Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Some of The Write Sisters, if they can get their act together, are planning on visiting the festival where their book, Women of Granite: 25 NH Women You Should Know, is going to be NH Center for the Book's featured book!
...Where's that number for Amtrak?
Friday, July 25, 2008
I'll share one of my favorite photo resources--the Library of Congress. The Prints and Photographs Catalog is superb, and the amazing part is, not all of the collection is digitized, so there may be thousands more photos to come in the future! Browsing can be a real time eater, though, so beware--you may find it addictive. What to search for? Anything. Pick a word like "sisters" and type it in. I did, and one of the many results turned out to be a poster of the Meers Sisters.
There are many other fabulous results to explore such this photo taken by the Gerhard Sisters:
Or this one that had as a description:
Where two Catholic sisters died in Nazi bombing raid on Algiers. Two Catholic sisters were praying before this crucifix in a convent in Algiers when German dive-bombers almost demolished the building, killing them and thirteen other nuns. The fifteen sisters killed and three who were severely wounded, remained in the convent at prayers when the raid started while other sisters guided sixty orphans from the building to the safety of an air raid shelter. Mother Superior Marie Duval, who had lived at the convent for thirty-one years, was among the victims. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor posthumously by General Henri Honore Giraud, civil and military commander-in-chief of French North and West Africa, whose citation said, in part: "On April 17, 1943, she was a victim of German barbarism, as were fourteen of her sisters."The description, combined with the photo, could easily lead you to a poem, or, a whole novel!
Here's photo of twin sisters, Winnie and Jimmie, who were spinners in a Mississippi mill in 1911:
in fading sepia
Browse online, or go through your box of personal photos, and I'm sure you'll be inspired to write!
Answer: the woman in the photo is Helen Keller
Many thanks for the warm welcome at the Poetry Friday Round-Up this week hosted by A Year of Reading! Read about all the P.F. participants here.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
- "For kids needing summer reading material, Women of Granite is a good one. For grownups, it's a good book to surf through -- won't take long and you'll learn something."
- "It brings Harriet Wilson (the country's first published African-American novelist) to life more than anything else I've read about her, and the same goes for Granny D, the 90-some-year-old who walked across the nation encouraging people to get involved in politics."
- "It lives up to its title: these are women you should know, and so the book tells you about them . . . It's just about the sheer accomplishments of women."
The review wasn't entirely a lovefest, however. Ms. Parson took exception to a few of our glossary words, including butterfly and workout. I'll give her workout. That one slipped under the radar for sure, but she can't have butterfly. That was included not because kids wouldn't be able to pronounce it without help, but because it defined a swimming stroke done by Olympian Jenny Thompson.
I also have one teeny tiny correction. Ms. Parson said our illustrator was Janet Greenleaf. It was, in fact, Lisa Greenleaf. It's just one of those crazy little things that slip under the radar. Kind of like workout.
If you just can't wait to check out our review in The Hippo, your can read it here online.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I stopped by the Harvey-Mitchell Memorial Library this morning. I’m researching Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Maria Shriver for Apprentice Shop’s 25 Women You Should Know series, and needed to interlibrary loan a couple of books. HMML actually had one of the books I wanted, so I picked up The Kennedy Women: The Saga of an American Family by Laurence Leamer (Villard Books 1994). The trick is going to be confining my reading to Eunice and Maria. Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying this is one fascinating family. I happen to like them.
My father actually knew John Kennedy when Kennedy was a young Senator. Daddy was fresh out of law school and living in
I love that I’m writing about Eunice and Maria. All this Kennedy research is pushing memories of my father, who has been dead 29 long years, to the front of my mind. Thank you, Shriver women.
Friday, July 18, 2008
This is my favorite piece of writing. Just the title itself makes me envision what this poem will be about - nonsense words. I don't know if that was Lewis Carroll's intent, but that's what Jabberwocky sounds like to me. And that's what I like so much about this poem - all the made up words that mean absolutely nothing, and yet Lewis Carroll makes them have meaning.
What does wiffling mean? I don't know, and neither does my Word program, because it keeps changing wiffling to waffling. But in my mind, wiffling is nothing like waffling. To me, it means fast and furious, or perhaps, as Carroll might have said, fasturious. And as the beast charges, I hear the snicker-snack of the vorpal blade, the quick one-two motion that - snicker-snack - cuts off the Jabberwock's head before it can blink an eye.
By Lewis Carroll
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
By Christina Meldrum
Madapple is the story of two births and three murders, and at the center of them all is Aslaugh, a teenage girl who lives with her mother in Hartswell, Maine. I don’t know if Hartswell is a fictitious town or not but, real or fictitious, I’m certain it lies in close proximity to Stephen King’s town of Castle Rock.
Aslaugh lives with her mother who is a little . . . well . . . strange. They have almost no contact with the outside world. They forage for plants and greens to eat and cure themselves of their ills. Aslaugh is educated at home and taught science and languages and everything you can think of except religion. Aslaugh’s mother believes religion is merely superstition, and yet she hints to Aslaugh that she was born of a virgin birth.
One night, their next door neighbor sees Aslaugh burying her mother in the back yard. The police are called, Aslaugh is arrested, but eventually acquitted. She goes to the nearby town of Bethan to live with her aunt and two cousins. Her aunt is the head of a charismatic church. She has a daughter a few years older than Aslaugh, and a son the same age. The daughter has been curious about Aslaugh all her life, and sets out to prove she was born of a virgin birth. The son is less fanatical and he and Aslaugh form a close bond.
When Aslaugh turns up pregnant, we are left wondering if she has had sex with her cousin, been visited by God, or ravaged by the devil. It might even have been that butterfly she ate. Meldrum made me believe all these things were possible. She weaves science, religion, myth and folklore together throughout the story, raising question after question that keeps you turning the pages.
Eventually, there are more deaths for which Aslaugh is blamed, but Meldrum sets up the story perfectly so that you never know the truth until almost the very last page.
The story is told in alternating chapters of story and courtroom scenes, and the courtroom scenes are where we get many of the answers to the questions raised. But Meldrum never gives us all the answers, not until the very end. It was a page turner all the way.
And the icing on the cake is that it is well written. There is no slogging through sloppy writing here. The jacket copy says this is Meldrum’s first novel. I’m hoping she’ll write a lot more.
Monday, July 14, 2008
In the spirit of Bastille Day, I’m suggesting you rise up and start your own rebellion.
No, I’m not suggesting you try to overthrow a small country, but you could confiscate a small room or space in your home for that office you’ve always wanted. And you don’t have to put the Royal Family to the guillotine, but you could shut the door on them for a few hours to give yourself some undisturbed writing time. Looting the palace coffers might be a good idea, too. It could get you to that longed-for writers’ conference or workshop, or buy you a new computer or laptop.
It might be scary at first, especially if you’re the type who has never picked up a pike before. And it could even get rather messy. In the end, you might find you have to take a head or two. But no one said this would be easy. Rebellion seldom is. Still, when you’re sitting in the cool shade of a tree in your back yard, typing away on your new wireless lap top, instead of sweltering at your computer in the house, I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth it.
So on this Bastille Day, take out your pike. Raise it in the air and announce to the world that you are a writer. Declare to the powers-that-be that your writing is just as important as music lessons, NASCAR, and Little League. And if the Royal Family isn’t impressed, put a head upon that pike. They’ll come around.
But be warned. Nobody’s reign lasts forever. So enjoy it while you can.
Vive la revolution!
Friday, July 11, 2008
So, to get the ball rolling, I'm going to recommend a book that perhaps, if you're a writer, you've already read. It's Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I've only recently picked it up for the first time and found that it is, as the synopsis on the Barnes & Noble site says, "a classic that should be read by everyone who dreams of expressing themselves creatively."
Here's a taste of what in store for you if you decide to purchase or borrow it from your local library (you can also read it in any number of places on the internet):
from letter 6:
What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours--that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grown-ups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing.
from letter 9:
And about feelings: All feelings that concentrate you and lift you up are pure; only that feeling is impure which grasps just one side of your being and thus distorts you. Everything you can think of as you face your childhood, is good. Everything that makes more of you than you have ever been, even in your best hours, is right. Every intensification is good, if it is in your entire blood, if it isn't intoxication or muddiness, but joy which you can see into, clear to the bottom. Do you understand what I mean?
Rilke often mentions childhood, which is probably part of these letters' appeal to me, a writer for children.
There are only ten letters, so don't think you'll have to devote hours to reading. Read just one letter a day--it won't take long, and I don't think you'll regret it!
To learn a little about Rainer Maria Rilke, and his poetry, click here.
To end this first Write Sisters' Poetry Friday post, I'll include one of Rilke's poems:
Other vessels hold wine, other vessels hold oil
inside the hollowed-out vault circumscribed by their clay.
I, as smaller measure, and as the slimmest of all,
humbly hollow myself so that just a few tears can fill me.
Wine becomes richer, oil becomes clear, in its vessel.
What happens with tears?-They made me blind in my glass,
made me heavy and made my curve iridescent,
made me brittle, and left me empty at last.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Since we are The Write Sisters, I thought I'd treat you to a few of my favorite quotes for writers. Please feel free to share your favorites!
All art is knowing when to stop.
What some people may not know about my books is that a very thin book usually means a very fat wastebasket.
Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.
Always be a poet, even in prose.
Writing is a pleasure, and I feel that if I did not enjoy writing, no one would enjoy reading my books.
Imagination, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.
The writer does the same as the child at play; he creates a world of fantasy which he takes very seriously.
Writing means summoning oneself to court and playing the judge's part.
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
It is often necessary for a writer to distort the particulars of experience in order to see them better.
I find the great charm of writing consists in its surprises.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Everything in the world exists in order that it may end up in a book.
The two most beautiful words in the English language are "check enclosed."
What writer doesn't agree with that?
*You may have suspected that I have one of those quotes sites! Mine is Kurious Kitty's Kwotes and I'm pretty good at making sure I get a quote posted every day!
Monday, July 7, 2008
In the State of New Hampshire where the Write Sisters live, our state library makes databases available to public libraries. It saves librarians the hassle of searching for, and sampling services, and, it does the heavy-duty negotiating for a good price. Individual libraries may have even more databases than the state's offerings. Check out your library's website, or better yet, visit your library to pick up whatever passwords are needed! If you pay local taxes, you might as well use your local library! It's a great value for your money.
Here's what you'd find if you looked up the databases on my library's website: EBSCO, Biography Resource Center, Electric Library, Facts.com, NewsBank. These are the ones that I use personally. We have a bunch more, but I'm not much interested in business information or practicing for the SAT.
Now, if you don't have a public library that is operating in the 21st. century, then don't despair. If you graduated from a college or university, you may be allowed to use the databases as an alumna/alumnus. University offerings are fantastic! I envy anyone whose alma mater shares its resources!
If you write for the education market, don't forget about ERIC which is a free database service that deals with educational topics. There are plenty of government sites with information or digitized documents or other materials. One is the U.S. Census Bureau--it's great if you're working on a historic project.
If worse comes to worst, for a reasonable amount of money you can pay for a service such as NewspaperArchive. At around $100 a year, it's not bad if you do a lot of research in U.S. history of the past century. And, you may be able to write if off on your taxes! (Ask the IRS!)
By the way, please share any great databases that you come across. I look forward to hearing from you!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
What an incredibly gracious woman! Governor Shaheen was happy to learn that the New Hampshire Center for the Book selected Women of Granite to be the featured New Hampshire book at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. this September. This means at least seven New Hampshire women will be heading to D.C. this fall!
Pictured above from left to right are Sally Wilkins, Diane Mayr, Andy Murphy, Governor Jeanne Shaheen, Muriel Dubois, and Barbara Turner.
Friday, July 4, 2008
After the presentation, we brought up the rear of the parade, not as participants, just as spectators. We ended up at the Green, where our book designer and illustrator, Lisa Greenleaf, had a booth to display, and sell, her art. Mur, Barb, and I drifted over to the food area and found Sally's son selling pulled pork, and sausage sandwiches. What else could we do but indulge? It wasn't even 11:30 am and we were lickin' barbecue sauce off our fingers (we had had an early breakfast, so by 11 we were famished).
Amherst is a lovely historic location and the parade is an old tradition that I hope the town continues to support for many years to come!
Enjoy your independence and liberty!
Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
The lives of these women are just fascinating. They've accomplished many firsts (such as Maria Mitchell, the first woman astronomer) and fought for equal rights (such as Lucretia Mott).