Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Winner of Joshua Henkin's Matrimony

Congratulations to Ruby. She is the winner of a copy of Matrimony inscribed to her by Joshua Henkin.

Thanks to everyone who participated.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Sorry she must sleep

This is Ed. When I found Joy like this I sent her to bed.My apologies to everyone, Joy will notify the winners in the "Matrimony" give away tomorrow.
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Serenity #95

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Word play is relaxing.

(on LOL cats 'nom' is how they spell 'num' as in 'yum'. Get it?)


The contest for Josh Henkin's Matrimony is open until NOON Pacific Time tomorrow, Monday, September 29.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Flatz Tired

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Today was laundry and misc chore day. My arms weigh more than I do.

The top pic is not of our Merlin but is a good representation of his day. I recaptioned it to reflect our day. Laundry sorting and folding and bed making are tasks he claims qualifications for. I say thanks but no thanks.

The pic below is captioned how I found it and reflects my state of mind.



The contest for Josh Henkin's Matrimony is open until NOON Pacific Time Monday, September 29.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Forays In Fiction: Work Habits

<- My Office & etc.

I was tagged by Julia over a week ago. I decided to combine the tag with this Friday Forays In Fiction post and impose the theme of my fiction writing work habits on it.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. List 6 unspectacular quirks you have.
4. Tag 6 bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each person’s blog to let them know they’ve been tagged.

as for #5, some rules are just too much for me to adhere too. I hate imposing on people I know are busy. On the other hand, I hate to hurt the feelings of the one who tagged me by ignoring the tag. So I'll do what I've seen done elsewhere: if you want to play let me know via comments or email that you have posted and I'll come see and link you below. It would be cool if your theme was related to writing but not required.

So here are six unspectacular quirks of mine related to my fiction writing:

1. I start way more stories than I finish. At a guess, the ratio is something like 100 to 1. And for the last twenty years nearly every story I start--no matter how seemingly far removed at first--ends up folding into my Fruits of the Spirit story world. The threads of four generations, over fifty characters and at least a dozen separate plots are one huge tangle.

2. I tend to want to keep tweaking the words I've already laid down over and over and over and over and over and over...

3. I get lost in the research stage, collecting dozens of library books and several dozens of URLs on every aspect of the story's settings and its character's lives.

Take for example my novel Spring Fever which was last year's NaNoWriMo project. Here are just a few from the still growing list of research projects connected to it: life on a college campus; teaching of Dante's works in Italian,including of course reading Dante's works and scholarly commentary on them and comparing translations with the original--and no I don't speak or read Italian but I hope to convincingly portray a Professor who does and a student who is learning to translate; tarot card creations and readings and history; Stravinsky's compositions; performing Stravinsky's Rite of Spring; stagecraft: costumes, set, choreography; orchestra drumming and Amerindian tribal drumming; Amerindian mythology; Amerindian reservation living; midwifery; surrogate mothers; Multiple Sclerosis--disease symptoms and progress and aspects of living with it and its effects on marriage and family life; six or more ethnic and/or religious backgrounds because each of the three POV characters were born and raised into families that blended two distinct ethnic and two distinct religious backgrounds.

And that is just one of over a dozen WIP

4. I like to use music when I am preparing to write a scene and occasionally while writing it. Sometimes this is for the purpose of setting a particular mood. But I find it helps to assign each story and sometimes each character a piece of music which I will listen to while contemplating or writing their scenes. I prefer instrumental or with vocals in a language I don't speak so other peoples words won't interfere. This works to transport me easily back into the scene after hours or days away. Tho the more days away the less effective it is.

5. Ideas and words seem to fly faster whenever I am separated from my writing tools: while doing dishes; walking to the library; riding in a car; in the shower; laying down trying to sleep; the dinner table and other social gatherings; ad infinitum. And the minute I lift up the pencil or the laptop lid. Bye bye little birdies. Bye bye.

6. I have a hard time giving my fiction writing the priority it needs to be successful. Every other duty, chore, task seems to demand precedence. Every other person's needs seem to require priority. I don't easily give myself permission to write my stories if I've not completed my mile long ToDo list. And then I am too willing to allow myself to be called away by someone else's needs.

That last coupled with the fact that the bulk of my new words in the last four years have been churned out during the Sweating for Sven challenges and the last four NaNo during which I let it be known among the family, insisting on giving it the time and flaunting my elastic wrapped wrists at the dinner table, letting the chips fall where they may--all this adds up to the conclusion that I would be foolish to back out of NaNo this year.


The contest for Josh Henkin's Matrimony is open until NOON Pacific Time Monday, September 29.
Besides, I have a brand new story idea. And I don't think it has anything to do with the FOS storyworld. Yeah. Right. Don't lay any bets.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Blurb: Right Livelihoods

Reminder: Enter the drawing for Josh Henkin's Matrimony on Monday's post. Read the rules for valid entries carefully. More than one has not given me contact info. Contest ends at NOON Pacific Coast Time Monday, September 29, 2008

Right Livelihoods: Three Novellas
by Rick Moody
(c) 2007
Hardback: Little Brown & Co
Trade Paperback: Back Bay Books (August 2008)

At the center of The Omega Force, which opens RIGHT LIVELIHOODS, is a buffoonish former government official in rocky recovery. Dr. "Jamie" Van Deusen is determined to protect his habitat--its golf courses (and Bloody Marys), pizza places (and beers) from "dark complected" foreign nationals. His patriotism and wild imagination are mainly fueled by a fall off the wagon. The collection's second novella, K & K, concerns a lonely young office manager at an insurance agency, where the office suggestion box is yielding unpleasant messages that escalate to a scary pitch. Ellie Knight- Cameron's responses to these random diatribes illuminate the toll that a lack of self-awareness can take. The book ends with a cataclysmic vision of New York City, after the leveling of 50 square blocks of Manhattan. Four million have died. Albertine, the "street name for the buzz of a lifetime," is a mindaltering drug that sets The Albertine Notes in motion. Only Rick Moody could lead us to feel affection for the various misguided, earnestly striving characters in this alternately unsettling and warm trio of stories.
I like eccentric characters and there are plenty of those in these three stories, beginning with their rather unreliable POV protagonists but it is the questions in the Reading Group Guide that really draw me to these stories:

1. How do you think the Buddhist concept of “right livelihood” (making a living without harming others) plays out in these three novellas?....

2. In what ways are the three novellas linked by a post- 9/11 national psychology?...

3. Which did you respond to most: the realistic rendition of post- traumatic emotions in “K&K”? The seriocomic approach of “The Omega Force”? Or the futuristic elements of “The Albertine Notes”?

6. How is reading and misreading key to each story? Meaning and misunderstanding?

That last one intrigues me a lot because I like stories that make me think. I am also interested in the concepts themselves as I've stated here before: I like thinking about thinking.

Read an excerpt.

As announced in this post, this is the tenth of twelve Book Blurbs I plan to do for the review copies I received from Hachette books last month. There will also be more substantial book reviews for each of them as either Ed or I read them.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #105

First a brief mention of the ongoing giveaway of Joshua Henkin's Matrimony. Scroll down to Monday's post or click here to enter the drawing. Please be sure to read the rules for qualifying entries. There are some entries already that I'll have to disqualify if they aren't rectified by noon Pacific Coast Time next Monday.

I talked in Monday's post of some of the ways the story of Matrimony affected me. One of the ways I didn't mention then was about how profoundly moved I was by the parts of the story in which Mia was faced with the loss of her mother to cancer, beginning with receiving the first call from her father of the diagnosis through the stages of the illness, the death and the years after of learning to live in a world without her. The fact that I was reading this in the very month that I lost my own Dad to cancer three years ago made it even more moving for me.

Today is the anniversary of my Daddy's passing and I had planned to make the theme of my TT about it again as I did for posts for this date the last two years. See here and here. But the very theme of Henkin's novel gave me pause on this. For there is another very important significance to this date. It is my husband's birthday.

I asked myself if it was what I really wanted--if it would be what my Dad would want even--to make the focus of this day each year about remembering his passing and thus casting a shadow over my husband's special day. I decided that now was the time to shift the balance back to celebrating life; to giving my husband back his day.

So this one is for you Ed. Happy 50!

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I captioned that one myself. The cat looks enough like our Merlin to be his twin. The thirteen below I just harvested off the site.

That was the forth LOL I recaptioned on the I Can Has Cheezeburger site in the last week. (See yesterday's post and both weekend posts.) I'm think I'm getting addicted. Sigh. As if I needed another one of those.

Thirteen LOL Cats

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Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

U wantz what?

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Go getz ur ownz story!

No, really. Go here to sign up. But be sure to read the rules!! Invalid entries won't be included in drawing.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Matrimony by Joshua Henkin--Book Giveaway

Enter to win a paperback copy of Joshua Henkin's Matrimony, inscribed personally by him to the winner.

Note: the cover image to the left is linked to Joshua Henkin's site were there are a lot of related materials such as reader's guides, praise for this New York Times Notable Book, an exerpt and Joshua Henkin's blog, among them.

Also, I've been informed that the opportunity to have Mr. Henkin join your book group's discussion of Matrimony via phone chat which I blogged about Thursday, has been extended due to strong response. The deadline to sign up has been extended to midnight, September 30.

Below the rules for entering I will discuss my own experience with reading Matrimony.

This will be a drawing via random number generator from the pool of valid entries in comments on this post between now and NOON Pacific Coast time, next Monday, September 29, 2008.

This drawing is open to anyone in the world and even PO Box addresses are acceptable. You don't have to have a blog of your own to enter. And you are welcome to enter even if you have previously won a contest on Joystory.

A valid entry is a comment on this post AND a contact email provided either in your comment or, if you prefer, via an email to joystoryATgmailDOTcom. (That format is used on web pages to prevent web crawlers from harvesting emails for spammers.) If you choose to email your @ to me, be sure you clearly identify which comment on this post is your entry. If there is no @ clearly connected to an entry it will be disqualified.

If, in the case of a win, you would like your name in the winner's post to be linked to your URL then be sure either your comment or your email includes it.

Now in order to encourage you to help me spread the word here are two ways you can get extra credit:

1. Blog about this contest and send the post's URL to joystoryATgmailDOTcom with subject Matrimony Giveaway and I will add a second incarnation of your name to the drawing.

2. Your name will be entered again each time another entrant mentions you in their entry comment on this post as the one who sent them. Whether they learned via your blog or another way is irrelevant. Just be sure they know to refer to you by the same name or screen name with which you entered.


Now, since I just finished Matrimony myself not three hours ago, I'm feeling too intensely wrapped up in the story to provide anything like a formal review, so I'm going to just ramble for awhile about my experience of reading the story. Actually, you know, I'm not sure how much getting distance has to do with it as I don't think I'm cut out for writing formal reviews. I don't much care to read them myself and writing them feels about as appealing as dissecting a frog. But I love reading stories and I love to talk about stories and I love to talk about reading stories.

Matrimony appealed to me on several levels. The story is set in a number of college towns between 1986 and 2005 thus spanning most of the same decades as my own marriage (though mine began more than a decade before the two couples followed in Matrimony) causing the current events that impinged on the characters to trigger memories of how many of those same events had entered my own consciousness. I must of have graduated from high school a full decade before Julian, Mia, Carter and Pilar but I entered my own freshman year of college only nine months before they did, though having been married for six years already I did not experience campus living as those four nineteen year olds did.

Those two and a half years I attended college were the best of my entire life. I noted at the time that it was as exhilarating as falling in love. It was the exposure to ideas and the encouragement to explore them and talk about them that I was in love with. So ever since then I have been drawn to stories set on college campuses.

Because of my own experience of entering college nearly a decade after graduating high school, I was able to identify with Julian when he entered graduate school nearly a decade after graduating from college. The same feeling of displacement because of the age difference between him and the majority of his fellow grad students had discomfited me also. Then when he walked away after only a semester and a half when a family emergency had rearranged his priorities, explaining to a fellow student only, "Life calls." I could deeply understand because a series of events out of my control had forced me to leave school before graduating. Though he more than half wanted to leave while pulling me out of college and out of the college town and all the way out of the state had been about as easy as extracting an impacted wisdom tooth.

As I mused in Friday's post, reading stories for me has been affected by my own training in writing stories. I credit one of my Professors, Lawson Inada, for showing me how to learn from a story how it was made. A few years later his pointers were reinforced when I read Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction. So I can't resist talking about stories that way whenever I can get away with it. Taking care not to give spoilers, I will share a few of my observations on how the story Matrimony was made.

The novel is comprised of sections most of which are set in different college towns, starting with the freshman year of Julian and his best friend Carter and their respective girl friends Mia and Pilar and coming full circle back to that fictional Massachusetts college for their fifteenth reunion. Each of those sections seemed to me to be nearly self-contained stories in their own right with distinct beginnings, middles and endings. It is hard to judge for sure, having read them in order, whether any of the later ones could be encountered on its own terms without prior knowledge of the others. But I can say that I tended to read each section in a single sitting much as I would a short story, feeling a sense of closure and finding it felt natural to set the book aside for a time (whether fifteen minutes or fifteen hours) as each section ended. Each section had its own crisis point and resolution connected with its own integral plot. And yet the whole was definitely greater than the sum of these parts. They are deftly woven into a singular tapestry with a unifying theme and structure.

It is not just the marriages of Julian and Mia and Carter and Pilar that are encountered in Matrimony. The marriages of Julian, Mia and Carter's parents are also reflected upon. The overall effect is to create a examination of the institution of matrimony as a function of society.

Nearly from the moment he graduates from college Julian is engaged in writing a novel himself. He struggles with writer's block and self-doubt. No need for me to elaborate on how easy it was to identify with that. But I do want to share one very startling insight Julian had about the writing process that has given me cause to re-re-evaluate my own work habits and writing process. Quoting from pages 189-190:

Julian had gotten paint on his overalls, and on his shirt, too. Henry was speckled and spattered himself, and the house appeared no better. It looked as if a gigantic ice cream cone had dripped down the side of it.

"You better hope your landlady doesn't show up now."

Henry dipped his paint roller into the can and tossed some paint against the wall. "It's a lot like writing," he said. "You get it all down on the page and then attend to the mess."

Julian had once heard an analogy made between writing and architecture. You had to lay down the foundation before you focused on the molding. But he went about things differently. He revised as he went along. Every sentence had to be right before he moved on to the next one because each sentence grew organically from the one that preceded it. For him, the foundation was the molding.
Emphasis added by me to highlight the point I need to contemplate. As this precisely describes the way I used to work and at some point I came to see it as a problem that needed fixing having encountered countless similar analogies to the 'make a mess' and 'lay a foundation' ones presented here. I need to think deep on this. Especially with NaNoWriMo fast approaching. I may have something more to say about this in an upcoming Friday Foray In Fiction post.

For now I leave you with two videos. The first of Joshua Henkin being interviewed about Matrimony and writing. The second a video book trailer of Matrimony.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday serenity #94

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Laughter: the best source of serenity; LOL cats the best source of laughter.

I rest my case.

PS my paper (book review) is still safe and sound--in my head. Umm. Guess that's no safer really than 'herz' paper.

PPS don't forget to come back for the giveaway of Josh Henkin's Matrimony tomorrow.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Staying On Task

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Still reading Joshua Henkin's Matrimony and preparing review for Monday's giveaway post. Be sure to come back and enter the drawing for a free copy.

Hey, I captioned this LOLcat. I think I just found another ADDiction. Yeah. So much for staying on task. Sigh


Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday forays in Fiction: Reading

Tonight I'm contemplating the impact that reading fiction has had on me as a writer of fiction along with the converse; the influence having become a fiction writer has, in turn, had on my experiences as a reader of fiction.

I've nothing profound to say about it, as I am at the moment profoundly mesmerized by the question itself as it seems to have opened up a hall of mirrors in my mind as memories of moments covering over 46 years, involving one or the other activity, light up like museum dioramas. The mes in each glance up, speaking volumes to one another with the mere meeting of the eyes.

It is the experience of reading Joshua Henkin's Matrimony this week that got me thinking along this line. It began with me becoming aware that my experience of the story was being affected by the fact that I was already writing drafts of my review before I had turned the first page. I briefly wondered how much that might be spoiling the story for me and that moment of self-conscious reflection registered awareness of an analogous question. How much had learning and practicing the craft of writing fiction spoiled the experience of reading it for me? And then immediately I wondered why that very question was assuming there was only negative impact. For wasn't it true nearly to the point of cliche that writers of fiction are first readers of fiction? Don't nearly all celebrated fiction writers advise the aspiring fiction writer to read, read, read? And that, of course, led to the question of how reading fiction influenced the writer's writing of fiction. The questions opened a fedback loop which lit up the maze of memories in which my imagination is ricocheting


OK now that I've spilled that out of my mind onto the screen maybe it will leave me alone so I can get back to the story.

Be sure and check back for the Matrimony giveaway post on Monday.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Attention All Book Clubs and Discussion Groups

A special offer from Joshua Henkin author of Matrimony:

Hi, book blogger friends. I wanted to let you know about a special offer my publisher Vintage is making to book groups. Sign up by midnight September 21 and Vintage will set up a phone chat for your book group with me to discuss MATRIMONY, my NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE novel, which has just come out in paperback. Normally, only five book groups are chosen among the entrants, but I have agreed to talk to all book groups that sign up. Here's the link to do so. http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/read/chat.html. I hope this will be of interest to your own book groups, and also, I'd love it if you'd post about this on your blogs. Thanks in advance.



PRAISE FOR MATRIMONY, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a
National Booksense Pick, and a Borders Original Voices Selection:

"In the tradition of John Cheever and Richard Yates ... a novel about
love, hope, delusion, and the intricate ways in which time's passage
raises us up even as it grinds us down. It's a beautiful book. Here's to
its brilliant future."
--Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of The Hours

"Truly an up-all-night read."
--Adriana Leshko, The Washington Post

"Mr. Henkin writes with a winningly anachronistic absence of
showiness.... This is just a lifelike, likable book populated by three-dimensional
characters who make themselves very much at home on the page."
--Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Beguiling.... [Henkin write] effortless scenes that float between
past and present. [He creates] an almost personal nostalgia for these
--Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review

"[A] charming novel ... Henkin keeps you reading with original
characters, witty dialogue and a view that marriage, for all its flaws, is worth the
--Tom Fields-Meyer, People

"Radiates the kind of offbeat shoulder-shrugging charm that made Michael
Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh so memorable.... [Matrimony] gets
to you and stays with you."
--Kirkus Reviews

The above is the entire contents of the email I received from Joshua Henkin today. I hope it isn't too uncool of me to have pasted the whole thing but I needed something quick and easy to post as I'm busy reading Matrimony and preparing my review for the giveaway post early next week. I had hoped to post it Sunday but since my husband counts on using the laptop most of Sunday, I would have to have the post prepared by late Saturday and then I wouldn't be able to monitor any issues arising until late-night Sunday anyway. So now I'm thinking wee hours of Monday morning (Pacific Coast Time) as the most likely time for the post to go up.

I'm feeling quite silly about how much I'm stressing about this one. I've not felt this much pressure about an 'assignment' since I was in college. I don't know how much that has to do with Mr. Henkin being a professor and how much is due to the characters of Matrimony themselves being college students for most of the first hundred pages and one of them then becoming a professor himself.

Being immersed in a story set on a campus tends to trigger all the old emotions from my own time on a campus even though I was eight years older then Henkin's characters when I went back to school and had been married for six years so I didn't experience it quite the way they did. But maybe that is why I'm stressed by it because going to school for me at age 27 was all business and more like going to a job so that what gets brought up for me is memories of 18 credit work loads, all night stints at a typewritter and the judgments of my professors. No softening of all that with campus functions, friends, romance etc.

Or it could just be that I'm a victim once again of the same mind game I've played on myself since kindergarten. It's called Set the Bar Too High To Reach and Then Kick Yourself To Timbuktu When You Fail. Sigh. Too silly for words.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #104


Thirteen Things About Joshua Henkin's Novel Matrimony

  1. Nest week I will be hosting a giveaway of a single copy of the newly released paperback which Joshua Henkin will inscribe personally to the winner.
  2. Matrimony is a novel about writing a novel. But that's just the frame for a story about marriage. Well duh you might think. But it is so much more than a story about a marriage or even about the several marriages exampled; it is about marriage as a social institution and how it shapes our lives and our characters. And at the same time it is about:
  3. Parents and Children
  4. Money and Class
  5. Friendship and Family
  6. Dreams and Domesticity
  7. Ambition and Mortality
  8. Love and Loss
  9. Loyalty and Betrayal
  10. Infidelity and Forgiveness
  11. Learning and Living
  12. Character and Relationships
  13. Matrimony is a coming of age story set primarily on a series of college campuses that follows a couple (actually two couples) who met in their freshman year at college through the several stages of life as they learn life's most important lessons and sometimes pass and sometimes fail the tests circumstance present.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Blurb: Barefoot

Barefoot: A Novel
by Elin Hilderbrand
(c) 2007 (Trade Paberback release June 2008)
Little, Brown & Co. --Hardback
Back Bay Books --Trade

Three women arrive at the local airport, observed by Josh, a Nantucket native home from college for the summer. Burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues, the women-- two sisters and one friend--make their way to the sisters' tiny cottage, inherited from an aunt. They're all trying to escape from something: Melanie, after seven failed in-vitro attempts, learned her husband was having an affair, and then discovered she's pregnant; Brenda embarked on a passionate affair with an older student that got her fired from her prestigious job as a professor in New York; and her sister Vicki, mother to two small boys, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Soon Josh is part of the chaotic household, acting as babysitter, confidant, and, eventually, lover.

Let me count the known elements of this story that are hooks for me: beaches, babies, sisters, friendship, romance, marriage, motherhood, infidelity, infertility, girl talk, secrets...all seasoned with shakers of sun, sand and sea.

As announced in this post, this is the ninth of twelve Book Blurbs I plan to do for the review copies I received from Hachette books last month. There will also be more substantial book reviews for each of them as either Ed or I read them.

Don't forget to check back next week for the giveaway contest for Josh Henkin's Matrimony.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #63

Lyrics to Subterranean Homesick Blues

In honor of the hours and hours I spent with Bob Dylan music and lyrics during and after watching I'm Not There, I was going to write a piece that could be sung to the same beat as Subterranean Homesick Blues. But my head is too full of Dylan's words right now and I want my piece to be wholly mine in content if not form. So I'm just going to post the vid and link to the lyrics. I hope I have something by next week.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Serenity #93: I'm Not There

Part of my Sunday will be dedicated to watching this DVD. I'm a Bob Dylan fan. I'm a fan of anyone who can make words sing and dance.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

I'm All Wound Up

On story.

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I spent Saturday entangled among threads of story of one sort or another. Thinking about my WIP. Reading Matrimony (next week's giveaway) and watching DVD. Sunday will probably be much the same.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Forays in Fiction: Anticipating NaNoWriMo

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Or is that dread I'm feeling?

It's past time to be thinking about the story I will sacrifice to NaNo this year. I say sacrifice because all four of the novels I worked on for NaNo have sat in their files with barely a glance since the end of their month of glory.

So I'm thinking of trying to come up with a 'throwaway' story. One that I'm not too emotionally invested in. One that has no connection to the FOS story world. But I tried that last year and see where it got me? Not one week into my essay into a 'smiple' romance novel, I'd drug in a character from FOS, added a third POV to the maximum two that a simple romance novel can bear and attached themes and a hopeless amount of necesary reaearch to support the roles of the three main characters. And then I proceded to make a collosul mess of the story's files.

So I'm thinking of digging out the sci/fant novel I started some 25 years ago. But I lost all the world building notes I had for it and am not sure I can redo it in the next six weeks and I don't want to be doing more outlining, research and character sketching for the first week or two of NaNo like I did last year.

So I'm thinking of playing with the story concept I've teased about here a few times this summer: a story set in a trailor park. But I wonder if I can keep enough of the reality out of the fiction to forestall stooping to the level of neighborhood gossip. Essentially I wonder if I am too embedded in the story setting myself to be able to create believable characters with living depth such that no one living in this trailer park would think they recognized themselves or any of their neighbors. This one tempts me but as yet there is no story, no characters and no theme, and no plot.

So I'm thinking, since it looks like I'm not going to get Crystal's story done before the end of October and I had sorta promised myself not to start another new story or stray back to another uncompleted one until I had finshed a full rough draft of Crystal's Home Is Where the Horror Is, that I could start working with Brook's story for Nano. Brook is a character in Crystal's story and much or her stoy is set in the same motel. That way I could stay close enough to Crystal's story that slipping back into it after NaNo wouldn't be too hard. In fact I've been so immersed in the motel setting for so long Brook's story might go smoothly enough I could moonlight on Crystal's story whenever my NaNo wordcount was on track. But Brook's story was my first NaNo novel, though there isn't much to it and that not pretty at all seeing as how I started NaNo that first year nearly two weeks into Novemeber.

So I'm thinking of doing Kay's story which is also set 50% in the same motel during the same year as Crystal's story. In fact, Kay's story is so entwined with Brook's story they probably belong in the same novel. But this is part of the FOS storyworld and all of the same things stalling me out on Crystal's story are active issues in both Brook and Kay's stories.

So I'm thinking of passing up the NaNo frenzy this year. But I'm not sure I know what November feels like without NaNo anymore.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hachette Back to School Box Winners

I used random.org to select the winners this time and am grateful to L^2 for her post awhile back containing the link. Having this made my second giveaway drawing so much easier than the first.

The winners are:

S. Krishna
Sassy Mama Bear

I've emailed each of you for mailing addresses and will wait until noon Saturday for replies. Anyone not replying by then will have defaulted and I will make a fresh drawing off the list with random.org. But since two of you have replied as I prepared this post, I doubt it will come to that.

Thanks to everyone who entered and extra thanks to everyone who helped spread the word by blogging it or otherwise. I especially wish to thank Susan who runs the Win a Book blog that posts announcements of book giveaways. Keep Win a Book in mind if you host giveaways as well as if you are looking to enter them. A significant number of my entrants for both of my giveaways came in through Win a Book.

If anyone knows of anyone else who makes a practice of announcing giveaways on their blogs let me know in comments here or email me at joystory AT gmail DOT com as I have another giveaway coming up the week of September 22. It is for a copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin which he will personally inscribe to the winner. Anyone providing me with such valid info and also makes a valid entry into that contest will recieve extra credit i.e. there name will be added an extra time to the list off which I will make the drawing.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #103


Thirteen (hundred?) Recent AAUGH! Moments

  1. Last Thursday I fell down the front steps on my way out the door heading to the library. Read the details in Friday's post.
  2. Having ascertained that I'd broken nothing but several inches off the tip of my white cane, I made the walk anyway and after checking out I was loading up the wheeled book bag and it tipped over spilling a bunch of books onto the floor.
  3. Once I got the bag repacked and was trying to pull it only to discover I had tipped it the wrong direction with the wheels off the floor.
  4. When I got out the door into the sun, I realized I wasn't wearing my visor and remembered I'd put it in the book bag on my way inside earlier. Now it was (hopefully) on the bottom of the bag beneath about twenty books.
  5. In my attempt to stick my arm down the side of the books to verify the visor really was in the bag I spilled half a dozen books onto the sidewalk in front of the front doors right in the path of people going in and out.
  6. Waking up the next morning --not to mention every step I had to take that day, every turn of my head, every lift of my arms, every grip of every item, every tap on every key....
  7. The following morning was even worse. And then I realized I couldn't get away with skipping laundry that day because I had frivolously done so the previous Saturday while Ed and his folks were at the dirt track. And then followed every lift and drop motion, every step between bedroom and machines to sort, load, transfer, fold and put away two loads of urgently needed cloths. Skipping yet again the bedding which is an Aaugh! all of its own.
  8. Yesterday I woke up for the first time feeling myself, feeling ambitious. I was setting up my workstation on the bed. I was bringing over the books I'd checked out last Thursday for the task of making bib slips for the new ones, refer to the bib slips of repeat books for the page number I'd left off and to select bookmarks for each. Standing by the bookshelf at the foot of the bed, I gently tossed a book up towards the pillows and it landed on the TV remote, changing the channel in the middle of something I was listening to.
  9. I leaned across the bed bracing myself with my left fist on the mattress. My wrist just folded causing me to fall again. Yes it was on the mattress but it was still a serious jarring that I knew meant a re-inflaming of all the same insulted tissues, tendons and joints.
  10. While setting up my desk (laptop on board across box between legs) the board fell forward into my lap spilling laptop, notebooks, pencils, headphones etc into my lap and in my attempt to catch it I caught one of my fingernails on the bottom of the board bending it backwards.
  11. Having put on my typing gloves--fingerless gloves made of material like support hose with straps to wrap around the wrist made of the same material as elastic bandages for sprains--I got to work. A few minutes later, needing a break, I rested my left wrist across my right and the loop attaching the charm to the bracelet on my left wrist (which I've never taken off since my Dad helped me put it on in August 05 at our last full family reunion before his passing that September) got caught in the elastic of the glove on the right hand pinning wrist to wrist.
    ---The thread it was caught on was too strong for me to break. I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out how to get unhooked without humiliating myself by going to ask my MIL for help, which would have presented its own set of problems in how to get unpenned by my desk first. I finally decided to try to remove the glove on my right hand with my teeth and then realized that the loop was hooded on the strap not the glove part so I unwrapped the strap with my teeth first and that gave me enough leeway to use my fingers on my right hand to unhook the loop.
    ----OK You all have my permission to laugh on this one.
  12. I knew I should have taken Naproxin immediately but I forgot until after I was already penned in and pinned down by my desk and decided it could wait until the next time I had to get up. But that wasn't until I was called for dinner and by then the pain had escalated to the point of nausea and I had to eat anyway and clear the table and do dishes after (my one daily chore and contribution to this family) I had to take several breaks and it took me nearly two hours.
  13. Woke this morning surprised and grateful to be feeling nearly as good as yesterday before the second fall. Before I had lain down I had set up the window on my laptop for my Morning Pages (encouraged by my sister I'd recently decided to recommit to this exercise recommended by Julie Cameron in The Artist's Way) but when I lifted the lid upon waking my laptop and been hijacked once again by the latest 'security update' . I've talked here before about how this makes me feel. I mean really. Would we tolerate our automakers to send in their mechanics to our garages while we sleep to fix the latest oops they had discovered in their product? Keeping us from getting to work on time while they fiddled? Then why is it OK for software engineers to commandeer our main work tool during our office hours?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Book Blurb: The Wheel of Darkness

The Wheel of Darkness
By Douglas Preston, & Lincoln Child
(c) 2007; Mass Paperback released July 2008

FBI Special Agent Pendergast is taking a break from work to take Constance on a whirlwind Grand Tour, hoping to give her closure and a sense of the world that she's missed. They head to Tibet, where Pendergast intensively trained in martial arts and spiritual studies. At a remote monastery, they learn that a rare and dangerous artifact the monks have been guarding for generations has been mysteriously stolen. As a favor, Pendergast agrees to track and recover the relic. A twisting trail of bloodshed leads Pendergast and Constance to the maiden voyage of the Britannia, the world's largest and most luxurious ocean liner---and to an Atlantic crossing fraught with terror.
I read Relic, the very first of the Preston/Child collaborations, a few years back and remember being disappointed that there weren't anymore yet. I don't know why I let ten new titles by this amazing duo go past me over the years. Maybe it has something to do with how rarely I browse library shelves lately, having taken to ordering my selections via the online catalog and picking them up in hurried stops at the small nearby branch of our fifteen branch library system. Whatever the reason, I was pleased to find this among the selection Hachette offered me for review. I read the excerpt offered at Hachette and was drawn right in by all the elements I love in this genre. Or is it a genre blend? It has all the elements of mysteries, thrillers, suspence, horror, paranormal. Their stories, at least the two I've been exposed to now, are woven into a fabric containing threads of ancient myth, ancient mysteries, ancient artifacts unearthed and ancient evils released.

Now I need to decide if I am going to read this one before going back to catch up with the previous ones--at least the ones featuring Agent Pendergass, of which there have been six since Relic. In an afterward Preston and Child say that The Wheel of Darkness is a stand alone tale so I do have a choice and this one is right here.

As announced in this post, this is the eighth of twelve Book Blurbs I plan to do for the review copies I received from Hachette books last month. There will also be more substantial book reviews for each of them as either Ed or I read them.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Poetry Train #62

by Joy Renee

Inspired hearts
Conjoined in hope
Effect change.


I posted this once before during the primary but not on Poetry Train.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Serenity #92

Thanks Sis

I'm still reading. How bout you?


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Even the Cats Are Shocked

I dedicated the weekend to reading.

Wanna see how shocked? Click the picture.



Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday Forays in Fiction: Research

This is a dispensational chart and is very similar to the one behind the pulpit in the Bible Chapel I attended for most of my first thirty-five years tho that one had been drawn and painted in bright colors by my Uncle who also painted the Bible verses in Gothic lettering on many of our cars. The relevance to this post will become clear further down. Way further down. H/T st..ephen

Ah the things we do for our art!

Last week I ordered a slew of books from our library system via the online catalog for research related to Crystal's story--the entire Fruit of the Spirit story world actually. I raided the system for everything that I'd never encountered yet that came up with the search words: fundamentalism, dispensational, sects, cults. I mentioned here awhile back that one of the things stalling me out on Crystal's story and pretty much every other one set in this story world that I've begun and not finished is my reluctance to look too closely at the religious sect that is the most significant influence on the lives of each of the protagonists POV characters--some twenty now.

My reluctance is emotional and personal more than anything else. By looking at it in my story world I'll be dredging up uncomfortable things from my own past in spite of the fact that I have always intended for there to be very distinct differences between the cult like sect in the story world and the one I was raised in and broke with in my late thirties. The stories began in the first place as a kind of therapy I believe. Though that wasn't conscious at the time.

So I sent for the books and then it became apparent yesterday that I would have to walk the mile to the library to pick them up. Getting ready to go was the first step and that took most of an hour. I walked out the door at 2PM and promptly fell down the steps as I was unfolding my white cane. I was shook up pretty bad but nothing broke (except three inches off the tip of my cane LOL) and no blood not even dirt or grass stains on my white slacks. As soon as I was sure there was no serious sprain or broken bone I pick myself up and picked up bookbag, cane, water bottle and set off.

I made it all the way too tho I had to walk slower. It took fifty-some minutes to get there and the last time it took forty. Some of that may have been due to having to walk through two school zones as school was letting out. Thankfully, I didn't have to walk home tho as Ed arrived with the car about five minutes after I got there. His Mom told him I'd fallen. I think I probably would have called home for a ride when the library closed at four as I was starting to hurt plus the pile of books waiting on me overflowed the bag.

I am hurting bad today and typing isn't much fun. I have to wear the elastic support gloves which I got for Nano last year and had to use after that only while recovering from the flu last spring. When the cane yanked out of my right arm it yanked my fingers, wrist and arm to the neck which feels whip lashed. But the worst of it isn't the pain but the weakness of my right ankle (which had twisted as my foot slid off the step) and the stressed muscles in my left thigh and lower back which seem to not want to support my weight. They will but they rebel and walking is like walking on a balance beam if I lift either foot off the floor.

I set out here intending to list the books I brought home for FOS research purposes. There were thirteen of those and they represent only half or so of the total number of items I brought home. But this post was supposed to be about the research aspect of writing fiction. I let this post get away with me. Now my hands are screaming for a break. So I think I will list just three:

In the World But Not of It: One Family's Militant Faith and the History of Fundamentalism in America by Brett Grainger
--Grainger is telling his own family's story. His grandparents had been members of the Plymouth Brethren, his father had fled their extremism and then found his way back to faith. Brett himself has his own faith story to tell here as well. My interest in this one is probably more personal than it is for my story world. But one never knows where something that will influence a story might be found. The sect I was raised in split off from the Plymouth Brethren by our founder between the two world wars. My mother's family entered into it when she was three. Material of any kind about the Plymouth Brethren has been rare to non-existent in all the public library systems I've had access to so this is a real find for me.

Fleeing Fundamentalism: A Minister's Wife Examines Faith by Carlene Cross
--I guess it is obvious why I would be interested in a woman's memoir of fleeing the faith community she had been devoted to. I can't be sure from the info on and inside the cover but I think the church she was affiliated with was one of the Evangelical Mega-Churches in the Seattle, Washington area which unabashedly used its influence in national politics.

Fundamentalism and American Culture (New Edition) by George M. Marsden
--I think I have encountered the 1980 edition of this book before. But I rather doubt I read it all even if I did and there is quite a bit additional material covering the last thirty years of the movement's influence on American culture. This is an academic essay though written to be accessible by the layman. Marsden is a Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. He traces the roots of the various fundamentalist movements back to our colonial era. I am interested in following how they developed and how the various influences on them developed. And of course I have a special interest in whatever he has to say about John Nelson Darby the Irishman who developed the dispensationalist doctrine taken up by the Plymouth Brethren in England where it never really took off. But with the help of C. I. Schofield in America his teachings were spread like a fire throughout this country, infiltrating already established churches, sometimes taking them over and other times splitting them into antagonistic factions. They also spread by building new communities via traveling tent meetings that would plant house meetings wherever they could attract as many as two families willing to meet regularly.

OK some of what I just described in that last part was a garbled form of the oral history I received growing up. Our sect's founder was named Nels Thompson (sp?) who had split over doctrinal disagreement with a Plymouth Brethren group in Texas shortly after WWI. He took a tent meeting on the road and planted a number of house meetings. One of which met in my maternal grandparent's home for a time.

I have never yet seen a book with Nels Thompson's story mentioned in it. And I've seldom found one with more than a sentence or two regarding Darby or Schofield. According to the index of this book Marsden has devoted more than a dozen pages to them.

Schofield by the way was the creator of the Schofield annotated Bible. I received my first copy at age six. By my teens I had nearly as many of Schofield's words memorized as I did Bible verses. And I was a dedicated Bible Verse memorizer having lost count around the second hundred or so. One of the saddest moments of my childhood was when I realized that being a girl would prevent me from being a teacher behind the pulpit. Now, of course, I see that as a blessing.

Well, I'm re-engaged in the exploration of that which is bound to bring up a lot of disturbing emotions. All for the sake of my stories. Now I just need to try to not go overboard with the research, getting lost in it and neglecting the stories themselves. I'm going to keep a close watch on myself because I know that tendency of mine.


Book Blurb: North River

North River: A Novel
By Pete Hamill
(c) 2007; 2008 Trade paperback release
Back Bay an imprint of Little, Brown and Co.

One snowy New Year's Day, in the midst of the Great Depression, Dr. James Delaney--haunted by the slaughters of the Great War, and abandoned by his wife and daughter--returns home to find his three-year-old grandson on his doorstep, left by his mother in Delaney's care. Coping with this unexpected arrival, Delaney hires Rose, a tough, decent Sicilian woman with a secret in her past. Slowly, as Rose and the boy begin to care for the good doctor, the numbness in Delaney begins to melt. Recreating 1930s New York with the vibrancy and rich detail that are his trademarks, Pete Hamill weaves a story of honor, family, and one man's simple courage that no reader will soon forget.
This was another of the Hachette books with an excerpt available which I read before the review copy was sent to me and now I can't wait to get back to it. I found the scene between grandfather and grandson so touching. They were strangers to each other and did not even speak the same language. I fell in love with both of them through that scene. The tenderness of the grandfather in spite of the stress he was under on so many fronts and the courage and curiosity of the toddler who, waking in the care of a strange man was yet trusting enough to accept his new circumstance with enough serenity that he was able to learn to communicate both his sorrow about his missing Mama and his wonder at his first sight of snow.

This was all done with a straightforward prose with the POV solidly in the grandfather, Dr. James Delaney's mind. Where I believe it stays throughout the novel except for the cases of some letters. The prose is stripped of all sentimentallity and yet elicits strong emotion with every scene. Well, you can see for yourself:

As announced in this post, this is the seventh of twelve Book Blurbs I plan to do for the review copies I received from Hachette books last month. There will also be more substantial book reviews for each of them as either Ed or I read them.


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