Friday, April 27, 2018

Five For Friday

Things I'm Happy, Excited, or at least not cranky about today:

1. The SCBWI Austin conference, which starts today, where I'll be presenting my workshop: Advice from a Bookseller and doing critiques. I love doing both those things, love seeing author friends, love having a couple days in Austin, love learning from other speakers.  Also, possibly there is uninterrupted work time stashed in those days and I can come closer and closer to finishing this book.

2. A bit more on Laurie Colwin, whose writing I praised earlier this week. I treated myself to Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen and it is such a grand read. It's so refreshingly matter of fact - just hey-- here's how I make fried chicken and why I think it's the perfect fried chicken. It's conversational and after a long day of a million things, I can sink into this plain, delightful prose and it's like a blanket of happy.

3. Getting up early to write. Okay I hate getting up early. But it is quiet and once the dog's needs are met, I get to cozy up to the laptop and get some work done and it's just me and the page and the words and we have a good time together, my words and me, before the news of the day (the crazy rants and tweets and mutterings of you know who and the awful things that people do and say) seeps into my brain.

4. The great day I had this past Tuesday taking Brendan Kiely and Jessie Chaffee on school visits and listening to them talk writing and feminism and toxic masculinity and how to get past the bad stuff and I'm telling you they had those kids held rapt when they talked about falling in love with each other's words.

5. My critique partners who almost never fail to ask questions that help make my work fuller and more layered.

Happy Friday my friends.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Three For Thursday: The Time Travel Version

Yes, yes, not the most imaginative title. But I need to get at least one more April post in and by the way, how in the world is it almost May? Can anyone answer that one for me?

And so--

1. Still enjoying Timeless. It is hokey and predictable and has plot holes big enough to drive through. I love it anyway. It is--obviously-- not perfect, but it is many of the things I've loved in storytelling my entire life: Time travel. Romance. A time machine! The typical time travel paradoxes and the ability to change the present by screwing with the past. Plot lines that allow the characters to interact with historical figures. (Hey! It's JFK in his Connecticut boarding school and they end up having to temporarily bring him back to the present and even warn him about Dallas... not that this changes things) I love the idea of time travel stories so much that the novel I'm working on actually began as a time travel story until my editor announced that she believed it was a contemporary novel hiding behind some time travel hoopla. Okay I don't think she used the word hoopla. But you get the idea. Maybe I should have fought harder for my love of time travel. Maybe I still will at some point. But not with this book. Anyway. Watch Timeless. Sunday nights.

2. Speaking of which -- did you ever see the 50s version of the HG Wells' The Time Machine? There is one scene where they are underground with the Morlocks and one of the Morlocks gets lit on fire (I have no memory of why and no interest in trying to find out) and as he's running and screaming his Morlock scream, if you look at his feet you can see that he's wearing sneakers, and clunky ones at that. This makes me love the movie even more. Like the one version of Julius Caesar (I think it's the one with Marlon Brando playing Marc Antony -- and if you haven't ever seen Marlon Brando delivering the Friends Romans Countrymen speech then get thee to YouTube right now) where one of the extras milling around in a crowd scene gets caught under another extra's toga and has to swat his way out of it while the cameras keep rolling. I love crap like that. I love that no one bothered to correct it.

3. And while we're on the subject of time travel, at least sort of, did anyone else desperately want to be able to tesseract after you first read Wrinkle in Time? (I totally did) Here I need to interject that if you only saw the movie, you also need to read the book.

PS -- My favorite time travel story? Well, one of them is an episode of the original Star Trek. It's called City on the Edge of Forever, and the story itself was written by one of the great sci fi writers, Harlan Ellison. It's the one where Dr. McCoy goes crazy after getting some kind of injection and leaps through a time portal (because of course he does) and Kirk and Spock have to leap too in order to find him because somehow once McCoy goes back history changes and the Enterprise disappears and if they don't change it back they'll be stuck on this planet forever. But they don't find McCoy right away; they're just having to live in some sort of 30s reality and Spock has to wear a hat over his ears all the time and Kirk falls in love with Joan Collins who's playing a woman who runs a mission for the down and out. And of course Spock discovers that there are two versions of history and they all seem to revolve around whether or not Joan Collins lives and somehow causes the wrong side to win WWII. And so Kirk -- unlucky in love as always- has to let Joan get hit by a car. It honestly doesn't get better than this, people. It really doesn't.

yeah. I love the heck out of time travel stories.
How about you?

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Quick Chat About Authors I Love

One of the things I love most about bookselling is the opportunity to have unexpected conversations with customers about books we love. And when it's the same books, even better, particularly when the books and authors are to some extent under-appreciated or at least not as widely known as I think they should be.

Discovered yesterday that one of my favorite customers loves three authors that I do: specifically, Laurie Colwin, Vivian Gornick, and Evan S. Connell. In fact, she pointed out this article in the NY Times from just the other day, praising Connell's quiet masterful writing in Mrs. Bridge, which came out in 1959 and which I first read about twenty years ago and fell in love with.

If you haven't read Gornick's Fierce Attachments, you need to. It is indeed fierce - about a mother and daughter and I love this book intensely, love the craft of it. She writes so well of life and women and feminism and family and more.

And then you need to devour everything by Colwin, whom I 'discovered' in the late 90s only to learn once I'd read through a couple of her novels and some short stories that she'd died years earlier at only 48 years old. She writes gorgeously -- not fussy, not pretentious-- just about family and life and also food -- not only the cooking of it but also the eating. Here's a grand NPR piece on Colwin that will give you a sense of her talent.

More on all this soon.
Til then, what authors do you love who not everyone talks about?