Writers, speak up!…

April 9, 2011 § 12 Comments

The Missouri Writers Guild is hosting its annual conference right here in my own backyard (figuratively) and the biggest “cool” about it all is hanging out with all kinds of writers.  We had three “panels” yesterday, some of them enlightening (the agent panel) but overall, not one person (on magazine & ezine panel) addressed the $$$ issue. We were regaled with queries, what editors expected (blah blah blah) and how they refused to work with those who couldn’t measure up, but not once did a magazine or e-zine editor or publisher mention what they were willing to pay for articles, and various pieces. It’s as though the prize is having one of them say “yes” but indeed, the writing is the prize, one that deserves worthy pay. Don’t settle for what they would pay an intern if you’re not one. Don’t do it for free or “on spec.”  Writers, speak up!  (I will, today….)

 

This is Saturday…

February 19, 2011 § 15 Comments

It’s Saturday. No (immediate) deadlines. Finished one yesterday for SAUCE.
No schedule, no requirements, no trying to fit round pegs into square holes.

Except on the paper, in this new journal. That my cousin Sam sent at Xmas. She was so excited to have found it and sent it to me. I am so glad to have it.

New pens, 6 different colors.
Dogs are sleeping. HM has his own projects. Kids are a) at university and b) the other is visiting boyfriend.

The light in the house shifts according to the sun and the clouds. The leaves on the lawn, left from Fall’s last drop, will lie there, morphing into mulch.

Later I will treat myself to reading everyone on my blog list.

Now, to begin on that first page.

Pears and pens…

January 31, 2011 § 19 Comments

It’s the thick of winter and the thin of my immunity to the colds and flus running rampant through the office in which I work.
Crazy as it sounds, it seems to be going after the “strong” among us rather than those who might typically be considered wan or fragile.
Go figure.
I have written pages and pages, wedged under the comforter with journal atop. Awkard but necessary.
Pages and pages…of nilth.
Which means “nothing” but has more substance to it than actual “nothing” does while having no relationship to filth with which it rhymes. I think HM made up the word. I’ll check later.

I can’t believe I’d like some fresh fruit.
And our Christmas pears are long gone and eaten.
Ah, my kingdom for a pear!

WRITING LESSON:
Don’t stop writing, even if you don’t look at the page and you’re just moving your hand across the paper. This will create interesting loops or runes. And maybe you can use it for wrapping paper or something.

BOOK RECOMMEND:
Eiyiyi be careful what you read when you don’t feel well. The writing changes shapes and shading and can rise up like a nightmare or fade or in some cases, seem exquisitely wonderful. Maybe because one reads more slowly when head is full of things that Mucinex should ameliorate. That being said, I recommend, though I haven’t finished it: ANYWHERE I HANG MY HAT by Susan Isaacs.
I haven’t read her in ages but remember slicking through several of her novels including SHINING THROUGH, LILY WHITE, AND two others…
This novel, Anywhere I Hang My Hat,  is funny, sad, richly written and yeah, kinda New Yorky and Connecticutt-y but it’s above any chick lit kinda thing. Isaacs has an amazing expanse in her writing and even if you don’t love the main character (at least not yet), her inclusion of the world at that time, is wonderful, entertaining and just good reading.

Lovin’ the Village…looking’ back at Xmas in the City, pt deux…

December 29, 2010 § 10 Comments

It was warm that Saturday morning.  The subway had its own dank weather but the atmosphere was lightened by several Santas and a Snow Queen riding in the same car. Odd. No one stared, of course. It was after all, the City. Likely they were going to work somewhere, these costumers, or maybe a dept store or a children’s party.
I got off at Prince St. The streets were busy yet these were city dwellers. Families. Dogs getting a walk. Dads and kids buying Xmas trees and taking them home, in mesh, Dad carrying the trunk end, kids at the top. Everyone wore hats and coats, but the coats were open, unzipped. It was above freezing.

I was on a mission to find a store.
And then, there it was. Chrome.
Snarl knew of it from its online presence and talk amongst his cyclist friends. What is it about finding a place in the midst of a city, a small boutique niche place. It was an adventure, a treasure hunt. 

The staff was friendly, showed me how they make messenger bags, invited me to shoot film and pictures (all of which became a gift for Snarl on a CD). I shopped. They tried stuff on so I knew better what size to buy for Snarl. I relearned that shopping can be more than a commercial exchange.  I also gleaned what I could about bike messengers, a very particular group – you’ve seen them, zipping among the cars and trying to get a picture of them is like trying to shoot lightning. It was like being in a real life museum-reality rather than a push-and-shove shopping venture.

I traversed Mulberry and then back to Bleecker. Who can resist Bleecker St whose bohemia has moved over for whatever yuppies are called now? It’s an amazing area, has a real heartbeat.

I remember how it was in the ’60s when I was on a HS field trip and was amazed by the things I saw in the shop windows not the least of which was an expletive spelled out in Tolkien runes. Fascinated I stared and stared at it ’til I made out what it really said and was shocked (‘F you’ was NOT a part of my Yankee upbringing). But I recall that I wasn’t  embarrassed; only a little less wide-eyed suddenly, realizing the city had a brash freeness with which I was totally unfamiliar. Later, when I would live there, it never lost its constant surprise. It still doesn’t.

The NoHo  (North Houston)Market was a treat, another surprise! (note on the sign in the picture above where it says “Killer Trees!” The two guys working a tree booth had it outfitted with lights so you could see how your tree would look and were playing Xmas music.) Shopping was easy here in the narrow outdoor aisles and I realized the fun was in having no schedule, no deadline, no plan. thus I walked out of there with some jewelry and a gorgeous scarf, gifts to take home for others. Mentally marked off a few things on the “list.”

Then walking past NYU en route to Washington Square Park, two Santas were talking with a policeman. Not that it’s not allowed. It’s just not something you see every day. I knew then something was up. And approaching the Square, encountered dozens of Santas. The Park was sunny, crowded with onlookers for the show: Acrobats who included people from the crowd! (no, not me!)  We were enthralled for 20 minutes, watching. Meanwhile, groups of drunken Santas, some wearing “naughty” signs on their red coats, danced and celebrated at the edge of the park.

I became less compelled to take pictures. There’s something about the Village. So much to see, so much to remember and so much more to happen there. Cafe Wha? is still there and marking the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s performance there. 50? egads. The cafe is hosting a new year’s eve party – imagine.

Coming back to the Square to “leave” the area, the crowd coming towards me was somehow wackier than ever. A man in front of me was floored by the sight of another dressed in kilt, S&M and a Mohawk. He had to say something and so remarked to a policeman saying, “Did you see that?” The policeman smiled and shook his head and said, “Yes. But that’s nothing,” to which our startled onlooker replied, “Only in America!” and we all kept walking. Little scenarios  in seconds.

And so, in a cheesey moment, I snapped a picture of One Fifth Avenue. Joni Mitchell reportedly lived here. And Candace Bushnell wrote her novel set here. I’ve no idea who the present inhabitants might be but the location is perfectly perfect.

It was on the subway returning much later to the hotel that I got the scoop on the Santa thing. It was Santacon and it was under happy discussion among the crowd in the subway car headed downtown.

HM had some stories about it later when we met for dinner in Times Square. Times Square – who would eat there? Well, our Manhattanite friend recommended Blue Fin and OMG, she was NOT wrong. Somehow, the manager arranged tables for the 8 of us who sat and supped and again did a marathon dinner. It was magic, it was seafood (and we don’t get “real” seafood in the Midwest) so this was a business dinner party that was extraordinary! (all pictures were taken on my phone and I have none to share here.)
But Times Square is yet another place that cannot be missed; not at all the Times Square of my childhood. If you want “bright lights and big city,” TS is a must. Really, where else (in USA) would you sit outdoors at a cafe table in two blocked-off city blocks) to be surrounded by the building-size ads and theatre billboards in the winter and totally enjoy yourself while hawkers hawked and singers sang and tourists toured and Santas jollied and the city spun its magic?

Finding a taxi downtown from here is not at all a difficulty.

Later, over coffee, we talked about living again in NYC. 
It was good to come home to STL. ‘Nuf said.

Happy Halloween! though an “inky” day, not one on which I’ll do much writing…

October 31, 2010 § 3 Comments

Morning…
I called The Mud House this morning at 8:30 a.m. to set an interview with one of its owners. They have early hours (take a look) so figured my chances were good, and they were there. It’s set; we’ll talk tomorrow. I wished they  could have passed one of their well-known art-techie lattes to me through the phone.
In the meantime, there’s a bit of homework to do about the place and while the website is good (and well designed), the pictures I’m after are in their Facebook album. And I just de-activated my FB account the other day. Drat. 

And…
I haven’t written a darn thing in my journal, my coffee is a bit weak (HM is sleeping in following a howling crazy party we costumed up for and attended last night in the city so I made coffee this a.m. …bleh) and there are a million things that need doing while my pen lies quietly…just … over there…on the desk.

Why on earth we haven’t had a president who runs on the three-day-weekend ticket is beyond me. With a little rest and a little more time for all of us on the homefront, we’d be far more productive and a lot more fun, overall.  I digress.

Meanwhile…
Everything is conspiring to  make it a Halloween-y Eve!
Huge bowls of candy, silly strobe lights to set in the darkened rooms of the house, eerie spooky music to blast into the front yard from the Zune, more leaves than I can rake thus leaving hundreds of them underfoot to crackle and swoosh at each step, and there’s a bit of wind, if it sticks.

Offbeat…
Had to share these great craft papers from Graphic 45 tho’ I’ve no idea at the moment what I’ll be doing with them. But I’m an ALICE IN WONDERLAND fan/devotee and needed them. 
The designs are on heavy stock and likely ATC or bookmark ameable but somehow, that seems so…”done.” Will come up with something “Alice-y” to do with them, but for now…

This is “Alice” gone a tad Halloween…

Tim Burton would have to love these interpretations of the classic drawing.

Now where would the Hatter get himself a piece of candy corn?

So…
We’re gearing up for the neighborhood which is packed with “littles.” Nor and I will be in costume to answer the door; we’re not letting HM dress up – he’s too scary, so he’s in charge of lights and technical effects.

And in hopes of keeping away from the candy, I’ve set out some apples for Nor, HM, and me and there are four different cheeses in the fridge, too, you know, to feed those hard-working hand-out-the-candy characters! Hope it works, but I’m skeptical. I’ve already had a mini Almond Joy, and it’s not even noon. Egads.

TOP SCARIEST BOOKS…
PS Debnance did a cool booklist – she listed her top 10 scariest books.
Great idea.
And so to share (and because imitation is sincerest form of flattery), I offer my top 7 scariest books, herein (top 7? yup):
1) The Exorcist – Wm Peter Blatty
2) The Children’s Hour – Lillian Hellman
3) The Tommyknockers – Stephen King
4) Cruddy – Lynda Barry
5) The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell
6) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving
7) Turn of the Screw – Henry James

Barbie and Midge, amok in St. Louis

August 17, 2010 § 8 Comments

Sue at Typehype mentioned Ken (of the incomparable Barbie&Ken duo not totally unlike that TV pairing, “Hart to Hart”).
I mentioned Midge and seek to clarify Barbie’s young friend for Sue, who wasn’t sure she remembered her. 
Midge, a ’60s creation sans psychedalia shares the giant shiny black Barbie case in the back of my closet with my original patent-pending Barbie doll.  

Opening the case to find them was like opening  a book into my past and finding shoes, Barbie BBQ accessories, miniscule purses, Barbie’s nurse outfit, all kinds of things, brought back memories of the store in which I shopped to get Barbie clothes, saving allowances, and even once getting my parents to indulge in Barbie’s dream house. Egads.

I didn’t enjoy dolls per se as much as I did the fashion. Picking up on this, my grandmothers, mother and aunt all pitched in and knit some fabulous outfits, which I still also have.

Anyway, I promised Sue that I would picture Midge and so here are my oops-the-sun-is-setting-and-I-don’t-have-a-lot-of-light pictures snapped for old times sake.

“Creepy,” said HM. “The pictures, I mean. OK, interesting.”
No, he meant creepy.
Though I didnt’ intend them to be.
I”ll try again in the full summer light.

This is Midge in an official Barbie trademark dress, but geez, it’s awfully “Talbots”-y.

And here’s my bubblecut Barbie. You could have the ponytail or “bubblecut” Barbie back then. I didn’t care a lick for ponytails. Bubblecut was all the fashion rage. Note that Barbie’s ensemble is a simple floral sheath that smacks, somewhat, of a Holiday Inn lounge get up. There is also a matching bolero jacket (not shown), purse and matching blue shoes (high heels, bien sur.)

David Foster who? …

July 7, 2010 § 15 Comments

 

I knew the writer had three names and that the first was “David.” I told her that, about him having  3 names, and that he was a contemporary writer, a literary writer with a book that had the word “Jest” in its title. And I knew there was a rhythm to his name.
Still the librarian couldn’t help me. 

“I need more than his first name to help you.” And she stood there, fingers poised on the keys and I started to sweat, thinking, drat, I was hoping she just might know, kinda like a game show for book lovers and English majors, what his name was. I mean, sometimes book lovers just know these things.

Anyway, she couldn’t help. So I walked around and around, looking at books, while the back-brain worked on what the author’s name could be….David…David Foster? Nope.  David Stevens? Nope. And tried to remember some of his book titles since that was, after all, what I was looking for. One of his books.  Nope. Couldn’t remember them and had only read recently about him so had nothing to latch on to. Besides, it was lunch hour and a part of me said “hurry up so you can get back to work.”

Inevitably, I left the library.  That was days ago. As soon as I returned to my corporate desk, his name popped out: David Foster Wallace.
Dammit.
I would stop at the library again on my way home.
No, I wouldn’t.
I would go to Amazon.

NOTE: this was all before my self-imposed separation from The Library.

I’d read many references to Wallace lately and barging into his bio, discovered several surprising things, not the least of which were some of his writing peers, Mary Karr and Jonathan Franzen; his intense shyness; his love of dogs; and, his brilliance in math. What a combo. A mathematician and a writer. And due likely to depression, we lost him nearly two years ago.

I found, in my mini DFW research, that someone compared the size of his book INFINITE JEST to Pynchon’s V. I have Pynchon on my shelf but haven’t delved in yet. I was considering putting Wallace’s tome next to it, once I found it,  once I made the purchase.

Or, maybe I’d make it a summer read. (Fat chance! I have skimmed through four chick lit books so far this summer with actual intellectual reading playing not even second or third but more like fifth fiddle.)  Sheesh.

Finally at B&N, I skulked the shelves and came up with only one  Foster Wallace selection available. EVERYTHING AND MORE, non-fiction. OK, I’d give it a whirl.  Didn’t notice anything else about it ’til I got home and set myself up with some time on my hands in the wing chair where the light is really really good.

I hadn’t noticed the book’s subtitle. A COMPACT HISTORY OF INFINITY. But the word “infinity” is not spelled out; instead it uses the symbol, which I cannot find at the moment on this keyboard.

I opened to the Foreword titled “Small but Necessary Foreword.”  Thought  I’d better read it.
And I began. Five or six pages into it, I began wondering where the foreword would end, and the chapters, if any begin. I flipped ahead.
No breaks. 
I kept looking, riffled all the pages back and forth. There were no breaks, no chapters, nothing. Everything apparently fell under the “foreword’s” domain. 

No wonder it was called “necessary.”
I was enjoying this book already though it is from a math point of view, which is a foreign language. I am all for understanding and speaking foreign langues, but this one took  off at a normal level and zoomed into the stratosphere of formulas and math philosophy. I did enjoy his discussion of algebra when it introduces letters to a young crowd that heretofore knew math as arabic numbers.

He made me laugh aloud, remembering what algebra was like, with me in the seat farthest from the teacher hoping he didn’t see my consternation at A=B and C=B so A=C. Because I know in real life, that’s not true. Just because A and C both equal B, it does not follow that A and C are equal. Nope.

Anyay, there is no Table of Contents. No excuses, no breaks. No index, though there is a wonderful “Scholarly Boilerplate” at the end of the book. In fact, the book is part of the Great Discoveries series.

I have rarely spent so much time examining a book and thoroughly enjoying the examination. I looked at everything, from copyright to fly leaves to first lines of paragraphs throughout.

The book was an introduction, a blind date, a way of learning more about the writer than the book itself.
 It was a new dimension of book appreciation even though I knew I wouldn’t read it page for page, not yet. I will likely read it in the winter, when the world is quieter and wrapped up in winter’s cozy.

I know I will try his fiction for which Wallace won nearly a dozen major prizes.

EVERYTHING AND MORE is a fine book, alone in its bookright. And full not only of said “foreign language” to be translated (you don’t have to be a math expert) but also an engaging and pervasive sense of the author’s humor.

It’s a find.

Play … (real life)

June 22, 2010 § 6 Comments

It’s ok to schedule play time.
It ensures that it occurs.

And so Nora took over (the first floor of ) our house on Saturday for a party.
A “game” party.

Now, everyone knows that the great thing about a party is that it gets your house in order (if it isn’t already and no, ours isn’t already.)
So, it was a plus to host it. A no brainer.
It was fun. (Yes, I said that!)
Floors were scrubbed, everything – even horizontal things like window sashes, baseboards, grillwork, everything – got vacuumed. And polished.
And the strange gluey  transparent stuff that comes from dog noses when they press said appendage against the patio doors and windows to look out was also clean, scrubbed and wiped into non-existence. (I know there’s “gorilla glue” but I’m thinking that whatever’s in a dog nose would also make for some remarkable glue or grip – yeah, call it “doggie grip.”)

The front porch was swept and flowers tweaked and pinched to perfection and watered, and all the rugs were shaken out and the back patio area was broomed and arranged, and while the sun was accommodating, making it a sunny high energy day, someone forgot to adjust it’s “impact” and the thermometer pushed up past 100 degrees.

Little matter. We were indoors. 
Nor demonstrated the teamwork between Netflix and Wii – a Brand About Town event (nope, I am not paid to mention them or talk about the event in any way, shape or form), and we all got to snack on catered yummies from Jason’s Deli, chow down without guilt on fresh popped popcorn, drink pink lemonade and play! 
(And Nor’s friends are so cool, they didn’t give a wink about the fact that we are still in the throes of renovating.)

Eight people, several of whom did not know one another, spent nearly two hours, talking, laughing and playing a chariot game with silly characters and soaring effects and also a game show that was a cross between trivia, “millionaire,” and jeopardy. Oh, the things we don’t know, and DO know!

I was perhaps most surprised at everyone’s willingness to take a game controller and jump into the game fray.
Fluently. Guests stepped up to the funny little game challenges, and on their way out, each rec’d a gift card with points to redeem games for Nintendo’s DSi or Wii.

I do know this:  It is important to know how the techno world works, about  it’s interplay, it’s apps and buttons and abilities, whether it’s about gathering info or taking a time out for entertainment. I may not own all the “smart” stuff (just give me a pencil and paper, no, really!) but you gotta know the techno stuff exists and maybe how to plug it all in together.

We forget to play.
We need to play.
We are good at it.
We learned it early.
It’s a survival skill.
Playing is like a social version of  yoga – it exercises us in glorious ways.
OK, stop reading this and go outside and play.

Fine. If you want to read, you know I’m not going to stop you. After all, reading is a version of playing, too, isn’t it? Just say yes.

Sunday morning…

June 20, 2010 § 11 Comments

Stone bunny posing as Huck Finn

(Photo taken in front yard. I never lie in the grass. Why not? Time? Ticks? Too silly? Little matter; this was a photo occasion and it felt good, kinda like seasonal reverse snow angels.)

Book Thoughts (based on stone bunny) and
potentially perfect “summer reads”…

STONE DIARIES by Carol Shields.  I see this book at book fairs, used, left behind, waiting for someone to snap it up. HM gave it to me years ago. One of my first Canadian authors. I loved her writing. Loved it. Can’t tell you what the story is about, but the book stays on my shelf, neither loaner nor giveaway.

CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese  This one was recommended here in book blog world. And it was on the buy two-get three free table. I purchased it. It’s to be one of several “summer” reads.

THE SWORD IN THE STONE which is really (based on) THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING by TH White and worthy of a re-read, it’s ginormous size (length) notwithstanding.

STONES INTO SCHOOLS:PROMOTING PEACE WITH BOOKS, NOT BOMBS, IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN by Greg Mortenson who also wrote THREE CUPS OF TEA, also an excellent book and both get five star reviews on good old Amazon.

STONES FROM THE RIVER by Ursula Hegi. I shall never forget the first page where we meet the narrator who hangs from branches and doorjambs to make herself taller. She is not. She genetically small. And despite the pain throughout the book, the writing keeps the reader going. And it’s a tale of a town and its people as they live through and suffer through WWII. And wouldn’t you know that as I write this, the ending eludes me so no spoilers here! You have to read the writing, though.

TEACHING A STONE TO TALK by Annie Dillard. OMG, also worthy of a re-read. I loved this book (again, it’s a writing thing.)  Honestly, we need to rent a cabin and spend a week reading and re-reading. I promise not to talk except at mealtime (at which point you could likely not get me to shut up), but  wouldn’t it be awesome to have a reading retreat? anybody? anybody? Buehler?

Puzzle fuss-le, post-holiday bustle

January 11, 2010 § 8 Comments

We bought the puzzle pre-Christmas and oh, the family was going to sit around and puzzle ’til it was done. Ah, yes, but sitting around to puzzle for the pre-christmas days is a pipe dream. Everyone is shopping, working, wrapping, planning and partying.

And there it sat, ye olde puzzle.
Unwilling to give it up though and as “little Christmas” neared, Nory got it in her head that could and would finish. And there we were, after the first days back at work, rushing home to cook, clean up, be quickly witty at the table and then dash off to the dining room to “puzzle.”

HM and Snarl would walk in and watch and cheer us on, then return to their tech toys. When Nory sets a goal, that’s all there is to it. She finished in triumph on our third night of “getting it done.” (In the last few hours of it, I feigned being busy elsewhere not being fond of piecing the sky together.)

It deserved being photographed.
Note that two pieces are missing and here’s why:
1)  Jack (Nory’s dog) had a hankering to chew up one piece (bottom, just left of center by the “fence”)
2) One piece went missing. It’s up there, on the left, a border piece. We were most careful but given that it moved two tables from the one where it started, lucky we just “misplaced” the one.

And from this, we went to Soduku and games of Apples to Apples. If you haven’t given that one a whirl with friends and/or family, I recommend it. Also great to kickstart conversation.

Now, what will kickstart this evening’s writing? I’ve no idea…yet.

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