Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Quote for the Week

Clutter is not just physical stuff.  It's old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits.  Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.
                              Eleanor Brown

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ten Things that Make Me Happy #8: Writing

Last week was # 6 but it should have been #7, so this is #8.

When I was four years old, I made up a poem and announced that I wanted to be a writer.  I didn't do much to further that except for an essay on Texas history in sixth grade. 

Long after that when I was busy fulfilling my 1950's destiny and becoming a housewife, that dream re-emerged.  I began writing children's stories and also poems about motherhood.  None were accepted and eventually I put writing aside again.  Then one day I saw a book called Someday You'll Write, bought it and told myself that someday I'd write something a publisher would love.  But you know what?  "Someday" is always in the future and if you aren't careful, "someday" will become "no day."  It almost did.

Then one day I bought a romance novel and found my niche.  I joined Romance Writers of America, formed a critique group and started writing in earnest.  It worked.  I began writing for Harlequin and later for Silhouette.  I loved writing romance, loved the excitement of getting my author's copy of a new book, loved meeting other writers and fans.

Then my husband died and I just couldn't imagine romantic stories any more.  I took a memoir class and wrote a memoir which came out in 2013.  And I began writing personal essays for journals and anthologies.

So that's my writing history.  I love writing the feeling of anticipation when a new idea comes to me, the satisfaction of completing a piece, and the added satisfaction of seeing my work in print.  Of course, it's not always in print.  I probably have ten times the number of rejections as acceptances but that doesn't detract from the joy of writing.  I hope my muse keeps hanging around. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Quote for the Week

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.
                       Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ten Things that Make Me Happy #6: Reading

When I was small, my mother read to me:  fairy tales, poems, animal stories, The Wizard of Oz, and a favorite book about a girl who lived in an orphanage and was finally adopted.  It was called "Polly What's-Her-Name, and I loved to play orphanage with my paper dolls. I still have the Polly book and I have the book of children's poems, now its pages yellowed and frayed and its cover missing.

As soon as I could read, I got a library card.  I remember the city library, with its arched doorway and its black and white tiled floors.  The odor of books permeated the airy  rooms, a smell I've always associated with the excitement of searching for just the right book, one that would take me to other worlds and times.  The children's room, with its wide windows looking out at a park had a few tables and small chairs.  I loved it.  During my childhood I devoured Betsy-Tacy books I always wanted to be their new friend Tib, whose real name was Thelma.)  I read--yes, I admit it--the Bobbsey Twins and didn't realize until many years later how badly written they were. I read the "Shoes" books, too.  My favorite was Circus Shoes, not that I wanted to be in the circus but the life there sounded fascinating and fun.  I loved the library at Pease School, too.  It was there I discovered Tom Sawyer and Caddie Woodlawn and Mr. Popper's Penguins.  My mother accused me of always having my nose in a book.

When I moved to Young Adults and the library's tiny room devoted to books for teenagers, I read series about nurses--I didn't want to be a nurse, but those young girls always seemed to have exciting adventures in the hospitals where they worked. Sue Barton married a doctor--how romantic.  I read a series by Janet Lambert about two military families and dreamed about going to a dance at West Point.  That dream came true when my cousin went to West Point and invited me to a dance.

In high school and in college there was, of course, assigned reading, and I loved that, too.  Julius Caesar, Ivanhoe, poetry and essays.  Some of my classmates balked at the reading but I loved it.  I discovered Wordsworth and Shelly and T.S. Elliot  and kept the literature book from my freshman year in college and a book from my sophomore year's interpretive speech class.

Over the years I've kept reading, my tastes eclectic.  I've read books from the classics to Booker and Pulitzer Prize winners to romance, which prompted me to begin writing romance novels of my own for Harlequin and Silhouette.  I've read literary novels, thrillers, and yes, Fifty Shades of Gray--yuck.  I love non-fiction--anthropology and history and lots of sports books.  I guess I'll always have my nose in a book.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Books of November and December

It might seem I hadn't read much in November and December, but these were long books.
If you have a PhD in physics or if you love to read pages and pages of scientific discussions about physics , maybe, just maybe you'd like this book.  Even then, you probably wouldn't.  It's totally boring.  The protagonist is a washed out former Nobel Laureate who steals ideas for ending climate change from an intern and sells them as his own.  It was a book club read and after we discussed it, we added McEwan to our Authors We'll Never Read Again list.

 Another not recommended book, purportedly about how to be content with aging, but actually an attack on Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as well as much repetition about adulthood in the 20th century.

I enjoy Phillppa Gregory's books about the Tudor court and this novel about Lady Margaret Pole was no exception.  If you like historical novels, you'll enjoy this one.

An interesting but over-long book about African immigrants to America.  A bit preachy at times when various groups talk social and political issues over dinner, but otherwise pretty good.  It was named a Notable Book of 2013.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Quotes for the Week

At the New Year, this seems a good time for quotes about the future.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Looking Back at 2014

Favorite movie:  The  Theory of Everything

Annual Christmas Day Movie;  The Theory of Everything

Favorite fiction:  All the Light We Cannot See and Big Little Lies

Favorite non-fiction:  The Boys in the Boat and At the Will of the Body

Most exciting family event:  Gabriella turns 16.

Most exciting writing event:  Inclusion in The Widows' Handbook:  Poetic Reflections on Loss and Survival

Worst event:  Pinched sciatic nerve that left me in pain for over 2 months

Trips:  No long ones because of the sciatic nerve problem but a wonderful weekend in Atlanta with my sister's family

Most exciting sports event:  J.J. Watt leads the Texans to a winning season but, alas, not to the playoffs.

Worst sports event:  Professional athletes engaged in domestic violence

Worst national/international event:  Too many to name

New interest:  Facilitating the writng of Legacy Letters

And as usual:  Still doing speech therapy and loving it


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