Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I stay up late reading because I am trying to finish these books before I have to turn them in at the library. I estimate I have a week or so. Two new books arrived but I haven't had a chance to go get them. My son pleaded to go tonight. Tomorrow, I promised him.

But let me share these gems.

The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life by Nava Atlas. This is not just a pretty book (it has lovely interiors -- go check it out) but I feel as though I have Jane Austen, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Willa Cather and many more writers in my home sharing their dreams, their joys, their frustrations of the writing life. I already have loved many of their works, but this gives an intimate portrayal through diaries and letters. Atlas also shares many quotes from other women writers. Enjoy this gorgeous book. It's one you'll come to often.

I wanted to share just one quote but it's so hard to pick one. There are gems sprinkled throughout. So I'll give you a flavor:

Nava Atals writes: Though it's never easy, it's good to know that women can rock the cradle with one hand and rock the world with the other. She is speaking of Stowe who had a large family (seven children). It was the death of her child that compelled her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe says: I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustices I saw.

In a letter to her husband (1841), Stowe writes: If I am to write, I must have a room to myself, which shall be my room ... Sound familiar? It's before Virginia Woolf said, a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

In another letter to her sister-in-law (1850) we get a glimpse of her life. She writes: Since I began this note I have been called off at least a dozen times -- once for the fish-man, to buy a codfish -- once to see a man who had brought me some baskets of apples -- once to see a book man ... then to nurse the baby -- then into the kitchen to make a chowder for dinner and now I am at it again for nothing but deadly determination enables me to ever write -- it is rowing against wind and tide.

Are you ready to run and get this book?

I'm just finished a lovely little book by Ruth White: Little Audrey. I was in search of another book by her but found this on the shelf. It's largely autobiographical, told from her oldest sister's viewpoint, of a time of great hardship in her family, with an alcoholic father, a depressed mother, and her sisters whom she refers to as "three little piggies." Despite the poverty and sadness, White shares the joy and happiness as well. I laughed at all of Virgil's monkey jokes. The setting is the coal camp in Jewell Valley, Virginia 1948.

What gems are you reading right now?


Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Memories

My children had a lovely week with their grandparents and cousins. They worked hard and played hard. And went on long walks and enjoyed all of God's creation, from the blades of grass, the beetles, to soaring eagles.

We'll miss our family and friends here most of all.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Notebooks and Slippers and Hair ...

I adore new notebooks. Isn't this a beauty? My dear friends, Allyson, Jen and Lois, met me Sunday after Church for coffee and I will treasure it always and our time together here. We've grown so much, shared a lot of love and laughter, stories that made us laugh and cry. I've already written a few words in this gorgeous notebook after theirs, but I am saving it for when we hit the road. I'm going to fill it with my observations and thoughts as we travel across the country from the Pacific NW to South Carolina, our new home.

Years ago I would've been intimidated to write in it. In fact, my husband got me a leather covered notebook ten years ago when I said I was a writer, but I was terribly constipated when I put my pen to it. No thoughts were good enough to go in there. I wrote in my old biochemistry notebook and after it was finished, began writing in cheap composition notebooks. Five years later, we were on a camping trip and I filled up the leather-bound notebook with all our summer madness. This weekend I threw out ten years worth of notebooks that I scribbled all sorts of thoughts in. I'd finish one and toss it into my filing cabinet, eager to start a new one.

I'm purging. I have given away over half of our home library, thrown out all the stories and rejections letters. I've only saved a few special rejection letters and stories that need to be sent out. They're good! How could I give up after a single rejection? But new ideas took shape and the old ones were abandoned.

Here I am with a new pair of slippers that my daughter's friend's grandmother knitted. I love them for I have cold feet. I have a new haircut, but you wouldn't know. I lopped off nearly a foot. I have some gray but the hairdresser said they can still use my hair for Locks of Love. My braid was skinny. But the curls upon my head are cute even if they're unruly. Perfect for hot summer days.

I'm diving into Southern fiction. I've already read many classics from Flannery O'Connor, Mark Twain, Carson McCullers, etc. but I'm discovering new voices like Kimberly Willis Holt, Russ Nelson and Han Nolan. Loving it. If you can recommend more children's authors who write contemporary Southern fiction, I'd be much obliged.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I've been reading a lot of great books and wanted to share a few:

Sowing Seeds: Writing for the Christian Children's Market by Kathleen M. Muldoon. This is a great gift and must for Christian writers. Kathleen writes as though she's holding your hand throughout, making the challenge less intimidating. She covers the various types of writing in an organized manner. Even if you are a veteran writer, pick up this book if you want to expand into the world of children's Christian writing. Pair it with Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide.

The End of the Line by Angela Cerrito. Although you know what the kid did (murder) from the very beginning, the story of how all this came to be is gripping. Told in alternating present and past chapters, Angela weaves a story of downfall and redemption.

Baseball Crazy: Ten Short Stories That Cover All The Bases edited by Nancy Mercado. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories and they've been a great inspiration as I let my baseball stories percolate.

Cyberia by Chris Lynch. This is a fun middle-grade story set in the future about a boy who has to save the animals. It will make kids think about technology in a whole new way.

The Aquinas Catechism: A Simple Explanation of the Catholic Faith by the Church's Greatest Theologian by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Reading books like these deepens my faith. This is a wonderful book for any Christian trying to understand their beliefs (Creed), how they should pray (Lord's Prayer) and how they should live (Ten Commandments). Wonderful teaching tool as well.

I'd like to end with this incredible video about a priest who brings out Jesus into the public square. He tells how Jesus is in every book of the Bible. Amen!