing.....Slogging through...

I can write a damn good opening chapter...and then what? I have an entire plot in my head, but how do I execute? Some people just write - and I thought that was me. Now I know I have to be more organized. And I need a little help.

I have asked various authors/bloggers how they do it, and now I am sending out a general SOS.

How do you lay out your book? Do you use note cards? Software? Cork boards? Red pens, blue pens? Post Its?

I know it's all about finding what works for each person, and I have tried several different methods! But I seem to be a little stuck, and I would love a few ideas to push me over the hump.

Maybe a compilation of ideas will help others as well. I hope so! Thanks in advance.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Clueless about Emma

Do you know what it says on the back of the DVD case for the movie Emma? It says, "Based on the same story as Clueless." And yes, that is true. But they never once mention that story happens to be classic romance literature written by the inimitable Jane Austen.

Is it even important Emma the movie hatched from the same storyline as Clueless? Isn't it more important to Clueless that it hatched from somewhere more grounded than its own intentionally groundless title?

I saw Clueless at Graumen's Chinese Theater in summer of 1995. My family was visiting L.A. on the way to a soccer tournament in San Diego. My father and I are classic movie buffs, and Graumen's was a dream. And for a teenage girl (I was 15), Clueless was also a dream. So was L.A. in its way. My mother and grandmother took my sister and I to get our hair done on Rodeo Drive. We shopped and cavorted as only the young an impressionable can do out of their element. Then we moved on to the sunny San Diego.
But now I see that Emma reigns supreme in its original book form. The movies serve different audiences and are, in my opinion, incomparable. But to completely ignore Jane Austen on the back of the movie based on her book? Horrible. Ignorant.

And to tie Emma the move to Clueless as if the former burst from the empty mind of the latter. Inconceivable. Literally.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I have a brother-in-law named Scott...but not really.

Everyone in Memphis thinks I do. He is a pilot and when he flies they call him "Scott," when he lands they call him "Scott," when he runs pre-flight checks and calls for gas they call him "Scott."

But his name is Nick.

It turns out that Nick interviewed for the pilot job on a whim, not thinking he had much of a chance at it, and as a joke put down his middle name as his preferred name. Then they hired him. And he is stuck.I just heard this story last night and it got me thinking. My brother-in-law is a very honest person, but what a great way to weave dishonesty into a story! How many ways could we use something like this in a narrative?

1. We could make an honest character bad. The protagonist could knowingly play a trick that snowballs into murder.

2. We could shine light on the sneakiness of the antagonist. Common use would be a secret life, but we could also use cover names for doing evil deeds, create a spy from whole-cloth, etc.

3. We could...Any other ideas?

As for my brother-in-law, I don't know how long Nick will be Scott. His wife now follows this blog so maybe she will keep us updated. I'm sure it gets tricky answering the phone at home and going to office parties. But nothing is easy in the life of a pilot.

Or maybe we should ask the question, who is he really, Nick or Scott?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


He won't admit it, but my husband is a hero. In college he decided he wanted to serve his country by flying for the Air Force. He was already a fantastic pilot, good enough to train others as a flight instructor. He soon learned he would achieve his lifelong dream, not just as an Air Force pilot, but as one of the elite, training at the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training school. Yes, he is impressive.

Eyesight difficulties blew his dreams away as if they were wisps of smoke. But the Air Force didn't care. The Air Force still demanded his service and my husband stepped up to the plate. He wore his uniform proudly, stood his ground as an officer on the flight line. In Phoenix at Luke AFB he was in charge of maintenance workers and was around F-16s every day. Every day he had his hands on those very jets he had dreamed of flying. And still he stood proud.

On Veterans' Day he marched beside others and held overnight MIA/POW vigils. When the Air Force said go here, he went; when they said move to NC, he moved.

In 2006 the US Air Force decided they had too many officers and pruned the ranks. My husband wouldn't have been cut. But he was a man with an MBA and knew he could make it on the outside. He also knew there were others who wanted to be career military, so he volunteered to leave.

On this Veterans' Day I salute my husband, Russ Emrath. He is my hero, my rock, my support. He is the love of my life, my True Companion.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Art and the Muse of Travel

What better way to get the writing juices flowing than to take a trip? Add into that trip a stop at the Edgar Allan Poe House, a few hours in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (featuring an exhibit by Arshile Gorky), and plenty of time wandering the boutiques in Old City and it's a wonder I made it home before tackling my keyboard.
I wish I could write of every nuance, every type of architecture, every accent overheard, everything that made my mother, sister & I giggle. I wish I could wrap Poe's anguish, Gorky's depression, and the city's triumph into one twisted mystery. I wish I could sit in a picture window writing as I look out over the bustling "Filth-adelphia." For all its dirt, it is beautiful.

But I am home and my fingers can't seem to get the words out that I have in my head. The history is colliding with the meaning. And I am saying nothing. So I'll break it down.

Edgar A. Poe House. He barely lived a year in the house and the city makes no pretense that it meant more to him than that. Instead of filling the rooms with furniture of the period, they have stripped even the paint and wall-coverings away, leaving pitted cement and patched ceilings. It is a cold house that is small enough to give the idea of comfort. In the basement is the setting for Poe's tale The Black Cat. The crumbling chimney and central stair beckon the imagination and send chills up the spine. Information cards like "this is where Poe worked" and "this is where Virginia slept because of the tuberculosis" bring humanity to the barren walls. It is a house. But it is Poe's house. It is sad as Poe was sad.

Arshile Gorky. An Armenian immigrant who lost his mother to genocide, the painter struggled to find himself in his art for nearly thirty years. But he created masterpieces that crossed genres - from surrealism to abstract expressionism. He believed his paintings were never finished, just set aside for a while. He killed himself in 1948. Gorky's work was fantastical, violent, even sexual, and sometimes subdued and very personal.
Philadelphia. This one I can't even pretend to tackle in one post. The city is of course Independence Hall and Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin and the Liberty Bell. But it is also a city of numerous boutiques, fabulous independent restaurants, outdoor markets and the great Reading Market (pronounced "red-ing"). It is a city of young people, gay people, straight people, Italians, blue collar, right wingers, Marxists, and tech startups. It's a city. And it has beautiful architecture.

More to come

I will be back later today with something more interesting...I have been out of town and seem to have re-injured and old knee injury that may require surgery. I'm off to find out! Wish me luck! More later...


Friday, November 6, 2009

Uncommon Goods

When one "becomes" a writer the very idea of finding others in the craft is exciting. The online community is amazing for meeting those with this "affliction." We spend our days staring at computer screens and living in our imaginations. We create characters who become like family, friend or foe.

But we still think of ourselves as unique.

We write and write and write until one day it is time to find that agent. Find that publisher. Find that place in the world for our book to be born into the hands of the reader. Who will that lucky reader be? Which greedy hands will first turn our pages and smell the glue that binds our world of words?

And we still believe we are unique.

The more I delve into the writing community, the more people I meet online who write or want to write or have written, the more I realize I am not unique in this aspect. I thought this would be disheartening, but it is not. It is encouraging that there are others like me. But it does push me to distinguish myself from the crowd. So how do we do that?

What device to you use to make yourself marketable? What makes you an uncommon good? What makes your book unique, your character singular?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Favorite Indie Bookstore...Do you have one?

Jemi Fraser of Just Jemi responded to my Wishful Wednesday post with this comment:
"[I] Love Indie Bookstores - don't you just love finding a new one?"

Well, I love finding things: new things, beautiful things, old things, take-me-away-to-another-world things. Which is why I love books, reading and writing them.

Where do you buy your books?

Barnes & Noble is easy. Even their shipping is free to members. I love how big their stores are and how many different books they carry. I think most of them are beautifully put together. And they have good resources for authors, especially on a local level.

In college there was the hole that smelled like mold and I sware the bookshelves were going to collapse. (They probably have by now, only to be replaced by similar decaying ones.) I don't know what diseases walked in and out of that door, but it was still a magical place. Books on witchcraft coexisted with tomes on monkshood, mystery classics and DIYs.

Tuesday I found Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC. It is an Indie bookstore celebrating 25 years of business. It is not a college bookstore. In fact it's in a rather nice area of town. But its selection is magnificent. I look forward to many more hours of browsing the stacks.

Another great one (though not one I can visit often) I found on vacation in September. The Island Bookstore in Corolla (at the Outer Banks, and pronounced cuh-RAW-luh for non-Carolinians) is a world unto itself. The wood floors even creak! There are window seats to lounge upon, and a balcony for outdoor reading on balmy days. Actually, my sister did just that and got locked out! The store is so packed with books the storekeeper didn't even notice a customer was missing. I highly recommend the trip, to both the Outer Banks and The Island Bookstore.

Where do you buy your books? Have you "discovered" a great Indie bookstore?

Wishful Wednesday: fulfilled, granted, on the way

Brooke of The Bluestocking Guide has taken over Wishful Wednesdays, and here are my picks this week...

I am happy to report that I fulfilled two wishes, one that I've had for a while, one that I had forgotten I had.

The first. I stumbled across the Indie bookstore (Quail Ridge) for which I've been looking in Raleigh on Tuesday. It turns out it is on my route to and from my weekly volunteer event! How fortuitous. Build up my karma, comes right back to me! So I immediately squealed my tires turning into the parking lot and scrambled inside before they closed. I wad disappointed to find they did not carry Elizabeth Spann Craig's Pretty Is As Pretty Does, but they did order it for me! It should be in by Friday (also the first day of a major sale, more karma?).

While they were ordering the book, I browsed. They have beautiful Penguin classics, jacketless hardcovers I was dying to buy. But it was something else that drew out my credit card: Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I had heard a review of it on NPR a while ago. I can't even remember when it was so long ago! But can you really go wrong with a Pulitzer Prize winner? (My luck was good with Geraldine Brooks.)

So I fulfilled two wishes. And on this Wednesday I sit pretty satisfied.

The other thing I picked up in Quail Ridge is a pamphlet called "ABC Best Books for Children." I am very excited to peruse this and start a wish list for my kids. I don't know who gets more excited when Scholastic forms come home, my son or myself!

So I wish for peace this Wednesday. Peace to read my finds, time to get back to Quail Ridge, and guidance in leading my children down the path of the book-lover.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How Eyeshadow is like Writing

I was readying myself for a baby shower yesterday, picking the right color palette for my eyes when I noticed I had put the eyeliner on a bit heavy. This happens occasionally and you basically have two choices: start over or make it work (thanks, Tim Gunn). I tried blending, but the liner became a dark, smoky shadow that, for any other occasion, would have been sexy and appropriate but for a Sunday afternoon baby shower was decidedly inappropriate.

Decision time again. Do I erase or keep going? I tried applying a lighter color on top. Some shimmery purple at the base with a creamy white above and at the corners. This had the desired lightening affect, but overall the lids just looked heavy. And they felt heavy, too.

I find writing is this way as well. There are so many points in a novel when you can make a choice to keep going or start over. Maybe it's not as cut and dry as eyeshadow, and you definitely have more invested in your fiction (though MAC gets pretty expensive). But the books we all stop reading are the ones that seem heavy. They are the ones the writers should have said to themselves, "Stop piling it on. Stop and erase. EDIT!"

That's what I am thinking today. Invest in some Almay, or the word processing equivalent.