Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year, A New Blog

I have moved. I needed more flexibility over the design and I really really wanted those tabs and extra pages. Please visit my new blog at and when you have a chance please update your blogroll if needed.

Thanks so much and happy new year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2008 TBR Book Challenge

I am signing up for this book challenge. Below are some of the books that have been on my bookshelf for at least six months (some six years!) and this is the year I will read at least twelve of them.

Here we go:

1. "Paint It Black" by Janet Fitch ( I have no idea why this is still sitting unread. I love her writing and I heard her give an amazing reading from the book. This will be numero uno.)
2. "Rabbit Punches" stories by Jason Ockert
3. "Wintering a novel of Sylvia Plath" by Kate Moses
4. "Embers" by Sandor Marai which I received during my writing group book exchange two years ago and we only give books we love so there must be a reason I have it.
5. "The Untelling" by Tayari Jones
6. "What You have Left" by Will Allison
7. "All This Heavenly Glory" by Elizabeth Crane
8. "Bear and His Daughters" stories by Robert Stone
9. "The Name of the World" by Denis Johnson
10. "Red Ant House" stories by Ann Cummins
11. "Mariette in Ecstasy" by Ron Hansen
12. "Palm Latitudes" by Kate Braverman

1. "Strange But True" by John Searles
2. "The Language of Elk" by Benjamin Percy
3. "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh my Darling" by Maura Stanton
4. "In my Sister's Country" by Lisa Haines
5. "The Center of Winter" by Marya Hornbacher
6. "Pastoralia" by George Saunders
7. "Girls in the Grass" by Melanie Rae Thon
8. "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" by Michael Chabon
9. "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathon Safran Foer
10. "How the Universe Got Its Spots" by Janna Levin and the only non-fiction in the bunch
11. "The Secret Goldfish" by David Means
12. "The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon

I also plan on doing much much more writing this year so we'll see how this goes since the more I write my own stories, the less I read other's.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Yesterday I:

- meditated for five minutes (start small)
- wrote morning pages
- worked out for 50 minutes
- went to Barnes & Noble. Had a green tea soy latte and wrote about six pages including a new scene for chapter two of my novel.
- bought:
• 2 magazines (one writing a done yoga- I am a magazine junkie)
• 3 books
- "Triangle" a novel by Katherine Weber about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911
- "You're Not You" a novel by Michelle Wildgen, senior editor at Tin House
- "Rabbit, Run" and "Rabbit Redux" by, of course, John Updike. I have never read any of these books. I find that amazing. How have they never crossed my reading path? "Rabbit , Run" is the next in "Master Class in Fiction Writing" by Adam Sexton. It studies description.
- "to-do list- From buying milk to Finding a soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us" by Sasha Cagen. I already finished this at about 12:18 last night. I love lists. I love reading other people's lists. It's so voyeuristic. An entire life can be revealed in lists. It gave me many ideas for lists of my own such as "Why I love Lists" but I guess I'll save that for another post.
- went to Target to use a gift card. Ended up buying a heart rate monitor that calculates calories burned
- got groceries
- got a loaf of good whole grain bread from Panera (our third since Christmas Eve- the stuff is addicting.) Tonight I am roasting garlic in the oven and mixing it with some olive oil and cheese, spreading it on the yummy bread and toasting it to complement spaghetti and turkey meatballs.
- made a big pot of homemade vegetable soup which is perfect for lunch today and dinner tomorrow

All in all a lovely, productive, soothing kind of day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After...

The tree looks scrawny this morning. It's fake so it didn't lose its needles overnight or anything. Just all the anticipation. All the preparation. All the company. It's over and there is some relief in that but also this sense of being let down and now what? I'm used to this feeling though. It happens every year. I will spend the day cleaning and clearing. Making room for the new "stuff". Getting back into a semi-normal routine. Not hitting the stores today. I am so shopped out. Every year I think there must be another way to do this holiday.

Here's what's been happening this last month:

Good news- I lost nine pounds using since November and kept it off during the holidays. I worked out almost everyday which was the key I think.

Saw two great movies with my mom while she was here. "Juno" and "P.S. I love You". "Juno" was the better of the two. I will be buying that one when it comes out. It is just so well written.

I read "The Other Boleyn Girl" which is not my usual cup of tea but I got totally sucked into it. I'd been having trouble finding a good book to lose myself in. I started The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life by Robert Goolrick and was happily zipping along, fascinated by this quirky southern family and then it got dark. And darker. And I just didn't want to be in a dark place. So I put it down and picked up "The Other Boleyn Girl" and couldn't put it down. I became totally absorbed in this other world and time. It was a good lesson in plotting and throwing obstacles in the way over and over again and in what a character wants an how far she'll go to get it. And now I see it will be a movie soon. Excellent...

Just finished "A Student of Living Things." Another good lesson in plotting. Just a good story set in post 9-11 Washington DC where pockets of violence erupt sporadically and how a family, specifically a sister deals with an unexpected tragedy.

Now I am reading "The Principles of Uncertainty" which is a journal illustrating and writing one year in a life. It's giving me some great ideas for my own visual journals. Quite captivating.

I am also reading the Winter Fiction issue of "The New Yorker." I'm in the middle of the correspondence between Raymond Carver and Gordon Lish. Fascinating...

Coming up:
- creative revolutions instead of resolutions
- books to be read for a book challenge I found in the blog world

Friday, November 30, 2007

Five...uh, I Mean, Six Reasons I'm a Strong writer

I forgot I got tagged for this meme, so here goes:

5 Reasons I'm a Strong Writer:
1. I've taught myself without the benefit of a MFA or even a Bachelors. I discovered I wanted to write after I went to art school so I'm doing it the old fashioned way- lots of writing and lots of reading. I go to conferences, classes, and am in a writing group. I feel like I have to really want it and really work for it at this stage in my life without the luxury of three years of uninterrupted time to focus on the craft. Instead I've always had to fit it into my real life which is what all writers need to do eventually.

2. I work on my stories. It's not uncommon for me to revise a story ten times before submitting the "first" draft to my writing group. I've revised stories twenty to twenty-five times before submitting them to journals. I'll play with structure. Try new beginnings. Different POV. I'm not afraid to completely tear a story apart and put it back together.

3. I keep my options open with regards to projects. I have several going at any given time at various stages. When I need a break from one I can hop onto another.

4. I'm willing, even eager, to be surprised by my writing. I use writing practice to let my mind wander into the depths of the story or character. I'm willing to fill pages and pages with scenes that spill from me during a session but don't feel compelled to shoe horn them into the story just because I wrote it.

5. I love stories. I love reading stories and always have. I read for pleasure, I read to learn. I read in amazement and am thrilled when I come across a book or sentence that I feel is brilliant. I am not intimidated, instead I am inspired. I read with a pen in my head to mark sentences that move me. I read with a pen in hand to dissect a story to learn the craft of writing. I read to lose myself and on my ideal days I lose myself in my own writing.

6. And one more... I almost wrote I am not afraid of what I may discover about myself when I write. That's not true. I am afraid at times, but I do it anyway. I show up anyway and that's what courage is, showing up in spite of the fear.

And there you have thirty straight days of posts from me. I'm impressed...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Few of My Favorite things

It seems like I hear this song a dozen times a day so I may as well use it to inspire a post here.

These are a few of my favorite things:
- reading in bed after I wake up in the morning
- clean, crisp sheets
- bare trees etched against a blue sky
- the smell of coffee (but I don't like the taste)
- A soy chai and pumpkin scone from Starbucks
- watching my cats play
- decorating the house for Christmas
- taking the decorations down
- unexpectedly finding new books that I want to read at the library
- sunflowers
- finding the perfect word, verb, phrase, metaphor in my writing
- a good glass of red wine
- discovering a new writer
- the smell of brownies or chocolate chip cookies
- staring at a campfire
- browsing an independent bookstore. this is still my favorite.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Amused by the Muses

Our icicle Christmas lights are lit and dangling from the eaves outside my window. They've been up for over a week but we didn't turn them on until tonight. I really need one holiday to be over before I start with the next one.

Here is a website I enjoy. Her book "The Nine Modern Day Muses" never fails to inspire me. Actually I love anything to do with the Muses whether it's a "Charmed" episode or the movie with Sharon Stone or fables, stories and collages. I bought nine small canvases at one point and started collecting Muse ephemera to create a series of collages devoted to them. I can put that on my project list for next year. Instead of resolutions that always sound so, well, resolute, maybe I'll make a list of creative endeavors for the coming year. That sounds fun. In fact, if it isn't fun it can't go on my list. Look for this list in an upcoming post.