Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review "Why I don't write children's literature" by Gary Soto- originally posted on Goodreads

Why I Don't Write Children's LiteratureWhy I Don't Write Children's Literature by Gary Soto

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm torn between 4 stars and 5 stars so I'm going to give it the 5, but really the last bit about the myths of poets could have been left out. That said....

I finished Gary Soto's book a few days ago and I still have the rhythm of his voice in my head. I feel like I've gone for a long car ride and enjoyed a warm Corona beer or two with him listening to his stories. I'm not sure if we actually have much in common but he's an enjoyable companion who has paid his writing dues over the years. Since he did most of his writing of children's books when I was too old and my daughter was not yet born I will have to go and seek them out now.

In this book he writes about his experience of writing the American Girl "Marisol" which came out in 2005, the year before my girl was born. Just before reading "Why I Don't Write Children's Literature" I had just read "Grace", another American Girl book. "Grace" is from Massachusetts, bakes, and spends 5 weeks in Paris. I don't think she has much in common with "Marisol" aside from her age. And so it is with Gary and I. We don't have much in common and yet I feel like I know him.

Whether he is planting daffodils in the median near his church, attending a Rolling Stones tribute band concert, or going simply hanging out on the deck of a friend's house his imagery makes it real and I feel like I have been there with him. As Amazon promises he is indeed a "master essayist".

Fortunately I am blessed to work at a university that has many of his books from the 1980s and 1990s. If you need me at lunchtime, I'll be in the stacks tracking them down.

And Gary, if you happen to be in Massachusetts some day, stop by and I'll buy you a coffee.

View all my reviews

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We are surrounded!- Construction activity around the W.E.B. DuBois Library

Noticed diggers around three sides of the building when I went out to get lunch. This is happening on the pond side of the library deck--

Oh, and this is the temporary library "loading dock"--

Around the back, closest to the student union,  they seem to be working on the alumni garden. These guys moved their equipment away before I came back to take pictures but you can see what they've been up to. There was a tree in the empty planter. They took that out. I imagine they are taking out all the trees, or at least the evergreens. Graduation is about a month away so Landscape Services is going to busy all over campus this month.--

And around the corner by South College of course work is continuing as well. I can only guess that they are digging for pipes or something utility related because the new part of the building is supposed to be exactly in this spot.

Aerial view of South College Renovation at UMass

I went up to the 23rd floor of the W.E.B. DuBois Library yesterday and took a couple of photos as promised. You can see the original South College with the dirt and construction zone behind and to the right. This new building is going to extend down the hill to where the back of Thompson is (Thompson Annex I suppose). You can see Dickinson and the new band building in this picture too.

 Now this isn't South College at all. It's the horse barn and Blaisdell. They have talked about moving the horse barn to North Pleasant Street as part of a new agricultural center that is going to be built. I'm not sure why there are hay bales in the garage. I used to walk past this every day but since changing parking lots I don't see it much anymore. I know there are several cats living in the barn that someone is feeding. I'm not sure what else it's used for. Not seen in the photo is an office trailer to one side of Blaisdell. The last I knew Blaisdell was empty or almost empty. It had been used as office space but those offices were relocated to Hadley in one of the office parks.

Just for fun I took a photo of the geese on the pond. From the 23rd floor they really aren't much to see-

What I failed to get photos of was the temporary loading dock area of the library which is on the pond side as well. That will have to wait for another time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Construction update- South College- trees cut

I was very sad to come onto campus Monday morning and see a gapping hole where trees used to be. Not only evergreens gone but a beautiful apple tree that I adored is gone as well. Unfortunately when I was taking photos for my previous post I didn't focus on this side of the building. I hadn't realized the future was going to be so dim for these trees so I don't have a good before and after to show you. I only have the after. To the left is South College and to the right is Thompson.

You will also notice that the windows are still out in South College as well. All in all the building is pretty much just a brick shell. The inside has been gutted completely. I hope to go up in the tower of the library later today and get some views looking down on the whole construction site so that I can show you the full scope of this project.

For more information about this project here is a link to the official UMass construction information-

Monday, March 9, 2015

Construction at UMass- South College

Sunrise, view of the library... had to sneak this in there just because it's pretty.

Windows are out of the building at South College this morning.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Inside my Coat Pockets - a poem I wrote a few years ago

I may have posted this before, but I'm going to post it again.

"Inside My Coat Pockets", a poem by me.

Inside my coat pockets
the beginning of a poem
I pull out a refrigerator magnet
shaped like a pink frog
or Martha's Vineyard
next I find an old camera
with no pictures left of course
and what do we have over here?
some used Kleenex of course
a crumbled paper bag
where did this old watch come from?
ah, the orange bottle cap that inspired me
to write this.

That's only pocket one, let me go on.
up here we have some seashells
mixed in with some sand.
And over here, let me look
a pen, a business card, and some directions
a flashlight, a bottle of aspirin, and some fruit snacks
a quarter, a receipt, and some hand cream
and more and more fruit snacks.
I have no idea why

And finally, the last one
another bottle cap, a bit more kleenex
my cell phone, and some car keys
and of course a credit card and some ID.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Blog post in progress-- Shawn Inmon

Last May I posted about "Shotgun Lovesongs" and the connection to music and Bon Iver. I'm not sure if I have posted a book review since that one. I was incredibly drawn in by that book and the music. I went on to buy a few Bon Iver cds and one by a girlfriend connected to the music and I spent a lot of time absorbing all of it. I still listen to the music. It's not forgotten.

So now I've stumbled on a couple of memoirs by Shawn Inmon. Shawn wrote one in the voice of his wife Dawn, and the other in his own voice. I read Dawn's voice first even though he wrote it second. Now I'm not ready to fully post all that I want to say but I'm working on it. I did a quick, really quick review on Goodreads because I have been terrible about keeping up with Goodreads reviews and I didn't want to forget it. However the blog post is going to take longer.

One thing that struck me with Shawn's books was the way the music was woven through them. I've since been in touch with Shawn (thank you Facebook!) and he sent me a playlist that he has posted on Youtube. I'm listening to it as I type this. He also has a website, a Facebook page, and many more books for sale. It's a lot to absorb all at once for a fan like myself coming into the story late.

There are a number of things I like. I like the way the music weaves through. I like that the stories are memoirs. I like the story line of a second chance romance with a happy ending.  I like how accessible Shawn has been as a person. I'm still working out all I want to say.

One musical reference he made was to the band "Stonebolt" which I had never heard of before. I checked with slightly older, more knowledgable friends and they hadn't heard of the band either. My conclusion is that "Stonebolt" is/was a regional band from Vancouver and popular in Washington where Shawn and his wife grew up. Shawn's playlist led me to music on YouTube but I haven't yet been able to locate any music on Amazon or Google for sale. I still have some research to do I guess.

Anyway, more later I promise! This is indeed a work in progress.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What would you say if Humans of New York interviewed you?

I had this random daydream this morning and I thought I would share. What if somehow, some way I got stopped by Brandon of HONY and he photographed me. Ugh. What a nightmare! Haha. Would I say "No", maybe, Maybe not.

Here's what comes to mind-

1. I hate how I look. I know if I get my photo posted lots of people will have negative things to say about me. I know they will also say I should go to the gym, or do something to change my appearance.

2. I have a crazy mother. Crazy mothers and crazy childhoods are way too common in this world.

3. I wrote a book. I need to edit it and get beta readers and some day get it published but I hold back. Why? Because of that fear of rejection.

And all 3 are connected. Many of my friends follow Humans of New York. I would be recognized and seen by them and millions of others. I would be in the spotlight for about 30 seconds while people posted their comments, many of them probably negative. If HONY published my comments about rejection there might be some kinder comments but the negative would still be there.

Meanwhile I go on. I need to push past this negativity and get this writing done. Seriously. 2015 has to be the year.

My mother is giving me another end-of-life scare. I don't know if she will beat this one or not. We'll see. We've had scares like this before and she's come out okay. Still, how many times can she win?

My goals in 2015 include losing weight and writing more.

And I am way, way behind on GoodReads if you are wondering. I stopped applying to win books because I couldn't keep up with them all.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reading, reviewing, writing, and editing

Last night before I fell asleep I had this blog all written out in my head. Unfortunately I was too tired to write it down and now I've lost some of it. I am attempting to recreate it anyway.

We came home yesterday from a day trip to the Boston area. In the mailbox was a book that I'd won from a giveaway on  I've been winning a few of these giveaways lately and my book pile is piling up faster than I can read the books. He said "Wow, people must really love your reviews." Maybe they do, maybe they don't. I don't write great reviews. They're usually pretty simple and straight forward. Def not my best writing.

We went in the house, and he took care of our daughter while I disappeared into the bedroom and fired up my bedside computer. I opened up the browser and went to Facebook. I posted an unofficial review of the places we'd been to in Somerville. Then I went over to TripAdvisor and wrote up 2 official reviews. This required a little research because the restaurant that we ate at didn't have it's own listing. Once those reviews were done, I went over to Goodreads and updated my book shelf to show I'd gotten the book. A peek inside the front cover showed me that the author had even written me a note and autographed it. Well that deserved some special attention. I looked him up and sent him a thank you note. He wrote back and offered me another complimentary book that he's written. I haven't replied yet. I figure I'll wait until I read this one before I answer. I hope it's a good book though. I'd hate to write a negative review now.

After my reviews were posted on Facebook, Goodreads, and TripAdvisor I looked up his website and checked the listing of other books he's written. This isn't a debut novel. Then I went over to Twitter to see if he was on there. Nope. However he was mentioned by another Twitter entity recently who has already read the book I just got. I tweeted to him/her, and they tweeted back. I scrolled through my Twitter feed, a mix of many things including many authors promoting their books.

Phew!! When I was done with all that I finally cracked open the E-book that I had just borrowed from the library. This is one that I tried to win a print copy of, but failed so I had put a hold on it and I finally got it. I read a few chapters to get myself into it. Then finally very late, I turned off the screens and went to sleep.

Meanwhile July is fast approaching and while I have been editing my Work In Progress it is not completely revised yet. I'm probably about 1/3 of the way through it. In July though I will be doing Camp Nanowrimo and I will begin the next draft of this novel whether I am ready or not. The thought of having 2 drafts going is challenging. I will have to come up with a way to keep them separate. I am not even sure what my writing schedule will be like, but I have set a low word goal and I plan to make it happen.

It seems like lately I spend more time writing reviews of other people's works, quick and simple as they may be, than I do working on my own material. Oh well. Hopefully it all pays off in the end.

I know ultimately I need an editor, and maybe a cover designer too. I'm not there yet though. Just need to keep plugging away.