Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Short Story Collections

Sorry to be slack in posting this week, but I'm devouring a beautiful book of short stories by Simon Van Booy entitled, The Secret Lives of People In Love. This book has made me wonder how quotes become quotable: it's full of what I believe will soon be widely quoted sentences and paragraphs. Exquisite.

Next on my list is this book of short stories. Can't wait.

And remember my touting the book, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout? Pulitzer Prize. If you didnt' read it then, read it now.

We short story lovers are rich with inspiration.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writing Day

Yesterday was a writing day. I spent it putting my portfolio together for the end of the semester, and revising my second short story for the class.

I'm fairly new to writing, and am never prepared for how obsessed I become with my main character. My writing professor is always saying, "Get closer," and the more I get into the character's head the more I can't stop thinking about the story. I night dream about it, I daydream about it, and if the story is based on someone I know, I have to visit or call them to dig deeper.

I told my husband today that I finally figured out why I am fearful of the blank page: Once I start writing, I don't want to stop. I want to write and write and write and forget about work and laundry and grocery shopping.

There is a feeling that I get about my pictures and writing that I don't get from anything else. It's like a drug and I'm scared of wanting something so much.

PS I have only submitted four pieces of my work to publications. The first two were to The Sun Magazine. I was not at all in tune with whether my writing fit their style. The two pieces (one a color photo when they only publish black and white!) were rejected. Three weeks ago I sent two stories to Narrative Magazine. I have to console myself: the winner was Janet Burroway. They passed on my stories, but that's okay. It was exciting to go on their website every day and see "Under Consideration" by the titles of my stories!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Cat

As my brother said, "I guess a cat's skeleton is a little different from ours!"

Monday, April 20, 2009


No matter how I try to proof my posts, I'm always seeing mistakes after I publish. If you just received notification about my post today, please discard and read from the blog. Thank you for the extra effort.

Book Recommendation

It took a while, but I finished reading Abraham Verghese's new book Cutting for Stone on Friday night, and it was well worth the time it took. Some of you may have read his first book, My Own Country, about his early days as a doctor in the Tri-Cities area during the rise of the AIDS epidemic. Verghese obviously has the writing gene, because the new book is fiction, and beautifully written.

It is the story of twins born in Ethiopia to a foreign doctor and a nun. Rich characterization with a suspenseful plot and lots of medical details (but nothing too gory or academic) make this a book you don't want to end. And the ending is simply perfect.

Run, don't walk, to our local independent bookstore (if you're in the Raleigh area) or to one close to you, and buy one or both of Verghese's books. Find a cozy place to sit and read, read, read. Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Day in Pictures (and a few words)

For the most part, cars are not allowed on Bald Head Island. Usually we rent a golf cart one of the days of the weekend to run to the store or go to the end of the island. My husband has ridden to the store many times on his bike, but I've never done it. I thought it was too far, uphill, etc. etc. whatever excuse I could come up with. I decided that I was going to put all my excuses to bed this weekend and finally ride the bike there. We lollygagged on the way over and took many detours on side roads. But on the way back, we rode straight home to the marina. It took less than fifteen minutes - a cinch! I had very much over-estimated how hard it would be. I am encouraged now to ride to the end of the island and back, thus eliminating any need to have a golf cart.

I had my camera with me and there were many things to see. Here's a sample:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Birds (and the Byrds)

First thing every morning, I look out one of my bedroom windows and I see these beautiful birds:

From my bedroom door, I see these birds:

Unfortunately, I have to keep one of my bedroom shades drawn down tight, because my neighbors (oddly enough, the Byrds) chose to put their storage unit as close to our property line as they could, and each weekend pile more crap BEHIND it.

I feel so angry that I have to keep my shades drawn to keep from seeing this, and I want to send them a postcard with this photo on it and a sarcastic note. My husband says it's their property and I have to let it go. I wish I could.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Could have used this

I read in the paper today that Google Mail has added a feature called, "Mail Goggles." Its purpose is "to prevent poorly conceived late-night e-mails by requiring the sender to solve a few math problems before the message sends."

Lord have mercy. I sure could have used that in my drinking days.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Today, I'm supposed to be doing critiques and revising a story for class, but the Avoidance Principle is strong. I decide to take my camera and walk around the yard and see what spring is up to. First, a sure sign that the winter is over: an election sign and a covered wood pile.

Right above is the jasmine. I can smell it from the door.

I have no idea what this spidery flower is but it's on a tree, and intriguing.

And of course, the azaleas.

We're expecting freezing temperatures later this week, but today everything feels new.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I don't do well at funerals. Or weddings either for that matter. And that is why this week has been particularly hard for me.

My young niece married the love of her life eighteen months ago. Her husband had cystic fibrosis, and much of their life together had been spent in hospitals or hotel rooms waiting to be in hospitals. They met online, their mutual love of music and reading drawing them together. Their wedding was beautiful, the first of my father's eight granddaughters to get married. This in and of itself was emotional--seeing my brother walk his daughter down the aisle--none of us was prepared for the mixed feelings we had.

Her husband had a double lung transplant right before they got married, buying some time, but last week he died. Thirty-three years old, and though the end had been written a long time ago, it was very difficult to accept that his life was over.

The funeral was personal, as personal as any I've attended. I have to say, though, that I was totally blown away when my niece stood up, and with only a few quivers in her voice, read the following poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Dirge without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

That girl has a courage and composure built of love. There isn't anything stronger.