Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Still Writing: A Review

Last week, I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. I love a good book about writing, especially when I like the writer. I read a novel by Dani years ago and it was very good. I just shipped off a set of rewrites to my agent and, while I wait for him to read, I figured it was a good time to refresh my writer-spirit.

I adored this book. Some writing books are too instructive and some are pretty out there, but this was a good balance of memoir (Dani has led a very interesting life) and advice. Usable advice.

Sometimes, I would think, "No, that's not true," but then Dani would explain herself and I would get it. It may or may not be true for how and why I write, but it did make sense and it gave me a new way to look at my own habits and mindsets.

While reading, I felt inspired to retry an old story idea. I toyed with it and thought about the things Dani said in her book. I started writing by hand, at her suggestion, though I normally compose directly into Scrivener. For the first time in years, I was able to do so without constant hand-cramps. It's a different feeling, not watching my word count with every tap of the keys. It's a free-er writing experience, and I am enjoying it. A week later, I am still writing longhand and typing the result into Scrivener every couple of days. That gives me a chance to constantly look over my writing and stay grounded in the scenes that came before.

I highly recommend this book to those of you who are new to the writing life and to the veterans. On that spectrum, I fall somewhere in between, I suppose. I've been writing and publishing short pieces in some form for more than a decade, but it's only in the last few years I've taken the plunge into long fiction and acquired an agent. I found Dani's book both delightful and helpful, a lovely combination.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Felicities: 8/23/13

Friday Felicities

Writing longhand for 3 days without pain
Hocus curled up to sleep
Size 6 Gap long and lean jeans
Phone calls from Leila
Orange is the New Black on Netflix
Creating people
Naming towns
Abby's closet
Catching up with Melissa
Seeing Rosie and my girls for Small Group
Writing letters on pretty paper
Opening a brand new Scrivener document
New colors
Liturgy of the Hours

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Bitter like Orange Peel

I was torn about how to rate this novel. If I could’ve cut most of Ivy from the story, I would have given it at least four stars, if not five. I didn’t like Ivy. She made me vacillate between eye rolling annoyance and head banging frustration.

I loved Kit. A lot And I loved Ailish and even Eleanor. Eydie was awesomeness. I loved her spunk and wanted her to make it. I felt invested in the characters. I kept reading, driven to know each incremental secret they would slowly reveal to me.

At one point in the novel, Bell uses the words, “Thick breaths. Bitter secrets.” I highlighted that. It seemed to sum up their lives so succinctly.

The ending disappointed me a bit. I didn’t understand whether Ailish was correct in what she assumed or not. It wasn’t clear.

All in all, I enjoyed the read. I would read more by this author. She has a way with description that reeks of poetry. Being a poet, those were my favorite parts. I’d have loved more time on the bathroom floor, writing with Ailish.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Felicities: 8/16/13

Friday Felicities

A couple of hours at Starbucks with Rachel
The sunlight on my hallway floor
David and Hocus reading together
Patterned tape in the mail
Card from Addie
Tweet from Anna Claire
Text from Ellen
Convos with Tara
Joanne's daughter's pens and the cause she supports, Check her out: Em's Pens
Peyton's Canaan drawings
Call from Leila
Writing exchanges with Stephanie

I could go on. It was one of those weeks were people offered small blessings left and right. They kept me afloat.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: The Pentrals

Sometimes the best way to tell the truth is to tell a lie.

That’s what ran through my head as I was reading The Pentrals by Crystal Mack. She creates a world that is simultaneously dystopian and contemporary. I recognize the city of Talline even while acknowledging it’s existential impossibility. I relate to the feeling that who you are can be determined by how you look and that escaping the heavy hopelessness could be worth anything, even swallowing a little white pill day after day after day.

In a market flooded with vampires and fairies and other paranormal creatures, I found the shadows and reflections of Mack’s imaginary world a breath of fresh air. I have never thought from that perspective. What would I see if I spent my life attached to someone else’s feet?

Ultimately, the truth Antares uncovers is the same truth we live with in modern-day America. Instead of distorted reflections in the mirror, we have them on the television and in magazines. Our reflections don’t lie, but our media does.

I enjoyed this novel and look forward to a second installment in the future. If you're looking for your next bit of YA Dystopia/Supernatural, I suggest pre-ordering The Pentrals, due out in November. 2013.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Currently: This Black August

Current Books: I am one essay from finishing I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. It's funny. Not laugh out loud funny, but amusing. I have a few books on hold. With the boys, I'm reading a biography of Jim Thorpe and The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli.

Current Playlist: If Haydn's having a meltdown, I play praise music. That's about it.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure - Salted Caramel Gelato

Current Colors: Brights

Current Fetish: Pretty paper, postcards, paper tape

Current Food: chicken and veggies

Current Drink: coffee or water.

Current Favorite Favorite: Peyton. He's one of the college guys at church. He drew sketches for my manuscript. They are awesome. He is amazing.

Current Wishlist: a Mac for the boys to do school on, new tennis shoes, a pedicure

Current Needs: A couple of home repairs, answers

Current Triumph: The Tornado rewrite is complete. It took longer than expected, but it was worth every second. I am so excited about the changes and the finished product.

Current Indulgence: I bleached part of my hair and dyed it green.

Current Mood: Strangely detached.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband and my friends

Current Outfit: My orange Hendrix t-shirt and jeans with flip-flops

Current Link: This website is amazing. I'm using it for Science and Health with Haydn and Art with David.

Current Quote“Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there. ” 
― Sloane CrosleyI Was Told There'd Be Cake

Current Photo:

Title taken from a poem my Derek Walcott

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won't come out.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

{pretty.happy.funny.real} First Week of School

Yay! It's Thursday! That means, I have a poem up at Middle Places and I'm going to play along to my favorite meme with Like Mother Like Daughter.


I spent the morning working on postcards to send to some of our youth and college kids. I love doing these, and they always seem to be a pleasure to their recipients. Who doesn't love pretty snail mail, right? 


I won this tee through the summer reading program at our public library. I also won a pen, a notepad, a handheld battery-powered fan, a bag, and a chalkboard coffee mug. Fun! We have a great library, and I love excuses to visit. Not that I really NEED an excuse to visit a building full of books.


I really want this shirt. And quite a few others from this website. They are my new favorite. 


It's back to school at the Truett casa. Haydn is working on Geography in this picture. He has a map of Canada pulled up on his Kindle and is labeling the territories in his book. The kitchen table is the center of our day, so it tends to collect clutter.

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