The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, September 16, 2016

NaNoWriMo Anyone? and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #26

     Yes, it's still September, but I'm thinking of November... and NaNoWriMo looming over my head.

     I plan on doing NaNo this year. Last Spring I was the member of a jury and we spent a week listening to testimony about the murder. What happened in the jury deliberation room was shocking and disappointing to me, and changed forever the way I think about juries. That might be the book I work on...

     If you're knee-deep in a manuscript right now, or you're working on a poetry collection or you're planning on doing NaNo this year, I'd love to hear from you. My 6-8th graders are going to work on NaNo projects... they just don't know it yet. (When I say, "NaNo is coming soon," they think I'm Mork calling Orson.)

And now, onto book blurb stuff:
  • Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book.
  • You choose the genre. A mystery? A coffeetable book full of creeper photos? A historical piece? You decide.
  • Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Lisa Ricard Claro is the original brains behind this writing exercise. Her third romance book just came out in July (Love to Win) so right now she's alternating her time between sitting on her couch and poking into the bottom of pieces of chocolate in a Whitman Sampler (trying to avoid the nasty "jelly"-centered ones) and french-braiding Fabio's hair (he so needs a new look).
  • Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. 
  • Link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. You don't have to buy him a drink or anything. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is.
  • Check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.
  • And most importantly, have fun. This is supposed to be enjoyable.

Here is the photo and my it's-done blurb:

A Pretty Good Cook

Mike was some cook. Vienna sausage casserole, topped with a Snapple-reduction drizzle. Bologna spaceships, covered in melted Velveeta. Spam lasagna. Mushroom caps stuffed with squirrel filets. You name it, he could kill it (if needed) and then whip it up in the kitchen.

But cooking anywhere else in the house wasn’t happening. Not at all. It was puzzling. Mike made sure he was always impeccably attired. He was obsessed with keeping his beard combed and oiled… and yet he was still living alone…

… Until one day, when Mike was deep in the woods, hunting for any critter he could put a bead on, he found he wasn’t by himself. There was a woman in the forest with him.

Mike rushed down the hill, falling twice while a greeting tumbled out of his mouth. The woman just stared. And then she chuckled.

Will Mike learn to cook in other places? (150 words)

And here's the photo for next week, Val (and for anyone else who wants to join us).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Magnificent Mary Karr

       I saw Mary Karr last week, and am going to begin with how she ended. Here is the poem Mary Karr recited--by heart--after an audience member told her she carried a copy of the poem in her wallet for years.


I have this son who assembled inside me
during Hurricane Gloria. In a flash, he appeared,
in a heartbeat. Outside, pines toppled.

Phone lines snapped and hissed like cobras.
Inside, he was a raw pearl: microscopic, luminous.
Look at the muscled obelisk of him now

pawing through the icebox for more grapes.
Sixteen years and not a bone broken,
not a single stitch. By his age,

I was marked more ways, and small.
He's a slouching six foot three,
with implausible blue eyes, which settle

on the pages of Emerson's "Self Reliance"
with profound belligerence.
A girl with a navel ring

could make his cell phone go brr,
or an Afro'd boy leaning on a mop at Taco Bell --
creatures strange as dragons or eels.

Balanced on a kitchen stool, each gives counsel
arcane as any oracle's. Bruce claims school
is harshing my mellow. Case longs to date

a tattooed girl, because he wants a woman
willing to do stuff she'll regret.
They've come to lead my son

into his broadening spiral.
Someday soon, the tether
will snap. I birthed my own mom

into oblivion. The night my son smashed
the car fender, then rode home
in the rain-streaked cop car, he asked, Did you

and Dad screw up so much?
He'd let me tuck him in,
my grandmother's wedding quilt

from 1912 drawn to his goateed chin. Don't
blame us
, I said. You're your own
idiot now.
 At which he grinned.

The cop said the girl in the crimped Chevy
took it hard. He'd found my son
awkwardly holding her in the canted headlights,

where he'd draped his own coat
over her shaking shoulders. My fault,
he'd confessed right off.

Nice kid, said the cop.

This is the pose she did after I said, "You're
61 years old? You look gorgeous!  I hate you."

         Here are some quotes of Karr's that I jotted down:

  • She was asked by her agent? publisher? where she wanted to do a book signing? She--for sure--wanted to do Boston, because she had taught classes there. She said, "I went there for the signing, and three people showed up."
  • "A lot of literature is about longing."
  • "Memoir, if done right, is knocking yourself out with your own fist."
  • "A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it."
  • "I remember myself as smart. There was no evidence I was smart."
  • (In writing memoir) "You get ambushed by the truth."
  • (As a memoirist) "My goal is to make you feel something."
  • "I'm an inefficient writer but a skillful editor."
  • When writing one of her memoirs, she threw away 1,200 finished pages... "they went to live with Jesus."
  • "I spend a lot of time in my head. I have a big inner life."
  • "What is the difference between autobiography and memoir? Well, memoir sounds so much more French. Mem-wah."
  • "The ass-whipping is easy to write. It's hope that's hard to write. Hope and love are hard to write."  
What writer would you most like to see in person, and why?