Archive | July, 2013

If You’re Loved by Someone You’re Never Rejected

20 Jul

….decide what to be and go be it………

On Zoe, Salinger and Orson

16 Jul

This is Zoe Keating. My friend Rob told me about Zoe after listening to this RadioLab podcast.

Rob assumed I knew about her already. I didn’t. Rob is always assuming that I’m much smarter and more interesting than I am. I’ve fooled him for years.

Isn’t she amazing? I’m buying her album. It reminds me of Max Richter which I already blathered on about here.

So Zoe.



Also, I just wanted to thank the boys over at Jersey Devil Press for nominating my story, Paper Heart, for a storySouth Award. That’s super cool. JDP has been really really supportive of my writing and I just wanted to say, again, that without all the work of small presses and the people who put their time, energy and money into it –  I basically would never get to share anything with anyone. I owe them.

Finally 62 years ago today, The Catcher in the Rye was published.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
― J.D. SalingerThe Catcher in the Rye

Ain’t that the truth, Holden.

They’re making a documentary about Salinger. I’ll be seeing it. Here’s the trailer.

Finally finally with all the Orson Scott Card asshat-ery, here’s my two unasked for cents, summed up by aforementioned friend Rob who gave me permission to use it:

“If you wanna protest OSC that’s fine, but you need to go apply that standard to everything in your life if you’re going to be so righteous….Who makes your car? Do you use an iPhone? Well you endorse slave labor. Who made your purse? Where did your breakfast cereal come from? Your coffee? Do you endorse the political views of kohls or dunkin donuts? Do you have songs by Michael Jackson on your iPod?”

And I have to say, I agree.

Also this poem.

Not looking for a fight here, people. I think OSC is an asshat. I for one won’t be seeing his film because I never bothered to finish the book. But there is a bit of slippery slope if you get over zealous in your righteousness. Also, if I didn’t separate the work from the creator I would never read/watch/listen to or muse about anything. And that’s not productive either.

Letters of Note smorgasbord – orgasbord – orgasbord

11 Jul

So I’m on Twitter (surprise!) which is equal parts frustrating and amazing. It’s given me a ton of opportunities to connect with other writers, bloggers, small presses, etc., and it’s also given me great websites that I adore. One of which is Letters of Note. It’s run by Shaun Usher and according to the website:

Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.

And today, this showed up. As a hard-core Charlotte’s Web fan (I still know all the words to Templeton’s song from the movie), I couldn’t resist.

Perfect! Smorgasbord – orgasbord – orgasbord

Surprise Lake Camp, ready or not, here I come!

11 Jul


So I’m sitting here making up my weekend supply list. Here’s what’s on it:

  • books to sell
  • buttons
  • fliers
  • copy to read from (duh!)
  • origami paper
  • directions for craft
  • directions TO camp
  • sample cyclop’s eye
  • sharpies
  • camera
  • DVDs of Big Bang Theory*
  • Everything else that I’m currently forgetting

*Those are for Trish the Dish (aka: Mom)

And I’m making this list because this weekend I’m going to Surprise Lake Camp to read from Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb to a bunch of 11 year olds FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.

Nah, not nervous at all. What made you think that?

See the thing is I’ve never read fiction in public before. I’ve read poems, lots and lots and lots of poems but poems are different. They have a start and an end.

Start with the title.

End with the last period.

Done. A self-contained little nugget of thought and words and feelings.

But fiction starts at the title and keeps going for a long long long time. And I have no idea which part to read. The beginning when our heroine gets snatched and whisked away into her new life as the only living descendant of Shakespeare? The middle when she meets the cast of characters at the Belch Palace? When Marlowe gets pelted with tomatoes by a member of the Society and Noble Order of Bardolaters (aka: SNOBs)?  Or when she battles the Medusa, creating a manticore using Prometheus Ink?

Do you see my dilemma?

Sunday is Parent’s day where I’ll attempt to charm Moms and Dads into buying a copy of my book and Monday is the reading and craft project for the kids.

If you never hear from me again, assume I was devoured by rabid mythology loving 11 year olds.

I want this on my tombstone:

PS. In other news, my buddy Don Wentworth was interviewed. He’s a TREASURE TROVE of awesome and you should read it. You’ll learn something about writing, publishing or living gracefully. Probably all three.

Magic Trick

9 Jul


Can I show your friend here, a magic trick, he says to my husband.

He’s old, frail, his voice so thin

it sounds like it traveled from Ireland through a tin can.


Of course, I say.


With shaking hands he folds a dollar bill over and over


when he unfolds it

it becomes a two dollar bill

and I express the right amount of wonder and delight.


One more, he says, taking out a stack of cards.

I need a pen he says.

There are two in his shirt pocket

and I point this out to him. He frowns.

Not those.

I imagine those are not real pens.


Write on the lamp he says. You know, so the genie will come out.

Write your phone number, he says and I raise my eyebrows.

He laughs and apologizes to my husband.


It’s hot in this bar,

where they don’t have any air conditioning

on a ninety degree day

and we were going to leave but the bartender is already

filling up our pints.


My husband wants to buy him a drink

but the girl says he only ever has the one.


Ready? he says and I pull out the card, the genie now visible.

I am wowed again and ask to keep it and he nods.


One more? he says.

I think of him late at night,

his shaking hands carefully

so carefully

lining up the one dollar bill

and the two dollar bill

so the edges are neat and clean

so that none of the glue is visible


so no one will be able to tell.


Doing all the hard work of illusion

so that we’ll keep believing

because the alternative

is more than this old man can handle.

Daughter of Chaos Cover Reveal

4 Jul

Jen McConnel was the first person in the whole wide world that wasn’t related to me or my friend who read my novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb and then wrote about it on her blog. So you can understand why I’m so happy to be announcing that she’s got a new novel coming out via Month9Books!

Nothing is more terrifying than the witch who wields red magic.

DOC cover

Witches must choose the path they will follow, and Darlena Agara is no exception. She’s been putting it off long enough, and in her case, ignoring it has not made it go away. In a moment of frustration, Darlena chooses to follow Red Magic, figuring she had outsmarted the powers that be, since there’s no such thing as Red Magic. But alas, Darlena’s wrong (again) and she becomes a newly declared Red Witch.

Her friends are shocked and her parents horrified by the choice Darlena has made. As a Red Witch, she now governs one third of the world’s chaos. She is the walking personification of pandemonium, turmoil, and bedlam, just as the patrons of Red Magic would have it to be.

But Darlena believes there must be more to Red Magic than chaos and destruction, and she sets out on a journey to achieve balance. Only doing so puts her at odds with the dark goddess Hecate, who simply will not allow Darlena to quit. She encourages Darlena to embrace who and what she is and to leave good magic to the good witches. If only Darlena could, life would be simple, and she would not be the Daughter of Chaos.

DAUGHTER OF CHAOS is the first in a YA paranormal trilogy. Coming March 2014 from Month9Books.


Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).
She is also a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.
A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

Add DAUGHTER OF CHAOS on Goodreads!

Follow Jen McConnel on Twitter

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Visit her website.

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Nice, right? I’m so happy for her. Jen, you rock! Can’t wait to read it.

On Kafka, Richter and Memories

1 Jul


I have a strange relationship with posthumously published pieces. In the one instance, I desperately want to read them. Especially if it’s an author I really like because then as a reader I get to momentarily undo their death and hear one last story.

On the other hand it feels like cheating. It wasn’t finished. It wasn’t supposed to be shared. Like splitting open their skull and sticking your fingers in there to see what’s what.

It’s just wrong.

And I feel even more strange about posthumously published journals. That’s like a sin on top of a sin. Writing that is only meant for the writer should stay that way, right? Except as a reader, I love to read journals. I love to know what they were thinking when they were working on some of my favorite stories. Virginia Woolf’s journals were as enjoyable as any of her novels.

Yet I still feel strange about it.

It’s akin to loving the rich earthy smell of a recently dug grave.

After Kafka died, Max Brod, Kafka’s literary director, published his journals in 1948 and then, in 1953, he published what is known as The Blue Octavo Notebooks. These were Kafka’s journals….but also not his journals. They were not a recording of the movements and musings of a person in their daily existence. Instead they’re little vignettes, unrelated at times yet not disjointed. A review I read described the Notebooks as a “bag of exquisite marbles.”

That’s about as close to the mark as anything I could come up with.

They were penned from 1917 to 1919 and instead of being in the quarto size journals that Kafka used for his daily journals they were octavo-sized (hence the name).

Here, I’ll give you a sample:

Everyone carries a room about inside him. This fact can even be proved by  means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and on pricks up one’s ears and listens, say in the night, when everything round about is quiet, one hears, for instance the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall.”

Beautiful, right?

Now that brings us to the video above, a piece entitled “On the Nature of Daylight”, by Max Richter from his album The Blue Notebooks which is music inspired by Kafka’s Blue Octavo Notebooks.

A second layer.

To read this collection AND listen to the music that was inspired by it has been an incredibly rich experience. The high lilting song of a violin, the clack of a typewriter and a woman (by the name of Tilda Swinton) reading the words of Franz Kafka 87 years after they had been written. Possibly written in secret. Possibly never meant to be shared.

And then in researching Kafka I discovered that while Kafka was writing the small sketches that would become the Blue Octavo he was reading Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling.

A third layer still….

How far back can we stretch here? What was Kierkegaard listening to when he wrote Fear and Trembling, what  was he reading? We can peel back the layers.

Secrets within secrets.

Stories behind stories.

It does strange things to a person. Both the album and the book feel so familiar to me as if I had read them before in another life and am just now remembering them for the first time.

Like an echo bouncing off Jupiter and coming back to me after such a long journey.

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