Tuesday, June 29, 2010

story of Clessonville and The Novel

Well I'm not sure if I will write the story of Clessonville after all. In it's original form it is full of anachronisms and I'm not sure how to cope with that. I think the original idea of Realms was that it was supposed to take place in Medieval times, and yet my Clessonville concept is actually from the 1800s. So there are some problems to be worked out, and I'm not sure if I can work them. Maybe if I just forget the whole Medieval thing... or just forget about doing the research about how to write true historical fiction and just go along with the original story, as messy and unconvincing as it may be. I guess that may be my best shot. The story was never fully developed before, and maybe I won't bother making it into a "novel" type story. I'll just get down what I have of it, and leave it at that.

I don't think that historical fiction will really be where I'm at. I'm definitely leaning toward "chic lit" or "women's fiction" now. I think that is where my novel will likely go when I write it. "Clessonville" won't be that novel of course.

The Novel took another step today, or two. Slow small steps, but still going forward. So that's something. Even when I don't put words on paper, I'm still working on this project. Today I did put words on paper, but just notes of things and things to come. Character creation is important, and plot lines too. Still have far to go, I know, but that is okay. This novel is taking me many years to write, and I'm okay with that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"The Year of Pleasures" by Elizabeth Berg

ANOTHER book by this woman! I think I've said it before but I'll say it again. I'm not impressed by the author's bio or how she got to be so well published, but I like her "voice" for telling stories. This novel is the story of a woman who has recently lost her husband. She moves out of Boston and ends up in a small town outside of Chicago. Elizabeth Berg lives in Chicago so this is territory she should know well. The story tells how our narrator settles herself into her new life. A couple of times I felt tears in my eyes reading this. So yes, I liked it. Another excellent piece of "chic lit" I think.
The Amazon reviews say this:

From Publishers Weekly

The familiar protagonist of Berg's 13th novel (after The Art of Mending) is a Boston widow of several months, 55-year-old Betta Nolan, who fulfills her dying husband's dream of moving out to the Midwest and starting a new life. "It will give me peace to know that what you will do is exactly what we talked about," says John commandingly before dying of liver cancer; Betta, an author of children's books, sells their Beacon Hill brownstone and takes off, buying an oversized Victorian in the small town of Stewart, Ill., 49 miles from Chicago. Lonely, she finds herself tracking down three former college roommates from the late 1960s, Lorraine, Maddy and Susanna, whom she ditched once she met John. The women reappear one by one and help give her the courage to open a shop called What a Woman Wants (it'll sell "all different stuff that women loved. Beautiful things, but unusual too. Like antique birdcages with orchids growing in them"). Meanwhile, she begins to make friends in town, notably with attractive young handyman Matthew and natty oldster Tom Bartlett. Berg is a pro at putting together an affecting saga of interest to women of a certain age, yet here she seems to be writing in her sleep. There is little effort at cohesion—rather, a kind of serendipitous plot that goes every which way and a series of tentative, aborted romances. The impression readers will be left with is of a woman endlessly nurturing and rarely satisfied.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Berg is a true women’s writer whose latest exploration of one woman’s joys and sorrows will not disappoint. Her 14th novel (after 2004’s The Art of Mending) asks how we can find personal connections and transform our lives. Unlike many novels, it actually provides satisfying, if slightly formulaic, answers. Critics agree that the characters, from a college student to Betta’s single-mom neighbor, stand out for their empathic, realistic portrayals. Berg’s poetic language and command of small details relating to character and scenery impressed critics as well. Yet Year of Pleasures may not be Berg’s best effort to date. A few reviewers criticized a relatively weak plot with its obvious message about love, life, and finding the pleasures in ordinary things—even if it’s all true.

--And I think these are good reviews so I'll leave it at that. Check it out at your library. A nice weekend read!

Friday, June 25, 2010

And suddenly the day is here and gone....

Goodbye to my dear mentor Jan. She isn't dead, just gone from the building. After 37 years at her job, she retired. Tomorrow is her birthday, and the day it will read on paperwork, but today is Friday. She came in only long enough to pack up the last of her things and let us take her to lunch today. Yesterday was nearly the same. Came in for some packing and a larger goodbye party.
This week has gone too fast, and with all the people around it went in a blur. She was ready to go, I know that. She'll have fun with her jewelry business and probably make a lot of money at it. I don't know if she'll do library work again. I started this job nearly five years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, and Jan interviewed me and hired me. She supervised me up until a few months ago when the department restructured. Even since then I have viewed her as my boss.

She has been my mentor, my advocate, my ally, my friend.

She won't be replaced unfortunately, not that you ever could.

Anyway, I'm going to miss her.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

William Kennedy's "Iron Weed"

I know it's been a while since I wrote about ANYTHING here at all. The kid was sick, I was sick.. still am sick I guess. The boss asked me today if I have laryngitis. I hope not! I thought I just had a stomach bug, which is hell by itself, but maybe I'm coming down with something else. Not eating for a few days was hopefully good for my waistline but since I don't have a working scale at home I won't really know.

Meanwhile I managed to actually get through this book "Iron Weed" which I wasn't sure I was going to read. It's not my usual thing. It takes place in the 1930s I guess, in Albany, NY. The whole story is only a couple of days in the lives of the characters but there is a lot there because the main character, Francis, is a little crazy and has a lot of flashbacks. So a lot of history gets said in these flashbacks of his. In the end, it ends well for him. Not so well for some of the other characters, but okay for him at least. I'm not sure if I would recommend a book like this to everyone, but it's good writing and good reading but you really have to be in the mood for it. Maybe check out a used copy or get a copy from the library like I did.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rant about my mother- Does this define "crazy" for you?

Last night we had to go run some errands after work/school and we were driving past my mom's place. I offered to stop for a minute with Abby so we could see the new cats that Abby just named, but we hadn't met yet. So we go in, meet the cats, and she is scared as hell as usual. Fine.
Then my mom is like "Oh wait! I have to show you something in the kitchen."Well what she wanted to show us was her cremated cat, and all the stuff they gave her with it.My mom  had a cute little "birthday box" with a bow that the cat was in, a photo of the cat, and something else that was the pawprints I guess.

UGH! This of course instantly raised lots of questions for my 4-year old. I was choking anyway on the cigarette smoke, so we left quickly. My mom was still trying to talk to me, and I just had to tell her to shut-up because Abby was asking me a ton of questions about how the dead cat got so small that it could fit into that box. We got back out to the car, where my husband was waiting, and then the two of us tried explain cremation to her.

Thanks Mom! I really needed THAT. All I wanted to do was meet the new cats.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


So the actual story OF Clessonville is forming in my head some more. I'm going to have to do some research on how to write historical fiction. I've never really tried to do that before. Right now the story has a few characters, but is just kind of in pieces. No beginning, no ending, no plot, just fragments of SOMETHING and I'm not sure what. When I started this blog I wasn't sure if anyone I knew would read it. I wasn't sure if I wanted to connect it to my real life even. I thought it might just be this anonymous alter ego thing that I put out there and no one knew the real me. However that is slowly changing over time. I'm learning to connect myself to the blog, to take myself seriously as a writer, and I'm starting to put more effort into it. I'm realizing that I have hobbies and skills that are actually useful, even if no one but me acknowledges them, and I'm hoping to feed and nurture these parts of me better than I have been for the last few years. In doing so I should gain my sense of "self" back again, something I have a habit of losing over and over again. Too often in life I am "A Cute Girl's Mom" or "Wife of Somebody Important". Rarely am I "Somebody". Need to work on that I guess, over and over.

And this blog post strikes me as something that I might cross over to my other blog as well, at least in parts. Hmm... another thing I never planned to do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"No Language but a cry" by Richard D'Ambrosio

I saw another book at the library with the same title. The book I saw was by Bert Smith, and it looked like it was being tossed out. This made me sad. Then I looked up the title on Amazon and realized that it was not the same book that I had read many years before. The book that I had read talks about an abused girl, and the story is so horrendous that it has stuck with me for years and years. I probably read the book over 20 years ago, and hopefully I still have it in my archives somewhere. It's brutal, but it really made me strongly consider a career in social services and psychology. My heart just ached at the stories of the kids that have had a life far worse than mine.  Here's a little excerpt from Amazon:
"This is an inspirational, true story written by a psychoanalyst practicing pro bono work at a nun-run group home. He takes on the long, difficult task of trying to open up a very abused, troubled young girl. As a toddler, she was literally found by the police while her parents were cooking her alive in a frying pan. They're both in mental institutions now, but the girl, Laura, is left seemingly deaf and mute. She doesn't respond to almost any outside stimulus. She reacts to life as a vegetable....."

And it goes on from there....

ANOTHER Elizabeth Berg book!

This is probably a record for this blog. Last night I decided to read "Joy School" by Elizabeth Berg. I'd already checked it out of the library, and it was a very quick read. I read the whole thing in about 2-3 hours I think, just in one sitting. I guess I like this author's "voice". If someone had told me what the book was about beforehand, I might not have read it. I mean, the plot summary really doesn't grab me.
From Amazon :

"From School Library Journal

A 13-year-old girl falls in love with a 21-year-old garage mechanic who saves her life. From this unrequited love and other sorrows, she learns about the joys of life.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title."

(Yeah, doesn't grab me at all.)
Anyway, it was a good, quick read and it looks like I have some more of  her books in that bag of books that I checked out a while ago. I still have the William Kennedy book too, but I seem to be attracted to female authors by the looks of things and reading through those books first. We'll see if I get through the "Ironweed" book tonight though. You never know. It might happen. I seem to be reading quite a bit lately.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Next up....

Next up, I have started reading a book by William Kennedy called "Ironweed". I'm not sure if I'm going to finish it though. It's a little strange for me. Part of the story describes dead people in their graves, and I'm not really into that. The main character in the story is a drunk who has hit bottom, and the story takes place in 1938 Albany. So I'm torn about whether or not I want to read it or not.

On a writing note, one of my friends on Facebook asked me about Clessonville, and I suppose I never have actually gotten around to writing it down. I created Clessonville back in 1991 when I was in Realms, and have created a few characters for it, but haven't developed the town completely. I haven't done it partly out of laziness and partly out of not having done enough research to do the job right. It is sort of based on a real place and I want to do with some accuracy while still having fun with it at the same time. So we'll see whether I take the time to dig into that sometime soon. Questions have been asked, will I take the time to answer?

"But I love you anyway" by Sara Lewis

I liked this book. I really did. I thought it was a great book. Right away I got hooked in on the first chapter. Okay, well it was sort of an accident. The chapters all have titles so when I was skimming through the book I thought it was a book of short stories, and the first chapter was really short so I said "Hey, I can read this!" And then I started the second chapter and realized I was reading a novel. DUH! But it was good. It was very well written, the dialogue was believable, the characters were believable, it was very real. It's written in first person and the narrator is widowed and divorced, has her own business, and kids. Lots of room for drama, troubles, and room to grow. The ending kind of went too quickly, but I say that about a lot of stories. Here's a couple of other quotes about the book just to give you an idea:

Two sisters confront love, marriage, and a failing business in this ?charming and deceptively breezy second novel? (Publishers Weekly) that ?deftly explores big issues like loyalty, trust, sorrow, and disappointment in sure, bright, effervescent prose? (New York Times Book Review)."

From Publishers Weekly

In her charming and deceptively breezy second novel, Lewis (Heart Conditions, 1994) stakes further claim to the fictional territory defined by Laurie Colwin. Set in San Diego, the plot presents the romantic misadventures of a pair of 40-ish sisters, Mimi and Eve Burke, who own and run a small mail-and-parcel shop. At Eve's wedding to John, an unemployed restaurant manager with a mysterious source of income, Mimi, who narrates, collapses into tears ("I'm forty years old, I've been married twice, and I've never had a white dress or a honeymoon"). Soon, a third potential mate comes into Mimi's life, however, in the form of Henry, who's 12 years younger and "five inches shorter" than she. But Mimi's joy at newfound love is threatened by a series of crises that begins when John is arrested for embezzling from his former employers and escalates with an unpleasant discovery about Henry and the arrival of some stiff business competition in a nearby mall. Lewis tracks the ups-and-downs of her well-drawn characters with graceful prose and winning humor. The novel's romantic resolution may lack realism and leak sap but, even so, in this winsome tale Lewis displays her rare ability to capture the emotional lives of characters.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

  I highly recommend this as a good chick-flick kind of book. I'm not sure if the guys will like it, but I think a lot of women will.

I did read the reviews for some of her other books (Heart Conditions, The Answer is Yes) and unfortunately I'm not motivated to go looking for them right now.  This book was good though.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

new poetry

"View from the Beach"

Yellow canoe in the water
boys pretend
to be pirates or
arms painted
hats askew
rowing to an island
four boys moving quickly
across the pond
pretending to be men
on a Sunday afternoon.

Girl in the sand
wind blowing
mother watching
stirring, pouring
asking questions
girl in the sand
pink and red bathing suit
buckets and shovels kept busy
as sunset comes too soon.

-------------by me.  5/30/10

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Molly Giles

The "Writer's Mentor" mentioned Molly Giles so I checked out a couple of her books from the library. I read them over the weekend- "Iron Shoes" and "Creek Walk and other stories". I found both of them to be too dark for my tastes.

I realize I've been giving Amazon a lot of free advertising on this blog, but Barnes & Noble is just as good if you aren't tax-exempt, and your local bookseller can be even better. Still, I prefer my local libraries since they are free. The libraries have to buy their stuff from somewhere though, and Amazon often has the best prices. If you are buying a used book and Better World Books is an option, then I'd go that route. I've gotten many books for $4.00 including shipping. Whatever you do, keep reading!