This and That

This is one of those “little of this and that” type posts, kind of like show and tell at school or concocting soup in the kitchen from a variety of ingredients. I just wanted to share a few things…

I’m excited! A memoir piece I wrote was accepted in an anthology, Back to School 2013 Memoir Anthology. It’s now out on Amazon. My piece is called, “Confessions of a High School Social Phobic”. If you like writing memoir or would like to try your hand, there’s another call for submissions with a November deadline. You can find out more in the post over at the Karenzo Media blog.

Despite the craziness of my chaotic life, I’ve managed to read a couple of books too. One of the books, In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, is a novel set in the Renaissance period. The two main characters are the courtesan and a dwarf. The two flee tragic circumstances in Rome and move to Venice, overcoming much so the courtesan’s business flourishes again. The story is told through the eyes of the dwarf, which offers an interesting perspective.

This book kept my interest all the way through the end. This author is so good at being descriptive, that it’s easy to visualize the settings and the characters. I won’t spoil the ending, in case you decide to read it, but I will say it didn’t end the way I thought it was going to. I enjoyed it! (the book, not the ending) It’s the second book I’ve read by this author, The Birth of Venus being the first.

The other book was a memoir I’ve had on my wish list for awhile, Loose Girl : A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen. It’s a memoir about a woman’s journey from promiscuity to learning how to have a real intimate relationship and how to love herself. She runs through guy after guy and pays the consequences for her actions through loss of friendships, chances at real love, degradation of self, and disease. There’s no fairy tale ending, but like the rest of us, I think it’s about self discovery and always trying to do better.

I think the author is brave for writing truthfully about such a taboo subject, but I was troubled so much I almost stopped reading the book a time or two. It wasn’t the promiscuity causing me such a problem, but the references to drug use interspersed throughout the book. There were parts as well, where her actions seemed shallow and selfish. I know that sounds so judgmental and I know none of us are perfect, but it’s my opinion as a reader. It was interesting enough and I wanted to understand more, so I did finish the book and I was glad I did. She’s bluntly honest.

Memoirs are one of my favorite things to read and write lately. Here’s a neat list I ran across of suggested memoirs to read. It’s by a woman who teaches memoir classes. The post is Writing Memoir? Read Memoir. Here’s a good article over at the Huffington Post by Linda Joy Myers, PhD. with tips on writing memoir too. One final tidbit I’ll leave you with is a quote I ran across. It’s a good one if you’re ever sitting there having guilt that you should be cleaning rather than writing… “At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”—Rose Macaulay. I love it! 🙂

A Book Lover’s Dream

©Illumination Photographics by Selena Lynn

©Illumination Photographics by Selena Lynn Bullock

Spring is in the air and thoughts of love. Well, I’m in love with reading. It’s not a bad thing and many well seasoned writers point out if you’re going to write, you need to read. Read far and wide, not just your writing genre. You can pick up on many good and bad things in reading, which will help you with your writing. Another bit of sound advice, which I need to take, don’t read so much about how to write, just WRITE.

My daughter has found she has a natural affinity for grammar and writing in her college English class. I don’t think it has much to do with any special curriculum used during her years as a homeschooler. I attribute it more to her being raised in a reading filled environment. Books have always been around our home, many childhood trips to libraries and bookstores, bedtimes filled with stories read aloud, and encouraging her to read books of her own choosing.

We’re both still voracious readers, just have very different tastes in books. I love going to the library and stocking up on books. Caregiving responsibilities have increased, so I hadn’t been in a while. I finally got to go(clapping hands and smiling big) and it was great…I think my enthusiasm may have scared the young librarian at the desk. 🙂 I told my sister it was as good as chocolate or s-e-x.

I checked out a big stack of books I’ve been wanting to get my hands on, as well as a few Mother Earth magazines. I was one HAPPY woman. I won’t bore you with all my books, some are just random ones I have an interest in like gardening and crochet.

Two were writing books : How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore(I don’t want to be famous, but it looked interesting on the flip through. I’ve enjoyed the humor the author uses throughout.) and On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King(Love this…though be forewarned he is blunt and there is a bit of cursing if you’re on the prim & proper side. It’d be one of those times to not throw the baby out with the bath water as the saying goes…he offers a lot of good advice). The funny thing is this is the only book by Stephen King I’ve ever read…I don’t do scary.

Two other books were just for my reading enjoyment and have been on my “To Read” list a while. One is Interpreter of Maladies, which is a book of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. The other was Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. I’m enjoying both of these, but have seen in places first hand examples of how too much detail can slow a story down. There are places with just the right amount of description, which make it easy to picture the story in my mind.

On a side note…if libraries make your heart soar, here’s a link with pictures of incredible libraries.

Current Reads

Morante with Alberto Moravia at Capri in the 1...

Morante with Alberto Moravia at Capri in the 1940s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be forewarned, this is an unusually long post, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on a couple of books. Hey, writers have to read! I’m reading two books currently, Woman of Rome : A Life of Elsa Morante by Lily Tuck and Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Both are really close to being finished and I’ll have to pick something new to read soon.

Fall on Your Knees is a novel and by far the most interesting of the two, albeit a bit odd. It’s a book about several generations of a family in Canada, mainly the lives of the sisters in the family. It’s a sad novel marked by tragedy upon tragedy, beginning with a thirteen year old bride. I know it’s fiction, but it is revealing about human nature…the sacrifices some are willing to make and the coldness of others.

I can’t say I really liked the book, but the author did do an amazing job writing a intensely detailed novel with a complicated plot. It’s a bit dark for my tastes and deals with some rather uncomfortable subjects including abuse.  It has some really not nice characters in it and it’s hard to get to attached to some characters, because as soon as you do, they up and die. I’m more of a lighthearted, let’s not condemn people to death kind of person.

Oh well, I’ll finish it and I can say it’s definitely something different than I’ve read in a while. It was one of those that sounded intriguing by what was written on the back cover, so I had to give it a try. It has held my interest and made me want to keep picking it up, so I can see what will happen next to the characters. It’s a page turner.

Woman of Rome is a biography about the Italian writer Elsa Morante, born 1912 and died 1985. She wrote novels and poetry, which are discussed in the book in detail. It’s taking a while for me to make my way through this book. She was an interesting writer and seems she was not afraid to voice her thoughts, often at the expense of the feelings of others, but had a rather dysfunctional family during childhood and a tragic love life.

She seems to have had a very free life for a woman. She traveled often, had a complicated marriage, and had numerous love affairs. She loved Mozart and cats. She dressed how she wanted. She was a reader and underlined favorite passages in books. She wrote her thoughts in a diary at times. She had passionate discussions with those in her life and was generous. Despite all of this, it still seems as if she was disillusioned and unhappy with life.

I think it’s taking me so long to read this book, because there is so much information. It is well researched by the author, but I get lost in many of the details about the other people that were parts of Elsa Morante’s life. There is mention of many writers, film makers, and artists in the book; which I am unfamiliar with and makes for a disconnect. I will continue to muddle my way through and finish the book regardless. This has been a very slooow page turner.

If you have a book you’ve enjoyed I’m open to suggestions and if you need a few suggestions I have a board I started on pinterest of books on my “To Read” list you may want to check out.

Journaling and Other Writing Pursuits

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (Novemb...

As I’ve shared before, I’m an avid reader.  This evening, I just finished the book Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O’Shea.  Absolutely loved it!  The author is blatantly honest and the book is written like she’s conversing with a close friend, the reader, as she shares many of her own intimate journal entries.  There are numerous sample journal entries throughout the book, including several historic examples as far back in time as 1665.  I was delighted to learn the famous author Louisa May Alcott journaled throughout her life.

Journals can be an excellent way to closer examine our lives.  The author makes suggestions for some topics you may want to write about in a journal.  Journaling could be as simple as recording your daily activities, documenting a dream, or even divulging inner thoughts you would never say aloud.  No matter what you choose to journal about, I do agree with the author’s sentiment that one of the most important people we should be honest with are ourselves.

My writing progress as of late has been a little slow on the end of writing which may bring in financial benefits, but I’ve been writing.  Journaling has by far been my favorite means of writing as of late, since there are some things in my life I’ve been working through.  I’ve actually looked forward to journaling and sought out my journal more often since I gave myself freedom to write in it as I want rather than a required daily entry.

* Enough about journaling, now a little side note about my other writing escapades.  To borrow a phrase from my teen daughter, Camp Nanowrimo was an “Epic Fail” for me and I did not accomplish the goal.  On the positive side, it did inspire me to attempt writing fiction and I wrote a whopping 6,127 words thus far on my novel for the month of June.  Not bad, considering I was devoting a lot of time to several other projects, including gardening.  I will hopefully finish writing it one day, as I am interested in the story. If you’d like to try it, there is another camp coming up in August.  Besides my novel, I’ve also continued writing poetry and worked on adding to the memoir I’m writing.

Camp NaNoWrimo . . . Novel Writing!

Life has been busy, so I’ve not had as much time to blog as I would like.  Holding my breath and thinking things are slowing down.  At least the dust appears to be settling.  Still waiting to hear back on submissions I have sent out into the world.  Still managing to continue to journal and actually enjoying it since I’ve freed myself of thinking I must do it every single day.  And of course, of course, I am reading!

As if I don’t have enough to do, I’ve decided to try Camp NaNoWriMo.  I’m in a cabin, have settled in, and attempting to write my first fiction novel.  Only have a little over 2,300 words so far, but it’s early in the month.  I’m normally a non-fiction and poetry type gal, but thought it would be fun to give fiction a try.  You never know if you like something, unless you try.

Camp NaNoWrimo

Camp NaNoWrimo

This is the first time I’ve ever tried anything NaNoWriMo.  The big month is in November, but I’ll see how this goes first.  I didn’t even know what NaNoWriMo stood for until a few months ago.  In case you are as clueless as I was, it stands for National Novel Writing Month.  The goal is to begin something new, not an old project, and write at least 50,000 words.

The novel I am working on is a romance fantasy novel.  I thought it would be good for my first attempt as much of the advice I’ve read about writing novels is to write the type of novel you enjoy reading.  I love to read historical romance, but am not too good at history, hence the fantasy.

I got in a creative spurt yesterday and even had a little fun!  Yes, the kind of creative fun you can remember from art class in school.  Using markers and crayons, I created a map of the kingdom and surrounding areas the companions in my novel will be traveling through as they embark upon their quest.  Now I have an inspiring poster to kind of help keep me on track.

Hopefully this week will be calmer and productive.  It can be both can’t it?  I’ll hope so anyway.  Happy writing…