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Showing posts from January, 2017

#AmReading Swing Time by Zadie Smith

There is one kind of book that I consistently love to read, which is very different from what I write. It's the sort of literary novel that paints an intimate portrait of one person's life over three or more decades, following two or more timelines that alternate and converge as insights rise from the depths of memory. 

The last one I read was Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye--yes, I was slow to discover it--and just this week, I read Swing Time, the second book I've read by Zadie Smith. (The first was On Beauty.)

These sorts of books help me think deeply about character and identity--my own and those of the fictional characters I write.

Swing Time explores many questions of personal identity--how each of our lives and our self-perceptions are shaped by the year we are born, our nationality, gender, religion, age, perceived or measured intelligence, talents, race (a social construct dependent upon context), and genetic heritage (which includes inborn personality traits)…

Using Our Words: Write on the Red Cedar 2017

I am so glad I was able to experience this year's Write on the Red Cedar conference by the Capital City Writers Association! It happened at the perfect time for me--just after a short break from writing (while collecting reactions by beta readers) and one day after my daughter's sixth birthday party. The conference capped a stressful time for me and gave me an almost magical boost of inspiration and confidence.

Why I Desperately Needed This Conference
It has been an exhausting, but healing, weekend. A day of excellent writing workshops in inspiring company just after a successful birthday party (defined as being adorable and thoroughly enjoyed by the three little ones in attendance) has lifted me out of the funk I've been in through the holidays. There's just something about the rise of hate crimes and popular Nazi rebranding that seems to be driving everyone to distraction lately! My last few posts have been a timeline of my recent outrages, from the political to the p…

Being Our Own Kind of Good

"I don't want to be your kind of good." Some of my readers may recognize this as one of my favorite quotes, by singer Pink in a 2013 issue of Glamour magazine. I've been reminded of it often this month, as the world around me seems jazzed up to keep New Year's resolutions and "do something" about the incoming presidential inauguration and all that it may entail for us. Peer support is a great thing, and even peer pressure can be motivating. But, ladies. Let's not lose sight of the fact that teamwork means doing our own work, with big-picture purpose and authenticity and awareness of other people's diverse needs and gifts, not shaming each other into justifying our own actions by coercing everyone else to act the same way.

Last weekend, I committed the self-loving act of getting my hair done! (I'm sad to inform you that the Lizard People makeover picture is virtual. In the RL, I took the safe route of matching my hair color to my natural eyeb…

Resistance Is Fertile

Here it comes... The Women's March on Washington happens next weekend! By all accounts, this hastily thrown-together, leaderless riot of women in hand-knitted pussy hats is now better organized, larger, and equipped with a clearer, stronger, more popular political platform than the incoming presidential administration which, if you haven't heard, is trying to pull together a lackluster inauguration the same weekend.

Ooh, the drama!

There is nothing like a real and present danger--an actual, nightmarish, looming monster that has crawled straight out of reality television to threaten the continued existence of democracy--to inspire bold and creative action.

In fiction and in life, conflict drives the story.

This time is ripe for new and bold narratives. What happens next?

If you plan on going to Washington or a local gathering next weekend, all my love and more power to you! And there are other ways to live and breathe in solidarity this month, even for those of us whose marchi…

Normalizing Feminine Greatness

O Goddesses! The other day, my daughter compared me to Oprah. "Did you know she wrote a book, Mommy? She's an author like you!"


I love that my daughter's heroes are kind, warm, strong, smart women. I'm a little humbled to be counted among them, but I will own that I have cultivated my daughter's perception of feminine greatness on purpose. Instead of attempting the futile task of screening her from everything bad, disappointing, and degrading in the world, I simply fill her awareness with positive role models and normalize them. Last week, my daughter and I watched some beautiful TV moments online--Pretty Yende singing "Una Voce Poco Fa" and Michelle Obama housing homeless vets.

UPDATE: We just went and saw Hidden Figures! "Like Ghostbusters, but real!" said my five-year-old about this film about a team of female scientists. She came home and painted flight trajectories and math equations on a canvas.

And I'm not the only woman …