Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's Nice To Be Included

Like everyone else, I enjoy receiving invitations. Kelly at Big A little a invited (tagged) me to take part in a meme. I'll do memes, but only if I can connect them to writing and/or reading. As it turns out, I can (with some stretching) with this one.

What were you doing five years ago

Making feeble attempts to promote Saving the Planet & Stuff, which was published sometime in the first half of 2003 and working on the first draft of Happy Kid!. I also had a few speaking engagements that spring.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?

The day is over, but I can tell you that I: 1. Updated my profile at the Connecticut Library Consortium's on-line catalog; 2. Wrote to my CLC contact to thank her for inviting me to speak at yesterday's event; 3. Prepared the copy for a bookmark that my computer guy is going to lay out for me so I can take the master to Kinko's next week (to give out at an elementary school appearance at the end of the month); 4. Prepared the copy for some of the slides for the same elementary school appearance; 5. Practiced the presentation I'm giving on Friday.

What are five snacks you enjoy?

Okay, these are metaphorical snacks. Mind snacks. 1. The CNN website; 2. The Fox News website; 3. Salon; 4.Slate; 5. The NYTimes Book Review website.

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire? 1.Hire someone to take care of big, time consuming maintenance chores like washing windows and painting. Oh, who am I trying to kid? I'd hire some kind of home adminstrative person to do everything. Someone like Mrs. Danvers, but not creepy; 2. Hire someone to do all my promotional work--someone who truly knows what she's doing (because I often read of authors who hire promo people and aren't happy with them)and will do a far, far better job than I can; 3. Hire some type of educational consultant to help me design my presentations for different age groups; 4. I would subscribe to a bunch of literary journals even though I don't have time to read them just to provide support; 5. I would create some kind of foundation that would support school libraries in poor, rural areas, support agencies that provide books to children and adults in shelters, and provide scholarships to rural students with B-/C averages for all kinds of post-secondary education and training.

What are five of your bad habits?

I love this question, because it suggests that we have more than five. 1. Inability to stay on task; 2. Wandering mind; 3. Poor work habits; 4. Lack of organization; 5. Easily distracted.

What are five places where you have lived?

1. Middlelbury, Vermont; 2. Cornwall, Vermont; 3. Sudbury, Vermont; 4. Burlington, Vermont (college); 5. Ripton, Vermont (summer jobs); It's been a long time since I've lived in Vermont.

What are five jobs you’ve had?

I am including volunteer positions because for many years I was a school and community volunteer, and I believe volunteer work is work. 1. Pastry assistant, Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, where I scavenged through the publications for the writers in the lounge and discovered how to lay out a manuscript and essayist Nora Ephron; 2. Administrative Assistant, The University of Connecticut, where I wrote and edited reports and advertising copy and did lots and lots of unpleasant grunt work; 3. Volunteer (3 years) in elementary school classrooms working specifically with the writing programs; 4. Volunteer coordinator for an elementary school literary board; 5 Assistant taekwondo instructor (2 years), research for Happy Kid! and provided material for one published personal essay.

What five people do you want to tag?

I'm going to pass on the tagging thing. It's way too stressful for me. Taking part in memes is a great deal like socializing, and answering the questions is about all I can manage.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

8 Things Meme

I like being tagged for a meme because it means I'm part of a group. However, because I pretend this is a professional blog, if I take part in a meme, I have to connect it to writing or books. You've been warned.

Camille tagged me with the 8 Things Meme. So did MotherReader! I have never been so popular.

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

(By the way, I'm sure I took part in a meme similar to this a couple of years ago, but I can't find it now. I hope I'm not repeating myself.)

1. We live in a town with poor water quality. Our well is a shaft directly to hell. Periodically, our water treatment system fails us. Thus, over the years I have spent a lot of time in Laundromats. I'm on a first name basis with the Laundromat ladies at my local fluff 'n' fold. I meet people I know there. A Laundromat is going to figure prominently in The Durand Cousins. I'm about to write a Laundromat chapter.

2. We have a friend who owns two self-storage complexes. This is a great source of fun for this guy because he knows I'm a use-it-or-lose-it type, meaning you don't rent space to store what you can't use, you get rid of it. I hear more about self-storage than I need to. So, of course, I've been planning to put a self-storage complex in The Durand Cousins because, as I just implied, I believe in using whatever you've got.

3. I've recently decided to drop the self-storage complex from The Durand Cousins because when writing you have to have a compelling reason for everything you put into a book. I didn't have a compelling reason for that self-storage complex, so I got rid of it. (Note: I got rid of it. I didn't rent space to store it.)

4. As I have mentioned here before, I have taken only one graduate course and the only thing I truly learned there was not to begin sentences, paragraphs, and complete works with the words "It was." I have become obsessed with this. I can barely control myself when I see those words at the beginning of a paragraph or a book or story. I've thought, He won X Award and he started this thing with 'It was?' What were the judges thinking? If "it was" in other peoples' writing was something I could fix, the way you can fix the pillows on other peoples' couches, I would be frantially erasing and reworking sentences all the time.

5. When I was younger, I was always writing stories about women's experiences, probably because of the influence of feminism. Feminism is not a bad thing. Evidently my stories about women's experiences were.

6. When I was in high school I wrote a story for the school paper that a reporter for the local city paper published over his by-line, word for word. My mother's response was that I should cut him a break (to paraphrase her) because he was an old man. Which was true. He was well enough known that we knew he was an old man, and he still stole a kid's article.

7. When I was in either college or soon thereafter, I saw an article in The New York Times Magazine on a bunch of writers named John--John Irving, John Updike, maybe John Cheever, definitely John Gardner. (He was very distinctive looking. Couldn't miss him, couldn't forget him.) This article was way, way over my head. I couldn't understand any of what these guys had to say. I was extremely discouraged. I didn't see how I could ever be a writer when I couldn't understand other writers.

8. I read Roald Dahl's short stories for adults before I read his books for children. I never cared for his books for children, but I liked his short stories a lot. I would call them an influence.

I tag:







I'm coming up short of people to tag, but I'm guessing this thing will get all over the place, anyway.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I Was Hoping Someone Would Tag Me

I'm not a very meme person, but I like to indulge when they are seriously grounded somehow in books. So I was happy to see that Gina at Amoxcalli tagged me for the What Books Are You Reading? meme.

I am reading the following:

Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith is a very clever genre bender--mystery and cowboy. I expect to be blogging about it later, even though it is an adult book.

An Incomplete Education, which I've mentioned before. I'm on page 138! I'm in the middle of the section on economics, God help me.

Herding the Ox: The Martial Arts as Moral Metaphor by John J. Donohue. This is good, but it's gone on a back burner since I started concentrating on The Durand Cousins instead of my essay collection.

Now, who do I know who hasn't been tagged? I haven't seen bookshelves of doom on any lists yet. And how about Miss Erin, since I know Rebecca is on her TBR list, and I'm a Reading Fool, since she agreed with me about Snow in August.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


MotherReader has tagged me as a Thinking Blogger. This was very flattering, especially since here in the carbon-based world not only do I not get awards for thinking, I am often accused of thinking too much.

Like the blogger who began this Thinking Blogger Meme, I think long and hard (there I go again) before taking part in memes because they usually involve personal material. I try to stay on task and topic, though I know many would argue that going on about my problems with my GPS device was pushing the boundary. I am also aware that this is the second meme I've responded to in the last week. But they were both professional!

So I need to tag some Thinking Bloggers. As it turns out, MotherReader and I are in agreement on one (and more than one, of course) topic--we both think Oz and Ends and Chasing Ray are Thinking Bloggers. They get so deeply into topics that interest me that I frequently have to make hard copies of posts (or posts/articles they link to) to read when I have the time to really get into them. At Oz and Ends, in particular, I feel as if I'm getting an education in fantasy literature.

On the subject of memes, in general, I'd like to suggest that this concept predates blogs. I have a young relative who, say, seven, eight years ago, would receive something that looked like surveys in his e-mail from his friends at school. These things would be lists of questions about his preferences for movies, music, etc., which he would answer and send on to others. These surveys often didn't relate to just one topic the way today's memes often do, but I think the basic point and purpose was the same--to get to know people and create community.

Hmmm. I'm getting some ideas for the new project I'm working on now. Thanks MotherReader.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Can't Possibly Do This

Little Willow has a shelving meme up. While I think I completed a meme about shelving sometime in the past, I took one look at this one and was instantly overwhelmed.

While I do make attempts at organizing, the organizing is done, I guess you'd say, in bits--there are bits of this kind of book here and bits of that kind of book there. And what is the first and last titles on my bookshelves? Which is the beginning and which is the end?

We have beautiful built-in bookshelves in our living room. Quite honestly, an awful lot of their shelf space goes to videos and CDs along with the equipment to play same, and we have two shelves of photo albums and scrapbooks. (A sign, of course, that we are very old, since it takes a while to acquire that many.) We have an entire shelf dedicated to freeweights, stretchy bands, and other such exercise equipment. And I have a half a shelf of walking journals.

We figure we've got a couple of thousand books somewhere in the house, are they shelved? And, even, what do we have?

Owning books, I've found, is one hell of a lot of work. Last summer I spent a significant amount of time removing books from shelves, dusting, and trying to prune the collection. How long had it been since I'd done this? Well, let's just say that the dust was so thick that we discovered that the young relative who was helping me has some kind of contact allergy to it.

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