Friday, March 31, 2006

Publishing is all well and good, but doesn’t a writer write to inspire the people they surround themselves with? More importantly does not a writer write to bring serenity to their soul? Yeah, I post my stuff on my blog for the world to see, but I do that so that I can share my rambling with those that close to me. Each one of those poems I have written has a part of my heart in them. I don’t think I would want a publishing company to tell me my work isn’t good enough.
I would love to be published, but not for the sake of immortality. Frankly, immortality is overrated. Even with your stuff in print you can be forgotten. The only way to be truly immortal is to touch the heart of a person so deeply that they remember you whether they know your name or not. Immortality can be as simple as a smile given to a person down on their luck, or that comforting word that makes them smile in turn.The reason I want my stuff published isn’t to make a living, but to share the stories that have dropped into my mind with others. I want to inspire others. If one person reads something I’ve written and remembers it fondly, then I have done my job as writer. That doesn’t mean I am immortal either. It just means that my words touched another person’s heart.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

If a person's goal is to be published just to be immortal, it would seem to me that that person does not get the point of writing. For me writing is an outlet; a way for me to express what I am feeling, a way to get emotions out that I can't normally express to people, or a way to get some story down that I thought of. I think that writing just for the sake of writing is great and if a person happens to get published, all the better for them. But I really don't think it makes a difference. Published writing is more easily accessible to the public but that doesn't necessarily make a published work better than something that was unpublished. If someone hears something or reads something and comes away with a thought, an idea or a feeling then that is what writing is all about.
I want to agree with Okuni that if just one person takes something of meaning away from her performance, her poetry will live forever because I am sure that this is true of anything we do that transforms another's life. I am jealous of those people. I want to hear, and if possible read, Okuni's poetry. Being published may assure Dr. J. that his words will be immortal, that is, if his chapbooks survive. For me, being published would make it possible for my words to be shared with many more people. Its epehmeral and immediate nature makes Okuni's poetry more rare and more precious. At the same time, its a bit sad that so few people get to experience it.
What do YOU think?

Now for books!! On vacation I read 5 books.
1. Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan - it's British and not available in the US. A poor girl is angry about the yearly Purges that sweep all the poorer members of the City out of the slums and away from their homes. She is so angry she throws a rock at the Magician's that oversee the Purge. Surprise! The rock magically breaks through the Magicians' protection and knocks one magician unconscious. Now the search is on for this untrained magician who is hidden by the Thieves until her strong uncontrolled magic threatens everyone around her. Pretty darn exciting! There are two more books in the series.
2. Dear Miss Breed by Joanne Oppenheim. I mentioned this biography earlier. The book is about Japanese American children and the letters they wrote to one caring children's librarian in San Diego during their internment in World War II. Excellent look at the issues of internment and the humiliations these children and their families suffered.
3. Hedging by Annette Myers. An adult murder/suspense/mystery thingie book. I picked it up for free last year at Book Expo. Diverting. A woman finds herself in danger, chased by thugs who want to kill her but she has no idea why. She has amnesia! When she finally finds freinds who remember her, she still has to unravel the past weeks and why people around her are dropping like flies. (Well, not really.) I kept reading. I did want to know who she was and what had happened. But she kept fainting every time she re-met someone from her past. And she was modern so she couldn't even blame her corset!
4. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman. Oh, this one was fun! Julia's best friend, Ashleigh, is the kind of girl who goes on months long crazes - like an Arthurian craze where everyone has to speak in "thees" and "thous". Right before 10th grade begins, Julia gets Ashleigh to read Julia's favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. Yep! Next thing you know Ashleigh is calling Julia, "My dear Miss Lefkowitz" and decrying jeans as "revealing the shape of our lower limbs". Ashleigh talks Julia into crashing a nearby boys' boarding school's fall dance in search of "suitable gentlemen" of "breeding and refinement" and they fall in love with the same guy. What follows is a very Austen-like comedy of errors.
5. Sweet Potato Queen's Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner by Jill Conner Browne. I'm not sure you-all want to know. This book is hilarious, raunchy and full of extremely dangerous recipes. Definitely a girl-read.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Last night I went to a poetry open mic, and the hostess (with mic and PA system) did not show up. Three of us poets did - and it resulted in a really serious discussion about publishing and the value of words preserved on paper. One of our number was a very shy guy in his early twenties. He writes elaborate and evocative blurts, highly emotive and far from the bland job he has (working nights in a supermarket.) Another is the Hindi writer and educator Dr. Joshi Hosni. He writes in a very formal English, and his new chapbook is a tranlation of his Hindi poems. Dr. J writes about the textrues of everyday life - and is almost evangelistic about convincing his audience to join his point of view. (It is also notable that this gentleman is a Brahmin, an educated and monied upper class person.) Then there was me, female spontaneous poet with nothing published lately. Definately not upper class.
So, Dr. J's stance was that being published will make you immortal, that being on paper is the most important part of writing. Shy guy wants desperately to publish, but feels his stuff is too personal. I do on-the-spot pieces which savor and include the works of other poets I have appreciated in an eening. My stance is: you don't have to publish to be immortal. If you create an authentic place that you can share with your audience, and even one person carries away something that enriches his or her life or point of view, then you live in that other person's enlarged life, and you are immortal. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm in North Carolina now - not my home state - and away from my books but the last post makes me think. I feel that students can learn about literature by reading books they enjoy. However......if a book is required reading, no matter how good it is, a significant portion of the class will be resistant to it. Why is that? I know that's the way it was, and sometimes still is, with me. And I can't remember what I was required to read in high school, except for Shakespeare, Poe and Silas Marner, either. But I can't remember a lot of things anymore.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Current Read: One Good Night by Mercedes Lackey
Just Finished: Tales of Pain and Wonder by Caitlin R. Kiernan

I'm a Parkland graduate :::rolls eyes::: and I have often listened to what other people were required to read in school. And I never had to read most of it. Maybe it was because I was taking business classes (I think, it was ages ago) and the reading list was either shorter or just different. But books like Animal Farm, 1984 were not part of the list. Yes I had to read Shakespeare (actually enjoyed him) Edgar Allen Poe (enjoyed him too) and Old Man and the Sea, to name a few. I'm sure there are more, but none of them really sticks out in my brain. There was one about a utopian civilization that was kinda messed up. The people were on drugs or something... I kinda remember it but can never remember the name, just that it was strange. But I digress.

My point is that in school none of the books that I was required to read really stuck with me. Except maybe Poe. Poe is still very cool.

Wouldn't it be better if maybe the required reading was something the students would enjoy. Granted I understand some authors and their writings are used to teach different writing styles like Iambic Pentameter and Narrative and what an antagonist and protagonist are. But wouldn't it be more interesting if they threw in something a little different. Throw in some Stephen King, John Grisham or Michael Crichton.

I don't know. Maybe this is just the midnight mutterings of someone who just needs to go to bed. But all I know is that the books I remember reading in high school were not the books I read for any class I ever took. Except Poe. Poe is cool.
Alternative history makes my skin crawl, but!!!!!!
The "1633" series by Eric Flint has some really hilarious scenarios! Here's the setup - an unidentified force lifts the relatively modern town of Grantville, West Virginia, into the middle of the Thirty Years War in Europe! So we have modern technology, U. S. ideas of government and social relations, gender, truth, justice and the American way...effectively changing the history of everything. Pretty soon the West Virginians have allied with Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and formed the Conferated Principalities of Europe, and making some really angry, really powerful enemies. This made me brush up on the European history of the 17th century. Yow! And fun.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I picked up Three of Diamonds by Anthony Horowitz at Ollie's last weekend. It took me an evening to read all three Diamond Brothers mysteries included. If you like dumb wordplay (although some it is actually clever) and action, you'll like the Diamond Brothers. And they are not very demanding either.
Horowitz other series-es, Alex Rider and the new Power of Five are serious action adventure thriller books. Adrenalin junkies will appreciate the roller coaster life of orphaned teen MIA agent Alex Rider. The explosions and razor close escapes are amazing! The pages turn themselves.
Power of Five is new and I haven't had time to read Raven's Gate. It has a supernatural/horror flavor from the blurb on Anthony's website ( so maybe I'll let one of you read it first. Horowitz also writes one of my all time favorite BBC series, Foyle's War which takes place in Hastings during the bombings of England in WWII. But this blog is NOT about TV or DVDs - except sometimes.
It appears that British writers dominate my reading. I apologize, sort of. I need some American action adventure writers recommended to me. Please. Also some good American fantasy writers - Holly Black is certainly pretty darn good. Is Patrice Kindl American? Even Jenny Nimmo is British or Aussie or something like that. I will work on this. You can all make suggestions, though.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

The Case of the Missing Marquess : an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer is my latest read. Add another clever, strong female character to the list. On Enola's 14th birthday her mother disappears. When her two much older brothers come down to the estate from London, Enola learns that her mother has been siphoning money from the estate since their father's death ten years before. Mrs. Holmes did leave Enola a birthday gift and by using this gift Enola escapes the finishing school that Mycroft, her eldest brother, has chosen for her. As she searches for her mother, she also solves the mystery of the disappearance of the young Marquess of Tewksbury. Springer does a credible job describing late 19th century London without going into distressing detail. What she describes best are the disgusting fashions that young ladies of good breeding had to don at this time. We cringe at the foot mutilation of young Chinese girls but the obsession with tiny waists that "well-bred" English society had and the corsets that young ladies had to wear to achieve these tiny waists worked together to keep women "in their place". No wonder women swooned, developed consumption, and were taken with the vapors. The poor things could not breathe.
In this book, the vagaries of fashion actually become the method of Mrs. Holmes escape from financial dependence on her oldest son. And later, they help Enola escape as well.
Another very quick, very enjoyable read! I hope to see more books about the redoubtable Miss Holmes.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Internet Classes. Hmmm. Well, on one hand making school kids take an internet course would help them if they ever take an internet class while in college.
And what SD said about missing out on the class experience is true... for college students. I'm sure high school students (in their minds) spend more than enough time in a classroom. But in reality, is there anything that we are going to teach today's high school kids about computers and navigating the net? Downloading files, finding web pages, and uploading files; these are all things that most students can do in their sleep. The only difficult part that I can see, about an online class would be the deadlines for homework assignments. It's one thing to remember an assignment when someone is constantly reminded about a due date, it is another when the responsibility is left up to the student. Heck, even I had a hard time with that in college.
So is this whole internet class a good idea? I really don't know.

What I'm reading now:

Tales of Pain and Wonder by Caitlin R Kiernan. It's a book of short stories in the gothic horror genre. Not a read I would recomend to everyone. But I'm enjoying it.
Last night, I read Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach. This is kid's book -4th grade and up should be able to read it without difficulty. I sat up to finish it - the sign of an enjoyable book. The book promises a mystery and that part moves slowly but the author incorporates info on the immortal Bard and the controversy about his "true" identity. Were Shakespeare's plays really written by Edward de Vere, Lord of Oxford? Was Oxford really Elizabeth I's illegitimate son? I almost put the book down to get a history of the 1500s.
The heroine, named Hero by her Shakespeare loving parents, learns that the house her family just moved into is rumored to have a very valuable diamond hidden in it. Her older neighbor and the police chief's 8th grade son help Hero look for the diamond. There is a subplot about the 8th grader's mother that is wrapped up a bit too conveniently. So what? The book was fun and educational, too!
I'm at work as I write this and I just spent the last 45 minutes doing Peep research for our April Teen Meeting. We are going to use marshmallow Peeps (JustBorn) to create sculptures in celebration of Spring! If you are a teen in the Parkland School District, check out our website to find the date for our April TITO meeting ( There is a weird underground cult surrounding Peeps. I found all kinds of websites featuring "scientific" experiments using Peeps - including surgery to separate quintuplet Peeps joined at birth, Peeps in the library, Peeps at the beach - even a slide show "The Fellowship of the Peeps". Wait, wait, let's do Harry Peeper and the Goblet of Fire whahahahahaha! Never mind. I have to do real library work now. Bye.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Okay, back to books. I got hold of Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer, the third book in the Bloody Jack series. There had better be a fourth book! I learned a whole lot about the working of the Royal Navy during the blockade of France in 1804 (or thereabouts) and a lot about the British treatment of Irish common folk as well. I think I am learning to like historical fiction but it takes an irrepressible character like Mary "Jacky" Faber to keep me interested. Wait 'til you read what pickles she gets into in this book. I have to get this on audio book for the library.
Anyway, this book is for mature teens and adults. There are some "situations" (cough, cough) although Jacky manages to preserve her virtue throughout and there is some graphic violence as well. Hey, it was wartime and for half the book Jacky is in the Royal Navy.
Does anyone else have any ideas about Internet courses becoming a requirement for graduation from high school? Shadow's post opened my eyes. I have heard other people complaining that online courses are not as convenient as they sound. Is this the kind of expertise most people are going to need?
I certainly agree that there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer screen.

Back to books again. I am almost finished Kathleen Norris' Dakotah. She ends up revisiting ground she covered in Cloister Walk but she also gives a view of the emptiness of the western Dakotahs that is intriguing and forbidding at the same time. Norris' book may be controversial to Dakotans but to the rest of us it is a fresh look at the way geography can enrich one's spirituality and also at the way a person who is searching for God can find evidence anywhere.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Internet classes are great if you don't have a car to drive to and from class, but you lose a great deal when you are not in a classroom setting. Also, if your internet goes down or if your computer crashes some teachers are not as considerate as other. I took a couple classes online which I could not finished since I moved and lost my internet connection. My teachers did not grade assignments quickly which meant for me, who likes to work ahead, I got the same deductions on each assignment with a note saying "I thought I told you to correct this" Yeah, someone didnot look at the sent date. One of their big things is that you can go at your own pace, well that frankly is a lie. You have to turn in assignments on specific due dates like any other class.
Yes, I think they should teach students to be internet savvy, however there is a great deal more to the world than sitting in a chair in front of a computer screen.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Michigan is looking into making high school students take an internet course (offered by the shool districts I guess) in order to graduate. Their argument is that more and more business is being done online and that most teens use the Internet JUST to socialize or for entertainment.
Taking a course online will teach high school students how to work with other online.
What do you think of this idea? Do you feel that IMing and setting up profiles on is good enough?
I'm intrigued by the idea. A class you could take at 3 a.m. when you can't sleep, or on your laptop when you're visiting your grandmother - cool. Now don't think I'm advocating bad sleep habits or dereliction of family duties but you know what I mean. I learn tech skills ONLY when I absolutely have to - and I don't think I'm alone. This requirement would force non-tech people to get some Internet literacy skills.
Downside - what about kids who don't own computers? What about over scheduled over achievers who have no extra time? Is the state of Michigan going to make sure all students have classroom time and computer accessibility?
let me know what YOU think.
(And this really does have something to do with reading - in a way - I think.)