In you, and scrawled their manuscript!
Have shared their secrets, told their cares,
Their curious and quaint affairs!
Your pool of ink, your scratchy pen,
Have moved the lives of unborn men,
And watched young people, breathing hard,
Put Heaven on a postal card.
- To a Post-Office Inkwell by Christopher Morley
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
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- Current Mood: grateful
- Current Music:These Shoes by Maria Mena
Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. A brilliant professor develops early-onset Alzheimer’s. As she loses her memory and her career, what remains of her identity? This story has stayed with me—and based on conversations I’ve had with other readers, I’m not the only one.
Birthmarked, by Caragh M. O’Brien. Gaia works as a midwife just outside the Enclave, the protected community she serves. But when officers of the Enclave imprison her parents, she starts to question the rigid rules of her society, especially the forced reassignment of children to new parents. A good book about power and the possible consequences of environmental destruction. Also includes some code-breaking!
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan. Two boys trying to set a record for the world’s longest kiss form the central story, but the plotlines weave through several characters’ lives, tying together the generation of men lost to AIDS and the generation for whom coming out is more common—but not necessarily easy.
Plume, by Kathleen Flenniken. This is a book about betrayal, loss, and invisible dangers made visible. Centering on the community of Hanford, Washington, and the various forms of radiation exposure its citizens experienced, it’s a horror story and a discovery story and a love-of-family story. I reread it almost immediately; it still grips me, weeks later.
Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams. Vivian Maier was a nanny who spent most of her free time perfecting her amateur-photography skills, capturing the world around her. When she died, she left behind thousands of photographs and negatives, a small fraction of which were assembled in this collection. The images are stories in themselves.
The Test: Living in the Shadow of Huntington’s Disease, by Jean Barema. There was a 50-50 chance the author had inherited the incurable, degenerative disease known as Huntington’s. This book chronicles his agonizing over whether to get the genetic test, his siblings’ and mother’s experience with the disease, and his countdown to his own test and receipt of the results. Even those of us who don’t fact Huntington’s confront many of the same questions about mortality, and the physical losses that may come with age.
Days That I’ll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, by Jonathan Cott. This book captures Lennon in his post-Beatles life, dealing with couplehood and parenthood, exploring new creative frontiers. It’s a relief to see a book that doesn’t vilify Ono as the woman who “broke up the Beatles,” but rather explores the artistic and political views that she and Lennon shared and kindled in one another.
Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler. Hartzler grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household. But much of what he was drawn to (partying, rock music, dating), his family viewed as sinful. This book records his ever-more-painful attempts to please the family he loves, while unable to resist exploring the music and relationships that call to him.
Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Boylan shares her own experience parenting before, during, and after her transition from male to female, and she also interviews so many other parents that the result is a rich and diverse exploration of what it means to be a parent, what it means to be a child, and how gender does (or doesn’t) affect parent-child relationships. Plenty of food for thought here.
Stories from Jonestown, by Leigh Fondakowski. I blogged about this book here—an unforgettable look at a movement that started out in hope, peace, and brotherhood, and ended in the tragedy of murder and suicide.
Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter, by Beth Kephart. Kephart explores all kinds of friendships: how those bonds form, and how they strengthen, and how and why they sometimes dissipate. And it’s as beautifully written as all her books.
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A. J. Jacobs. Jacobs attempts to follow the Bible literally. He immediately confronts a few problems: which version of the Bible? How to interpret passages that are unclear or conflicting? What to do about actions that are now illegal (like stoning people)? But in studying and trying to live the Bible, he discovers plenty about both God and humankind.
Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Concise, poetic, and meditative, this is a book that’s meant to be savored and reread. It records the kind of deep pondering, the questions and discoveries, that can come to mind when we let ourselves stop and think and reconnect with the natural world.
source of recommended reads: all from library, except Gift from the Sea, Plume, and Two Boys Kissing, which were purchased.
Edited by Christopher Golden, DARK DUETS features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. Here are the duos and the titles of their tales:
TRIP TRAP by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson
WELDED by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright
DARK WITNESS by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine
REPLACING MAX by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie
T. RHYMER by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry
SHE, DOOMED GIRL by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan
HAND JOB by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch
HOLLOW CHOICES by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss
AMUSE-BOUCHE by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
BRANCHES, CURVING by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith
RENASCENCE by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson
BLIND LOVE by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale
TRAPPER BOY by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala
STEWARD OF THE BLOOD by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore
CALCULATING ROUTE by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene
SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, & Holly Black
SINS LIKE SCARLET by Mark Morris & Rio Youers
Dark Duets will be published by Harper Voyager in January 2014.
If you're connected with a bookstore, please pass along that Dark Duets is not canceled. In the words of editor Christopher Golden, "Apparently there is some confusion because it was originally announced as a hardcover and will now be a trade paperback. Distributors are notifying stores that the hardcover is canceled without explaining that it's been replaced by the trade. This could be very detrimental to sales, so any help spreading the word to stores is deeply appreciated." Spread the word, booksellers!
- Current Mood: thankful
- Current Music:Interesting by Maria Mena
As gatherings go, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference is a big one for me. It’s my favourite weekend of the year but it’s also my biggest challenge.
Approximately 600 people fill the ballroom for keynote addresses and calorie-laden meals, crowd into conference rooms for their choice of seventy-two workshops given by fifty-eight writing professions, and cram into elevators to get between the two.
It’s exhilarating, rejuvenating, motivating and terrifying! Why? Because I’m claustrophobic. Oh, not wildly so, but moderately, and the challenge is to keep myself under control so I can absorb all the benefits of the annual October weekend.
Many writers claim to be introverts, so I’m not alone in my reluctance to mix, mingle and schmooze with strangers. A lot of us would prefer to hunker down and write in solitude. That’s okay for a while. I get my best writing done in the quietness of my office, and I can learn a lot online about the craft and the publishing industry. But there are limitations to living in cyberspace, and eventually there comes a time when I have to make a choice – stay there and let my fears direct me, or take a deep breath and move out into the real world. Without making an effort to push past my reservations, I would miss out on unique opportunities for building my writing skills, getting personal exposure to writing professionals, and making new friends in the writing community.
So how do I do it? When it comes to conferences, how do I make the outer me do what the inner me resists?
1. First, I plan ahead and arrange to attend with a good friend so there will be someone else there who understands my limitations. Plus it’s just plain more fun sharing the conference experience.
2. I register online from the comfort of home (the SiWC website is familiar territory and thus isn’t intimidating).
3. I make advance reservations in the host hotel so I can slip up to my room any time I need a break from the horde.
4. When I make my hotel reservations I request a lower floor so I know if I can’t deal with the elevators at any time, I will be able to walk up and down the stairs.
5. I prepare my pitch material thoroughly at home, and then leave extra time before any agent/editor appointments so I’m not rushed. That helps minimize anxiety. (It’s not a bad idea to forego these appointments at a first conference.)
6. I try to be early for workshops to get a seat on the aisle or near the back so I can slip out easily if the crowding overwhelms me. Others might choose a seat at the front where they can’t see the crowded room behind them. It’s a personal thing. :)
7. Beforehand I connect informally with some of the event organizers and presenters via Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and after the event, I make a point of seeking them out to thank them. It helps to establish familiar relationships and build a sense of community, both of which contribute to expanding my comfort zone.
What works for me won’t necessarily work for everyone who has a problem with crowds and enclosed spaces. Panic attacks are no fun, but neither is being captive to a fear of them. I’m fortunate that if I emotionally prepare myself and stay alert to potential situations, I can often avert a meltdown. (And when in doubt, I resort to a lot of prayer and a little Ativan!)
Carol J. Garvin is a writer who blogs about writing, spirituality, nature, and other topics. More about her experience at this year's Surrey Conference can be found here.
How many are the scenes he limned,
With artist strokes, clear-cut and free -
Our Dickens; time shall not efface
Their charm, and they will ever grace
The halls of memory.
Oft and again we turn to them,
To contemplate in pleased review;
And like some picture on the screen
Comes now to mind a favorite scene
His master-pencil drew...
Read the poem in its entirety: Unfading Pictures by Louella C. Poole.
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
- Current Mood: content
- Current Music:Furniture by Amy Studt
And then there is the matter of how our feelings about books change over time. I struggled through Babbitt as a high-schooler, but I've reread it voluntarily as an adult, and like it much better now. Some books I started out liking, but have grown to love upon subsequent rereads.
And then there are the books that lose something upon rereading. The main character who seemed so romantic is just annoying now. The fantasy world that once fascinated has become a bit of a yawn. Previously unnoticed racist subtext oozes to the surface.
We change, and the world around us changes, so there's no wonder our feelings about books change. If I did rate books, they would probably not carry a single number, but a graph of numbers, charting my rising and falling assessment over time.
It brings home to me like nothing else how subjective ratings can be, how personal our responses to books are sometimes.
If you can't see the video embedded above, click here to watch the book trailer!
I am very much looking forward to the spooky new graphic novel trilogy Cemetery Girl by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden, illustrated by Don Kramer. Cemetery Girl Book One: The Pretenders comes out on January 7th. Here's the premise:
She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill – names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.
She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead – and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.
Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave – and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own. Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself – or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help...
Read an excerpt at the Penguin website. The Cemetery Girl series is published by InkLit, a division of Penguin Books.
I just learned that GoodReads is giving away ten copies of Book One. Neat!
- Current Mood: awake
- Current Music:Annie's Always Waiting (For the Next One to Leave) by Matt Nathanson
Sorry, I got carried away there. Anyway, the snow also gave me a poem--the first draft of a poem, anyway.
In other news, this post by Sean Williams on Janni Simner's blog was much appreciated. He writes: "It’s a natural law that careers go up and down. When I started out, up was the only way my career could go. Now, it could go either way ..." I liked it because I remember expecting, before I published, that I would struggle for a long time but once I "broke through," I would keep moving upward, steadily. I thought every success would be followed by a bigger success. I think many writers expect this, without even articulating it, because it seems so commonsensical: you work hard and you're patient, then you get the reward, right? Nobody talks about how sometimes the reward falls and breaks, or how the next reward may be farther away than expected. But a downturn is not necessarily permanent, either. A setback doesn't mean that a career is over--especially in a business that's changing so quickly. There are ways and genres of publishing now that weren't viable even six or seven years ago.
The only certainty is change.