Sunday, August 28, 2011

Graveminder is Great but I'm Looking for Zombies!

I love to read. There are so many amazing books out there. I wish I had time for them all. Of late, I've been reading histories of New Orleans, a short novel based on the life of Kansas City madam Annie Chambers and, because I was in the mood for southern gothic - Melissa Marr's new novel Graveminder.

If you are unfamiliar with Melissa Marr, you obviously haven't been reading enough YA. Her Wicked Lovely series is loads of faerie fun.

Graveminder is her first stab at adult fiction. I am in awe of her world-building abilities. Her characters live in Claysville - a town that has made a deal with Death. Anyone ever born in Claysville is buried there meaning there are lots of graveyards. It is the graveminder's job to make sure the dead don't rise. Spooky - especially when the grandmotherly graveminder is murdered by a walking corpse and Bek, who lived in happy ignorance of the town's deal with Death must take her place.

Worse, tt's a Stepford kind of place, where people who ask to many questions are struck with memory-wiping migraines. Bek can't get a straight answer from anyone - not the callow mayor, the heart-of-gold bartender, the sherriff or her sometimes boyfriend.

I was hoping for Beautiful Creatures style creepiness and I got in when Bek goes wandering among the dead and meets with Charles aka Death.

This isn't a keep-you -up-at-night wondering if you dead-bolted the backdoor kind of read but is entertaining.

I just want to read about some southern gothic zombies....any ideas?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Poor Excuse for a Poem but a Great Writing Exercise

My eighth grader came home with a writing assigment. Rather than a boring essay on how she spent her summer vacation, she is to write a poem with 'summer' as the topic.

She has been given a format for this poem. It is supposed to follow a pattern:
I saw...
I heard...
I smelled...
I tasted...
I felt...
I said...
And it was the strangest thing...

If it were me writing, I'd end up with...

I saw the sky fade from lavender to purple to black
I heard the cicadas song
I smelled fresh cut grass and new asphalt
I tasted the ice cream cone melting in my hand
I felt the hint of a breeze move the humid air
I said, "It's getting dark earlier and earlier."
It was the strangest thing, I actually sensed summer's magic around me

My two minute, free-verse poem probably wouldn't garner me an A from the English teacher. That's not the point. I love the assignment because it encourages my daughter to employ all the senses when she describes something and it reminds me to do the same.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Good Yarn

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I spent my third trimester on bed rest. The drugs my doctors gave me to stop unwanted contractions made it impossible for me to read. I played countless hands of bridge on a laptop and I learned to knit.

A thoughtful cousin supplied me with a pattern, yarn and needles and she taught me how to cast on, cast off, knit, pearl, count stitches, etc. I made the baby who was causing me such trouble a sweater. Next I tried a pattern with multiple colors and I learned intarsia and how to carry yarn. By the time my oldest daughter arrived, I was hooked.

I quickly discovered the romance of new yarn. The colors, the feel and the possibilities fired my creativity. I bought more than I needed. I created a stash - I've since learned many knitters maintain one.

New yarn proved to be a siren's call. Just when a project seemed dull and never-ending, hand-dyed virgin wool or a clever eyelash skein could tempt me to begin something new.

And then there's the finishing. I  find "finishing" a knitting project - sewing seams, weaving threads, blocking, etc... to be completely uninteresting. New yarn could always lure me away from finishing.

So, here I sit with a skein of new ideas and research. The new ideas seem so much brighter and more colorful than the writing projects that need finishing. The new ideas are begging to be written. Who am I to argue? After all, I finished all those sweaters - eventually.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Apparently, the dog star can be seen during the hottest days of summer - thus, the expression. Who knew? I always thought the dog days of summer were about August waning into September and the promise of cooler weather.

My children return to school next Tuesay. Part of me is doing a discreet happy dance. Part of me is wondering why anyone goes back to school before Labor Day. I never did. Not once. Ergo, that is the way things should be done.

I have BIG plans for my writing life as soon as we are back on a schedule.

My best intentions melted like a popsicle in July's heat. By the time August rolled around they were a puddle on the pavement.

My to do list is long and August hasn't helped me at all. Keeping my fingers crossed that those waning days will be my friend.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Writer's Life

My vision of a writer's life includes sending my children off to school, walking the crazy Weim and settling down in front of a computer for four or five hours. The phone doesn't ring, the laundry does itself and a quick trip to the grocery yields ingredients for a delicious, nutricious dinner everyone will like.

The reality - I work at a job I love and come home to a house destroyed by two ten-year olds' attempts at making and icing cookies. I do loads of laundry, run the dishwasher, sweep up random pieces of duct tape (the kiddos are also fashioning bracelets), wipe down counters, chisel dried icing of the breakfast room table and try to figure out what's for dinner. And still, it's there. The itch...the need to write about air so warm and heavy it feels like flannel.

So - tonight the writing life will include a dinner sure to engender complaints - chicken again? A load or two of laundry, dishes and at least an hour or two of key tapping.